The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work

The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work

Book - 2009
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Combining narrative virtuosity, a scholar's grasp of history, an intellectual intrepidness, and a dazzling ability to reveal the extraordinary in the ordinary (and vice versa), Alain de Botton has created his own ever-surprising genre into which The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work fits brilliantly. In this tantalizing new book, Alain de Botton takes on an activity common to us all--the activity in which most of us spend the majority of our time, but which rarely gets serious attention beyond the realm of cartoons and television sitcoms. With his signature elan and expansive curiosity, de Botton explores a diversity of occupations, from accountant to aircraft salesman, painter to power-station designer, career counselor to cookie manufacturer, and the vast diversity of locations where these occupations are undertaken. Peering closely at details of the workday and workplace that we tend to overlook, and asking questions that we hesitate to ask ourselves (To what end do we exhaust ourselves on a daily basis? What makes work pleasurable? Why isn't it pleasurable when it isn't?), de Botton gets at the whys and wherefores of routine, practice, and process, focusing a new and unexpectedly revealing light on the essential meaning of work in our lives.
Publisher: New York : Pantheon Books, c2009
Edition: 1st U.S. ed
ISBN: 9780375424441
037542444X
Characteristics: 326 p. : ill. ; 21 cm

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a
augsburgerin
Jun 06, 2016

More an observation from an outsider than an analysis of work in modern England. De Botton makes some interesting observations but he stays quite removed from his subjects and maybe because of that has a rather depressing view of modern work life. The parts in enjoyed most were the ones that didn't deal with corporate life like the section on painting and the ramble across the English countryside following a power line.

f
Frybyte
Nov 27, 2015

I agree in part with joshsmith, mundane experiences well some aren't but the melancholy tone throughout - a romantic melancholy no less- drove me nuts.
And the title was misleading. This is TV in a book, PBS even.

Also beware the book is falling apart.

j
joshsmith
Apr 09, 2011

I found this book extremely cold. It is nicely produced and well written, but the author seems entirely removed from his subject. The title could more accurately have been "The futility of work."

I got as far as his discussion of accounting, which I know a bit about. De Botton fails to capture any of the actual pleasures or frustrations of accounting. His treatment focusses entirely on the vacuity of the public face of accounting. I quit reading at this point.

There are actual pleasures in working. But they escape de Botton.

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alanbob
Jan 18, 2011

Violence: This title contains Violence.

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alanbob
Jan 18, 2011

Coarse Language: This title contains Coarse Language.

a
alanbob
Jan 18, 2011

Sexual Content: This title contains Sexual Content.

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