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The Tao of Travel [Paperback]

Paul Theroux
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

26 May 2011

Paul Theroux celebrates fifty years of wandering the globe by collecting the best writing on travel from the books that shaped him, as a reader and a traveller. Part philosophical guide, part miscellany, part reminiscence, The Tao of Travel enumerates 'The Contents of Some Travellers' Bags' and exposes 'Writers Who Wrote About Places They Never Visited'; tracks extreme journeys in 'Travel As An Ordeal' and highlights some of 'Travellers' Favourite Places'. Excerpts from the best of Theroux's own work are interspersed with selections from travellers both familiar and unexpected, including Vladimir Nabokov, Henry David Thoreau, Graham Greene, Ernest Hemingway and more.

The Tao of Travel is a unique tribute to the pleasures and pains of travel in its golden age.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Hamish Hamilton; Open Market edition edition (26 May 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0241145252
  • ISBN-13: 978-0241145258
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15.2 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 248,822 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Review

Theroux's work remains the standard by which other travel writing must be judged (Observer)

The world's most perceptive travel writer (Daily Mail)

About the Author

Paul Theroux's highly acclaimed books include Dark Star Safari, Ghost Train to the Eastern Star, Riding the Iron Rooster, The Great Railway Bazaar, The Old Patagonian Express, Fresh Air Fiend and The Elephanta Suite. The Mosquito Coast and Dr Slaughter have both been made into successful films. Paul Theroux is also a frequent contributor to magazines, and divides his time between Cape Cod and the Hawaiian islands.

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Customer Reviews

3.0 out of 5 stars
3.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars short review of The Tao of Travel 19 Jun 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Paul Theroux has written about eight (?) full-blown travel books, all of then first-rate in my opinion, and a whole bunch of fiction that is at least of equal quality to his non-fiction. In other words, the guy deserves a life-time achievement award of some kind, if not the Nobel Prize for Literature itself. It was then with some slight disappointment that I read this rather chopped up effort, which seemed like it had been thrown together, but was in fact the result of a lot of reading. Theroux is, among other things, a pretty good literary critic, and I'm sure this book could have been better arranged with a different or even no structure. Ah well, publishers have the last say, I guess...Lots of nuggets here, but no real meat. You can learn something from Theroux's reading, but he is conservative by nature and looks back at a lot of travel texts rather uncritically. A survey of contemporary travel writing compared to historical travel writing might have been a more fruitful approach. Another problem I have with this book is that it's written by a travel master, but actually Theroux doesn't get into the nitty-gritty of his own extensive travels; he appears not to draw lessons from experience; he does not speak of personal development, almost as if his own Tao of Travel just existed, always existed, and doesn't change. This cannot be true, and a more involved explanation of what he had learned over the years would be a truer exposition of his Tao, because there is no one Tao objectively speaking, as anyone who has the slightest inkling into what Taoism is about will perfectly understand...the Tao is unknowable and cannot be named...but we can develop are own Art of Travel. Still, I feel this book was well worth getting for the nuggets, and it is a useful survey of travel literature, a genre Paul Theroux did a lot to rejuvenate in the 1970s.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By degrant TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
At its worst, this reminds me of a much less smug version of Alain de Botton's "How Proust Can Change Your Life" in its compartmentalisation of its vast subject into trite chapters entitled "How Long Did the Traveller Spend Travelling" and "The Things That They Carried."

Theroux is a fine writer and this book is a product of a wealth of reading and experience but, often, the interesting topics are dealt with facetiously or summarily which is ironic given that at one point Theroux asks rhetorically "Who in their right mind wants to see five countries in six weeks."

Although it is impossible (and ill-advised) to be all-inclusive, certain writers suffer particularly from the brevity of the passages provided, in particular Rebecca West whose magisterial "Black Lamb and Grey Falcon" is described as the "apotheosis" of travel writing but at one point is reduced to being the book most full of the expression "My husband said...".

Indeed, the Tao of Travel works best when Theroux provides lengthier extracts from writers of the quality of Flaubert, Twain, D.H. Lawrence and V.S. Pritchett and/or when he (Theroux) actually puts pen to paper and imparts his undoubted wisdom and experience.

Where the Tao of Travel does succeed is in inspiring me to read or re-read countless wonderful travel books. Theroux has fine taste and is generous with his praise and while I shall dip back into "The Tao of Travel" it will only be as a catalyst for turning to the source material
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars going places 16 Jan 2012
Format:Hardcover
tao of travel a great collection of digest pieces from travel books and memoirs all the best bits from john de mandeville to ran fiennes
in addition to two fisted climbing of everest via the north ploe chapters on staying home and imaginary journeys and a breakdown of the sometimes few days and weeks that the travel writer spent in the country before writing their book well chosen well written a prize
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11 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars tao of travel p theroux 6 July 2011
Format:Hardcover
Dissapointing book. Will pass it on to Oxfam.

So many bits and pieces like rejected stuff in an out tray.

Not the Theroux I know.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a short review of The Tao of Travel 19 Jun 2011
By G. Heath - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Paul Theroux has written about eight (?) full-blown travel books, all of then first-rate in my opinion, and a whole bunch of fiction that is at least of equal quality to his non-fiction. In other words, the guy deserves a life-time achievement award of some kind, if not the Nobel Prize for Literature itself. It was then with some slight disappointment that I read this rather chopped up effort, which seemed like it had been thrown together, but was in fact the result of a lot of reading. Theroux is, among other things, a pretty good literary critic, and I'm sure this book could have been better arranged with a different or even no structure. Ah well, publishers have the last say, I guess...Lots of nuggets here, but no real meat. You can learn something from Theroux's reading, but he is conservative by nature and looks back at a lot of travel texts rather uncritically. A survey of contemporary travel writing compared to historical travel writing might have been a more fruitful approach. Another problem I have with this book is that it's written by a travel master, but actually Theroux doesn't get into the nitty-gritty of his own extensive travels; he appears not to draw lessons from experience; he does not speak of personal development, almost as if his own Tao of Travel just existed, always existed, and doesn't change. This cannot be true, and a more involved explanation of what he had learned over the years would be a truer exposition of his Tao, because there is no one Tao objectively speaking, as anyone who has the slightest inkling into what Taoism is about will perfectly understand...the Tao is unknowable and cannot be named...but we can develop are own Art of Travel. Still, I feel this book was well worth getting for the nuggets, and it is a useful survey of travel literature, a genre Paul Theroux did so much to rejuvenate in the 1970s.
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