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The School of Life: An Emotional Education

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Discover everything you were never taught at school about how to lead a better life... Introduced and edited by the bestselling author of The Consolations of Philosophy, The Art of Travel and The Course of Love We spend years in school learning facts and figures but the one thing we're never taught is how to live a fulfilled life. That's why we need The School of Life - a Discover everything you were never taught at school about how to lead a better life... Introduced and edited by the bestselling author of The Consolations of Philosophy, The Art of Travel and The Course of Love We spend years in school learning facts and figures but the one thing we're never taught is how to live a fulfilled life. That's why we need The School of Life - a real organisation founded ten years ago by writer and philosopher Alain de Botton. The School of Life has one simple aim: to equip people with the tools to survive and thrive in the modern world. And the most important of these tools is emotional intelligence. This book brings together ten years of essential and transformative research on emotional intelligence, with practical topics including: - how to understand yourself - how to master the dilemmas of relationships - how to become more effective at work - how to endure failure - how to grow more serene and resilient The School of Life is nothing short of a crash course in emotional maturity. With all the trademark wit and elegance of Alain de Botton's other writings, and rooted in practical, achievable advice, it show us a path to the better lives we all want and deserve.


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Discover everything you were never taught at school about how to lead a better life... Introduced and edited by the bestselling author of The Consolations of Philosophy, The Art of Travel and The Course of Love We spend years in school learning facts and figures but the one thing we're never taught is how to live a fulfilled life. That's why we need The School of Life - a Discover everything you were never taught at school about how to lead a better life... Introduced and edited by the bestselling author of The Consolations of Philosophy, The Art of Travel and The Course of Love We spend years in school learning facts and figures but the one thing we're never taught is how to live a fulfilled life. That's why we need The School of Life - a real organisation founded ten years ago by writer and philosopher Alain de Botton. The School of Life has one simple aim: to equip people with the tools to survive and thrive in the modern world. And the most important of these tools is emotional intelligence. This book brings together ten years of essential and transformative research on emotional intelligence, with practical topics including: - how to understand yourself - how to master the dilemmas of relationships - how to become more effective at work - how to endure failure - how to grow more serene and resilient The School of Life is nothing short of a crash course in emotional maturity. With all the trademark wit and elegance of Alain de Botton's other writings, and rooted in practical, achievable advice, it show us a path to the better lives we all want and deserve.

30 review for The School of Life: An Emotional Education

  1. 5 out of 5

    Anastasiya Mozgovaya

    i think everyone should get this book on the day they are born. and then go through living keeping it by their side. i feel like this should become my go-to gift. smart, soothing, wise, philosophical, direct, daring, kind. truly a must-read for everyone!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Vanya

    “We aren’t ever done with the odd business of becoming that most extraordinary and prized of things, an emotionally mature person—or, to put in a simpler way, an almost grown-up adult.”- Alain De Botton The School of Life: An Emotional Education comprises essays on how to survive in the modern world by mastering our emotions. Alain De Botton founded The School of Life 10 years ago to help people nurture and hone their emotional intelligence, an aspect that remains conveniently overlooked in our “We aren’t ever done with the odd business of becoming that most extraordinary and prized of things, an emotionally mature person—or, to put in a simpler way, an almost grown-up adult.”- Alain De Botton The School of Life: An Emotional Education comprises essays on how to survive in the modern world by mastering our emotions. Alain De Botton founded The School of Life 10 years ago to help people nurture and hone their emotional intelligence, an aspect that remains conveniently overlooked in our modern curriculums. A philosopher and writer himself, Botton understood the importance of emotional health and how its grasp could significantly change the quality of our lives. This book, which is a comprehensive collection of the writings that the School has produced over the years, is divided into five sections: Self, Others, Relationships, Work, and Culture. Within each section is a wealth of wisdom on how to understand ourselves and our shortcomings better, how to be a kinder version of our present selves in our interactions with those whom we do not know well, how to navigate our relationships with our partners, how to make peace with the work we do, and how culture can truly be our saviour by nudging us towards greater values. I never come out of De Botton’s work without a deeper understanding of my own behaviour and that of those around me. The fact that his writing is lucid and always comes supported by a plethora of examples is a testament to his perceptive knowledge of human psychology. It’s not every day that someone speaks or write so convincingly about your flaws that you are forced to introspect and (hopefully) tread on the path to improvement. Highly recommend!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Aaron

