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The Art of Travel - Alain de Botton

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Few activities seem to promise as much happiness as going travelling: taking off for somewhere else, somewhere far from home, a place with more interesting weather, customs and landscapes. But although we are inundated with advice on where to travel to, we seldom ask why we go and how we might become more fulfilled by doing so. With the help of a selection of writers, artists and thinkers - including Flaubert, Edward Hopper, Wordsworth and Van Gogh - Alain de Botton's bestselling The Art of Travel provides invaluable insights into everything from holiday romance to hotel minibars, airports to sightseeing. The perfect antidote to those guides that tell us what to do when we get there, The Art of Travel tries to explain why we really went in the first place - and helpfully suggests how we might be happier on our journeys.

The bestselling author of The Consolations of Philosophy now journeys into the world of travel, focusing on how many of us look forward to 'getting away from it all' yet often feel wildly disappointed when we get there. To take a closer look at why this happens Alain de Botton jets off from winter-grim Hammersmith to Barbados, noting how even the most cynical among us is a sucker for a holiday brochure. Drawing our attention to daily aspects of life that miraculously don't make it into the glossy pages, he takes us in a grubby taxi past the stray howling dogs, to the hotels where ugly air-conditioning units growl and rumble in the shadows - before informing us of the impact we ourselves have on that little slice of heaven we've just invaded. Next we visit a service station between Manchester and London, where de Botton's ability to find 'poetry' in such grim surrounds is both impressive and thought-provoking. Amsterdam, the Lake District, Madrid and the Sinai Desert are discussed with gently humorous observations, as are airports, mobile phone junkies and hotel mini-bars. De Botton's companions are well chosen: Wordsworth, Baudelaire, Job and van Gogh to name but a few. Combining their observations and experiences with his own, he eschews the glut of patronising travel guides that tell us what they think we should do when we get there, and concentrates on why we wanted to go there in the first place, even suggesting how we could have a better time. He's been acclaimed for taking philosophy back to 'its simplest and most important purpose: helping us to live our lives', and here he's done it again. Next time you're thinking of travelling, forget the guides and read this instead; chances are you'll enjoy your trip all the more. (Kirkus UK)

Departure: on anticipation; travelling places. Motives: on the exotic; on curiosity. Landscape: on the country and the city; on the sublime. Art: on eye-opening art; on possessing beauty. Return: on habit.

ISBN: 9780140276626
ISBN-10: 9781567183085
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 272
Published: May 2006
Dimensions (cm): 18.1 x 13.1  x 1.8
Weight (kg): 17.7

Alain de Botton

Alain de Botton was born in Zurich, Switzerland in 1969 and now lives in London. He is a writer of essayistic books that have been described as a 'philosophy of everyday life. He’s written on love, travel, architecture and literature. His books have been bestsellers in 30 countries. Alain also started and helps to run a school in London called The School of Life, dedicated to a new vision of education. Alain’s newest book is published in April 2009 and is titled The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work.

Alain started writing at a young age. His first book, Essays in Love [titled On Love in the US], was published when he was twenty-three. It minutely analysed the process of falling in and out of love, in a style that mixed elements of a novel together with reflections and analyses normally found in a piece of non-fiction. It's a book of which many readers are still fondest and it has sold two million copies worldwide.

It was with How Proust can change your Life that Alain's work reached a truly global audience. The book was a particular success in the United States, where the mixture of an ironic 'self-help' envelope and an analysis of one of the most revered but unread books in the Western canon struck a chord. It was followed by The Consolations of Philosophy, to which it was in many ways an accompaniment. Though sometimes described as popularisations, these two books were at heart attempts to develop original ideas (about, for example, friendship, art, envy, desire and inadequacy) with the help of the thoughts from other thinkers – an approach that would have been familiar to writers like Seneca or Montaigne and that disappeared only with the growing professionalisation of scholarship in the 19th century.

Alain then returned to a more lyrical, personal style of writing. In The Art of Travel, he looked at themes in the psychology of travel: how we imagine places before we have seen them, how we remember beautiful things, what happens to us when we look at deserts, or stay in hotels or go to the countryside. In Status Anxiety, he examined an almost universal anxiety that is rarely mentioned directly: the anxiety about what others think of us; about whether we're judged a success or a failure, a winner or a loser. In The Architecture of Happiness, Alain discussed questions of beauty and ugliness in architecture. Much of the book was written at de Botton's home in West London, just near Shepherd's Bush roundabout, one of the uglier man-made places, which nevertheless provided helpful examples of how important it is to get architecture right.

The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work saw Alain travelling across the world for two years with a photographer in tow, looking at people in their workplaces and reflecting on the great themes of work: why do we do it? How can it be more bearable? What is a meaningful life? The book is at once lyrical and gripping like a novel can be, and yet also packed with ideas and analysis.

In the summer of 2009, Alain was appointed Heathrow's first Writer-in-Residence and wrote a book about his experiences, A Week at the Airport

Aside from writing, de Botton has been involved in making a number of television documentaries - and now helps to run a production company, Seneca Productions.

In the summer of 2008, Alain realised a life-long dream when he helped to launch a miniature 'university' called The School of Life - which emulates the spirit of enquiry and playfulness found in his books and which aims not only to discuss life, but also change it for the better. Following on in this entrepreneurial vein, Alain has also helped to start a new organisation called Living Architecture which is building world-class modern architecture for rental around the UK. In 2009, Alain was made an honorary fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, in recognition of his services to architecture.



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Customer Comment: He is the thinking woman's crumpet.

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