The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work by Alain De Botton
We spend most of our waking lives at work–in occupations often chosen by our unthinking younger selves. And yet we rarely ask ourselves how we got there or what our occupations mean to us.
The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work is an exploration of the joys and perils of the modern workplace, beautifully evoking what other people wake up to do each day–and night–to make the frenzied contemporary world function. With a philosophical eye and his signature combination of wit and wisdom, Alain de Botton leads us on a journey around a deliberately eclectic range of occupations, from rocket science to biscuit manufacture, accountancy to art–in search of what make jobs either fulfilling or soul-destroying.
Along the way he tries to answer some of the most urgent questions we can ask about work: Why do we do it? What makes it pleasurable? What is its meaning? And why do we daily exhaust not only ourselves but also the planet? Characteristically lucid, witty and inventive, Alain de Botton’s “song for occupations” is a celebration and exploration of an aspect of life which is all too often ignored and a book that shines a revealing light on the essential meaning of work in our lives.
Read an excerpt from the everywhere-acclaimed The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work by the author of the witty, profound and bestselling books How Proust Can Change Your Life and The Architecture of Happiness.
“Alain de Botton’s riveting book examines jobs from painting to rocket science and wonders what it all adds up to…Reading de Botton’s words can feel like an act of discovery. 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, littering astute observations with revealing personal asides…He has that rare ability to sum up our experience in a handful of well-chosen words.”
—Heather Havrilesky, Salon.com