Book Review: The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton

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.

Related reviews:
Quick Book Review: Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux
Quick Book Review: The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux

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

  • Griff

    I really like his writing style as well as the subjects of which he writes. I especially liked the his The Consolations of Philosophy and the quote when speaking of wealth, “Money sufficient to allow one to live on the interest of the interest.” I am not sure, but this may have been the book that led me to read a great deal of Greek and Roman Philosophy, with a focus on Stoicism.