Helen’s Travel Corner

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Book Review – The Art of Travel, My Favorite Travel Book of 2008

December 11th, 2008 · No Comments

First, I apologize for not writing in a month.  I’ve been trying to move this blog off of my free WordPress account and I’m still working out the kinks; however, I can’t use it as an excuse not to write a posting any longer.  Bear with me if there are some images missing or links not working properly.

As the year comes to a close, the “best of” lists have started popping up everywhere, including “the best travel books of 2008.”  The Guardian published an article Travel books of the year, by Rory Maclean and on Travelblogs.com there’s a posting titled The Books, Movies and Documentaries That Inspired Us to Travel in 2008.  I want to contribute my favorite travel read from this year that I haven’t been able to stop talking about: The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.

The Art of Travel | Best Travel Book of 2008

Buy The Art of Travel from Amazon

To be honest it took me a couple of attempts to get into this book because it starts off pretty cynical.  A sentence on the first page reads, “Any sadness I might have felt, any suspicion that happiness or understanding was unattainable, seemed to find ready encouragement in the sodden dark-red brick buildings and low skies tinged orange by the city’s streetlights.”  However, I’m glad I didn’t put down the book because part of the beauty of it is how the author doesn’t candy-coat travel and dives deep into the less romanticized aspects of traveling.  De Botton draws from his own experiences but also intertwines great minds into each chapter.  There are travelers, explorers and interesting characters from history.  For instance, he uses Edward Hopper’s paintings to illustrate loneliness, or Vincent van Gogh’s art to explain perspective or William Wordsworth’s poems to depict appreciation for nature.  De Botton writes on van Gogh’s intentions,

“[A]rtists could paint a portion of the world and in consequence open the eyes of others to it.”

In addition to this, one of my favorite aspects of the book is how de Bottom’s rich knowledge of psychology shines through the text and he is able to explain so much of the thought-processes that accompany travelers.  He writes why the phenomenon of profound thoughts is more likely to happen while traveling than in our less-than conducive homes where routine tends to dominate.  He writes on anticipation, motivation and curiosity.  In the end, The Art of Travel speaks to a state of mind.

The The Art of Travel sparked reflection on why I like to travel on a more philosophical level.  It has enabled me to communicate and better process my own experiences.  My book has sentences and paragraphs underlined and multiple pages dog-eared, so without a doubt, this is my favorite travel book that I read from 2008.

Happy travels!


“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” –Marcel Proust

>>  Be sure to read the review on The Art of Travel by The Daily Transit’s Ben Hancock on the TravelBlogs.com posting.  Please share any your favorite travel reads from this year!

Tags: books · travel

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