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3.9 out of 5 stars32
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 13 October 2007
I love Alain de Botton's 'Architecture of Happiness" and "The Art of Travel"; highly intelligent and wonderful books. This book was like sitting in a pub, listening to one of your friends who has just be dumped. If you like people who wallow in self pity, and talk about 'so called love' this book is for you; but this book had me running for the hills! It just made me think that possibly the author has never experience true love. Dissappointing, and quite sad.
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on 4 May 2009
The intelligence of Alain De Botton (ADB hereafter) is unquestionable, after reading most of his other books I picked this one up while writing a book on the subject of love myself. I don't know if the relationship ADB describes is fictional, but I hope so. Describing love through an immature and deeply dysfunctional relationship is like reasoning the nature of religion through a punk-rock suicide cult. It describes nothing about the nature of love, simply how deeply sociopathic people tend to be because they do not understand love. ADBs only win in this book is that he does not give any answer as to what love is, and in this he hits one true note in that love is likely to be very subjective. But at this it fails to ask any of the questions that we should ask ourselves about love, and thus completely fails to do anything but reassure us that immaturity is natural and probably unavoidable. I think this is a deeply disturbing and paralyzing message to send, and even if the book is well written I give it one star because I see it as one of the biggest blunders in attempts to write about love.

It might be argued that ADB tries to tell us what love isn't in this book, but then it should offer alternatives or at least questions that lead us to make our reach our own ideas. There is no genious in painting an ugly picture, hanging it on the wall and then expecting that people will replace it with a beautiful one. And the painter should definately not be deluded enough to believe that s/he can take credit for the replacement.

Also it could be argued that it is inspiring in its own right, but I found myself downright despairing while reading it. And this is probably the best reason for not picking it up - while other books by ADB are very uplifting this is a trip down a pointless painful path. The few pieces of wisdom hidden in this rather short book can easily by found in other much greater books on the subject (and in other of ADBs books). "The art of loving" by Fromm and "Love and loneliness" by Krishnamurti are more contemporary alternatives on the subject of love. Also one could dig into the philosophy of Kant, while not writing about love he writes about moral, which is quite easy to apply to love and relationships. Why ADB who has clearly read both Kant and Sartre chooses to write this book I cannot fathom, I simply hope to have dissuaded anyone from reading it.

Again I want to make it clear that I have great respect for ADB and his other works, and especially The art of travel and Status anxiety are shining gems, then the consolations of philosophy also bulk of insightful, witty and intelligent points. Do not refrain from reading his other books, even if you started with this one.
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