Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Tao of Travel: Enlightenments from Lives on the Road” as Want to Read:
The Tao of Travel: Enlightenments from Lives on the Road
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Tao of Travel: Enlightenments from Lives on the Road

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  1,620 ratings  ·  205 reviews
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 journ ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published May 19th 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published 2011)
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 3.61  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,620 ratings  ·  205 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Tao of Travel: Enlightenments from Lives on the Road
Jul 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, travel
The gifted novelist John Gardner, whose Nickel Mountain I enjoyed & reviewed at this site, once stated that there are only two kinds of novel: Someone goes on a journey or a stranger comes to town. Paul Theroux's compendium on travel, The Tao of Travel: Enlightenments from Lives on the Road details what transpires when novelists & other literary writers go on a journey, i.e. the musings of countless authors, Theroux included, on the experience of travel. The book does not recommend destinations ...more
Apr 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I have a confession to make – the reason why I wanted to read The Tao Of Travel was simply because I love traveling and I love writing. To find these two themes in one book lured me in and admittedly I started reading with a slightly more critical eye than I usually do.
One of the best known travel writers of our time, Paul Theroux, takes the reader on a wonderful tour of the genre in this collection of not only his own, but of other writers' works, ranging from the well-known, such as Mark Twain
Aravind P
The essential Tao of Travel (according to Paul Theroux)
1. Leave home
2. Go alone
3. Travel light
4. Bring a Map
5. Go by land
6. Walk across a national frontier
7. Keep a journal
8. Read a novel that has no relation to the place you are in
9. If you must bring a cell phone, avoid using it.
10. Make a friend

Interleaved with travel wisdom tidbits, Theroux has compiled every nuance of a traveling, sourcing from various travel literature including his own. Essentially traveling is a rebellion against our u
May 29, 2011 rated it liked it
I love Paul Theroux's travel books (not so keen on his fiction except for The Mosquito Coast) but this is a bit of a swizz. It is essentially a collection of quotes from his and others' books. A great 'snippet' read, maybe okay for bed if you're sleepy but can't be read for too long at a time as it would be like reading a dictionary in one go.
Tyler Hill
Jan 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2012
I'm not generally the type of person who is inclined to break out the highlighters while reading, or circle favorite passage to revisit of quote at a later time, but this book screamed for me to do that, so I gave in. Part retrospective, part exploration of the vast and varied world of travel writing, the Tao of Travel attempts to distill the essence of travel (or more importantly the essence of good travel writing) down in a single tidy volume. It's an ambitious task, and while I'm not sure The ...more
Gaylord Dold
Dec 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Mifflin Theroux, Paul. The Tao of Travel: Enlightenments from Lives on the Road, Houghton Harcourt, New York, 2011 (285pp. $25)

Before too much of the 19th century had exhausted itself in revolution and bloody war, travel, which had once been the province of solitary wayfarers, was being transformed into an industry, thanks largely to the efforts of Cooks in London.

Travel, from the times of Herodotus and later the Romans, was a dangerous undertaking, only for the intrepid who would voluntarily en
Ryan Murdock
Jan 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The world’s greatest living travel writer does it again. But this isn’t like any of Paul Theroux’s other books. Rather than take you on a journey to the world’s forgotten corners, he’s taking you on a trip through travel literature.

