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The Architecture of Happiness Paperback – April 8, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
In contrast to "The Art of Travel" and "The Consolations of Philosophy", Botton's new book does not rely on quotations from ancient and modern philosphers and theorists to make its points. Quotations are few, but apt. In compensation, though, I feel Botton is exposing the reader more directly to his own thoughts, observations, and assessments. He is less melancholic than in his earlier works; also, less clever and cute. He's as interesting as ever; just more authentic, exposed, and confident in his own voice. As I was reading I found that the sentences I wanted to underline were mostly Botton's own, not those of someone he was quoting. One of these should give you a good idea of where this book will take you: "We arrange around us material forms which communicate to us what we need--but are at constant risk of forgetting we need--within. We turn to wallpaper, benches, paintings and streets to staunch the disappearance of our true selves." (p. 107)
It's hard to remain a sleepwalker after reading one of Alain de Botton's books. An they always bear re-reading.Read more ›
This is what is happening to me, here at Starbucks, having just finished reading Alain de Botton's The Architecture of Happiness.
Oh, such an amazing book.
Recently, I met a group of friends at [no surpirise] a Starbucks and because I arrived early, I brought my book in and read for a while. Soon they showed up and I set the book aside. My pal picked it up and read the title, flipped through it a bit, and promptly looked at me as though I had three heads, and all of them were Martian!
"What the hell are you reading this for?" he asked.
"I am totally immersed in the topic," I said. And went on to explain....
It's not about architecture, as in, how to build things. It's about the appreciation of the art that surrounds the process of all creative effort, architecture included.
The author discusses the development of so many things, from teacups to chairs to vending machines. Windows, bridges, water faucets, theatres, entire plans of cities, tables, factories, empty fields... the way we think [or don't think] about all of these things. Of course, buildings, from homes to skyscrapers, being perhaps the most prominent aesthetic consideration in our day-to-day field of vision, these get the most attention.
Why do we build as we do?
What is the history, the genesis and evolution of what we have now come to consider as architectural norms?Read more ›
Obviously we cannot live the modern life stuck out in a meadow, no matter how beautiful the scenery--but our author argues that is equally difficult (or pointless) to live in a community of soulless boxes, that architecture which fails to honor aesthetic ideals is a failure even if it keeps the weather out. Good architecture is the result not of adherence to classical ideals, budget measures or engineering goals but of a balance achieved among the almost infinite range of available architectural choices.
The author understands that in order to bring his reader to an appreciation for balance in architecture that he must provide a context--he has to demonstrate when things are out of balance. De Botton excels in providing just the right amount of history, pictorial evidence, contemporary example and discussion--in fact, his presentation is itself artfully balanced and perfectly suits his theme. There may be disagreements about the thesis; however, I think that the quality of the writing is worthy of any superlatives. Anyone familiar with Michael Palin's travelogues knows that they can't be missed regardless of the destination--Mr.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I've read his "The Art of Travel" (which, by the way, is a nearly spiritual book - superb) and another one on Proust. This present one is, well, nice. Read morePublished 10 days ago by Mark Kaminski
This book is smart, wise, and entertaining. I quote is more than once in my own work. Everyone should read this and learn its lessons.Published 1 month ago by Deborah Lapp
A delightful, insightful read. Much better than expected.Published 2 months ago by David G. Michaels
Wonderful! A book that is a joy to read if you are a lover of architecture and vital to read if you don't understand it.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
As an architectural book, the worst I've ever read. Only the most basic architectural knowledge shown by the author.Published 3 months ago by Guillermo
If you have read Alain de Botton before, there would be few surprises in this book. This book fits the standard and successful template that the author has used in some other books... Read morePublished 5 months ago by R
This is a long essay on the philosophical power of architecture. I use the word 'essay' because it has a very loose rhetorical architecture with no clearly defined goals. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Ryan Mease