From an early age I was instructed not to judge a book by its cover, just as so many other people have been taught. I find it an impossibility not to do so, since that is generally what first catches my eye. This wasn’t the case, though, with Alain de Botton’s A Week at the Airport. I knew I had to have this book as soon as I read the title – it sounded so interesting and different from anything else I had recently read.
A Week at the Airport is an entertaining story - albeit quite short at only 107 pages – about how author Alain de Botton spent a week exploring Terminal 5 at London’s Heathrow Airport. He was invited to do so by the company who runs the airport as part of a writer-in-residence program. As such, de Botton had free reign in the terminal, both in terms of exploration and about what he wrote; he says the company did not ask him for any special treatment in his account.
I found his alleged uninfluenced story to be quite captivating. I had anticipated splitting the read up into a couple of days, but I clung to it from start to finish – only a matter of a few hours due to the length. The perceptions he makes in A Week at the Airport, particularly their depth in relation to life, are quite philosophical and thought-provoking; de Botton goes beyond the mundane and tedious parts of travel to deeper levels and meaning in his observations.
On the other hand, I found a big disappointment in Alain de Botton’s A Week at the Airport. Granted, this disappointment rose from my own preconceived notion, but I cannot ignore it nonetheless; I had assumed, simply by the title, that de Botton would be spending a week at the airport, much like Tom Hanks did in The Terminal. Instead, de Botton comfortably spent his nights at a nearby hotel.
While it disappointed me that de Botton slept away from the airport, I still found pleasure since the book was nothing like I had expected. The same could be true for The Spectator‘s account on the cover saying it was “terribly funny.” It was neither of these things, although still quite enjoyable; A Week at the Airport made me think about travel, particularly relating to life, in a way I had not done in a long time. And for that simple fact, I give it a thumbs up for anyone looking for a good, quick read.