Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Week at the Airport: A Heathrow Diary” as Want to Read:
A Week at the Airport: A Heathrow Diary
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Week at the Airport: A Heathrow Diary

by
3.54  ·  Rating details ·  3,744 ratings  ·  483 reviews
In the summer of 2009, Alain de Botton was installed in the middle of Heathrow's Terminal Five on a raised platform with a laptop connected to screens, enabling passengers to see what he was writing and to come and share their stories. He provides an extraordinary mediation upon the nature of place, time and our daily lives.
Paperback, 112 pages
Published 2010 by Profile Books (first published December 2009)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.54  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,744 ratings  ·  483 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of A Week at the Airport: A Heathrow Diary
Ahmad Sharabiani
A Week at the Airport: A Heathrow Diary, Alain de Botton

In the summer of 2009, Alain de Botton was installed in the middle of Heathrow's Terminal Five on a raised platform with a laptop connected to screens, enabling passengers to see what he was writing and to come and share their stories. He provides an extraordinary mediation upon the nature of place, time and our daily lives.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز سی و یکم ماه جولای سال 2014 میلادی

عنوان: یک هفته در فرودگاه؛ نویسنده: آلن دو باتن؛ مترجم مهرنا
...more
Petra-X
This is a slight book, enlivened by some excellent reportage-style photography. It doesn't say much and it doesn't go anywhere unlike the people who surrounded de Botton while he was writing it. The book was written at the behest of the BAA boss for the new terminal 5 at Heathrow airport. I hope he thinks he got value for money.

That said, it was quite an enjoyable mix of philosophical musings about the life of an airport, of travel generally. I would think it would actually be the ideal book to
...more
David
Jan 24, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am unduly fascinated by airports. The architecture and design of the better ones seem to allude to a 1960s sci-fi fantasia. A cut-rate 2001, perhaps, with occasional, not-entirely-unwelcome excursions toward the kaleidoscopic realm of Barbarella. Chicago O'Hare, for example, features a long hallway connecting estranged terminals, uninterrupted by shops, restaurants, or shoe shine stands. Its flanks are comprised of large, opaque, convex tiles which mute the jewel-tone colors they sheath into a ...more
Kathrina
Oct 12, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written by anyone other than de Botton, and I would skim over this title, thinking, there's a cute gimmick, but what can you really do with it? But de Botton owns my heart, and if he says stay a while in this glass-cased human conveyor belt, I will.
Do not expect a narrative to transport you from point A to B; that is the study, not the practice. Expect instead a quixotic meditation on both the architecture of the building that sends you off and the state of mind that desires it. We are offered
...more
Will Ansbacher
Feb 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel
Alain de Botton spent a week courtesy of British Airways as a “writer in residence” at Heathrow, creating more of an extended impressionistic essay than a book. It comes across as a fond but mostly uncritical piece about the travellers and the efforts that go on behind the scenes to make the infrastructure seamless and invisible to them.

He has a nice insightful and wry style though, contrasting (for example) the unrealistic expectations of a family’s dream vacation in Greece with the reality of
...more
Grace
Alain de Botton's "A Week at the Airport: A Heathrow Diary" is the intriguing story of his week as writer in residence at Terminal 5 in London's Heathrow Airport. He takes us on a journey into the airport - arrivals, departures, and the shoe shine guy - and into the hidden parts of the airport - the detainment room in customs, the assembly line that puts together in flight meals, and to a meeting with the CEO of British Airways. Even more captivating than his words, the colored pictures that acc ...more
David Sasaki
Feb 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
So begins the last paragraph: "We forget everything: the books we read …" That is certainly true in my case and, I regret, increasingly so.

I was recently asked to contribute a text about ZeitRaum as an imagined space that binds together all the world’s airports, and was delighted to accept the provocation. I have spent such a large percentage of the past ten years of my life in airports and yet I've never written seriously about them.

Not that the temptation hasn't arisen. Several years ago (I c
...more
Raelene
Oct 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
I adored these two passages -

“Out of the millions of people we live among, most of whom we habitually ignore and are ignored by in turn, there are always a few that hold hostage our capacity for happiness, whom we could recognize by their smell alone and whom we would rather die than be without.”
― Alain de Botton, A Week at the Airport: A Heathrow Diary


“Even if our loved ones have assured us that they will be busy at work, even if they told us they hated us for going traveling in the first plac
...more
ann
Oct 05, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Alain, I love you, but you disappointed me. I've read most of your books and had high expectations for this one because I've spent so much of my time in airports. This book seems at best the beginnings of perhaps a really interesting look into airports and at worst a re-hashing of highlights from his other books. I would recommend this book to people who want an introduction to de Botton's work...but wouldn't recommend it for the people who have come to love his other books.