    If you’re a long-time fan of the School of Life then there won’t actually be much in this collection of essays that you haven’t already seen. But if you’re new to De Botton’s philosophical capitalist venture, then you’ll find herein a smorgasbord of intellectual medication, concentrated in pill form, equally effective when either taken in small doses, or downed in one.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    This is a profound book that provides some incisive advice on life and relationships from the perspective of one's emotional life. The prose is often close to poetic and no punches are pulled when it comes to facing reality and living well. Almost every paragraph has something useful and memorable to say. This is no platitudinous self-help book. It is challenging and sometimes confronting, but deeply resonant with those who know they are flawed human beings struggling to live a better life. If This is a profound book that provides some incisive advice on life and relationships from the perspective of one's emotional life. The prose is often close to poetic and no punches are pulled when it comes to facing reality and living well. Almost every paragraph has something useful and memorable to say. This is no platitudinous self-help book. It is challenging and sometimes confronting, but deeply resonant with those who know they are flawed human beings struggling to live a better life. If that's you, then read this book!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Stijn Zanders

    Great ideas, though it feels too much of a compilation of them. Would have liked it if the ideas were more connected.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Keen

    3.5 Stars! De Botton may only take credit for the introduction to this book, but you can hear his voice all the way through it. This is a compilation of philosophy, advice and other insights, most of which will be familiar to those who have watched those many videos online or have read any of the books. I can see both sides of the coin with this book, in one sense I see why the growing franchise can be accused of stating the obvious and repeating old ideas, but on the other hand it gets into some 3.5 Stars! De Botton may only take credit for the introduction to this book, but you can hear his voice all the way through it. This is a compilation of philosophy, advice and other insights, most of which will be familiar to those who have watched those many videos online or have read any of the books. I can see both sides of the coin with this book, in one sense I see why the growing franchise can be accused of stating the obvious and repeating old ideas, but on the other hand it gets into some really compelling areas. This covers a lot of ground, but because it tries to cover so many areas it rarely gets to examine them to a satisfying degree, which can be a little frustrating. I am a fan of de Botton and this brand, but it has plenty of flaws, there is an increasing habit of recycling and rebranding old material and after a while the twee, white, middle class, middle England feel of this book really started to grate on me. But then where would the publishing industry be if it weren’t for twee, white, middle class, middle England?... Without doubt I enjoyed this collection and got a lot out of it, but I have come across almost all of it before in the SoL’s previous work, so if like me you have read and watched much of the stuff already, there will not be much new in here for you, but if you haven’t come across it before then this is maybe a decent starting place.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Maddie Nastase

    This is a wonderful introduction to the concepts and philosophy of The School. However, if you're already familiar with them and have been following them for a while and have read some of their other books, you'll find very little new material here. The 'Relationship' section of the book is identical with their 'Relationships' book published a few years ago, which was disappointing to find out.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kat

