Alain de Botton

Author, Journalist and Philosopher

Alain de Botton, FRSL (/dəˈbɒtən/; born 20 December 1969) is a Swiss-born British author. His books discuss various contemporary subjects and themes, emphasizing philosophy's relevance to everyday life. He published Essays in Love (1993), which went on to sell two million copies. Other bestsellers include How Proust Can Change Your Life (1997), Status Anxiety (2004) and The Architecture of Happiness (2006).

He co-founded The School of Life in 2008 and Living Architecture in 2009. In 2015, he was awarded "The Fellowship of Schopenhauer", an annual writers award from the Melbourne Writers Festival, for this work.

Book Recommendations


The Wisdom of Life

by Arthur Schopenhauer

Firstly, he writes beautifully. He writes beautifully in German. There are some wonderful translations into English. And there’s something about somebody articulating the most despairing thoughts that brings us a huge amount of comfort. For a start we think, “I’m not alone.” All those suspicions you have often three in the morning in despair or gazing out of the aeroplane window in a low moment and you just think, what on earth is the point of all this? Well, Schopenhauer has been there. He’s investigated the territory of despair and he’s put his flag all over it, and it is wonderful what he manages to see. Most of us only glimpse despair out of the corner of our eye and we can’t bear it.

Alain de Botton, source
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Home Is Where We Start from

by D.W. Winnicott

So, Winnicott in order to capture what he was trying to tell, parents came up with a wonderful phrase. He said, “No one needs a perfect parent. All they need is a good enough parent.” And this phrase, good enough, is the one that Winnicott launched into the world. And it’s a highly useful one because in so many areas, we don’t need to be perfect, we just need to be good enough. We only need to be good enough workers, good enough friends, good enough colleagues, and as I say, good enough parents. All of this comes from the very down to earth, beautifully written, and always highly useful and humane wisdom of Donald Winnicott and his wonderful book, Home Is Where We Start From.

Alain de Botton, source

The Complete Essays

by Michel de Montaigne

I’ve given quite a lot of copies of Montaigne’s essays to people down the years.

Alain de Botton, source

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

by Milan Kundera

Well, there was a stage before I got married and when I was on the dating scene when I gave a lot of copies–this was the ‘90s. I gave a lot of copies of Milan Kundera to people. The Unbearable Lightness of Being was a book that I gave out a lot. I don’t know if I still would, but I do admire this Czech writer very much. And it has all kinds of wisdom.

Alain de Botton, source