Perhaps because this
...more
Jim
May 31, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Alain de Botton has joined Malcolm Gladwell and several other contemporary writers as a lite philosopher/essayist. I do not intend this in a pejorative sense, as I do believe that there is room in an era of decreasing literacy for writers who can serve as a bridge. I have now read four of de Botton's books and regard all of them as excellent. A Week at the Airport: A Heathrow Diary is, to my mind, a follow-on essay to his excellent The Art of Travel.

The author was invited by one of the exec
...more
Eric
Jul 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
De Botton's nonfiction books are always a singularly special treat, and especially after the delights of The Art of Travel I was very excited to learn that he had written a book about his experience of having spent a week, at the invitation of British Airways, in Terminal 5 of Heathrow airport. I'm not sure I can imagine a more fertile location for generating narrative and philosophical richness, and it's no wonder de Botton describes his notebooks growing "thick with anecdotes of loss, desire a ...more
Juliane Roell
Jul 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: travel
"a kind of writing that could report on the world while still remaining irresponsible, subjective and a bit peculiar". (from the book, p 106)

Loved it. de Botton has a unique, personal writing style and a sense of observation and thinking that I very much enjoyed. This, plus the photography.
Lavinia
Jan 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014, in-en, non-fiction
I have been deliberately avoiding de Botton for a few years already, because everyone seemed to follow him on Twitter and retweet him so often that it just annoyed me. But, oh boy, did I miss his writing!

He was sort of ordered this book, so all the (unnecessary, for me) technical details about Terminal 5 bored me a bit. But there's a lot of everyday philosophy to chew on, so I was somehow hooked.
Mark
Oct 06, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
De Botton does it again. This essay describes the week he spent living at Heathrow's Terminal 5. But really it's about why we travel, why we come home and why we immediately start making plans to leave again. He's brilliant. One of the best travel writers alive today.
Esther King
Jun 15, 2020 rated it liked it
This was, by no means, a disinteresting book, but I didn't find that I had the requisite knowledge and affection for airports to love it. I've travelled overseas but once in my life, and found the whole process of the airport and flight exhausting and a bit nauseating at times (to be fair, I was about 10 years old and disinclined to affection for something so big and scary). With that said, this book has managed to create in me a touch more love for the places, as I see that they work as functio ...more
James Hendrickson
Read this on a first visit to Terminal 5 (and subsequent visits).

5 Stars are not enough for this book. It captures travel so perfectly, especially my favorite part of travel...the airport.

For the first time in a while I wanted to highlight multiple passages of this book. Here is my favorite about arriving at your home airport and exiting the secure area:

Even if our loved ones have assured us that they will be busy at work, even if they told us they hated us for going traveling in the first place
...more
Cashmere
Jun 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is another very fun, quick and thoughtful read.

I happened to read it in it's entirety while on a flight (to Europe, but alas, not to Heathrow). Once again, Botton does not disappoint with his insightful observations of life, this time in very busy airport.

I think that what appeals to me about Botton is that he comments on things that we all (or most of us) notice but fail to ever comment on or give much thought to ourselves. Botton points out that these subtleties of life are indeed worth s
...more
Elf
May 05, 2019 rated it liked it
3 stars if you have a special interest in airports/traveling/such a work environment. I would imagine 4 if you are also interested in the writer. This is my very first book from his so I don’t know him enough to be interested.

I loved the idea of this book. Airports always feel fascinating to me with a billion of stories. While the book is very fun at parts, it reads more like a magazine column than a book. 30-40 pages out of 121 (ebook) were about what the writer did like “I went there,” and hi
...more
Ankica
Jun 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Alain can make a poetry out of (almost) everything.
Some parts of the book were a bit boring, but he managed to find and shape little golden stories from something so rigid as an airport's procedures and technicalities.
As usual, he has a crystal clear vision of all metaphysical stuff that are happening in paralell.
Randell Green
Jan 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Brilliantly written. Quaint synopsis of the busy airport biosphere. 🇬🇧🇬🇧🇬🇧
Homa
Aug 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this.
James Lang
Feb 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A glorious little treat of a book, both hilarious and deeply insightful. A must-read if you frequent airports.
Rithik
May 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Poetic and impeccable in usage of vocabulary!
Eric
Aug 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An unexpected hit

A great read for those who have travelled by air. Wryly funny, and poignant in the final chapter, this book has earned the author a new fan.
Jessica-Robyn
Apr 22, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: airport frequenters
I have mixed feeling about this one. I came into it expected A Week At The Airport to be a quirky, personable look into how an airport not only works but is the pinnacle of everywhere all at once. Instead although the book is very much a quirky, personable look into an airport I found myself extremely disappointed. What I expected was in theory achieved, except I expected to like it, where as I did not.

