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Hardcover The Art of Travel Book

ISBN: 0375420827

ISBN13: 9780375420825

The Art of Travel

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Format: Hardcover

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Book Overview

A wise and utterly original book of travel essays from an international bestselling author that will "give one an expansive sense of wonder" (The Baltimore Sun). Any Baedeker will tell us where we... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Really seeing when we observe

The Art of Travel is a mixture of de Botton's own personal musing and those of other philosophers and travellers. The most interesting and enjoyable parts for me were those of de Botton's own thoughts and analysis. He points out the obvious but in ways that you've never considered before. In fact it is this lack of seeing that he also comments on when discussing how we can be travellers in our own homes and communities by just looking at what is around us. His observations are apposite and adroit and when it is de Botton's own perception it tends to be illustrated with his wry humour. I particularly liked an early observation in the book were he discusses our need for perfection when we travel on holiday: "A momentous but until then overlooked fact was making its first appearance: that I had inadvertently brought myself with me to the island". He then goes on to lament about his body and mind being a "temperamental" accomplice to the appreciation of what he sees around him. Amusing and so true. Unfortunately I read this book on Kindle and it was very poorly formatted. The majority of pictures were missing and those that were included were of very poor quality. I can imagine that the reading experience would have been significantly enhanced if the photographs and illustrations had been included. I've read other work by de Botton that contained photographs, and they completed the whole experience of reading that book. The Kindle edition also has several typographical errors so I would not recommend reading this book in electronic format. I have reported the issues, but customer services are not interested and just tell me that transferring a book to e-format can mean missing images. They ignored my comments about typos! Avoid this book on Kindle.

Wherever You Go, There You Are

I work for some very wealthy people who travel frequently. They always buy a package tour for umpteen thousands of dollars, stay at four-star hotels or on luxury cruise vessels, make no effort to read anything about the countries they're visiting because there's "not enough time," and -- other than some nice photographic trophies and a few stories about the funny things their guide said -- don't know much more about their destinations after the trip than before. In his other books that I have read -- HOW PROUST CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE and THE CONSOLATIONS OF PHILOSOPHY -- Alain de Botton has succeeded to taking very complex material and distilling it down to a few home truths that are as enlightening as anything I have read on the subjects. You can imagine that I was eager to see what de Botton would do with travel, about which I know something because I love it above all other things in my life. Before going on a vacation, I start a six-month reading program encompassing guidebooks, histories, biographies, and the literature of the country or countries I am visiting. When I visited Iceland in 2001, for example, I read all the major medieval Icelandic sagas, anything I could find by Nobel Prize winner Halldor Laxness, histories, travel books by W. H. Auden, Lord Dufferin (19th century Governor General of Canada), and others. That would place me in the category of J. K. Huysmans's hero Des Esseintes -- with one major difference: I also took the journey and enjoyed it. I am doing the same prep now for an upcoming visit to Patagonia. People travel for many reasons, but they sometimes forget that travel will not necessarily open their minds and hearts to anything. There is an old 1960s saying: "Wherever you go, there you are." De Botton exposes our motives and shows that, in effect, the way to enjoy travel the most is to be prepared for and open to change, to in effect change the "you" that is travelling. Both Pascal and Dostoyevsky have noted that man is unhappy largely because he does not know how to stay quietly in his own room. If so, man will be no happier under a palm tree in Bora Bora. There is one scene in the first chapter, "On Anticipation," that summarizes it all for me. De Botton and his travelling companion get into a spat over who gets which portion of dessert. Despite the idyllic setting in Barbados, the day is spoiled for both of them: "There is a contrast between the vast projects we set in motion, the construction of hotels and the dredging of bays, and the basic psychological knots that undermine them, How quickly may the advantages of civilisation be wiped out by a tantrum. The intractibility of the mental knots points to the austere, wry wisdom of those ancient philosophers who walked away from prosperity and sophistication and argued, from within a barrel or a mud hut, that the key ingredients of happiness could not be material or aesthetic but most always be stubbornly psychological..." And there we get to the rub: This i

Philosophical tools for a meaningful travelling experience.

