The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton
my verdict: you can forego this one
pro: you might like some part of the book, guarantees a good night's sleep
con: you get bored
Most of us can neither compose a decent piece of concerto nor paint a decent piece of oil-painting. However, most of us can talk and write. Of course, this does not mean that most of us can write a decent piece of essay. However, it is much easier to overestimate our capacity in writing than in composing music or in painting. Thus, writers are rather forced to foster a style of one's own. Simply put, styles can be either succinct or verbose. While succinct sounds positive, verbose does not. The reason is as follows: To be succinct is difficult. On the other hand, not to be verbose is very difficult.
I do not like the style of Alain de Botton. He easily bores readers. He is very verbose, often lost among his own words. He often overstretches similes and metaphors. He knows too much useless things. And worse, he wants to let it show. The Arts of Travel is like a sampler of his boring style.
My wife finished this book first and told me, "it gets better in the latter half." Yes, it does. However, it took her a whole week to finish this one. Seeing this, I took a rather strategic approach, and read a chapter every morning over breakfast. It also took me a whole week. (Yes, I read more in the weekend.) And yes, I liked the parts about Wordsworth (who has never been my favorite poet), Sinai Desert, and John Ruskin.
But, why, why should someone ever read this book? It does neither entertain nor inform. Actually, if you want to try this book, read a chapter every night, which will nudge you into a good night's sleep.