    I actually can’t believe people think so highly of this book. Maybe these concepts will be novel or enlightening for someone who has never considered their own self development, but a lot of this is pretty basic. More specifically though, here are some issues with this book: 1. It is *incredibly* repetitive. Really the same viewpoints are stated over and over again. 2. It is very unbalanced. Really this is De Botton’s manifesto on how everybody should be more polite, pessimistic and how we should I actually can’t believe people think so highly of this book. Maybe these concepts will be novel or enlightening for someone who has never considered their own self development, but a lot of this is pretty basic. More specifically though, here are some issues with this book: 1. It is *incredibly* repetitive. Really the same viewpoints are stated over and over again. 2. It is very unbalanced. Really this is De Botton’s manifesto on how everybody should be more polite, pessimistic and how we should give up on overly lofty ideals. Problem is, he doesn’t reeeally explore any other viewpoints. He categorises his own viewpoints as “classical” and the rest of culture-at-large’s viewpoints as “romantic” and says we could learn from both but it’s not difficult to see which viewpoints he actually thinks have any worth. 3. He doesn’t outline what the logical endpoint of his views are. Perhaps we should be more tolerant of our romantic partners, knowing that everyone has faults and we are no exception etc. but what about someone in an abusive relationship? They could read this book and draw the conclusion that really their partner isn’t so bad and that they probably deserve the abuse they are receiving. And they should just stomach it and realistically view it as their lot in life. This is just one example but if you take De Botton’s advice to the nth, you will live in a world where nothing is improved, where any kind of insidious harmful behaviour is lovingly excused or forgiven, where people easily give up on any kind of ambition, where everyone is so polite that they are even more reticent to share their deepest selves and where consequently loneliness is even more deeply entrenched and where we don’t question our own loneliness because that’s just the human condition. Sounds like a fun world, right? Really this could be said in a much shorter book but my suspicion is that this book is in fact a collection of hastily compiled smaller books that don’t always gel very well with each other. I’ve given it 3 stars because the sections “self” and “relationships” have some more practical information, and the section “work” has some interesting historical contextualisation. But other than this, this is just a book where de Botton lists which virtues he thinks are worth a dime. Again and again and again.

  9. 5 out of 5

    christina

    As others have stated, many of the concepts in "The School of Life: An Emotional Education" is, to the point of verbatim in some cases, from other texts, their own Youtube channel, or blog. This shouldn't deter anyone from reading this book, however, as much of the book weaves a more complete and complex relationship between self, others, and how we view ourselves as connected and inter-connected. That, I believe, is the true merit of this book. That said, this book really shines in the first As others have stated, many of the concepts in "The School of Life: An Emotional Education" is, to the point of verbatim in some cases, from other texts, their own Youtube channel, or blog. This shouldn't deter anyone from reading this book, however, as much of the book weaves a more complete and complex relationship between self, others, and how we view ourselves as connected and inter-connected. That, I believe, is the true merit of this book. That said, this book really shines in the first three sections: Self-Knowledge, Others, and Relationships as the book defines how one effects and is affected in multiplicitous and ever-varying ways within these dynamics. Given the strength in the detail and connectedness of the first three sections, the section related to Work, was a bit shocking; I had expected the same narrative perspective in the Work section but rather, this section had no discernible narrative or thematic cohesiveness and appeared to be a set of -- albeit intelligently written and insightful discussions -- random thoughts about anything from social aspirations to cultural expectations to the artistic role of education. The Culture section was only marginally less haphazard. While it appears that the Culture section attempted to tether the Books' overall purpose together by beginning a discussion on the differences between the Romantic and Classical School of Thought, which I quite liked, their manoeuvre into what constitutes a 'wise' person seemed, in all fairness, quite *idealistic*, which seemed somewhat contradictory to their assertions throughout the book, claiming that Romanticism is the cause for many societal problems we face currently today. Yet perhaps it was done deliberately (as they state themselves) in that we -- all of us -- cannot shake off our romantic ideals no more than we can be wholly clinical in our approach to life and wholly good. Our ideals shape our views of the world and ourselves but our experience, regrets, disappointments are rooted in the classical: in that it can assist in the refinements of our person to that ever elusive "wisdom" we seek.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Oana Filip

    I am mesmerized about the density of concepts presented so wisely by Alain de Botton. The beauty of this book lies in how common yet challenging notions about life are put together to offer a more authentic and thoughtful perspective. For those of us preoccupied with self-discovery, this read reveals valuable insights that could work like great reminders of the lessons we once learned. I love Botton's book for both the lens he encourages us to see the world through (with more gentleness and I am mesmerized about the density of concepts presented so wisely by Alain de Botton. The beauty of this book lies in how common yet challenging notions about life are put together to offer a more authentic and thoughtful perspective. For those of us preoccupied with self-discovery, this read reveals valuable insights that could work like great reminders of the lessons we once learned. I love Botton's book for both the lens he encourages us to see the world through (with more gentleness and acceptance) and the clarity he has in packing ideas and theories into swallowable messages. I have at least to favorite quotes, as I remember: ''Love is a skill, not a feeling.'' ''Authencity is the sign of supreme morality.''

