While reading something a while back I saw a reference to The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton. Not only was I not familiar with the book, I had never heard of the author. Months ago I bought the book and set it on the nightstand. Last week I finally picked it up, not knowing at all what to expect. (pic via Alain de Botton)
It’s a rather brief paperback with a fair number of pictures, a quick read.
While I loved the book and wholeheartedly recommend it it’s a bit tough to describe. In a way it’s a travelogue; not altogether different from Dark Star Safari or The Great Railway Bazaar (both highly recommended). Yet it is different. It’s more than a simply travel journal. De Botton jumps all over the place, locations and decades, even centuries. But it all works and is by design.
The reviews on the back cover of the book do a fair job of giving the reader a taste of what to expect. de Botton is most definitely a modern-day flâneur. From London to Barbados, Amsterdam, Madrid, even the Sinai desert, he wanders them all, describing little bits of life in minute detail. Interspersed with all of this are stories of and about Huysmans, Boudelaire, Flaubert, Humboldt, van Gogh, even Job.
If you’re looking for something a bit off the beaten path that makes you smarter and more aware of the world around you, pick this up. In fact you can even get the Kindle edition, perfect for reading when traveling yourself.
Other Reviews of The Art of Travel:
Observer review: The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton
Alain de Botton – The Art of Travel
Wall Street Journal
The Art of Travel – Reviews