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Status Anxiety [Paperback]

Alain de Botton
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
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Book Description

13 Jan 2005

In Status Anxiety, bestselling author Alain de Botton sets out to understand our universal fear of failure - and how we might change.

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. The result is a book that is not only entertaining and thought-provoking - but genuinely wise and helpful as well.

'Clever, wise. De Botton's gift is to prompt us to think about how we live and how we might change things' The Times

'De Botton analyses modern society with great charm, learning and humour. His remedies come as a welcome relief when most books offering solutions to the stresses of life recommend the lotus position' Daily Mail

'Measured, amused, compassionate . . . de Botton is a surefooted discoverer of the pungent but less well known quote' Daily Telegraph

'A purveyor of serious buy playful manuals for living' GQ

'Turned me into a fan, for its range, insight, wit and sheer usefulness' Daily Express

Alain de Botton's bestselling books include Essays in Love; The Romantic Movement; Kiss and Tell; Status Anxiety; How Proust Can Change Your Life; The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work; The Art of Travel; The Architecture of Happiness and Religion for Atheists. He lives in London and founded The School of Life ( and Living Architecture ( For more information, consult

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; Re-issue edition (13 Jan 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141014865
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141014869
  • Product Dimensions: 13.4 x 2.6 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 15,006 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Alain de Botton is the author of Essays in Love (1993), The Romantic Movement (1994), Kiss and Tell (1995), How Proust can Change your Life (1997), The Consolations of Philosophy (2000) The Art of Travel (2002), Status Anxiety (2004) and most recently, The Architecture of Happiness (2006).

Product Description


De Botton analyses modern society with great charm, learning and humour. His remedies come as a welcome relief when most books offering solutions to the stresses of life recommend the lotus position (Daily Mail)

Measured, amused, compassionate . . . de Botton is a surefooted discoverer of the pungent but less well-known quote (Daily Telegraph)

A purveyor of serious but playful manuals for living (GQ)

Turned me into a fan, for its range, insight, wit and sheer usefulness (Daily Express)

About the Author

Alain de Botton was born in 1969. He is the author of Essays in Love, The Romantic Movement, Kiss and Tell, How Proust Can Change Your Life, The Consolations of Philosophy and The Art of Travel. He lives in London.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
69 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Confirming and thought-provoking. 13 Sep 2005
By David
This is a feel-good book for anyone who thinks a bit about society and their place in it. Alain de Boton is like an incredibly well-read and eloquent participant in a discussion taking place in your head, confirming and developing so many thoughts and ideas that you've always had but are unlikely to have had the chance to ever analyse properly.
Importantly, the book steers clear of direct instruction on how you should respond to society, and for me it was the regularly evoked chains of thought that provided the greatest moments of realisation and satisfaction.
Taken at face value and read quickly, this book would still be a very interesting read, but it becomes a truly excellent one when used as an informed launch-pad for your own judgements, thoughts and ideas.
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70 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heal Me Mr De Boton 18 Mar 2004
Having loved Alain De Botton's previous books I approached Satatus Anxiety with some trepidation. Would it live up to it's author's own standards. The answer is a resounding yes. Status Anxiety is as well researched and as witty book as you could read.
In fact Alain de Botton might be the greatest labour saving device since the personal computer. He's read all the books we know we should have, and with a cheeky anecdotal style he makes sense of our lives while leaving the sense of his sources un-diminished. In The Consolations of Philosophy, he digested and explained the great philosophers, giving us an executive summary for coping with our jealousies and the anxiety of being human. Status Anxiety, finds De Botton analysing the ox-coveting curtain-twitcher in all of us. Ours is an age where we spend it like Beckham even if we can't quite earn it, Status Anxiety goes some way to revealing why. Alain de Botton, every home should have one.
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50 of 53 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Modern life and human nature 3 Feb 2005
By ejtooth
This book is divided into two sections: the first defining the problem the second possible solutions
The first section is a compelling analysis of the human condition and how our (modern) world plays upon our predisposition and fears. The second section, while equally well reasoned took me to where I could see dry land but left me stranded on a sand bar. It offers no new solutions but only the consolations of philosophy politics religion or non-conformity. In short de Botton concedes that we are captive to our often punishing assessment of ourselves as handed to us by society and faced with that, perhaps the best we can do is to change the way we consider that assessment - to change one value system for another more humane.
Having said that, these solutions are solutions and certainly well worth considering, however I suspect that the type of person who buys this book may have covered much of this ground already.
I don't wish to appear negative about a book that I valued and will certainly recommend and it is perhaps to his credit as a scholar, that he is honest enough not to peddle any simple solutions - but - part of me wished he had sold me something and not just set out the stall.

