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We spend most of our waking lives at work—in occupations most often chosen by our inexperienced younger selves. And yet we rarely ask ourselves how we got there or what our jobs mean to us.
The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work is an exploration of the joys and perils of the modern workplace, beautifully exploring what other people wake up to do each day—and night—to make our frenzied world function. With a philosophical eye and his signature combination of wit and wisdom, Alain de Botton leads us on a journey around an eclectic range of occupations, from rocket scientist to biscuit manufacturer, from accountant to artist—in search of what makes jobs either soul-destroying or fulfilling.
“Exquisitely written. . . . A perceptive philosophical meditation on work, with its extraordinary claim to provide, along with love, the principal source of meaning in our lives.” —Boston Globe
“In the place of easy answers, De Botton offers an array of potent and portable insights about the delight and despair we find, daily, in our working lives.” —Los Angeles Times
“Like a combination of Joan Didion, David Foster Wallace and pop philosopher Thomas Moore, De Botton's dense, pensive prose expresses a palpable preoccupation with finding better ways of living in our bewilderingly estranged age.” —Salon
"With de Botton's humor, boundless erudition and capable turns of phrase, it's the best work yet (and certainly the best-timed) from a pre-eminent genre-bender, one certain to find a welcome home in the hands of anyone making a living.” —The Portland Oregonian
“Alain de Botton's new philosophical treatise, ‘The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work,’ feels like an intellectual acid trip without the stimulants. He focuses your gaze where you have never even considered looking and turns upside down your notions of beauty and love and work and what really is involved in crafting a meaningful life. The book is groundbreaking in approach, style and imagination.” —The San Francisco Chronicle
“The Pleasures and Sorrows treats readers to a cast of eccentrics as it examines the thing we spend most of our lives doing.” —Business Week
“The workplace as subject matter brings out the best in [de Botton’s] writing. . . . His wit and his powers of ironic observation are on display throughout what is a stylish and original book.” —The Sunday Times (London)
“Wonderfully readable stuff. . . . What de Botton is showing us, in his de Botton-esque way, is that, in our world of niched desire and economic efficiency, our working practices might be driving us nuts. . . . A timely book.” —The Spectator
“Pleasurably intelligent. . . . The author has plenty of thought-provoking things to say.” —The Economist
“This artful creation reports from planet Earth in the manner of a bookish Martian sending a postcard home. . . . This is a terribly funny book, intentionally so, and its ostensible subject is one that touches all of us.” —The Daily Mail
“Features passages of imaginative prose as powerful as anything by Charles Dickens or George Orwell and explores the notion that people rarely feel connected to what they do for a living.” —Word Magazine
“His questions are as important as they are unsettling.” —The Financial Times
“Teems with sharp portraits, interesting details, and shrewd commentary. . . . De Botton is always fun to watch.” —The Guardian