The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work Reviews

Interview with Kate Mossman in Word Magazine
11 May 2009
As a piece of literature Alain de Botton’s new book, The Pleasures And Sorrows Of Work, is almost impossible to categorise. It’s a forensic examination of the workings of nine modern industries (he follows a single tuna fish from the moment it’s hauled out of the sea in the Maldives to the housewife who picks it up from Sainsbury’s in a tin).
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William Leith in The Spectator
22 April 2009
Alain de Botton recently said that he’d been congratulated on his prescience for writing a book about the nature of work in these times of economic woe. But he wasn’t prescient, he said — just interested in the subject.
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John Gray in the New Statesman
16 April 2009
Bourgeois life has always been de Botton’s subject. One of our most consistently illuminating writers on contemporary culture, he dissects the paradoxes that result when individualism becomes a mass philosophy, with a delicacy and humour that conceal the depth of his seriousness.
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Publishers Weekly
13 April 2009
This pensive study explores work not as an economic or sociological phenomenon but as an existential predicament. Observing an eclectic sample of workers, from fishermen to a CEO of an accounting firm, de Botton (How Proust Can Change Your Life ) counterposes “the expansive intelligence” embodied in vast business organizations with the blinkered routines of their human cogs and finds that tension rife with philosophical conundrums. Read more

Roy Williams in the Australian
11 April 2009
The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work is a collection of 10 essays, each devoted to a specialised vocation. These range extremely broadly, from deep-sea tuna fishing to biscuit manufacture, career counselling to rocket science. Read more

The Economist
26 March 2012
ALAIN DE BOTTON is a British essayist, novelist and, if one uses the term somewhat expansively, philosopher. Over the past decade or so he has cast a world-weary eye over travel, status and architecture, as well as writing a fine book about philosophers and an excellent meditation on Proust. His new book, “The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work”, takes on that odd thing that most of us do for so many of our waking hours on Earth. Read more

Interview with Katy Guest in the Independent
27 March 2009
It is difficult to know how to prepare for a meeting with Alain de Botton. What kind of questions should one ask a man who, in times of emotional trauma, turns not to gin and crying but to Epicurus and Schopenhauer for support? Read more

Nick Rennison in the Sunday Times
29 March 2009
When does a job feel meaningful and why? In pursuit of answers to such questions, Alain de Botton investigates the mysterious processes involved in biscuit production, accompanies a landscape artist into an East Anglian wheatfield, attends a convention for would-be entrepreneurs where the ideas flying around range from the improbable to the outright deranged, and traces the journey of a fish from its capture in the Indian Ocean to its appearance as tuna steak on a supermarket shelf. Read more

Kirkus Reviews
2 April 2009
For many of us, writes the author, the “unreasonable banality” of work requires “daily submission at the altars of prudence and order,” typically housed in drab, soulless workplaces. (The many photographs are striking proof.) Read more

Richard Donkin in the Financial Times
3 April 2009
Many parents over the past 20 or 30 years will have come across the children’s books of Richard Scarry at some stage, with their detailed illustrations portraying the world of street-cleaners, firefighters and road repairers going about their everyday work. Perhaps his best known book was: What Do People Do All Day? Read more

Jay Parini in the Guardian
4 April 2009
De Botton usually mixes idiosyncratic illustrations or photographs with an array of memorable quotations. He quotes rarely in the new book, but photographs abound – more like documentary evidence than images designed to prick the imagination. Read more

Brenton Holmes in the Canberra Times
4 April 2009
Alain de Botton describes his latest book as ‘a hymn to the intelligence, peculiarity, beauty and horror of the modern workplace’. It is an apt description. Read more

Andrew Riemer in the Sydney Morning Herald
THE prolific Alain de Botton’s latest book is ostensibly about work – how we work, why we work and the impact of the daily grind on our innermost lives. It is, however, about much more than that. Read more

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