The book examines travel through many different lenses, and through the eyes of some of the greatest literary travelers in the genre. Well chosen excerpts explore themes like travel by railway, travel as ordeal, imaginary travel, bizarre foods, and the fears and neuro
Patrick Kelly
Jun 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Theroux is a master travel writer and this is a compilation of writings from explorers, travelers, writers, and the wandering minds. It will make you want to travel and teach you about the best and worst of travel (often they are the same).
I particularly enjoyed his 10 essentials for travel and Rosenblum's Rules for Reporting.
Sep 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011, travels
This is a fascinating collection of travel writing, from a vast array of sources--Paul Theroux’s own books as well as authors as diverse as Evelyn Waugh, Fanny Trollope, Jack London, Jon Krakauer and William Burroughs. It’s all cleverly arranged into a variety of chapter topics dreamed up by Mr. Theroux, such as “The Things They Carried,” “Travelers Who Never Went Alone,” “Perverse Pleasures of the Inhospitable,” and “Evocative Name, Disappointing Place.” It must have been quite an organizationa ...more
Apr 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays
a hard to classify travel book, sort of an annotated notebook of theroux's reading, notes, life-thoughts, life-learnings and reminisces from his many years traveling and thinking. publishers weekly and library journal gave it lukewarm recces, but this is destined to be a treasure of the age and will reward dippers, re-readers, notetakers, bibliography miners, arm chair travelers, home-tourists, and theroux lovers. has many many excerpts of other travel writings and theroux's considered commentar ...more
Dec 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was not an easy read for me. The book primarily contains quotations from other travel writers and occasionally includes the author's reflections on his own travels and his philosophies on traveling. Sometimes it was interesting enough to hold my attention all the way through a chapter, and other times I just had to skip to the next chapter (each chapter has a travel theme). When I started the book, I probably would have given it three stars. After finishing it, I am giving it four stars bec ...more
Jan 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
When I learned that Paul Theroux, one of my favorite travel writers, had written the Tao of Travel I rushed to get a copy. At first I was disappointed that Theroux would waste his considerable talent on a compilation of other travel writers of note. But, as I got into his very personal critiques and reflections on the greats like Robert Louis Stevenson, Henry David Thoreau, Sir Richard Burton and Joseph Conrad I looked forward to eaves dropping on the “long conversation” about travel writers. Th ...more
Jul 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Author Paul Theroux looks at travel as a way of life and a way of thinking as well. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading his many books, which display his scholarship, wit, humor and irreverence. This book, however, is not a new one on his travels. It is an anthology of travel in general, a collection of insights and observations on life and travel, a sort-of guidebook on ways to view travelling, a reminiscence of travel and a reading list of great works on travel. At times, it is even philosophica ...more
Gary Davis
Dec 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was not your typical travel book, or Theroux book. Rather than a work on travelling through space, this was about travelling through time and space in the company of interesting travellers from the past. It made me think about how I travel, who I travel with, and why I travel at all. It is a philosophical look at travel in that it seems to involve a lot of thinking about travelling.

There were some interesting similarities (and differences) with Alain de Botton's 'The Art of Travel (which I
Meera Sapra
Jul 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
This doesn't feel like one book but a collection of books, since it reflects the authors' love for travel and the travel books he's read.

I really like how he combines his own personal travel narrative with that of other travel writers' experiences. And I like how he does this across a variety of themes such as the hardships of travel, traveling solo versus with other people, train travel, travel and food and so on. This seems more than just a travel book considering the different kind of life a
Oct 12, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: travel
A little dry and choppy, but good insights into the world and history of travel literature. Hopefully has inspired me to read more "proper" travel lit above and beyond just "Eat, Pray, Love" and the like (As much as I love it...)
Jun 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Cannot resist Mr. Grumpus Theroux...
Terrell Plotzki
Jul 10, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
A book of mostly Paul Theroux quotes by Paul Theroux. Indulgent much?
Scott Nelson
May 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel
Loved. A smart survey of travel lit.
Dec 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Love travel, love travel writing, and love reading from the best. Paul Theroux nails it for me every time. There is a lot of humor and a lot of truth in the quotes of those who have gone before!
Dec 18, 2011 rated it it was ok
I felt like the book jumped around a lot and the author patted himself on the back too much.
Hugh Roberts
Sep 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Paul Theroux selects excerpts from some of the best travel writers in his Enlightenments but tops and tails them with perceptive analysis about why people travel and what they gain from the experience. I especially like his reference to the Buddhist saying ‘You cannot travel the path before you have become the path itself’ which, while being a bit gnomic, goes some way to answer how and why we travel and what we gain from the experience.

