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The News: A User's Manual [Kindle Edition]

Alain de Botton
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Alain de Botton explores our relationship with 'the news' in this book full of his trademark wit and wisdom.

Following on from his bestselling Religion for Atheists, Alain de Botton turns now to look at the manic and peculiar positions that 'the news' occupies in our lives. We invest it with an authority and importance which used to be the preserve of religion - but what does it do for us?

Mixing current affairs with philosophical reflections, de Botton offers a brilliant illustrated guide to the precautions we should take before venturing anywhere near the news and the 'noise' it generates. Witty and global in reach, The News will ensure you'll never look at reports of a celebrity story or political scandal in quite the same way again.

Praise for Religion for Atheists:

'Smart and stimulating . . . a sensitive analysis of the deeply human needs that faith meets' Financial Times

'A serious and optimistic set of practical ideas that could improve and alter the way we live . . . energetic and on the side of the angels' Jeanette Winterson, The Times

'Packed with tantalising goads to thought and playful prompts to action' Independent

Alain de Botton's bestselling books include Religion for Atheists, How Proust Can Change Your Life, The Art of Travel, and The Architecture of Happiness. He lives in London and founded The School of Life ( and Living Architecture ( For more information, consult

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"Short and pithy essays drill down beneath the news item to the general absurdity of life and observations of how the media is constantly feeding us information without real context. Interspersed throughout are references to art, literature, and culture and their more enduring messages in contrast to the impression left by the news of a desperate lack of humanity. This is a thought-provoking look at the impact of news on culture and individuals." --Vanessa Bush, "Booklist""Known for his wide-ranging curiosity and penchant for philosophical musing, the author of "How Proust Can Change Your Life, Religion for Atheists", and "The Art of Travel" has turned his attention to the news. This branch of the media that incorporates everything from war to celebrities getting pizza is almost omnipresent in our lives, and de Botton here examines how that affects us and how much longer the news can get bigger." --"The Millions", Most Anticipated: The Great 2014 Book Preview"de Botton examines excerpts of contemporary news, mixing them with philosophical observations about the impact the news has on us, why we rely on it so heavily, and how it impacts the way in which we see the world." --"Huffington Post"

About the Author

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

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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).

