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The Architecture of Happiness [Abridged, Audiobook, Unabridged] [Audio CD]

Alain de Botton
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)

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Book Description

20 April 2006
In his extraordinary new book, Alain de Botton considers the hopes and fears we have for our homes at a new level of depth and insight, considering such questions as: Why do people disagree about taste? Can beautiful surroundings make us good? Not to mention: What makes a window frame attractive? Rooted in the idea that architecture has the power to influence how we feel and that we are different people in different buildings, The Beauty of Houses suggests how we might learn to build better, more attractive dwellings, in which we would stand a higher chance of happiness.

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Product details

  • Audio CD: 3 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; Unabridged edition (20 April 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141806753
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141806754
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 12.6 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,568,920 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


Clever, provocative and fresh as a daisy (Literary Review)

Full of splendid ideas, often happily and beautifully expressed . . . an engaging and intelligent book (Independent) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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, The Art of Travel, Status Anxiety and On Seeing and Noticing. He lives in London.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Alain de Botton probes deeply into our thoughts and ideas about the buildings around us with amazing clarity. He puts words to feelings you might have had in the back of your mind but ignored because you didn't know whether they could be expressed. When you read his words you feel enlightened and grateful for the experience. You go back into the world with a more refined set of tools to process it with.
Most books on architecture are about history and appreciation of aesthetic and cultural details. His book cuts right through that layer. What we find beautiful is the promise of an intelligent kind of happiness. A home should be a setting that reminds us of our deepest, most genuine values, our concern for others and for the environment. What we search for in architecture is not so far from what we search for in a friend.
How wonderful to have these truths subtly and intricately revealed to us as a way of counteracting all the information about fashion and design, pumped into our brains on a daily basis. There are beautiful black and white photos and engravings throughout the book to illustrate his observations.
I loved this book, read it slowly and savoured it and will definitely be reading it again. If people of de Botton's calibre, with such depth, humour and insight, were running the world there would be hope for the human race.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not a critic of modern architecture 9 Jan 2010
An interesting read, but rather than rock any architectural boats it is firmly on the modern architects side.

I suspect the title is specifically chosen to lure in those who wonder why beauty is such an anathema to modern architecture and artists. Alain de Botton seems to be happy to fall into the modern illness of searching for difference rather than asthetics.

Each chapter one gets lifted up by some relevation of why we think the way we do about Architecture only to be flattened by the assurance that we can't have such and such in our day and age.

It is surely not the problem of architecture that it can't produce great modern edifices but that it can't produce humane structures for the everyday person without resort to pastiche or brutalism. At the heart of this is the egotism of architecture which sees it self as an artform rather than a servant to humanity.
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57 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All architecture students should read 15 Jun 2006
By Andrew
This book can be considered a well balanced guide to the major philosophical and theoretical debates which affect every architect-in-training in forming their own opinions and which have been debated over the past centuries. Everything from "what is archtitecture" downwards.

Contains just enough of each point of view to enable ideas to be formed, or to guide further research, without telling you what to think. Its a composition rather than a manifesto. Every ten pages or so there is a gem of a quote. And just as you start thinking, "but what does that mean for..." you turn the page and there it is, with quotes and references and everything you need to start making up your own mind.

If as an undergrad you're only likely to read one book on theory this year, and want to avoid becoming a specialist on [insert obscure german author your tutor wants an essay on], read this for the whole picture. Its really accessibly written too. And has pictures (good heavens!). And big margins.
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73 of 84 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Literature of Redemption 23 April 2006
Botton has often flirted dangerously with a reputation for pretension, fortunately assuaged by his fresh combination of genuine erudition and earthy humour, plus his extraordinarily lucid written style. However, after the wonderfully fluffy 'Art of Travel', his humour deserted him with 'Status Anxiety' , a book which managed to frivolously embroider basic assumptions with faux-sophisticated connections with art and economics.

'The Architecture of Happiness' happily restores Botton's status of benign self-help guru. Still lacking in the humour of earlier works, this volume makes some genuinely profound statements on virtue and beauty as applied to our exteriors and interiors. It is still written in Botton's academic, philanthropic tone and is a real page-turner too.

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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By A Singh
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Being an architect student, i was looking to expand my knowledge on architecture and also wanted to see this from a philosopher's point of view. I found that De Botton is very knowledgeable in this subject and has a good understanding of architecture. However some chapter's were more useful than others, a very easy read and very interesting. But i read this after i read "Space and the Architect" by Herman Hertzberger, which is much more helpful to architecture students and everyone in general
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wish I'd read it earlier 14 Aug 2011
This is a beautifully written, erudite exploration of architecture in its broadest sense. As a 67 year old architect I wish I had been able to read it 40 years ago!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Jezza
I enjoyed this rather more than other AdB's that I've read recently. He has a lovely way with words, and he's good at both quoting aphorisms and making them up. This is not a serious study of architecture or of town planning, both of which it dips into. If you really want to know about either, read something else. It's not even a great introduction, because it doesn't point towards more substantial works - it's a bit like watching a TV programme. If you just want a nodding acquaintance with some of the issues, and the chance to feel that you have engaged with the question of aesthetics, then this is the book for you.

But I have to add one special mention; I really loved the redefinition of gossip as 'vernacular ethical philosophy'. I'll use that in future.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and enlightening for both architecture and spiritual...
Very informative, and as ever by this author, an easy read.
Published 21 days ago by Anja Convey
5.0 out of 5 stars Very stimulating read
When I was a child we used to have long walks with my parents (both architects) along the streets of my home town and listen to them discuss almost every building, every design... Read more
Published 5 months ago by D. Vakrat
2.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant Idea but ...
First problem is the small print. I haven't actually managed to read much of this book as it is such a strain to see it. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Penreader
5.0 out of 5 stars Of course!
Alain de Botton explains the built environment in ways that allow us to articulate those special qualities that make a construction sing for us. Read more
Published 8 months ago by widget
3.0 out of 5 stars Speedy delivery but stains on book
The book was delivered very quickly, however there are stains on the pages and the book is bent. Whilst I understand it was listed as "used - good condition", I wouldn't... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Amy Binding
4.0 out of 5 stars a really good one
An interesting piece to have in the library. Clever written and a classical piece of architecture easy reading. wanna buy?
Published 8 months ago by Graziella
5.0 out of 5 stars Well articulated structure
It was easy enough some years ago, when seeing de Botton on a TV discussion show, to dismiss him as pretentious. I read his first book and was very rapidly converted. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Rosalind Minett
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful entertainment
I read this in Sicily two summers ago (borrowed from the local library).

Although De Botton has his critics, it is, nevertheless, an interesting and thought provoking... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Mr. Bruce Waite
1.0 out of 5 stars an amatorish bloke who pretends to be philosopher
I wonder if this author who gets such great world acclaim is not actually a con and people didn't come to realise it yet. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Mc Cretan
5.0 out of 5 stars Great!
I chose this as a gift and the recipient was completely delighted.It arrived quickly , a great book,and no problems at all.
Published 19 months ago by H. Haddon
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