Alain de Botton‘s School of Life series is determined to reinvigorate and rehabilitate the self-help genre. Alain, as we know, has done a great deal towards achieving this goal himself. His entertaining and informative guides to life – Religion for Atheists, How Proust Can Change Your Life, The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work – have lead many to re-examine their lives and helped them make slight adjustments to ensure they get the most out of their particular circumstances.
Now Alain has called in some of the brightest minds writing and teaching today to help him. Think of them as The Avengers of self-help… Maybe not. (It was worth a shot.)
From The School of Life website: There is no more ridiculed literary genre than the self-help book. It wasn’t always like this. For two thousand years in the history of the west, the self-help book stood as a pinnacle of literary achievement.
The Ancients were particularly adept practitioners. Epicurus wrote some three-hundred self-help books on almost every topic, including On Love, On Justice and On Human Life. The Stoic philosopher Seneca wrote volumes advising his fellow Romans to cope with anger (the still very readable On Anger), how to deal with the death of a child (Consolation to Marcia) and how to overcome political and financial disgrace (Letter to Lucilius). It is no injustice to describe Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations as one of the finest works of self-help ever written, as relevant to someone facing a financial meltdown as the disintegration of an empire.
The assumption behind this long tradition was that the words of others can benefit us not only by giving us practical advice, but also – and more subtly – by recasting our private confusions and grief into eloquent communal sentences. We feel at once less alone and less afraid.
With the growing secularisation of society, it is presumed that the modern individual should manage the business of living and dying by relying on sheer common sense, a good accountant, a sympathetic doctor and hearty doses of faith in science. As citizens of the future we aren’t supposed to need lectures on how to stay calm and free of anxiety.
But we need self-help books like never before, and that is why The School of Life is proud to announce the launch of our new guides for everyday living: a series of six intelligent, rigorous, well-written self-help books, put together by some of the leading minds in the field. In these, we systematically examine some of the great issues of life – work, sex, money, emotional maturity, digital life and changing the world.
View your sex life in a different light and learn how it can make you happier.
Sex is the most intimately human experience there is. It can also be the most confusing. Our desire to be together conflicts with our desire to avoid vulnerability and appear “normal”, leaving us detached, desensitised or embarrassed.
Covering topics including adultery, lust, pornography and impotence, Alain de Botton argues that 21st century sex will always be a balancing act of trust versus risk, and of primal desire versus studied civility. By examining sex from a subjective – rather than scientific – perspective, he uncovers new ideas on how we can achieve that balance.
Pulling back the sheets on modern sexuality, How To Think More About Sex offers important and surprising wisdom that proves that being good in bed is really all in your head.
About the Author
Alain de Botton is the author of the international bestsellers, How Proust Can Change Your Life, Essays in Love and The Art of Travel, and other books that try to throw light on the big challenges of our lives. He is the founder of Living Architecture (www.living-architecture.co.uk), a social enterprise which gets top architects to build holiday homes for rental by anyone. He is also the founder of The School of Life, for which this series has been designed.
How To Change The World combines insights from Tolstoy, Gandhi and Sartre and outlines a refreshing theory of political power, giving examples of successful non-violent action from across the world, from the start of recorded history to the present day. Of course, we don’t all need to topple dictators, but any attempt to change the status quo requires us to overcome inertia, indifference and perhaps active hostility from people who feel threatened.
This book explores the idea that we can break down our goals into small pieces, and highlights that there will never be a better time to start. Bursting with ideas, this book will give you a sense of what might just be possible, as well as the inspiration and the courage you need to go about improving and changing the world we live in.
About the Author
John-Paul Flintoff is an author, writer and broadcaster. His FT magazine story about Camilla Batmangehelidjh, founder of the London-based charity, Kids Company, helped to change government policy, and the late Nobel winner Harold Pinter said of Flintoff’s work that it was “very good, very funny…in fact, it made me laugh”.
A handbook to console, nourish and gently lead us on the path to emotional balance.
There is no simple set of instructions that can guarantee sanity, but if you want to overcome emotional difficulties and become happier, psychotherapist Philippa Perry argues that there are four cornerstones to sanity you can influence to bring about change. By developing your self-observation skills, examining how you relate to others, breaking out of your comfort zone and exploring new ways of defining yourself, she suggests ways of getting over your problems and feeling more “normal”.
