Hugh Roberts's Reviews > The Tao of Travel: Enlightenments from Lives on the Road

The Tao of Travel by Paul Theroux
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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 such, but rather people (whether the authors themselves or others) with a task to do. Their readability stems from how they got to connect with the people who helped them achieve their task, from research needed to write a book, to the survival techniques within an alien culture. I am not sure that Theroux always achieves this while his perception of place remains culturally specific to his own frame of reference, but they are always a good read.

Finding a way to write a travelogue as something other than a traveler, and learning the timing, wit and brevity to tell tales about places visited, (tall or otherwise but always based in fact!), is for me the essence of good writing when seeking to combine the genres of Travel and Mindfulness through empathy. By and large Paul Theroux achieves this though this book should be read in context of his other titles relating to specific countries visited.

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Reading Progress

July, 2014 – Started Reading
July, 2014 – Finished Reading
September 2, 2017 – Shelved

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