At dinner parties and over coffee, Rabih and Kirsten's friends always ask them the same question: how did you meet? The answer comes easily - it's a happy story, one they both love to tell. But there is a second part to this story, the answer to a question their friends never ask: what happened next? Rabih and Kirsten find each other, fall in love, get married. Society tells us this is the end of the story. In fact it is only the beginning.
For anyone who ever wondered what Marcel Proust had in mind when he wrote the one-and-a-quarter-million words of In Search of Lost Time (while bedridden no less), Alain de Botton has the answer. For, in this stylish, erudite and frequently hilarious book, de Botton dips deeply into Proust's life and work - his fiction, letter, and conversations - and distils from them that rare self-help manual: one that is actually helpful.
"Prose at its most elegant, beautifully performed"
We are never really taught how to make sense of the torrent of news we face every day, writes Alain de Botton (author of the best-selling The Architecture of Happiness), but this has a huge impact on our sense of what matters and of how we should lead our lives. In his dazzling new book, de Botton takes twenty-five archetypal news stories - including an airplane crash, a murder, a celebrity interview and a political scandal - and submits them to unusually intense analysis with a view to helping us navigate our news-soaked age.
"Great book. Essential listening/ reading"
The boring debate between fundamentalist believers and non-believers is finally moved on by Alain de Botton's inspiring new book, which boldly argues that the supernatural claims of religion are of course entirely false - and yet that religions still have important things to teach the secular world.
Essays in Love is a stunningly original love story. Taking in Aristotle, Wittgenstein, history, religion and Groucho Marx, Alain de Botton charts the progress of a love affair from the first kiss to argument and reconciliation, from intimacy and tenderness to the onset of anxiety and heartbreak.
"Not for the lonely ..."
We spend most of our waking lives at work - in occupations often chosen by our unthinking 16-year-old selves. And yet we rarely ask ourselves how we got there or what it might mean for us. Equally intrigued by work's pleasures and its pains, Alain de Botton heads into the office, the factory, the fishing fleet, and the logistics centre, ears and eyes open to the beauty, interest, and sheer strangeness of the modern workplace. Why do we do it? What makes it pleasurable? And why do we daily exhaust not only ourselves but also the planet?
"This book is a poem"
In ancient Greece or Rome, philosophers were seen as natural authorities on the most pressing questions. However, since then, the idea of finding wisdom from philosophy has come to seem bizarre. Enter a university department today and ask to study wisdom, and you will politely but firmly be shown the door. The Consolations of Philosophy sets out to refute the notion that good philosophy must be irrelevant and gathers together six great philosophers who were convinced of the power of philosophical insight to work a practical effect on our lives.
In his extraordinary new book, Alain de Botton explores the importance of buildings in our lives, pondering our attachment to our homes and considering such questions as: Why do people disagree about taste? Can beautiful surroundings make us good?
Alain de Botton believes that philosophy can help people enjoy happier lives. And in his numerous best sellers, from Status Anxiety to The Art of Travel, his unique blend of erudition and self-help has reached an audience eager to listen. In On Seeing and Noticing, Alain de Botton takes everyday concerns such as expressing sadness or being romantic and dispenses advice and observations based on the works of some of history's greatest writers, artists and thinkers.
We all worry about what others think of us. We all long to succeed and fear failure. We all suffer - to a greater or lesser degree, usually privately and with embarrassment - from status anxiety. For the first time, Alain de Botton gives a name to his universal condition and sets out to investigate both its origins and possible solutions. He looks at history, philosophy, economics, art, and politics - and reveals the many ingenious ways that great minds have overcome their worries. The result is a book that is not only entertaining and thought-provoking - but genuinely wise and helpful as well.
"An in depth look at the history of status"
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.
Aside from love, few actvities seem to promise us as much happiness as going traveling: taking off for somewhere else, somewhere far from home, a place with more interesting weather, customs, and landscapes. But although we are inundated with advice on where to travel, few people seem to talk about why we should go and how we can become more fulfilled by doing so.
"Great book... better to read than listen though."
One of the great, but often unmentioned, causes of both happiness and misery is the quality of our environment: the kind of walls, chairs, buildings, and streets we're surrounded by. And yet a concern for architecture and design is too often described as frivolous, even self-indulgent. The Architecture of Happiness starts from the idea that where we are heavily influences who we can be - and argues that it is architecture's task to stand as an eloquent reminder of our full potential.
View your sex life in a different light and learn how it can make you happier. Sex is the most intimately human experience there is. It is can also be the most confusing. Our desire to be together conflicts with our desire to avoid vulnerability and appear 'normal', leaving us detached, desensitised or embarrassed. Covering topics including adultery, lust, pornography and impotence, Alain de Botton argues that 21st century sex will always be a balancing act of trust versus risk, and of primal desire versus studied civility.
"Alain knows us"
In The Romantic Movement, Alain de Botton explores the progress of a love affair from first meeting to breaking up, intercut with musings on the nature of art of love. The relationship between Alice, an advertising executive, and Eric, a banker, is examined at every stage, supplemented by quizzes and commentary by a chorus of great philosophers, from Descartes to Plato to Aretha Franklin. The Romantic Movement will charm listeners and lovers alike with wit, insight, and intelligence.
Dr. Samuel Johnson observed that everyone's life is a subject worthy of the biographer's art. Accused by a former girlfriend of being unable to empathise, the narrator of Kiss & Tell takes Johnson's idea to heart and decides to write about the next person who walks into his life. He meets Isabel Rogers, a production assistant at a small stationery company in London, apparently an ordinary woman. But as the biographer's understanding of Isabel deepens, she becomes remarkable.
We all worry about what others think of us. We all long to succeed and fear failure. We all suffer, to a greater or lesser degree, usually privately and with embarrassment, from status anxiety. For the first time, Alain de Botton gives a name to this universal condition and sets out to investigate both its origins and possible solutions. He looks at history, philosophy, economics, art, and politics, and reveals the many ingenious ways that great minds have overcome their worries.
"Talking about taboos"
Atheists are finally coming out of the closet, and in some cases denouncing religion. Others still crave a sense of the sacred even though they don't believe in God. Do atheists have something to learn from religion? Why do so many people call themselves "spiritual but not religious"? And why did bestselling novelist Anne Rice split very publicly with the Catholic Church?
"I suspect that the airport will be the true city of the next century. The great airports are already suburbs of an invisible world capital, a virtual metropolis whose faubourgs are named Heathrow, Kennedy, Charles de Gaulle, Nagoya, a centripetal city whose population forever circles its notional centre, and will never need to gain access to its dark heart."