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The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work
The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work
by Alain de Botton
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.69

3.0 out of 5 stars I wish I could rate it higher than this..., 12 July 2013
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Alain de Botton has decided to take up an extremelly large and daunting project - nothing less than attempting to assign meaning to the daily grind faced by the modern worker. Despite failing to do this (I don't think any philosopher, living or dead, can lay claim to this impossible feat) the book is not without worth.

What I personally enjoyed was being given a detailed and often photographic insight into a myriad of professions, whose workings I never could have pictured. It was very interesting to be told the story of the painter, who had spent years and years painting the same tree; there are certainly some inspiring stories of human endeavour and self-sacrifice to be had. If you read the free extract on amazon, you cannot help being drawn in by de Botton's beautiful and observent writing style - I found myself touched when he comments on the lack of interest between two workers in their exchage at the shipping port; why do we so often miss out on so much potential information through a habitual lack of interest?

After having said what I enjoyed about the book, I am finding it difficult to state in words why I cannot rate it higher than three stars. Perhaps I expected something different, more concrete (I myself am just starting out on the career ladder.) I wanted to gain something from this book that I don't think it can offer; it functions more as a work of creative writing than a guide to the world of work. Maybe it is because of his style; de Botton can embellish even the most boring and mundane subject. This is a book that requires much engagement on a personal level and, for me, his philosophical failure tarnishes the whole experience.

The Art of Travel I found to be much more stimulating

Doing English (Doing... Series)
Doing English (Doing... Series)
by Robert Eaglestone
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.63

5.0 out of 5 stars Wish I had read this at the start of A-Level, 10 Jan 2011
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This book outlines many of the ideas central to the study of English Literature and how they have evolved over time. The bibliography at the end is specific to each chapter and is very useful for those thay want to read more about a specific issue. Highly reccommened!

How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading (A Touchstone book)
How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading (A Touchstone book)
by Mortimer J. Adler
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.59

7 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Inflated, states the obvious and out-dated, 10 Jan 2011
Seeing so many positive reviews for this book on Amazon has produced in me two feelings - surprise and (oddly) pride in the human ability to endure so much waffle!

I bought this book with the intent of improving my reading skills in preperation for University and have so far been very disappointed. The facts within the book are extremely simple and based on basic common sense. For example, the authors reccommend underlining key phrases and quotations - anyone that has been through the schooling system should already be overly familiar with this technique. Very new content at all!!

The archaic language and structure, the sheer...wordiness of this book makes using it as a reference a massive chore since you have to wade through all swathes of uninformative padding to reach anything useful (of which there is very little!)

Maybe my expectations of this book have been too high (perhaps due to the fourteen 5-Star reviews...) but I really feel that a lot of time could potentially be wasted spent trawling through the drivel that surrounds the few small pieces of deccent advice.

There is some relevent and useful information to be gathered from reading this book (although even that is based on common sense and what many will have covered in school) but I'm pretty certain that if you committed an hour to google searching you would find information that is not only just as good, if not better, but also written by someone who knows how to get to the point!

Summary: Buy if you have the time and Iron Hard endurance to sit through 400 odd pages of stuff that, essentially, a well informed and slightly worldy high-school English student could have vomitted up.
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