THE TAO OF TRAVEL by Paul Theroux


Enlightenments from Lives on the Road


From prolific travel writer and novelist Theroux (A Dead Hand, 2011, etc.), an eclectic compendium of travel-related trivia, quotes, quips and advice.

Travel is a metaphor for living; the line between the travels and the traveler is fine; in the words of the Buddha, "You cannot travel the path before you have become the path itself." These ideas, the author explains in the preface to this curious anthology, comprise the essential philosophy behind this determinedly personal collection of travel appreciation. In a series of short chapters, Theroux looks at life on the road from perspectives that range from the predictable to the delightfully quirky. The author includes quotes from writers he admires, including Henry Fielding, Samuel Johnson, Evelyn Waugh and Robert Louis Stevenson. British men are particularly well-represented. Sections on "Travel in Brief" and "The Pleasures of Railways" quote substantially from Theroux's own work, and the final chapter, "The Essential Tao of Travel," a list of ten pieces of travel advice to live by, is surprisingly unimaginative, with suggestions like "Travel light" and "Keep a journal." Interspersed among this routine anthologizing, however, is a series of whimsical chapters that are often wonderfully playful—many readers may wish that Theroux had scrapped some of the quotations and included more of these sections. Equally engaging are the author’s brief rumination on disgusting meals and how they tasted and his quick peek into the lives of the spouses, friends and lovers who went along for the ride as largely invisible sidekicks on some of history's great travel adventures.

Alternatively pious and irreverent, this is an uneasy almanac of favorite quotes and advice for the would-be tourist that broadly features travel as a trope for personal enlightenment.

Pub Date: May 26th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-547-33691-6
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2011


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