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars One of his weaker books..... 6 July 2014
After reading The Consolidations of Philosophy and Religion for Atheists, I was really looking forward to this book. Sadly some of the chapters are a bit weak. We occasionally get lost in his fetish with art, which I sometimes find a bit annoying. But there was some great chapters on the “power of photography” and how we rarely here about “ordinary day-to-day lives of people around the world”. Sadly the news does have a strange fetish with bad news, and it’s pretty rare to come across good news. (Maybe a good news section on page 2 might be a good idea?) It’s also interesting how the news tries to hold powerful people to account. It’s worth a read, but it’s defiantly one of his weaker books. There was even times when I was bored reading, (which is usually very rare for an Alain De Botton book). I think the book could possibly have been a bit shorter, or could have been a large chapter as part of a larger “Philosophy of modern media book”.. That said you can’t really trust what anyone really writes these days…. So read the book and come to YOUR own conclusion.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Some years ago, on the advice of a motivational guru, I was advised to stop watching the news as it would only depress me. By and large I have followed his advice, finding that if news is necessary to me it will somehow find me. I heard Alain de Boton being interviewed about this book on the radio, and thought it sounded very interesting. I don't think I've highlighted so many excerpts on my Kindle app for any book before. So many insights which I agreed with. I shall enjoy dipping into The Philosopher's Mail for interpretation of news stories in future.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good ideas, not followed up 12 Jun. 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The whole idea of analysing what the news is, and what it means to us is very interesting, but some of the conclusions to draw from that felt a bit weak and the style of examples became quite repetitive. Definitely worth a look though.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clever, insightful and surprisingly funny 6 Feb. 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I thought this was a clever, insightful and at times surprisingly funny guide to the modern media. De Botton looks at things differently and helps de-construct this messy world and challenges our pre-conceptions about it. And not in a boring "media studies" way. No doubt reviewers from the media will not like being on the receiving end of his intelligence and humour but ignore them, this is a fascinating and clever read.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
News a Users Manual is part of Alain de Botton's sublime philosophical survey of the modern world and how to exist in it and even be amused by it. He's done workplaces and art and love and now he is doing the News. I am addicted to the news like everyone else and yet I find this blizzard of information exhausting and confusing and often somewhat painful; and there is far too much of it and alot of it is unnecessary. So its a wonderful idea to write a guide, a users manual to understanding, analysing and navigating this constant flow, avalanche, this blizzard, this cannonade of information that bombards us at all times. but this book is much more than that. I have read the de Botton books since he started - first the novels of love then the Proustian and philosophical books - and I always relish his voice and his original approach. I am an author myself and I know a lot about how the news is made but I have found so many ideas and concepts and facts in this book that I hadn't known before or more often approaches I hadn't thought of. And so I especially relished not just the cleverness of the writing, the bon motes but its exceptional originality - no one else does it like this. This is a guide to modern living and I think the fun of this is that de Botton is gradually writing a body of work that should be published in one big volume on how to live in the 21st century. As always with de Botton, it is witty, its playful, its very unpolitically correct, its full of wisdom, whimsy and unusual facts but also its full of common sense and wry knowledge of the world. To read de Botton the only thing you need is a sense of humour - the sense of fun is never absent and there is usually a smile behind even his most grave pronouncements. Read more ›
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2.0 out of 5 stars Good idea but execution inconsistent. 11 April 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
What starts off as an attempt to point out the ridiculous and sometimes disturbing reliance on and interest in the News, descends into an unbalanced and rather paternalistic essay. However, as usual, the author succeeds in provoking thought.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Headline: Information epiphany 14 Mar. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book is the kind of redux the digital age really needs. It's all you need to know about to how to build cognition out of information overload. Very well played Alain de Botton.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Subject needs a great book - this wasn't it 14 Feb. 2015
For a while I've been feeling disillusioned with the news, even formerly reliable sources like The BBC. It seems increasingly to be a noxious brew of empty political rhetoric, tacky infotainment, disaster porn and sexual hysteria. So I was looking forward to this book, which promised an analysis of the news and its discontents, with a prescription for their remedy. How disappointing then to find rather shallow observations that any bright A-level student could have made, a style that meandered about without seeming to have a destination, and conclusions that seemed to amount to "don't take too much news" and "concentrate on good news stories". Not the hard-hitting, thought-provoking epistemological examination of the place of news media in our society desired by somebody who wants to be reliably informed about what goes on in the world without being overwhelmed. I find Alain de Botton a mixed blessing; he popularises the idea that philosophical thinking can be applied to everyday life, but he doesn't apply it particularly well, or thoroughly. There's a great book to be written about this subject, but I'm afraid this wasn't it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Lacking Cohesion
Not as cohesive as his other books. Some good points made and it did cause me to think about the news I consume and how I consume it but overall this could have been better.
Published 13 days ago by L. Clare-Panton
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Happy to have received a signed copy and just within a few days!
Published 3 months ago by brilliantb00ks
5.0 out of 5 stars Big surprise for me
It's been a rather long time that I read a book which so utterly surprised me. Alain de Botton's reflections on news are fascinating, really very deep and eloquently expressed. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Marc
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 6 months ago by Abplou
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Every journalist & would-be journalist should possess a copy of this book.
Published 10 months ago by Noel Lynam
1.0 out of 5 stars Patronising and banal
A disappointing book which concentrates on basically stating the obvious and patronising the reader. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Nikki
4.0 out of 5 stars good but a bit thin
I like de Botton's books and this is no exception. However, it is a bit thin - ie it has one or two strong ideas, but they could probably have been dealt with in a long magazine... Read more
Published 15 months ago by M. McLean
3.0 out of 5 stars The way we understand the news
An interesting perspective on the way daily news is presented to the public. Does not give enough on the ways in which photography enhances our understanding of many news... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Mrs Shirley Selwyn
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