I found the book clear well reasoned well written and understandable. It is also a good read - this was a book that I read in a couple of days. It is obvious that Alain de Botton has an enviable understanding of his subject and it was a pleasure for a lazy reader to be guided through such a wide tapestry of thinkers - I have in the past tried to read some of these authors but have been defeated by their verbiage. All in all a very good read and a valuable tool to make you assess the way you live your life and react to the world and other people
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Is status really worth having? 10 Jun 2004
Status Anxiety puts forward a proposition about society that is genuinely compelling and quite convincing. The book follows a logical structure starting with a discussion of the causes of status anxiety and finishes with some inspiring solutions. The text is generally clear and straightforward, although disappointingly has a tendency at times to ramble into unnecessarily philosophical language - destroying the clarity of thought meticulously built up over several pages.
Stick with it though, and you will find yourself thinking more deeply about what status is and whether it is really worth having.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but not his best work 17 Mar 2004
By A Customer
The beauty of The Art of Travel was the way that de Botton intertwined the travel experiences of characters from the last 3000 years of civilisation with his own, present-day experiences. He uses similar figures from history to illustrate and ease our anxieties about status, but fails to link history to modern-day situations in the same engaging way. Apart from the fact that this makes the narrative rather flat, one is unfortunately left with the impression that perhaps de Botton does not experience these anxieties clearly himself. He comes across as the detached intellectual without a true grasp of the realities of modern life.
Never-the-less, interesting subject matter that made me realise that unless you divorce happiness from status, happiness will be a very elusive state of mind.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great pleasure 10 Jun 2004
By A Customer
I read Anxiety Satus with great pleasure. I have read all of Alain de Botton's books and they just get better and better. While I don't endorse all of his stated opinions, I delight in his style of presentation and the musicality of prose; and this appreciation is heightened by the fact that he presents opinions with which I ocassionally disagree. And then, all the other stuff; historical, philosophical and literary references etc. to seduce the reader. Alain de Botton is a philosopher he communicates simply, ideas that matter.
As a cynic who never understood status and it's pursuit ( or at least the status I was expected to pursue) this book has given me an understanding of what it is all about and so enabled me to adopt a kinder attitude to my husband who is frequently tormented by such concerns. But even more importantly it has made me feel ok about being different - I had for years been feigning interest in my friends' and colleagues' new trophies. They of course atributed to me a share of the love my husband earned with his own generous collection. While I don't intend coming out of the closet just yet - de Botton has made it a possibility for the future.
Read it and see what it does for you.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 month ago by Mike Arch
5.0 out of 5 stars Not everyone's idea of a holiday read, but definitely perfect for my...
A thoroughly enjoyable canter through a subject that I had never really given much thought to before. I love his style of writing. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Mrs E. A. A. Rolph
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good but left me feeling dissatisfied
This book put into words my anxiety and dissatisfaction regarding some areas of my life where I feel that I do not measure up to the status ideal. Read more
Published 8 months ago by MONICA
5.0 out of 5 stars True Wisdom
De Botton has that gift of showing you things you'll think ought to have been blindingly obvious. Sardonic and elegant, and a very addictive style.
Published 8 months ago by Craig Campbell
3.0 out of 5 stars Torn between academia and self-help but ultimately neither
Not sure who the readership of such a book as this might be, but I'll be my bottom dollar that none of them are Bohemians, Christians or MP's. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Gurjit
4.0 out of 5 stars Keeping up with the Jones
Very interesting read. Should be read by those who are worried by what people may think of them and should be read by those who know those type of people. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Lucy
4.0 out of 5 stars Very thought provoking book
Although I am reading it to give myself ideas for my dissertation for university it is written very simply, and gets you thinking about life and how we look at it. Read more
Published 19 months ago by GF
4.0 out of 5 stars Many ideas within book.
I found this book well researched and informative-Alain De Botton clearly knows the area of society,class disctinction throughout modern and ancient history well. Read more
Published on 30 Oct 2012 by Mr. K. Sabri-tabrizi
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read
The summary as written on line prepared one for this book. No great surprises. Enjoyable to read if this is your taste in literature
Published on 27 Oct 2012 by pat neale
4.0 out of 5 stars Pity about the illustrations
I am mystified as to why most of the illustrations do not appear in the Kindle version. Is it to do with copyright clearance? Read more
Published on 28 Aug 2012 by Benb
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