Monsieur De Botton is a darling of the chattering classes in that he allows people to talk over dinner tables about books he has read for them. However, this did not prepare me for the breathtaking vanity of this bourgeoise rent-a-philosopher. On page 26 of my paperback edition I was stunned to see a half-page photo of the author's girlfriend, her name coupled incomprehensibly with Proust's Albertine. Here is the suburban sage reminding his readers that he too is a bit of a stud and not vraiement a Proustian recluse. The audacity of this self-conceit made me restrain myself from flinging the book across the room. The rest of the text meanders along irritating by turns (can Proust tell us if it is good to wear black? - facetious titter: a full recipe for chocolate mousse - oh how we all did laugh...) etc. etc. He unwittingly reserves his greatest wisdom for the last line: "Even the finest (substitute: tritest) books deserve to be thrown aside". QED. What a prat. And I don't mean Proust.