Book Review: The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton

Stars: 4/5

Location: Europe, the Middle East

Sub-genre: Travel philosophy, history of travelers

Publication date: 2008

This book is in part about the history of travel and to think about the why and how we travel. De Botton describes the travels and reason behind from famous past travelers such as Wordsworth, van Gogh, Alexander von Humboldt, and Gustave Flaubert, adding not just historical perspective to travel and place, but putting a literary, artistic, biological, and poetic twist on traveling. The reader learns the history of some of the places and their famous first explorers or documenters, then relates this to a similar way of travel that de Botton himself participates in, sometime in the same area, sometimes in a completely different region of the world.

De Botton brings in many different regions, creating a real sense of the world traveler, and the fact that the different aspects he explores, such as beauty, the sublime, and the exotic, are all brought together, creates connections for the reader between ideas and places.

From the perspective of a travel writer, I found his insights, and the insights of past travelers he uses as guides, as extremely beneficial in ways that writers can – and should – look at the world around them.

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