My bus reading in the last week or so has been The Art of Travel by
Alain is a philosopher who has written a number of interestingly titled books including The Architecture of Happiness, Status Anxiety, How Proust can change your Life, Essays in Love and a few more.
When I bought this book I’d forgotten that I’d actually read How Proust can change your Life a few years ago… I have hardly any recollection of the book actually (which probably says more about me than de Botton), but having read this book, I’ll be digging it out of the bookshelf again and having another read.
I imagine that a number of people would be scared off by the fact that this purports to be a ‘philosophy book’… certainly, my undergraduate university experience of philosophy text books wouldn’t lead me to choose this as a bus read. Bus reads need to be books that are engaging, reasonably easy to digest, and easy to dip in to – given that a characteristic of bus reading is short (20mins or so) grabs of reading once or twice a weekday.
Actually, it turns out that this book is pretty easy going. De Botton uses storytelling, both of his own experiences and that of other historical figures such as including Wordsworth, Baudelaire and Van Gogh and travels to destinations as diverse as Barbados, the Sinai Desert, and the Lakes District of England, to illustrate a range of thought provoking themes around travel.
I found this particularly interesting as travel is currently infused both through my work and personal life at the moment, so it was fascinating to reflect on various aspects of the travelling from this relatively obscure perspective. De Botton is interested in why we are attracted to travel, why it sometimes disappoints us, how we can take more from our travelling experiences and how our experience of travelling contributes to our overall well being.