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A Week at the Airport Paperback – Sep 21 2010
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"De Botton's most imaginative work yet"
— The Spectator.
"Funny, charming and slender enough to pack in your carry-on."
— Daily Mail
"His observations on airport life are wry and thought-provoking . . . excellent."
"Shrewd, perceptive and gently ironic . . . At de Botton's T5, banality and sublimity circle in a perpetual holding pattern."
About the Author
ALAIN DE BOTTON has published seven previous non-fiction books: The Architecture of Happiness, Essays in Love, The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work, Status Anxiety, The Art of Travel, How Proust Can Change Your Life, and The Consolations of Philosophy, three of which were made into TV documentaries. He has also published two novels: The Romantic Movement and Kiss and Tell. In 2004, Status Anxiety was awarded the prize for the Economics Book of the Year by the Financial Times, Germany. Cambridge-educated, de Botton is a frequent contributor to numerous newspapers, journals, and magazines. His work is published in twenty-five countries.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Every traveling writer I know spends boring hours in airports, and we all while away the hours of waiting by journaling. We all struggle to amuse ourselves by observing and reflecting on what we see in the airport. That is what de Botton has done, and the book is as good or bad as our journal pages written in airports.
It is not painful to read, but it is not an important book either.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I'm probably a little unusual in that I love airports and attempt to arrive much earlier than is really necessary so I can get airside as soon as possible and begin to immerse myself in the world of the terminal. I've never been to terminal 5 but the world that de Botton describes could be any large airport terminal; it feels very familiar.
I loved de Botton's perceptive writing and his incisive and insightful look at the lifeblood of the airport. The book is funny, interesting and very engaging. He meets a variety of people and captures their essence in a few short words; impressive observational writing. The photographs by Richard Baker make the book and it wouldn't be as good or feel as complete without them.
This little book is thoroughly enjoyable for the high quality writing and high quality photography. It's one of my favourite books read this year and I'll be getting The Art of Travel soon!
This man has something worthwhile to say and a piercing intellect with which to say it. The executive who chose him to profile the airport should be promoted. Fine writing is like a journey and as Mr. De Botton has taught us, travel is an art. Obviously the author leaves traces of his biases and interests in any work and reading this work only serves to increase my envy of those travelers who, having encountered the man at the table, were able to engage him in a two-sided conversation.
However, a one-sided conversation with this author quite suffices. Lest your powers of perception be dim, this is a book about an airport--nothing more, nothing less. We need, sometimes, to be reminded of the successes of our culture and the example of a Ghanian family leaving London with a prized new possession sums it up nicely. The airport may contain a posh and comfortable retreat for the wealthy, but as a whole represents the strivings of an entire civilization to explore and do business to the limits of the globe itself.
An airport is an enterprise worth describing and this book does credit to the concept of turning a trained observer loose on what may otherwise escape our attention.
His assignment as Writer in Residence gave him full privileges to wander the airport, night and day, and he doesn't miss a thing from security, loneliness, behind-the-scenes workers, and mechanical marvels. de Botton writes with a conversational tone as though he is thinking aloud, as in his other books, and he invites us in to look into the lives of travelers.
I look forward to seeing the airport through de Botton's eyes the next time I pack a bag and travel. And, with great anticipation, I will also await Alain de Botton's next book, wherever the world takes him.
Helen Gallagher Release Your Writing: Book Publishing, Your Way
In this wonderful little book, the author spent a week wandering around the new terminal at London's Heathrow Airport, talking to passengers and employees alike and observing everything going on. He talks to everyone, from the head of British Airways to someone who cleans the restrooms.
This is a terrific behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of an airport. You might think it sounds dull but it's not that at all.
For A WEEK AT THE AIRPORT -- which feels like an only very slightly overgrown Sunday-magazine article, complete with big glossy photos by Richard Baker, often in that just slightly out-of-focus style that proves that they were both intensely artistic and shot in the heat of the moment -- de Botton spends a week as "writer-in-residence" at Heathrow airport in London, and closely examines, with all the erudite firepower he can muster, every single aspect of life and commerce and love and travel that comes to his mind over that week.
This slim book is divided into four parts -- Approach, essentially an introduction; Departures, mostly about how de Botton settled into the airport hotel and a general overview of the passengers and their thoughts; Airside, focused on the workers at the airport, from security to cleaners to shopkeepers; and Arrivals, a short summing-up and attempt to contextualize modern air travel, with lots of philosophizing and deep thoughts. It all hovers at the verge of being too much from the first page to the last, but, due to its slim size, never quite moves over that frontier entirely.
This is clearly not a book for those who don't believe in the examined life; de Botton examines every last molecule of every aspect of life -- that's his shtick. But, if examination is as fascinating to you as de Botton's voice is to him, you may find plenty to think about in A WEEK AT THE AIRPORT. And, even if you don't, it shouldn't take more than two hours to read, so you can get on to other things quite quickly.