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A week at the airport by Alain De Botton
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A week at the airport (original 2009; edition 2010)

by Alain De Botton

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5672743,185 (3.61)55
We all spend longer than we would like waiting around in airports, but we rarely discover anything about our fellow travellers or those who work there.In the summer of 2009, however, Alain de Botton was given unprecedented, unrestricted access to wander around Heathrow, one of the world's biggest airports, having been appointed its Writer-in-Residence. He spoke with everyone from airline staff and senior executives to travellers passing through, and based on these conversations he produced this extraordinary account of life at an airport and what it says about modern existence.Working with the renowned documentary photographer Richard Baker, he explores the magical and the mundane, and the stories that inhabit this strange 'non-place' that we are usually eager to leave. Taking the reader through the departures lounge, 'airside' and the arrivals hall, de Botton shows with his usual combination of wit and wisdom that spending time in an airport can be more useful and more revealing than we might think.… (more)
Member:jd1000
Title:A week at the airport
Authors:Alain De Botton
Info:New York : Vintage International, 2010.
Collections:Your library
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A Week at the Airport by Alain De Botton (2009)

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» See also 55 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
I bought this book after seeing the author on TV talking about something else. I chose this particular book from his oeuvre because of an interest in airports which goes beyond planes. It is a slim volume; I should have thought that a whole week spent at Heathrow with almost open access could have produced more than this.

I found it somewhat disappointing on the whole; as well as the expected stories of individuals, it contains reflections on wider issues such as diversity, assumptions, interconnectedness, separation and so on, but at a fairly superficial level. Perhaps the most interesting parts are those where the author reveals himself, as in his admiration of airline pilots and their (to him) demi-god status. It's not a bad book: one might pick it up at an airport bookshop and use it to while away a flight to Athens. But it wouldn't get you to Sydney. ( )
  ponsonby | Jul 22, 2021 |
This book was not for me. I can't remember why I had it on my to-read pile - but I generally love a slice of life type book. This book was so strange. Very short - lots of pictures (but pretty banal ones). The whole thing felt like a voice over for a documentary that never really got going. At the end I was skimming pretty quickly. Felt very long for such a short book! ( )
  alanna1122 | Feb 8, 2021 |
I picked this one up after a meh-ish experience with one of de Botton's other books. I've concluded that, though he often writes about issues and ideas that I find interesting, his writing style is not one that I prefer. I enjoyed reading about his week in Heathrow, but the philosophical tone, florid language, and excessive use of metaphors kept bogging down my pleasure in the reading. ( )
  resoundingjoy | Jan 1, 2021 |
What do you get when an airport approaches a philosopher?
Heathrow gave de Botton carte blanch to go behind the scenes and see anything and everything, talk to anyone, and write about it as the airport's artist in residence for a week.
Exploring the themes of good-byes, hellos and everything in-between, de Botton gives a brief but moving portrait of one of this worlds spaces that manages to feel outside of any sort of specific site or space. ( )
  Colleen5096 | Oct 29, 2020 |
Say what you will about Alain de Botton, this short volume set at Heathrow's then newly-opened Terminal 5 is as good as it gets. Less reliant on the work of other writers and philosophers than he tends to be in his other books (which I have enjoyed but mention of which causes the rolling of eyes among my friends), this is a magnificent study of a building that fits one of the most important, least contemplated purposes of our lives. Brief, but there's wisdom in its brevity.

https://youtu.be/zvVfg5TOBpE ( )
  soylentgreen23 | Mar 19, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
Let me start by saying, on a purely aesthetic note, that De Botton’s books are always graphically interesting and stylistically ahead of the black-and-white pack.
The bizarre idea behind this work is that Alain de Botton would become London’s Heathrow Airport’s first “writer-in-residence,” stationed for an entire week in the new Terminal 5, observing passengers and talking with staff from shoe-shiners to security guards. His observations run the full gamut of the airport experience (he is no PR mouthpiece for Heathrow, as the premise of this book almost hints), from the uncomfortable (awakening at 5:30 am to the sound of descending planes), to the vast (the pure scale of Terminal 5, coupled with the diversity of humanity to walk its corridors), to the materialistic (the reverence for the executive lounge, which reeks of a caste system to me), to the inspiring (groups holding handmade signs to welcome back loved ones from far away).

 

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Alain De Bottonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Baker, RichardPhotographersecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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While punctuality lies at the heart of what we typically understand by a good trip, I have often longed for my plane to be delayed-- so that I might be forced to spend a bit more time at the airport.
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We all spend longer than we would like waiting around in airports, but we rarely discover anything about our fellow travellers or those who work there.In the summer of 2009, however, Alain de Botton was given unprecedented, unrestricted access to wander around Heathrow, one of the world's biggest airports, having been appointed its Writer-in-Residence. He spoke with everyone from airline staff and senior executives to travellers passing through, and based on these conversations he produced this extraordinary account of life at an airport and what it says about modern existence.Working with the renowned documentary photographer Richard Baker, he explores the magical and the mundane, and the stories that inhabit this strange 'non-place' that we are usually eager to leave. Taking the reader through the departures lounge, 'airside' and the arrivals hall, de Botton shows with his usual combination of wit and wisdom that spending time in an airport can be more useful and more revealing than we might think.

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