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ali Hussein

    WOW. What a Boring and Tedious book. Truly a let down and overhyped. The book seemed to go on a constant tangent throughout. Constantly going excessively into detail about anything and everything. 17 price point for this book is ridiculous. The only reason I haven’t given it 1 star is because I learnt a couple of things from it aha. WOW. What a Boring and Tedious book. Truly a let down and overhyped. The book seemed to go on a constant tangent throughout. Constantly going excessively into detail about anything and everything. £17 price point for this book is ridiculous. The only reason I haven’t given it 1 star is because I learnt a couple of things from it aha.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Outdoors Nerd

    Deeply, deeply informative. Cover to cover wisdom and actionable, demonstrative psychology. You will know much of this on some level, but as editor De Botton writes: "We need to be sophisticated enough to not reject a truth because it sounds like something we already know. We need to be mature enough to bend down and pick up governing ideas in their simplest guises." Self, Others, Relationships, Work and Culture.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Simona

    I definitely think everybody should read it, preferrably at a younger age. I see this book adding heaps of value to the life of a 15 year-old; the use in your late twenties is more limited, as you will have chewed through more or most of those ideas already by then, depending on where you are in life. I thoroughly enjoyed the section on politeness vs. frankness and the different world views that are carried behind these traits, a section that is worth reading in total and cannot be summed up in a I definitely think everybody should read it, preferrably at a younger age. I see this book adding heaps of value to the life of a 15 year-old; the use in your late twenties is more limited, as you will have chewed through more or most of those ideas already by then, depending on where you are in life. I thoroughly enjoyed the section on politeness vs. frankness and the different world views that are carried behind these traits, a section that is worth reading in total and cannot be summed up in a review. Beautiful use of language by the way! If you are a non-native, this book is a big asset in learning how to speak well. Some of my favorite quotes: "The point of art was [...] to nudge our recalcitrant minds towards accepting ideas that we might nod along to but then ignore if they were not stated in especially varnished and graceful terms. Christianity, for example, devoted so much attention to art (architecture, music, paining, etc.) not because it cared for beauty per se, but because it understood the power of beauty to persuade us into particular patterns of thought [...]." On delivering bad news: "But true niceness does not mean seeming nice, it means helping the people we are going to disappoint to adjust as best they can to reality. By administering a sharp, clean blow, the diplomatic person kills off the torture of hope, accepting the frustration that is likely to come their way: the diplomat is kind enough to let themselves sometimes be the target of hate." "[...] The weakness of strength: This dictates that we should interpret people's weaknesses as the inevitable downside of certain merits that drew us to them, and from which we will benefit at other points." "We don't fall in love first and foremost with those who care for us best and most devotedly; we fall in love with those who care for us in ways that we expect. [...] Far more than happiness, what motivates us in relationships is a search for familiarity." "Two people should see a relationship as a constant opportunity to improve and be improved." "When we spot apparent perfection, we tend to blame our spectacular bad luck for the mediocrity of our lives, without realizing that we are mistaking an asymmetry of knowledge for an asymmetry of quality: we are failing to see that our partner, home and job are not especially awful, but rather that we know them especially well." "We start to behave across our whole lives like the people work has required us to be in our productive hours. Along the way, this narrows character." "In their way, religions addressed a universal problem: they recognized the powerful need to be intimately known and appreciated and admitted frankly that this need could not realistically ever be met by other people. What replaced religion in our imaginations [...] is the cult of human-to-human love we now know as Romanticism, which bequeathed to us the beautiful but reckless idea that loneliness might be capable of being vanquished, if we are fortunate and determined enough to meet the one exalted being known as our soulmate, someone who will understand everything deep and strange about us, who will see us completely and be enchanted by our totality. But the legacy of Romanticism has been an epidemic of loneliness, as we are repeatedly brought up against the truth: the radical inability of any one other person to wholly grasp who we truly are."