This book explores techniques to help you find emotional equilibrium, such as practising mindfulness, being emotionally honest in your relationships with others, challenging your brain in new and exciting ways, and finding cause for optimism. Through case studies, practical exercises and stories of individual experience, this insightful and inspirational book reaches out to anyone in need of a little emotional support from time to time.
About the Author
Philippa Perry is a psychotherapist who, in an attempt to demystify psychotherapy, wrote the graphic novel, Couch Fiction. She has written for The Guardian, the Observer, Time Out and Healthy Living magazine and has a column in Psychologies magazine. She lives in London and Sussex with her husband, the artist Grayson Perry and enjoys gardening, cooking, parties, walking, tweeting (@philippa_perry) and watching telly.
Break free of your destructive relationship with money, and learn how money can make you happy.
Our relationship with money is one that lasts a lifetime. It can be as important as family life, as competitive as work, and as exciting and secretive as love. Yet books about money tend to take one of two routes: a) how to get more, or b) how to deal with less.
This book turns these questions upside down, and looks not at money itself, but at the way we view it. How does money drive us? How does it frighten us? And how can it help us make sense of who we are?
Money is too important a part of life for us not to worry about, but by approaching it differently, we can change the way we perceive its worth. With surprising and enlightening new insights, How to Worry Less About Money will help you realise what material wealth really means.
About the Author
John Armstrong is Philosopher in Residence at the Melbourne Business School and Senior Advisor to the Vice-Chancellor of Melbourne University. He is the author of several internationally acclaimed books on art, aesthetics and philosophy, including In Search of Civilization, Conditions of Love: The Philosophy of Intimacy, Love, Life, Goethe: How to be Happy in an Imperfect World, and The Secret Power of Beauty.
This is a book about how to take working life in new directions – how to negotiate the labyrinth of choices, how to think about personal ambitions and motivations, and ultimately how to take concrete steps to finding a fulfilling career. It is a self-help book with a difference. Standard career guides are filled with pop psychology and bullet-point advice for writing CVs and making action plans, but How to Find Fulfilling Work casts its net wider. While not ignoring the insights of psychology or the need for practical planning, it reveals wisdom about work found in sociology, history, literature, film and philosophy.
It may be a false illusion that there is some perfect dream job out there for us, an ideal calling or vocation. But this book is premised on the idea that it is possible to find work that is life-enhancing. This is a book that inspires as much as it instructs and will aid self-reflection about the wider quest of how to live a good life.
About the Author
Roman Krznaric is a co-founder of The School of Life, where he teaches courses about work. He has been named by the Observer as one of Britain’s leading lifestyle thinkers, and advises organisations including Oxfam and the United Nations on using empathy and conversation to create social change.
Over the last decade, through digital media, we have crossed a number of significant thresholds: the interconnection of over half of the world’s adult population through mobile telephony and the internet and the devotion of more than half the waking hours of a western generation to mediated experience.
Yet little mainstream thought has been given to what these transitions signify for the business of daily living; and what thought there has been too often focuses on grand claims of loss or gain.
This book asks what it means not simply to live within a digital century, but to live well with it and within it. Unlike most other contemporary accounts, it is neither a tale of technology doom nor glory, but a pragmatic guide to what questions we need to ask of the world around us; what it might mean to answer these; and what practical steps might allow us all both to choose and to use the tools at our disposal, and to live within a digital century in as fully human a sense as possible.
About the Author
Tom Chatfield is an author, commentator and technology theorist. He has written books on the culture of video gaming, new media and politics and the history of digital ideas. Tom has done design, writing and consultancy work for games and new media companies including Google, Six to Start and Intervox, and has spoken at forums including TED Global, the RSA and the World IT Congress. For more, see www.tomchatfield.net
About the Contributor
John Purcell (aka Natasha Walker) is the author of The Secret Lives of Emma trilogy published by Random House Australia. The Secret Lives of Emma: Beginnings reached the top ten on the Australian fiction charts and Natasha/John was the tenth highest selling Australian novelist and third highest selling Australian debut author in 2012. The trilogy has since sold over 50,000 copies in print and ebook and has been translated into French, Korean and Polish. John has worked in the book industry for over twenty-five years. While still in his twenties he opened John’s Bookshop, a second-hand bookshop in Mosman in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Now he is the Director of Books at booktopia.com.au.