The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton

View from this book:

Who doesn’t love to read odes to traveling while actually traveling?  I went to Mexico with my family for Christmas break last year, and read this while on the beach.

Camping on a beautiful beach in Baja - is there any better place to read?

Camping on a beautiful beach in Baja – is there any better place to crack open a good book?

The book:

Beautiful, poetic, quotable in its entirety, this book is well worth reading, especially while lying on a beach in Mexico.  However, it very carefully outlines all of the selfish reasons why we travel (“On the Exotic,” “On Eye-Opening Art,” etc.) but completely ignores cross-cultural connections, or discoveries about modern-day societies, or humanitarian urges, or changes in our own lives prompted by reflections on others’, or any other real reason for travel.  Du Button’s well-crafted essays speak to all of the personal journeys we can make, but he ignores all of the beautiful things that can happen between people when someone travels across cultures: travel can make us more tolerant of others, make us understand better how the world works, encourage us to make a difference in the world, help us see how the other half (or is it the other 99%?) lives and see elements of those lifestyles and cultures that we can incorporate into our own.  De Botton, please keep on writing, because your ode to travel was magnificent and I agreed with every silver word that dripped from your brain to the page, but you stopped far too short of the ultimate goal.  8 out of 10.

The Art of Travel


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