Alain de Botton does give us an insightful look into the depths of the new terminal 5 but for
...more
Heather
This short but satisfying book, which features (really pleasing) photographs by Richard Baker, is the story of de Botton's week as "writer-in-residence" at Heathrow's Terminal 5. He explores the airport and its environs, from the Sofitel hotel where he's staying for the week to the office of the CEO of British Airways, and talks to people along the way, travelers and employees alike. I like how this book is about looking/noticing/listening, how the photographs are of details you might either nev ...more
Lize
Mar 18, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travels, 2011, photography
Why don't I ever get the really plummy assignments like this? I was olive drab with envy from the first page, which may have biased me a bit. The author was hired by the owners of Heathrow to be a 'writer in residence' at the glorious new Terminal 5--essentially to hang out at the airport for a week, observing people, listening to their conversations and exploring what happens behind the scenes. The result is an erudite, thoughtful, highly philosophical take on travel and writing and what it all ...more
Joe Petri
Jul 06, 2012 rated it liked it
i own a used bookshop and see few Alain de Botton books pass through. My copy of "how Proust can change your life" moved quickly in and out of my shop with several customers ranting about how good it was at the counter while making the purchase for their apparently unknowing friend. When a week at the airport came through i decided not to make the same mistake.

Perhaps my expectations were too high. Or perhaps this just isn't "the" book. Either way, de Botton's charm and clever witticism's weren
...more
Vonia
I love this guy. And now I love airports as well. It seems like a common theme with the books I have read by De Botton: "It was amazing, I will never look at [insert subject of book (i.e. Architecture, Biographies, Proust, this time, Airports)] the same way again". He describes with incomparable insight the ins & outs of an airport; the types of people who travel through, the couples with their tear-filled goodbyes, lonely business men collecting their baggage from the carousel, alone, yet again ...more
Cheryl
Sep 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: travellers
Shelves: non-fiction, travel
Alain de Botton was invited to spend a week at Heathrow, to observe and interpret the moments of the world's busiest airport. I anticipated a literary behind the scenes tour, but instead was rewarded with a different but ultimately more satisfying collection of reflections on the nature of journeys, anticipation, human foibles, power, economics and shoe-shines.
He reminds us that anything and everything can be interesting, even the mundane things we encounter every day, but no longer really see
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • مرگ در می‌زند
  • پرسیدن مهم‌تر از پاسخ دادن است
  • The Meaning of Life
  • این هم مثالی دیگر
  • Les poissons me regardent
  • آیدا در آینه
  • خون خورده
  • گل‌های معرفت
  • اسباب خوشبختی: چهار داستان کوتاه
  • Sizin Memlekette Eşek Yok mu?
  • اسفار کاتبان
  • Deception
  • عیبی ندارد اگرحالت خوش نیست
  • گیله‌مرد
  • از ندارد تا دارا
  • Karayel Hüznü
  • پاریس از دور نمایان شد
  • İki Yeşil Susamuru
See similar books…
9,633 followers
Alain de Botton is a writer and television producer who lives in London and aims to make philosophy relevant to everyday life. He can be contacted by email directly via www.alaindebotton.com

He is a writer of essayistic books, which refer both to his own experiences and ideas- and those of artists, philosophers and thinkers. It's a style of writing that has been termed a 'philosophy of everyday li
...more

Related Articles

Adolescents who can't get a date are in a uniquely privileged position: They will have the perfect chance to get grounding in world literature. The...
35 likes · 4 comments
“Out of the millions of people we live among, most of whom we habitually ignore and are ignored by in turn, there are always a few that hold hostage our capacity for happiness, whom we could recognize by their smell alone and whom we would rather die than be without.” 93 likes
“Travel agents would be wiser to ask us what we hope to change about our lives rather than simply where we wish to go.” 45 likes
More quotes…