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Alain de Botton combines two unlikely genres--literary biography and self-help manual--in the hilarious and unexpectedly practical How Proust Can Change Your Life. Who would have thought that Marcel Proust, one of the most important writers of our century, could provide us with such a rich source of insight into how best to live life? Proust understood that the essence and value of life was the sum of its everyday parts. As relevant today as they were at the turn of the century, Proust's life and work are transformed here into a no-nonsense guide to, among other things, enjoying your vacation, reviving a relationship, achieving original and unclichéd articulation, being a good host, recognizing love, and understanding why you should never sleep with someone on a first date. It took de Botton to find the inspirational in Proust's essays, letters and fiction and, perhaps even more surprising, to draw out a vivid and clarifying portrait of the master from between the lines of his work. Here is Proust as we have never seen or read him before: witty, intelligent, pragmatic. He might well change your life.
Curiously practical—this no-nonsense blend of literary biography and self-help unravels how interesting life can be if only you could resist the impulse to rush through the mundane rituals of modern life. Every morning, Marcel Proust sipped his two cups of strong coffee with milk, ate a croissant from one boulangerie, dunking it in his coffee as he slowly read the day’s paper with great care—poring over each headline and section. Only Alain de Botton could have pulled so many useful insights from the oeuvre of one the world’s greatest literary masters. Fascinating and vital, How to Take Your Time will urge you to find the wisdom in defying “the self-satisfaction felt by ‘busy’ men—however idiotic their business—at ‘not having time’ to do what you are doing.” A Vintage Shorts Wellness selection. An ebook short.
From the international bestselling author of The Architecture of Happiness and How Proust Can Change Your Life comes this lyrical, erudite look at our world of work. We spend most of our time at work, but what we do there rarely gets discussed in the sort of lyrical and descriptive prose our efforts surely deserve. Determined to correct this lapse, armed with a poetic perspective and his trademark philosophical sharpness, Alain de Botton heads out into the world of offices and factories, ready to take in the beauty, interest, and sheer strangeness of the modern workplace. De Botton spends time in and around some less familiar work environments, including warehouses, container ports, rocket launch pads, and power stations, and follows scientists, landscape painters, accountants, cookie manufacturers, therapists, entrepreneurs, and aircraft salesmen as they do their jobs. Along the way, de Botton tries to answer some of the most urgent questions we can pose about work: Why do we do it? What makes it pleasurable? What is its meaning? To what end do we daily exhaust not only ourselves but also our planet? Equally intrigued by work’s pleasures and its pains, Alain de Botton offers a characteristically lucid and witty tour of the working day and night, in a book sure to inspire a range of life-changing and wise thoughts. From the Hardcover edition.
The bestselling author of The Architecture of Happiness and The Art of Travel spends a week at an airport in a wittily intriguing meditation on the "non-place" that he believes is the centre of our civilization. In the summer of 2009, Alain de Botton was invited by the owners of Heathrow airport to become their first ever writer-in-residence. Given unprecedented, unrestricted access to wander around one of the world's busiest airports, he met travellers from all over the globe, and spoke with everyone from baggage handlers to pilots, and senior executives to the airport chaplain. Based on these conversations he has produced this extraordinary meditation on the nature of travel, work, relationships, and our daily lives. Working with the renowned documentary photographer Richard Baker, he explores the magical and the mundane, and the interactions of travellers and workers all over this familiar but mysterious "non-place," which by definition we are eager to leave. Taking the reader through departures, "air-side," and the arrivals hall, de Botton shows with his usual combination of wit and wisdom that spending time in an airport can be more revealing than we might think. From the Trade Paperback edition.
Anyone who’s ever lost sleep over an unreturned phone call or the neighbor’s Lexus had better read Alain de Botton’s irresistibly clear-headed new book, immediately. For in its pages, a master explicator of our civilization and its discontents turns his attention to the insatiable quest for status, a quest that has less to do with material comfort than with love. To demonstrate his thesis, de Botton ranges through Western history and thought from St. Augustine to Andrew Carnegie and Machiavelli to Anthony Robbins. Whether it’s assessing the class-consciousness of Christianity or the convulsions of consumer capitalism, dueling or home-furnishing, Status Anxiety is infallibly entertaining. And when it examines the virtues of informed misanthropy, art appreciation, or walking a lobster on a leash, it is not only wise but helpful. From the Trade Paperback edition.
Bestselling author Alain de Botton considers how our private homes and public edifices influence how we feel, and how we could build dwellings in which we would stand a better chance of happiness. In this witty, erudite look at how we shape, and are shaped by, our surroundings, Alain de Botton applies Stendhal’s motto that “Beauty is the promise of happiness” to the spaces we inhabit daily. Why should we pay attention to what architecture has to say to us? de Botton asks provocatively. With his trademark lucidity and humour, de Botton traces how human needs and desires have been served by styles of architecture, from stately Classical to minimalist Modern, arguing that the stylistic choices of a society can represent both its cherished ideals and the qualities it desperately lacks. On an individual level, de Botton has deep sympathy for our need to see our selves reflected in our surroundings; he demonstrates with great wisdom how buildings — just like friends — can serve as guardians of our identity. Worrying about the shape of our sofa or the colour of our walls might seem self-indulgent, but de Botton considers the hopes and fears we have for our homes at a new level of depth and insight. When shopping for furniture or remodelling the kitchen, we don’t just consider functionality but also the major questions of aesthetics and the philosophy of art: What is beauty? Can beautiful surroundings make us good? Can beauty bring happiness? The buildings we find beautiful, de Botton concludes, are those that represent our ideas of a meaningful life. The Architecture of Happiness marks a return to what Alain does best — taking on a subject whose allure is at once tantalizing and a little forbidding and offering to readers a completely beguiling and original exploration of the subject. As he did with Proust, philosophy, and travel, now he does with architecture. From the Hardcover edition.
From the author of How Proust Can Change Your Life, a delightful, truly consoling work that proves that philosophy can be a supreme source of help for our most painful everyday problems. Perhaps only Alain de Botton could uncover practical wisdom in the writings of some of the greatest thinkers of all time. But uncover he does, and the result is an unexpected book of both solace and humor. Dividing his work into six sections -- each highlighting a different psychic ailment and the appropriate philosopher -- de Botton offers consolation for unpopularity from Socrates, for not having enough money from Epicurus, for frustration from Seneca, for inadequacy from Montaigne, and for a broken heart from Schopenhauer (the darkest of thinkers and yet, paradoxically, the most cheering). Consolation for envy -- and, of course, the final word on consolation -- comes from Nietzsche: "Not everything which makes us feel better is good for us." This wonderfully engaging book will, however, make us feel better in a good way, with equal measures of wit and wisdom.

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