A Week at the Airport

A Week at the Airport

Book - 2010
Average Rating:
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The bestselling author of The Architecture of Happiness and The Art of Travel spends a week at an airport in a wittily intriguing meditation on the "non-place" that he believes is the centre of our civilization.

In the summer of 2009, Alain de Botton was invited by the owners of Heathrow airport to become their first ever writer-in-residence. Given unprecedented, unrestricted access to wander around one of the world's busiest airports, he met travellers from all over the globe, and spoke with everyone from baggage handlers to pilots, and senior executives to the airport chaplain. Based on these conversations he has produced this extraordinary meditation on the nature of travel, work, relationships, and our daily lives. Working with the renowned documentary photographer Richard Baker, he explores the magical and the mundane, and the interactions of travellers and workers all over this familiar but mysterious "non-place," which by definition we are eager to leave. Taking the reader through departures, "air-side," and the arrivals hall, de Botton shows with his usual combination of wit and wisdom that spending time in an airport can be more revealing than we might think.
Publisher: Toronto : Emblem, 2010.
ISBN: 9780771026294
Branch Call Number: 387. 73609421 DEB
Characteristics: 107 p. : col. ill. ; 21 cm.
Additional Contributors: Baker, Richard

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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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