The Tao of Travel

The Tao of Travel

Enlightenments From Lives on the Road

Book - 2011
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A philosophical guidebook and collection of insights celebrating the joy of travel, chosen by eminent travel writer Paul Theroux

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 traveler. Part philosophical guide, part miscellany, part reminiscence, The Tao of Travel enumerates “The Contents of Some Travelers’ Bags” and exposes “Writers Who Wrote about Places They Never Visited”; tracks extreme journeys in “Travel as an Ordeal” and highlights some of “Travelers’ Favorite Places.” Excerpts from the best of Theroux’s own work are interspersed with selections from travelers both familiar and unexpected: 

Vladimir Nabokov           J.R.R. Tolkien 
Samuel Johnson               Eudora Welty
Evelyn Waugh                  Isak Dinesen 
Charles Dickens               James Baldwin 
Henry David Thoreau       Pico Iyer 
Mark Twain                     Anton Chekhov 
Bruce Chatwin                  John McPhee
Freya Stark                      Peter Matthiessen 
Graham Greene                Ernest Hemingway

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

Baker & Taylor
A literary handbook by the acclaimed author of Ghost Train to the Eastern Star celebrates a half-century of travel that intersperses excerpts from Theroux's works with selections that have inspired him as written by such authors as Vladimir Nabokov, Evelyn Waugh and Henry David Thoreau. 25,000 first printing.

Book News
This attractive imitation leather bound volume presents collected excerpts from the works of famed travel writer and novelist Paul Theroux (The Great Railway Bazaar, Mosquito Coast). Taken from over forty years of travel experience, the texts offer a window into the author's philosophy of travel as well as his thoughts on the historical journeys of a variety of other authors. The brief entries are pleasant for browsing as well as reading straight through. The volume includes twenty-seven separate vignettes indexed by both people and places. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

& Taylor

A collection of writings from Paul Theroux's fifty years of travel. Included are writings from other travelers such as Charles Dickens, Eudora Welty, Anton Chekhov, Ernest Hemingway and many others.
Presents excerpts of the author's own work interspersed with literary travel writings selected by the author that celebrate the virtues and the joy of travel.

Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011
ISBN: 9780547336916
Branch Call Number: 910.4 THERO
Characteristics: xii, 285 pages : illustrations, color map ; 21 cm
Notes: Color maps printed on endpapers


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Jan 23, 2014

A good collection with lots of historical, practical and literary information.

Jul 16, 2012

This is a wide ranging and fascinating collection of travel writing, a sort of anthropology of the traveller's life, drawn from a variety of sources ranging from Theroux’s own books as well others who have written about travel over the past 1000 years including Marco Polo, Mary Kingsley, Freya Stark, Bruce Chatwin, Pico Iyer, and Mark Twain.

A beautifully designed book with thick, creamy pages, it's organized by themes such as "Evocative Name, Disappointing Place" (now I no longer need to be disappointed for not making it to Alexandria), “Travel as an Ordeal", "Fears, Neuroses and Other Conditions" and even "Imaginary Journeys".

This is one of those books that had me stopping to copy quotations into my journal and following people around saying "let me just read you this one part."

Highly recommended for those who enjoy armchair travel or reliving the experience of past voyages.

Sep 07, 2011

I have always been a little exasperated by Theroux's grumpiness in some of his travel writing. He makes me want to say "why don't you let me get on the train in that exotic place? and you go home!" This book shows a more thoughtful, more patient Theroux -- in his travel advice, and especially his manifesto about what constitutes "good travelling". Theroux also includes excerpts from books by a variety of writers - e.g., Greene and Hemingway. This is a book of snippets -- his own writing and others'- about journeys and the very nature of travel. Well worth reading if you sometimes wonder if travel is just another form of consumerism.

debwalker Jul 31, 2011

"The book’s most persistent and compelling themes are that we should travel light, travel simply, travel slowly – travel “mindfully,” as the Taoists say. If possible, Theroux says, we should travel on trains, “where anything is possible: a great meal, a binge … an intrigue … strangers’ monologues framed like Russian short stories.”

We should, we are informed, travel without companions: “The whole point of travelling,” Theroux writes, “is to arrive alone, like a spectre, in a strange country at nightfall, not in the brightly lit capital but by the back door, in the wooded countryside, hundreds of miles from the metropolis. … Arriving in the hinterland with only the vaguest plans is a liberating event. It can be a solemn occasion for discovery, or more like an irresponsible and random haunting of another planet.”

Charles Wilkins
Globe and Mail


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