  14. 5 out of 5

    Eliza

    Jan 6, 2020: The premise of this book is at once promising and preposterous: we should spend less time studying calculus and more time studying emotional insight--how to live, how to understand ourselves, others, and our relationships. Promising, because I agree. So many of us get to adulthood with little understanding of why we do what we do, and who we are or want to be. Yes! Let's study "life" so we can be better, kinder, wiser people! And, to a certain extent, de Botton delivers on this Jan 6, 2020: The premise of this book is at once promising and preposterous: we should spend less time studying calculus and more time studying emotional insight--how to live, how to understand ourselves, others, and our relationships. Promising, because I agree. So many of us get to adulthood with little understanding of why we do what we do, and who we are or want to be. Yes! Let's study "life" so we can be better, kinder, wiser people! And, to a certain extent, de Botton delivers on this promise, with a methodical, articulate, and comprehensive (if necessarily highly compressed) explanation of human nature. He is wise, kind, and quite funny along the way; he comes across not as a pontificator, but as a wise advisor or helping hand. So much of what he says rings true--so many lines I wanted to underline and save. I ate it up. But then, something happened to tip my enthusiasm. Maybe it's a bit too long. Maybe he begins to repeat himself. Or maybe the premise loses its power. In any case, about two thirds through, I started thinking about why I was enjoying the book so much. Does it matter that I'm approaching 60, and have been thinking much about these topics the last few years? What would a college student, or a busy person in their 20s, 30s, or even 40s do with all this sage advice? Can it be internalized--can we learn from a book what deep down, we know has to be learned through experience? That's where the preposterous comes in. You can't teach an infant to walk, or to talk. It's hard to explain to an adolescent that their actions will have far-reaching consequences. We understand this on a fundamental level--that the emotional (and physical) development of humans can't be hurried, and that only through experience do we understand certain aspects of life. So while anyone could read this book, and derive value and education from it in an intellectual way, can they bypass developmental processes and absorb the wisdom in a way that can help them emotionally going forward? I don't actually know. And, despite the absurdity of the proposal, I enjoyed pondering the question, and I enjoyed reading the book. Great way to start my year.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Roos Havinga

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Doubting between giving this 3 or 4 stars. This book is, by all means, necessary and eye-opening. Living in a society where such large emphasis has been put on perfection, this book details precisely the opposite - that life is full of grief, sadness, anger, doubts, confusion and all other emotions we are not meant to feel, or let alone speak of. And that this isn’t particularly good or bad, it just is. By merely accepting this, we might be able to weather whatever life throws at us a little Doubting between giving this 3 or 4 stars. This book is, by all means, necessary and eye-opening. Living in a society where such large emphasis has been put on perfection, this book details precisely the opposite - that life is full of grief, sadness, anger, doubts, confusion and all other emotions we are not meant to feel, or let alone speak of. And that this isn’t particularly good or bad, it just is. By merely accepting this, we might be able to weather whatever life throws at us a little better. However what troubled me was that it was, at times, seemingly random. I missed a certain flow in the writing and it wasn’t always clear why certain things were brought forward. The chapter about work was another part of the book which was troublesome to me. As stated, our current economic system is very effective and efficient in meeting our primary needs, such as food, water, heat etc. But it’s not even close to fulfil our more sophisticated yet essential needs, like friendship and fulfilment. What the book states is that in order to sustain both growth and fulfilment of these higher needs, we should deepen our current capitalist system in a way that it would satisfy these needs. Maybe I’m thinking too practical about a philosophical book, but how would one imagine the market providing us friendship? Or love? (Or maybe is it the fact that the School of Life is actually trying to provide the satisfaction of these higher needs through a capitalist system, i.e. offering courses to emotionally educate us for $$$) These - in my opinion - flaws should however not put you off from picking up this book because it’s message - that we’ve had to withstand life without being able to build upon the emotional wisdom of others and emotionally educating ourselves and others could be a great way to alleviate a tiny bit of out sorrows - is essential.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Esi_70

