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What was stunning about the Proust book was de Botton's brazen annexing of a hallowed novelist to address lite emotional problems. That format is less arresting when applied to the philosophers, since which earnest philosophy major has not, from time to time, tried to apply the alpine heights of thought to his own humble worries? Usually, sophomoric attempts to turn to, say, Kant for advice on love tend to be unmitigated disasters. In de Botton's case, however, he is able to find consolation for a broken heart in Schopenhauer, consolation for inadequacy in Montaigne. Epicurus, usually associated with a love of luxury, is a solace for those of us without much money--and de Botton learns from him that "objects mimic in a material dimension what we require in a psychological one. We need to rearrange our minds but are lured towards new shelves. We buy a cashmere cardigan as a substitute for the counsel of friends."
Lest the reader become burdened by all this philosophizing, the book is peppered with illustrations--the section on Nietzsche of course includes a DC Comics drawing of Superman. And it's further leavened by the author's personal anecdotes and winning confessional tone. Early on, for instance, he admits his own gnawing need for popularity: "A desire to please led me to laugh at modest jokes like a parent on the opening night of a school play." Before he became a medicine man for the soul, de Botton was a first-rate novelist, and it shows in his writing. --Claire Dederer --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Well worth reding. Very concise, well structured and written.
This book gives the reader an insight into Philosophy that is interesting, entertaining and leaves the reader... Read more
A selective overview of major philosophers and their views on the human condition. Especially notable in the intersection of philosophy and psychology.Published 1 month ago by MAK
This book was "meh"- just not as clever or thought provoking as his reading Proust book is. It was a mostly enjoyable read- just not thought provoking (which is kind of... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Jennifer Townsend
The style is clear and entertaining, the illustrations delightful, but at the end I am not so much consoled as persuaded that it is OK to rationalize almost anything.Published 2 months ago by Jo Winn
with Alain de Botton.
A really great read, especially if you've been experiencing any of the particular pains discussed in the book. Read more
Some people may have issues with Alain De Botton, but I'm not one of them. Is he a little bit "precious," as one critic put it? Read morePublished 4 months ago by Matthew M. Howell
I was looking forward to some serious engagement with philosophers I admire but seek to learn more about. Read morePublished 4 months ago by libby