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The Art of Travel Paperback – May 11, 2004
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“A jewel of civility, wit and insight; de Botton has produced wondrous essays. An invitation to hyperbole . . . a volume to give one an expansive sense of wonder.”—The Baltimore Sun
“Illuminating. . .a lovely combination of enthusiasm, sensitivity, a care for the large and small, and the local and the foreign. . . reading de Botton’s book will help a person discover something fabulous in everyday.— Chicago Tribune
“There is something Proustian in The Art of Travel, in the best sense, for Mr. de Botton is a kind of flaneur, strolling through his subject thoughtfully and offering nuanced truths based on his reading, experience and philosophical temperament.”—The Wall Street Journal
“It would be difficult to name a writer as erudite and yet as reader friendly. . .With a wry, self-deprecating charm, he passes his enthusiasms along in such manner that you can’t help being delighted by them.” – The Seattle Times
“[R]efreshing and profoundly readable. . . . Thanks to de Botton’s detailed and thoughtful writing, coupled with his clever curiosity, The Art of Travel has the potential to enrich not only our journeys, but also our lives.” –The Philadelphia Inquirer
“[De Botton] relates even the most disappointing experiences with delightful wit, graceful prose and surprising insight..” –The Los Angeles Times
“Wickedly funny . . . De Botton travels like the rest of us, but he brings with him the amazing erudition, crisp, lovely prose, and entertaining intellect that made How Proust Can Change Your Life and The Consolations of Philosophy such phenomenal successes.” –The Boston Globe
“[E]xudes erudition and artfulness. . . . Delightful.” –Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“[A] wonderful book: inventive, witty, intelligent, and beautifully written. At its best, its prose achieves the intensity of aphorism . . . provocative and insightful . . . teeming with tantalizing detail.” –The Boston Phoenix
“Charmingly and capably convinces us how unaware most of us are as we move about in the world . . . will leave the reader mentally reaching for a pencil to check off the graceful, witty turns of Mr. de Botton’s mind.” –The Washington Times
“A thoughtful and anecdote-rich meditation on how trips can alter us in unexpected ways.” –Elle Magazine
“An erudite, funny brand of philosophy . . . will make you think and laugh and want to plan a trip to test out some of de Botton’s ideas for yourself.” –Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“[A] quirky, delightful meditation on why we go where we go . . . What makes his book so much fun and so utterly unique is the way his mind works as he contemplates his (and our) responses to museums, airports, landscapes, hotels–even to a gas station. Read just a few pages of de Botton and you’ll follow him anywhere.” –O Magazine
“Quietly terrific . . . It says a great deal about his ability that no matter whom he might invoke he does not pale by comparison.” –The NewYork Sun
“De Botton . . . gives voice and meaning to the thousands of epiphanies great and small brought about by voyaging.” –Esquire
“Alain de Botton piques curiosity not only about where we go but why and how–questions worth considering even if our destination is no farther than the nearest cabana.” –Vogue
“Journeys of the de Botton kind . . . expand our perspective, they broaden our mind, they enrich the intellect. We travel, this precocious young man reminds us, to find ourselves.” –The Dallas Morning News
“Delicious writing . . . pure, unalloyed pleasure . . . [De Botton’s] thoughts are original, startling, and what is more, feel true.” –The Arizona Republic
“Utterly charming. . . . De Botton notices the details, and as we grow accustomed to seeing the world through his eyes, perhaps we will notice more too. . . . [A] fine writer.” –The Times Picayune
“An elegant and subtle work, unlike any other. Beguiling.” –The Times (London)
“One of the very best contemporary travel writers–an artist in the genre.” —Jan Morris, The New Statesman
From the Inside Flap
Any Baedeker will tell us "where we ought to travel, but only Alain de Botton will tell us "how and "why. With the same intelligence and insouciant charm he brought to How Proust Can Save Your Life," de Botton considers the pleasures of anticipation; the allure of the exotic, and the value of noticing everything from a seascape in Barbados to the takeoffs at Heathrow.
Even as de Botton takes the reader along on his own peregrinations, he also cites such distinguished fellow-travelers as Baudelaire, Wordsworth, Van Gogh, the biologist Alexander von Humboldt, and the 18th-century eccentric Xavier de Maistre, who catalogued the wonders of his bedroom. The Art of Travel is a wise and utterly original book. Don't leave home without it.
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I was intrigued by the artistic and philosophical approach that De Botton used to describe travel experiences. I've gained much insight from works of 18th and 19th century writers and artists including: Humboldt, Flaubert, Wordsworth, Thomas Gray, Van Gogh, Ruskinsnd De Maistre.
I encountered many quotes that resonated with me, including:
"Journeys are the midwives of thought. Few places are more conducive to internal conversations than a moving plane, ship or train."
"There are certain scenes that would ASEAN atheist into belief without the help of any other argument."
"A dominant impulse on encountering beauty is the desire to hold on to it: to possess it and give it weight in our lives. There is an urge to say, 'I was here, I saw this and it mattered to me.'"
I recommend this book to fellow travellers and art lovers.
De Botton deeply explores the sensations of travel. He opened my mind to ways of feeling travel that I may have remotely felt but not had the skill to dwell on and fully develop. I say "immersive" because the book is an experience. Meandering, but gracefully guided by De Botton, I emerged on the other side of my reading as a different person, a more sensitive and attentive traveler. Unthought-of possibilities of thinking, doing, and feeling while traveling are now in my mind. I have a kinship with De Botton, but also with his subjects like Baudelaire, Flaubert, Edward Hopper, the explorer Humbolt, and Ruskin. Excellent company!
I normally would read this book quite quickly however throughout there were sections that made me stop and reflect on my own travel experiences. At each page turn my values and approaches to travel was challenged and critiqued and I loved it!
Three key takeaways from the book:
1. I'm torn between Pascal's perspective of truly enjoying and taking in a historical artifact (or art) versus being an artist where you take in what you see and then create something unique and creative that enhances the experience for you and for others. I believe that there is room for both depending on the situation. Such as life today where people photograph and video things versus stopping to just enjoy the experience.
2. We want to be happy in our lives and travel seems to provide us with a mechanism to do that. The problem is that we only experience this happiness while traveling because we are outside of the constraints of work and our struggle to survive
3. De Botton advocates travelling alone to be an advantage. He believes that responses to the world are molded by the company that we keep, therefore we align our curiosity to fit in with the expectations of others.