    Even if the book apparently has been written by some School for Life professionals and only the introduction is by AdB, the book sounds entirely his. This is like a amalgamation of the main small and not so books and videos the school for life as produced, even if I had read and watched many of them, still enjoyed refreshing my knowledge and understanding of these essential subjects. The language of the first parts in particular is very elaborated and I found it over the top sometimes. I thank Even if the book apparently has been written by some School for Life professionals and only the introduction is by AdB, the book sounds entirely his. This is like a amalgamation of the main small and not so books and videos the school for life as produced, even if I had read and watched many of them, still enjoyed refreshing my knowledge and understanding of these essential subjects. The language of the first parts in particular is very elaborated and I found it over the top sometimes. I thank very much AdB for doing this work at such a mainstream level as nobody else does that I know, he's brave enough to discuss what nobody risks saying even mention and states we all suffer from the same things and are not very dissimilar. This is huge and amazing, he has saved us from disconnection and in a way has given permission to discuss these themes between us and publicly. Well done. We've been prisoners of a culture that expected the impossible and unnatural from us and people has suffered immensely because of this. From now on people will be able to challenge the unhelpful more confidently. On the chapter related to work he argues that we can't do much to change capitalism for the better, he resigns to it not very unhappily and launches a vision of marketing products and services for emotional needs. I don't agree with this view and I found it troubling, why someone that seems to realise and understand very much our flaws and encourages us to make changes in our relationship and work environments among others comes to the conclusion that we can't improve and change the system? Why champion to trade emotional services for those needs when he could support a more compassionate non for profit vision?

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ruth Browne

    One of the best things I've read this year. It's a series of in-depth assessments of human emotion and behaviour in certain major spheres of our lives. Some critical items of wisdom I gleaned include: we are all idiots, and this becomes apparent from time to time, so be less afraid of the inevitable; we are all prone to petty but deeply felt emotions like envy, so don't imagine you are uniquely awful and alone; almost no one is ever intentionally malicious - instead, we act out of known and One of the best things I've read this year. It's a series of in-depth assessments of human emotion and behaviour in certain major spheres of our lives. Some critical items of wisdom I gleaned include: we are all idiots, and this becomes apparent from time to time, so be less afraid of the inevitable; we are all prone to petty but deeply felt emotions like envy, so don't imagine you are uniquely awful and alone; almost no one is ever intentionally malicious - instead, we act out of known and unknown influences both internal and external, and deserve more of the generosity of spirit usually reserved for small children, who struggle to contain their frustrations and appetites; and compromise in relationships is not a failure, but when approached with clear communication and knowledge of one's own particular insanities, is rather a sign of maturity and mutual respect. At school we learn how to do maths, conjugate verbs, memorise facts, but no one teaches us how to manage shame and guilt, or proposes the radical idea that love is not merely a feeling, but a skill, or instructs us in the discipline of compassion. Alain de Botton has made it his business to provide just such an education for people of all ages. I recommend this book to absolutely everyone.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Martyn Carter

    I thought this was really very good. Well written, well structured and deeply compassionate. Essentially a self help book about how to be more emotionally intelligent and live a more fulfilling life. The book is divided into sections on self, others, relationships, work and culture. It is a good accompanying book to Philippa Perry’s book ‘The Book You Wish Your Parents had Read’. These subjects are all dealt with from the perspective that we are all normal. If I had a criticism it would be that I thought this was really very good. Well written, well structured and deeply compassionate. Essentially a self help book about how to be more emotionally intelligent and live a more fulfilling life. The book is divided into sections on self, others, relationships, work and culture. It is a good accompanying book to Philippa Perry’s book ‘The Book You Wish Your Parents had Read’. These subjects are all dealt with from the perspective that we are all normal. If I had a criticism it would be that it doesn’t really address the issue of how to deal with toxic personality types (or with ourselves if we are indeed toxic). I thought ‘Laws Of Human Nature’ by Robert Greene did that niche much more fully. Nonetheless this is a book with much to learn from and as with all good books it will need to be read again to fully benefit from its wisdom.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Theodora

    I am not generally a fan of anything falling in the traditional self-help category, yet this book managed to shift that perception in me a little bit. An emotional education is a pledge for a simple yet somehow revolutionary idea: we see the purpose of teaching many things, from geography to history to science, yet rarely do we see it as necessary or possible to teach the management of aw-so-complex interpersonal relationships. This book ambitiously provides advice for the clumsy mess of I am not generally a fan of anything falling in the traditional self-help category, yet this book managed to shift that perception in me a little bit. An emotional education is a pledge for a simple yet somehow revolutionary idea: we see the purpose of teaching many things, from geography to history to science, yet rarely do we see it as necessary or possible to teach the management of aw-so-complex interpersonal relationships. This book ambitiously provides advice for the clumsy mess of emotions that is the average adult. While some aspects did seem somehow oversimplified and the book once referred to Maslow as "a little-known psychologist", I found this an enjoyable read. Maybe we all need a little guidance to make sense of it all.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Elina Dyachkova

