The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton [Book Review]

artoftravel09032009Main Point: Travel is less about where you go and more about openness to new experience.

de Botton explores the grand sweep of travel by starting as a tourist in Barbados and ending as a pajama-iclad ”tourist” in his own bedroom in Hammersmith, England. Between those two extremes he touches on why we travel, what we hope to see, and what other well-traveled people have seen in their travels. As always, de Botton follows rabbit trails in his explanatory stories that end up as quite captivating bits of learning on their own right. His chapter on art showed how people considered the Scottish Highlands (or was it the English Lake district?) a kind of wasteland and generally avoided them. That is, until a few paintings and poems appeared and helped the public see what it was that was beautiful about them. Tourism then picked up. De Botton’s point was that often we need help seeing. And seeing things afresh is one of the primary reasons to travel.

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