A Week at the Airport

A Week at the Airport

Book - 2010
Average Rating:
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From the bestselling author of The Art of Travel comes a wittily intriguing exploration of the strange "non-place" that he believes is the imaginative center of our civilization.

Given unprecedented access to one of the world's busiest airports as a "writer-in-residence," Alain de Botton found it to be a showcase for many of the major crosscurrents of the modern world--from our faith in technology to our destruction of nature, from our global interconnectedness to our romanticizing of the exotic. He met travelers from all over and spoke with everyone from baggage handlers to pilots to the airport chaplain. Weaving together these conversations and his own observations--of everything from the poetry of room service menus to the eerie silence in the middle of the runway at midnight--de Botton has produced an extraordinary meditation on a place that most of us never slow down enough to see clearly. Lavishly illustrated in color by renowned photographer Richard Baker, A Week at the Airport reveals the airport in all its turbulence and soullessness and--yes--even beauty.
Publisher: New York : Vintage International, 2010
ISBN: 9780307739674
0307739678
Characteristics: 107 p. : col. ill. ; 21 cm

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AL_BETHW Dec 02, 2016

Quirky wordsmith writes poem to airport. Brilliant and delightful.

1
1aa
Dec 19, 2015

"Original thoughts are like shy animals." Just one of the numerous aphorisms seamlessly enmeshed in the text. Delightful and insightful, but a bit too light and too brief.

susankent Sep 01, 2014

I adored this unique and insightful travel book!

WVMLStaffPicks Aug 30, 2014

Commissioned by the owner of Heathrow, Alain de Botton spends a week as Writer in Residence in the newly completed Terminal 5. From the British Airways pilot he talks to who is still in awe of how planes defy their size as they soar into the sky, to the passengers he observes in the first class lounge, reading his diary evokes that altered state that airports still create in most of us.

f
FlagrantMary
Jun 08, 2012

Entertaining and enlightening read. Perfect size for any traveler.

w
wac6
Feb 20, 2012

de Botton trusts himself enough to write about what happens within the confines of the airport, and he lets the airport status as a hub bring the rest of the world to him. This is a book of close observation and ready imagination.

The photographer, Richard Baker, should get equal credit. There is a photo on every slender page, and the pictures tell their own contemporary stories, in addition to complementing de Botton's narrative.

I finished this book sometime in the fall of 2011. If I had to guess, I would say in October. I had purchased it on summer holiday at Canon Beach.

c
cartar
Jan 14, 2011

It's full of thought provoking sentences such as: 'At the beginning of human history, as we struggled to light fires... who could have predicted that long after we managed to send men to the moon... , we would still have such trouble knowing how to tolerate ourselves, forgive our loved ones and apologize for our tantrums?' (p.41)

debwalker Dec 10, 2010

"In 2009, Heathrow Airport invited the writer and philosopher Alain de Botton to be writer-in-residence in their newly built Terminal 5. He would live at the airport for a week, occupying a desk situated in the middle of the departure hall, record his impressions, and then compile them into a book. The result is this slim volume that waxes philosophical on all the things airports represent: escape, anonymity, longing, aspiration, impatience. De Botton offers funny, erudite ruminations on such things as the implications of reclaiming our baggage after hours suspended in weightless flight; illusions of perfection upon departing for a family holiday; and the complex emotions involved in "arrivals" and "departures." At just over 100 pages, this one is perfect for your carry-on."
Recommendations from Lucia Silva, the book buyer at Portrait of a Bookstore in Studio City, Calif.

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