    An amazing book about the things, which are constantly on our minds, yet are so rarely spoken about. Great read for both mind and soul. Offers some incredible insights on identity, anxiety and relationships, but also discusses such things as capitalism and culture in a quite interesting way, connecting them all to human psychology. Although I consider myself quite an art lover, the book offered a very refreshing way to interpret art and connect to it in everyday life. The same applies to An amazing book about the things, which are constantly on our minds, yet are so rarely spoken about. Great read for both mind and soul. Offers some incredible insights on identity, anxiety and relationships, but also discusses such things as capitalism and culture in a quite interesting way, connecting them all to human psychology. Although I consider myself quite an art lover, the book offered a very refreshing way to interpret art and connect to it in everyday life. The same applies to philosophy, which the authors referred to in an almost surprisingly simple and understandable way. A book that I'd love to engrave on my mind.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Anu

    The book has 5 parts - the ones on “self-awareness” and “relationships” have insightful moments and sound advice. The section on “culture” was outstanding even if heavily centred on European culture. The sections on “interacting with others” and “work” were terrible. Overall, the book advocates a philosophy of stoicism without ever declaring it by that name. That’s fine - I can get behind that. The author(s) does go a tad too far in conflating attributes of frankness and romanticism, leading to The book has 5 parts - the ones on “self-awareness” and “relationships” have insightful moments and sound advice. The section on “culture” was outstanding even if heavily centred on European culture. The sections on “interacting with others” and “work” were terrible. Overall, the book advocates a philosophy of stoicism without ever declaring it by that name. That’s fine - I can get behind that. The author(s) does go a tad too far in conflating attributes of frankness and romanticism, leading to a lopsided argument for diplomacy over candor in all situations. All in all, spiky book - some parts make you think “Wow! Neat!” and others make you think “Wut? Really?”

  22. 5 out of 5

    Betsy

    I am giving this book to important people in my life. If I could pass down wisdom from all my years of searching, hurting, experiencing and trying to run from myself, it would be in the form of the valuable and conscientious wisdom The School of Life imparts. Why did it take me 64 years to find such a concise volume of what really matters.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    A very thought-provoking book, which raises lots of questions about how we live our emotional lives, but doesn't pretend to know the answers. There were some perspectives that I hadn't considered before. The bottom line is that we are all flawed and screwed up in some way - a strangely comforting thought.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Graeme Roberts

    An extraordinarily important and useful book that everyone should have and read. We need to learn how to live well, and The School of Life: An Emotional Education provides a wise and powerful guide to doing just that. It is written with Alain de Botton's customary elegance and wit, though a number of other people are acknowledged as contributors to the content.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Desiree Sotomayor

    If you've been following The School of Life's website, there isn't a whole lot of new info here, though it does an amazing job of condensing the 10 years' old (and counting) project about bringing the focus to emotional intelligence in our lives, which let's face it, we can all be a bit better at - especially my awkward self!

  26. 4 out of 5

    beingCristina

    The lessons are philosophically straight forward and poetically written. The use of art/painting to meaningfully convey messages to the society/public, back centuries ago, are spellbinding. As we are all a forever student of this journey called life - this book is highly recommended for whoever you are or wherever you are.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Annabelle

    All at once soothing, challenging, consoling and mind opening. This is the kind of stuff that I wish could have been instilled in all of us from the time we were children. There are more lessons in this book that are of value than many of the things I have learnt in any formal education I have ever received. This book will be a companion for life.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Howard

