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 Search Beat > Shopping > Publications > Books > Featured Authors > Alain De Botton


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  How Proust Can Change Your Life: Not a Novel Marcel Proust's Remembrance of Things Past is one of those books that people intend to read, but instead sits undisturbed on bookshelves and bedside tables across the nation, gathering dust with equally daunting classics such as Moby Dick, Ulysses, or anything by Tolstoy. Alain de Botton's... Read more

  On Love A tour-de-force pleasure of a first novel that takes a conventional love story and textures it with philosophical ruminations, ironic subtitles, and various sorts of playfulness, including pencil drawings. The narrator, on a flight from Paris to London, meets Chloe in the first chapter, ``Romantic... Read more

  Kiss & Tell Alain de Botton has crafted a delightfully ingenious novel in the form of a biography of an unknown woman. Told by a former flame that he lacks empathy, the engaging narrator of Kiss & Tell decides to write a book about the next person he meets. This turns out to be Isabel Rogers, a production... Read more

  The Romantic Movement : Sex, Shopping and the Novel In this witty, innovative novel of a modern relationship, de Botton explores the progress of a love affair from first meeting to breaking up, intercut with musings on the nature of art and love. "A cross between Milan Kundera and Erich Segal, with some Vonnegut thrown in for spice."--Kirkus Reviews. Read more

  The Consolations of Philosophy "It is common," Alain de Botton writes in The Consolations of Philosophy, "to assume that we are dealing with a highly intelligent book when we cease to understand it. Profound ideas cannot, after all, be explained in the language of children." While his easygoing exploration of philosophers from Socrates to Nietzsche isn't exactly written for the Blue's Clues set, few readers will cease to understand it. Furthermore, it's a joy to read. De Botton's 1997 How Proust Can Change Your Life forged a new kind of lit crit: an exploration of Remembrance of Things Past, delivered in the sweet-gummed envelope of an advice book. He returns to the self-help format here, this time plundering the great thinkers to puzzle out the way we ought to live.

What was stunning about the Proust book was de Botton's brazen annexing of a hallowed novelist to address lite emotional problems. That format is less arresting when applied to the philosophers, since which earnest philosophy major has not, from time to time, tried to apply the alpine heights of thought to his own humble worries? Usually, sophomoric attempts to turn to, say, Kant for advice on love tend to be unmitigated disasters. In de Botton's case, however, he is able to find consolation for a broken heart in Schopenhauer, consolation for inadequacy in Montaigne. Epicurus, usually associated with a love of luxury, is a solace for those of us without much money--and de Botton learns from him that "objects mimic in a material dimension what we require in a psychological one. We need to rearrange our minds but are lured towards new shelves. We buy a cashmere cardigan as a substitute for the counsel of friends."

Lest the reader become burdened by all this philosophizing, the book is peppered with illustrations--the section on Nietzsche of course includes a DC Comics drawing of Superman. And it's further leavened by the author's personal anecdotes and winning confessional tone. Early on, for instance, he admits his own gnawing need for popularity: "A desire to please led me to laugh at modest jokes like a parent on the opening night of a school play." Before he became a medicine man for the soul, de Botton was a first-rate novelist, and it shows in his writing. --Claire Dederer


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