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The Tao of Travel

Enlightenments From Lives on the Road

Theroux, Paul

(Book - 2011)
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
The Tao of Travel
Print
A collection of writings from Paul Theroux's fifty years of travel. Included are writings from other travelers such as Charles Dickens, Eudora Welty, Anton Chekhov, Ernest Hemingway and many others.
Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011
ISBN: 9780547336916
0547336918
Branch Call Number: 910.4 T
Characteristics: xii, 285 p. : ill., col. map ; 21 cm.

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Jan 23, 2014
  • empbee rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

A good collection with lots of historical, practical and literary information.

Jul 16, 2012
  • Urbano rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This is a wide ranging and fascinating collection of travel writing, a sort of anthropology of the traveller's life, drawn from a variety of sources ranging from Theroux’s own books as well others who have written about travel over the past 1000 years including Marco Polo, Mary Kingsley, Freya Stark, Bruce Chatwin, Pico Iyer, and Mark Twain.

A beautifully designed book with thick, creamy pages, it's organized by themes such as "Evocative Name, Disappointing Place" (now I no longer need to be disappointed for not making it to Alexandria), “Travel as an Ordeal", "Fears, Neuroses and Other Conditions" and even "Imaginary Journeys".

This is one of those books that had me stopping to copy quotations into my journal and following people around saying "let me just read you this one part."

Highly recommended for those who enjoy armchair travel or reliving the experience of past voyages.

Sep 07, 2011
  • okbookgirl rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

I have always been a little exasperated by Theroux's grumpiness in some of his travel writing. He makes me want to say "why don't you let me get on the train in that exotic place? and you go home!" This book shows a more thoughtful, more patient Theroux -- in his travel advice, and especially his manifesto about what constitutes "good travelling". Theroux also includes excerpts from books by a variety of writers - e.g., Greene and Hemingway. This is a book of snippets -- his own writing and others'- about journeys and the very nature of travel. Well worth reading if you sometimes wonder if travel is just another form of consumerism.

"The book’s most persistent and compelling themes are that we should travel light, travel simply, travel slowly – travel “mindfully,” as the Taoists say. If possible, Theroux says, we should travel on trains, “where anything is possible: a great meal, a binge … an intrigue … strangers’ monologues framed like Russian short stories.”

We should, we are informed, travel without companions: “The whole point of travelling,” Theroux writes, “is to arrive alone, like a spectre, in a strange country at nightfall, not in the brightly lit capital but by the back door, in the wooded countryside, hundreds of miles from the metropolis. … Arriving in the hinterland with only the vaguest plans is a liberating event. It can be a solemn occasion for discovery, or more like an irresponsible and random haunting of another planet.”

Charles Wilkins
Globe and Mail

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