A Week at the Airport, Alain de Botton 2009

A brief, gimmick-based book but, as usual with de Botton, a fascinating and entertaining story about his week as a writer-in-residence at Heathrow’s Terminal 5, a Richard Rogers designed modern hub.  The author interviews everyone from the CEO of British Airways to luggage handlers, housekeepers, the terminal’s clergyman, and departing and arriving passengers all the while sleeping at the airport hotel and eating all of his meals there.  Alternately fascinated and awed by the technical, engineering and science of modern aviation and the human comedy and tragedy concentrated at this hub of modern life, de Botton views travel as the remedy for the daily imbroglio of mundane and angry moods.  He is so spot on with my own feelings of travel from the secret fear in security that I might be carrying a bomb to the melancholy of being reunited with your luggage, to the omnipresent thought that you will be greeted even in a city where you know nobody.  A delightful little book.