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on 22 April 2006
The author starts by reflecting on sadness and states that sad works of art do not always make us sad and that sad books actually tend to console readers who are in a sad mood. He gives the example of Edward Hopper who took an interest in cars and trains since travelling tends to put us in a melancholy and introspective mood conducive to internal conversation.

The author's next topic is authenticity and he examines how this notion fluctuates in our daily social intercourse. He then reflects on the relationship between work and the feeling of happiness with the help of authors like St Augustine, B. Franklin, Diderot or Rousseau, reminding us that workers are mere tools in a process in which their own happiness is incidental at best. Thus we shouldn't rely on work to deliver happiness which should make it more bearable.

The pleasure of visiting a zoo may be marred by the fact that animals seem more human and humans more animal in such a place.

Or the fact that certain boring places like Zurich still feature a certain degree of charm. The final part is devoted to comedy. The author shows that humour is a way of anchoring criticism and is an attempt to name anxiety about status.

An interesting little publication full of wisdom which shows how knowledgeable Mr De Botton is.
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on 1 September 2007
An amazing series of essays on, well, just being. from the pleasures of sadness to the charm of boring places to being a single man (a chapter i read over and over sighing on its uncannuly accurate observations)this book covers covers a variety of situations and episodes on the human condition and leaves you feeling adn thinking on a different level. if you can find it (this book was a limited edition as part of the penguin 70th anniversary celelbrations) buy it. at £1.50 it has to be the best puond fo rpound buy ever! enjoy
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on 30 August 2012
Picked this up to sample de Botton's work. It's a good, very quick read with interesting views on a variety of topics such as the honesty of relationships, airports, going to the zoo and the boring-ness of Zurich. Will try one of his full-length books at some point.
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on 17 January 2012
A short and sweet book, elegantly written and nice little encouragement to appreciate the things we normally see as routine. However, as a philosophical piece it's definitely a case of style over substance - de Botton doesn't so much discuss philosophical concepts in his essays as romanticise them. For example, in 'On Authenticity', there is virtually no discussion of the 'authentic self', and in fact he begins with the assumption that there is such a thing. He also seems woefully ignorant of the world outside his own (modern, Western, male, bourgeois) sphere of life, something that reflects poorly in his generalised statements (particularly puzzling is his theory that 'our culture' is defined by its career, whereas our predecessors were not, and that everyone expects work to be enjoyable). So, if you're looking for philosophy, you'd be better off turning away now. But if you're looking for unabashed but elegant aestheticism and a little something to think about while on the train, perhaps this is what you're looking for.
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on 23 February 2017
Very good condition
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on 27 October 2012
The summary as written on line prepared one for this book. No great surprises. Enjoyable to read if this is your taste in literature
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