The best travel books are not always about travelers as su
Pina Marek
Apr 13, 2018 rated it liked it
To be entirely honest, here and there, I struggled through the book, wishing I have never picked it up - because even though I didn't want to read it anymore, for some reason, I just couldn't stop. Then there were passages which I hoped would never end. I think the geniality of this book is that for everyone, I-wish-it-to-end-already and I-wish-it-to-never-end passages are going to be different. If I'm to speak for myself, if you were to read anything from this book, read chapters No 25, 26, and ...more
Feb 20, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Difficult one to rate this, as it's something of a miscellany of notes. If you like miscellanies or want a good reference /introduction to a wide variety of travel thinkers, then this is a fascinating book. My reading list just doubled, picking out the references which interested me most.

I particularly enjoyed the chapters on visits to imaginary places, and the more personal and soulful aspects of travel, and walking. I was a bit sad that Laurie Lee didn't make an appearance as "As I Walked Out.
Mar 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Paul Theroux's The Tao of Travel: Enlightenments from Lives on the Road is a feast for those, like me, who love travel literature. Ever since I was a child in Cleveland, and we were too poor to travel, I have wanted to hit the road and see the world. And I did, to a certain extent, but I still love reading books even about places which I do not intend to visit.

The Tao of Travel is like a bibliography of the greatest books about travel. There are excerpts from Theroux himself, as well as from oth
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
An odd little book...

Short chapters, each containing either excerpts from other writers, or Theroux’s musings about other writers, on a particular theme or subject. Some are as mundane as “what they took with them,” while others are more philosophical discussions on the meaning of travel.

It’s not a bad book to read a couple of pages at a time, but it’s probably not something you’re going to sit and read for an extended period of time.

Bryan Fox
May 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Quite possibly the ultimate travel book about travel, equally readable on a beach or at base camp halfway up a mountain. The short, bite-sized sections need not be read sequentially, and contain quotes, excerpts, lists, and random memories and musings from Theroux. Buy a paperback copy, throw it in your backpack, and mark it up with your own thoughts/feelings/observations. Then pass it on to someone else, and let them do the same.
Apr 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are all sorts of travelers, and they travel for myriad reasons. Famed travel writer Paul Theroux has collated various thoughts on travel from travel writers spread out over the past 400 years.

Lots of great nuggets and thoughts to be enjoyed, especially reading excerpts from travel writers who actually hated travel. Who knew?
Ken Mcmillan
Mar 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: travel, collection
Basically a laphams quarterly without the nice pictures. I find that such publications are hit and miss and i fly over sections that make no sense except perhaps to the author.
Fabulous in parts. Dreary in others but a great source for further reading with books and authors i had never realised existed
Monica Rodriguez
Feb 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
A collection of quotes and small excerpts from his own work and other travel writers as well. Describing both the lovely things about travel and the sometimes harsh truth, it defines what it is to be a traveler versus a tourist. The collection made me smile and fed my sense of travel. It made me want to go on a new adventure.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • One Life at a Time, Please
  • O Filho de Mil Homens
  • Three
  • Self-Reliance
  • Our Spoons Came from Woolworths
  • Ideias para Adiar o Fim do Mundo
  • The Alteration
  • The Road to Oxiana
  • Enfim, capivaras
  • Toda Poesia
  • Journey to Portugal: In Pursuit of Portugal's History and Culture
  • Pinocchio
  • Mar Sem Fim
  • The Radetzky March
  • El húsar
  • Why We Swim
  • O amanhã não está à venda
  • Heaven and Hell: A History of the Afterlife
See similar books…
Paul Edward Theroux is an American travel writer and novelist, whose best known work is The Great Railway Bazaar (1975), a travelogue about a trip he made by train from Great Britain through Western and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, through South Asia, then South-East Asia, up through East Asia, as far east as Japan, and then back across Russia to his point of origin. Although perhaps best know ...more

Related Articles

If you haven't heard of record-smashing singer and songwriter Mariah Carey, is there any hope for you? Who else has sold more than 200 million...
58 likes · 23 comments
“The wish to travel seems to me characteristically human: the desire to move, to satisfy your curiosity or ease your fears, to change the circumstances of your life, to be a stranger, to make a friend, to experience an exotic landscape, to risk the unknown..” 149 likes
“I wanted to find a new self in a distant place, and new things to care about.” 0 likes
More quotes…