PETRIe Contributor, Catherine Karellis, curates her top five books to add to your reading list this year. Having started with Reading Lolita in Tehran, next on her list is The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.

The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton

The Art of Travel (Alain de Botton)

It seems we may best be able to inhabit a place where we are not faced with the additional challenge of having to be there.”

Each chapter of Alain de Botton’s book anchors us to a place - from Barbados to Madrid to the Lake District. From there, de Botton shares his feelings about the act of travelling itself: those looking for detailed guides to the places visited throughout will find little to interest them here.

What they will find is a catalogue of musings: thoughts on anticipation, how we travel with the expectation that we’ll leave ourselves behind, our intense need to capture beauty while travelling (“I was here, I saw this and it mattered to me”).

In each chapter, de Botton invites artists to serve as guides: an exploration of Edward Hopper, for example, encourages travellers to see the romance inherent in derelict gas stations and empty diners.

This is best read while on an airplane or a train; it’s a strange yet compelling mix of autobiography, philosophy and travelogue: exploring not where we should travel, but why we should do so.

Words: Catherine Karellis

Image source: Frankfurt, 2012 by Andreas Gursky