The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work: Book summary and reviews of The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work by Alain De Botton

The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work

By Alain De Botton

The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work
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  • Published in USA  Jun 2009,
    336 pages.

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Book Summary

Combining narrative virtuosity, a scholar's grasp of history, an intellectual intrepidness, and a dazzling ability to reveal the extraordinary in the ordinary (and vice versa), Alain de Botton has created his own ever-surprising genre into which The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work fits brilliantly.

In this tantalizing new book, Alain de Botton takes on an activity common to us all—the activity in which most of us spend the majority of our time, but which rarely gets serious attention beyond the realm of cartoons and television sitcoms. With his signature élan and expansive curiosity, de Botton explores a diversity of occupations—from accountant to aircraft salesman, painter to power-station designer, career counselor to cookie manufacturer—and the vast diversity of locations where these occupations are undertaken. Peering closely at details of the workday and workplace that we tend to overlook, and asking questions that we hesitate to ask ourselves (To what end do we exhaust ourselves on a daily basis? What makes work pleasurable? Why isn’t it pleasurable when it isn't?), de Botton gets at the whys and wherefores of routine, practice, and process, focusing a new and unexpectedly revealing light on the essential meaning of work in our lives.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Work may be trivial, de Botton notes, but what's interesting is the determination and gravity we bring to it. A luminous photo-essay from a consistently fresh and noble writer." - Kirkus Reviews

"Starred Review. De Botton's sprightly mix of reportage and rumination expands beyond the workplace to investigate the broader meaning of life." - Publishers Weekly

"De Botton's essays reveal the fragile dependencies and interconnectedness that make every one of us a key component of the human network." - Booklist

"Providing provocative insights on specialization and the transitory nature of significance, this is sophisticated reading on a timely subject." - Library Journal

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Author Information

Alain De Botton Author Biography

Photo copyright Miriam Berkley

Alain de Botton was born in Zurich, Switzerland in December 1969 and educated in Switzerland and England. His family originates from the Spanish peninsula, from the small Castilian town of Boton (now vanished). They left in 1492, along with the rest of the Sephardic Jewish community, and eventually settled in Alexandria, Egypt, where de Botton's father was born.

De Botton has written twelve books, including Essays in Love (entitled On Love in the U.S.), How Proust Can Change Your Life, The Art of Travel and Status Anxiety. He speaks French, German and English and now lives in London.

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