    Our families, schools, churches, and universities do not sufficiently educate, counsel, or nurture us. Neither do our museums, community organizations, sports clubs, or restaurants (yes, even the places we dine can play a role). Many of us mire in the existential tasks we face daily, scrambling for a wise mentor to relieve us of our emotional ineptitudes—worse off are those not seeking a corrective, unaware of their psychological and social shortcomings. The School of Life: An Emotional Our families, schools, churches, and universities do not sufficiently educate, counsel, or nurture us. Neither do our museums, community organizations, sports clubs, or restaurants (yes, even the places we dine can play a role). Many of us mire in the existential tasks we face daily, scrambling for a wise mentor to relieve us of our emotional ineptitudes—worse off are those not seeking a corrective, unaware of their psychological and social shortcomings. The School of Life: An Emotional Education (2019) is a carefully curated volume compiled by the philosopher Alain de Botton (founder of an organization that shares the book’s name). It serves as a guide for living a fulfilled life in the twenty-first century (specifically for denizens of modern, developed Western countries). The School of Life is on a crusade to avail us of our emotional ignorance. De Botton seeks to remedy the shortcomings of contemporary education systems and the institutions that have failed to instruct us in how to approach the big questions in life. What do we do in the wake of religion? What can our emotions teach us? Why are we so alienated in such a connected world? What are the proper expectations to have of parents, friends, and romantic partners? What clarifying role can pessimism, melancholy, or emotional breakdowns have in our lives? Educational Institutions Have Failed Us Our educational institutions are oriented in an upside-down manner. We’re hyper-focused toward “material, scientific, and technical subjects and away from psychological and emotional ones,” de Botton argues. Conventional schooling makes knowledge acquisition its primary goal while emotional education trails as an afterthought. Countless hours are spent on rote memorization of concepts that bear little direct relevance to the questions that keep us anxious or bewildered. What use are mathematical formulas, knowledge of chemical structures, or the ability to recite state capitals when the loss of a parent stares us straight in the face or the burdens of guilt from relationship missteps threaten our sanity? Why are so many public resources dedicated to schooling systems that ignore or undermine emotional intelligence? The School of Life promotes a more humanistic approach to a successful life. Emotional intelligence points to “whether someone understands key components of emotional functioning.” How well does a person introspect and connect, discern the emotions of others, and unwrap the wellspring of information carried to us by our emotions? According to de Botton, “The emotionally intelligent person knows that they will only ever be mentally healthy in a few areas and at certain moments, but is committed to fathoming their inadequacies and warning others of them in good time, with apology and charm.” Humanists have long hoped culture could serve as a secular alternative to faith, but society has not quite lived up to this ideal. As religion recedes across the West, we need now more than ever for literature to fill the gap left behind by scripture, for museums to become cathedrals rather than “smart filing cabinets for the art of the past,” for universities to recenter themselves around the pursuit of meaning, and for communal rituals that can transcend dogma and cosmology. Our institutions must rally to the cause of emotional intelligence—or human flourishing, as the philosophically-inclined might articulate it. Preempting critics who might deem these ills as “first world problems,” de Botton bemoans the epidemic of “loneliness, anxiety, relationship breakdown, rage, humiliation, and depression” that abound in developed Western societies. “People may not starve, life expectancy is high, and child mortality almost eradicated, but populations remain beleaguered.” We face exceptionally high suicide rates, despite historically unrivaled prosperity and peace. Our narrow focus on material security has left us utterly deficient in our ability to thrive emotionally. To those who might belittle the quiet suffering of a parent in a middle-class suburb, The School of Life cautions that the ills which inflame the lives of individuals in “Switzerland and Norway, Australia and the Netherlands are the problems that will be rife around the globe in 2319.” (An imprecise future date, but the sentiment is well-founded.) Developing countries become developed countries—societies are likely to face similar emotional wastelands if they tread the same consumerist paths distracted by outward escapes because of their underdeveloped capacity for emotionally intelligent living. . . . This review can be read in its entirety at Erraticus, published as an essay titled "'The School of Life' Preaches Pessimism over Romanticism."

  29. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    This book was a total surprise for me. I knew I would like it since I enjoyed books of Alain de Botton in the past - but no, I didn't like it, I loved it! I found myself on so many pages of this book and I already know I will buy it many more times in order to give it as a gift to my friends.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Tipachu

    We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time - T. S. Eliot The same feeling I got reading the book. Need to know more about the place I got started with. Me myself...

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