Alain De Botton's latest publication, ~The Art of Travel~ is a philosophical investigation, simply written, on the reasons and motivations for why we travel. The book's main thesis is that our lives are dominated by a search for that illusive and fleeting emotion or state known as happiness. Travel, he proposes, is a major activity, amongst many, where we seek-out this state of mind. Travel can possibly show us what life is about outside our routine-filled day-to-day existence. The book examines our motives for travelling, our anticipations, and expectations using the writings of various artists, poets and explorers, providing different and highly creative perspectives on the subject.Personally, I found the most rewarding and instructive chapter to be, 'On eye-opening Art', using the views and paintings of Vincent van Gogh. Just as instructive, however, is the chapter, 'On Possessing Beauty', drawing on the works of the 19th century critic and writer, John Ruskin. The message from both these individuals are quite similar. One of the tasks of art, specifically painting, is to provide us, the viewer, with new perspectives in which to view the world. Vincent van Gogh's exceedingly original style and use of colour, for example, transformed, for some of us, the way we see a sunflower, a wheat field and a Cypress tree. When viewing these works of art, or any work of art, we are inspired to travel to these places where the artist created, and experience the subject of the works first-hand.John Ruskin believed that one of our primary needs in life is beauty and its possession. He suggested that the only meaningful way to possess beauty was through understanding it: '...making ourselves conscious of the factors (psychological and visual) that are responsible for it,' (P.220) The way to attain this understanding, he suggests, is to draw and write (word paint) those things and places we come across in our travels that strike us as beautiful. A person sitting down in front of an expansive landscape, and sketching its many features, will discover aspects about the scene that would be invisible to the casual observer. When travelling, take the time to draw and write about those places and things one sees, and the experience will be much richer as a result.~The Art of Travel~ is a helpful philosophical guide to the budding and seasoned traveller. Where other books on the subject instruct us on where to go and what to see, Alain De Botton tells us how to approach our journeys and some useful tools on achieving a much more meaningful and rewarding experience.

Deliciously Readable philosophy

Alain de Botton's book furthers his exploration of philosophical issues in our every day lives. Travelling for the author becomes a way to discuss our pursuit of happiness as well as they way our expectations affect how we live. While the questions that he raises are sophisticated and he draws on his background as an exquisitely trained philosopher for this book, the narrative is incredibly readable:his anecdotes are witty, the prose flows well, and seemingly a high school freshman could comprehend and digest much of what he is saying.By no means however does this mean that it is not a challenging and enlightening read. de Botton relates a series of his journeys from comical moments of deciding to travel thousands of miles across the globe from the inspiration of a picture of palm trees to the anxiety we experience when we discover that not only does our destination have palm trees but also dirty streets, traffic, and bureacracy. His personal experiences are sprinkled with insight from other famous travellers from european colonial painters to influential french novelists. The end result is a witty, personal, and thorough exploration of travel and what it tells us about the way we live our lives.As a side note seeing Alain de Botton read and discuss his work in Oxford displayed his depth of knowledge and comfort in his field. He is truly a philosopher who cares about communicating and discussing ideas about how we can better live our lives in an intelligent and coherent manner for any willing reader which is an admirable task. Do not pass this book up!

A must for blasé travellers

In the past, when I still regularly attended graduation parties, such parties were always teeming with graduates-to-be harbouring fanciful travel plans. Everybody seemed intent on getting away a.s.a.p., as long as possible, and to a very far away and preferably out of the way place. They wanted to become travellers, a breed not to be confused with commonplace tourists. I've never been able to detect any intrinsic motivations driving this graduate travelling habit, e.g. a deep-seated and longstanding interest in a particular country or culture. It was simply a matter of opportunity, this jumping at the a chance to be thoroughly irresponsible for a while, before entering on the responsibilities of a steady job. And of course, everybody was going and it would be very un-cool to stay at home. After these people returned from their well-organised adventures, it invariably struck me how little they had changed, and how little they had to tell about the places they had been; apart maybe from random scraps on local customs that I could as easily and more completely have found in any travel guide book. Nevertheless most of these people, even years later, would be prone to lapse into dreamy states of blissful reminiscence at the slightest cue, expressing a deep longing to go back there, preferably to stay. It got me wondering why it is that the same things we find boring or commonplace at home are suddenly deeply interesting simply because they occur 5,000 miles away.I remember one such party where I met an acquaintance who just got her degree in philosophy. I asked her if she was planning on her more or less mandatory world trip as well. But she just gave me a weary smile, tapped the side of her head and said: `Travelling is something you do in here'.In a nutshell that's the question and the essence of the answer in Alain de Botton's thoughtful book on travel. Why do we bother? What do we expect, and why are we so often disappointed? And then again, why do our memories of the trip rarely reflect the disappointments? And what is the clue to not being disappointed? How do you go about really experiencing the place where you are and making it part of yourself? On all such questions De Botton has interesting and often entertaining observations to make. He shows us that the exotic is not defined by long-haul flights and palm trees, but can be found literally on your doorstep if you just know how to look. He explains why a travelling Englishman can be depressed on far away and exotic Barbados and euphoric in nearby, but in many ways equally exotic Amsterdam, or even around the corner in Hammersmith where he lives. As a Dutchman I was fascinated by his detailed analysis of a sign in the arrivals hall of Amsterdam Airport, explaining its exotic nature from a British viewpoint, and the reasons you would never ever find a sign like that in the UK, just across the Channel. De Botton is a master at finding such surprising angles to elucidate his subjects. Moreover he

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From solo adventurers to traveling families, from long weekend road trips to months-long trips abroad, ThriftBooks has a read for that.

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