Alain de Botton Quotes

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A city like London is sociable in a sense that there are people gathering in bars and restaurants, concerts and lectures. Yet you can partake of all these experiences and never say hello to anyone new. And one of the things that all religions do is take groups of strangers into a space and say it is OK to talk to each other.
— Alain de Botton

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All tours are filled with humiliation. My publisher once hired a private jet to fly me to a venue where 1,000 people were waiting. It almost bankrupted him.

Alain de Botton

As an atheist, I think there are lots of things religions get up to which are of value to non-believers - and one of those things is trying to be a bit better than we normally manage to be.

Alain de Botton

As for despair, it comes about when I have been a fool and hate myself and despair of my personality. I am prone to gloom, but not depression as such.

Alain de Botton

Booksellers are the most valuable destination for the lonely, given the numbers of books that were written because authors couldn't find anyone to talk to.

Alain de Botton

I always feel that I am writing for somebody who is bright but impatient. Someone who doesn't have unlimited time. That is my sense of the reader. So I have got to get to the point.

Alain de Botton

I am always anxious.

Alain de Botton

I am conscious of trying to stretch the boundaries of non-fiction writing. It's always surprised me how little attention many non-fiction writers pay to the formal aspects of their work.

Alain de Botton

I am not a foodie, thank goodness. I will eat pretty much anything. A lot of my friends are getting incredibly fussy about food and I see it as a bit of an affliction.

Alain de Botton

I assemble my ideas in pieces on a computer file, then gradually find a place for them on a piece of scaffolding I erect.

Alain de Botton

I feel that the great challenge of our time is the communication of ideas.

Alain de Botton

I keep a picture of my beloved children close by. Also, water and plenty of pads and pens.

Alain de Botton

I know a lot about writing, but I don't know much about how other industries work. I've tried to use my naivety to my advantage.

Alain de Botton

I learnt to stop fantasising about the perfect job or the perfect relationship because that can actually be an excuse for not living.

Alain de Botton

I love the idea of a university as away from capitalist values, where people can do things that don't immediately have to pay their way. It's like a monastery in a way, and that beautiful refuge has been destroyed by dogma about what this stuff is for.

Alain de Botton

I passionately believe that's it's not just what you say that counts, it's also how you say it - that the success of your argument critically depends on your manner of presenting it.

Alain de Botton

I think people want to get married to end their emotional uncertainty. In a way, they want to end powerful feelings, or certainly the negative ones.

Alain de Botton

I was a very un-literary child, which might reassure parents with kids who don't read.

Alain de Botton

I was foreign and Jewish, with a funny name, and was very small and hated sport, a real problem at an English prep school. So the way to get round it was to become the school joker, which I did quite effectively - I was always fooling around to make the people who would otherwise dump me in the loo laugh.

Alain de Botton

I was uncomfortable writing fiction. My love was the personal essay, rather than the novel.

Alain de Botton

I waste most of the day, then finally start to write around 3 P.M., totally disgusted with myself for my wasteful nature.

Alain de Botton

I went to church and couldn't swallow it. The music was nice but I don't belong there.

Alain de Botton

I'm also interested in the modern suggestion that you can have a combination of love and sex in a marriage - which no previous society has ever believed.

Alain de Botton

I've had my successes and failures. I know many academics in my field loathe me. I've come to loathe them back, as it seems only polite to do so. But at heart it's absurd; we should band together against the big common enemies.

Alain de Botton

In Britain, because I live here, I can also run into problems of envy and competition. But all this is just in a day's work for a writer. You can't put stuff out there without someone calling you a complete fool. Oh, well.

Alain de Botton

It's almost a blessing when we meet people who naturally want to do the sort of things that are in high demand in society. What a gift to do that, as opposed to other people who would say, 'I want to be a novelist but actually I have to be an accountant.'

Alain de Botton

It's clear to me that there is no good reason for many philosophy books to sound as complicated as they do.

Alain de Botton

It's very hard to respect people on holiday - everybody looks so silly at the beach, it makes you hate humanity - but when you see people at their work they elicit respect, whether it's a mechanic, a stonemason or an accountant.

Alain de Botton

Kant and Hegel are interesting thinkers. But I am happy to insist that they are also terrible writers.

Alain de Botton

Le Corbusier is an outstanding writer. His ideas achieved their impact in large measure because he could write so convincingly. His style is utterly clear, brusque, funny and polemical in the best way.

Alain de Botton

Many moments in religion seem attractive to me even though I can't believe in any of it.

Alain de Botton

My father paid for my education; then he made it clear that I was on my own.

Alain de Botton

My greatest joy comes from creativity: from feeling that I have been able to identify a certain aspect of human nature and crystallise a phenomenon in words.

Alain de Botton

My writing always came out of a very personal place, out of an attempt to stay sane.

Alain de Botton

Never, ever become a writer. It's a nightmare.

Alain de Botton

On paper, being good sounds great but a lot depends on the atmosphere of the workplace or community we live in. We tend to become good or bad depending on the cues sent out within a particular space.

Alain de Botton

Pick up any newspaper or magazine, open the TV, and you'll be bombarded with suggestions of how to have a successful life. Some of these suggestions are deeply unhelpful to our own projects and priorities - and we should take care.

Alain de Botton

Social media has lots of benefits, but compared to Christianity, it tends to group people by interests. Religion puts you with people who have nothing in common except that you're human.

Alain de Botton

Status anxiety definitely exists at a political level. Many Iraqis were annoyed with the US essentially for reasons of status: for not showing them respect, for humiliating them.

Alain de Botton

The Arab-Israeli conflict is also in many ways a conflict about status: it's a war between two peoples who feel deeply humiliated by the other, who want the other to respect them. Battles over status can be even more intractable than those over land or water or oil.

Alain de Botton

The arrogance that says analysing the relationship between reasons and causes is more important than writing a philosophy of shyness or sadness or friendship drives me nuts. I can't accept that.

Alain de Botton

There are few more effective ways to promote tolerance between suspicious neighbours than to force them to eat supper together.

Alain de Botton

There are people who say, 'Oh this guy is quite thick.' I think the reason is that, increasingly, I don't mind being simple in terms of literary expression. Others say, 'No, no, no. He went to Cambridge. He got a good degree. He must be Einstein.'

Alain de Botton

Virtue is its own reward. We only invented concepts like heaven and hell to describe how we feel. We don't feel good doing bad and it's nice to help someone.

Alain de Botton

We are certainly influenced by role models, and if we are surrounded by images of beautiful rich people, we will start to think that to be beautiful and rich is very important - just as in the Middle Ages, people were surrounded by images of religious piety.

Alain de Botton

We may seek a fortune for no greater reason than to secure the respect and attention of people who would otherwise look straight through us.

Alain de Botton

What bothers me is that there is so much emphasis on food, rather than gathering and meeting - so that there is all this effort in creating the right food, whereas the food is only a small part of whether the encounter is successful or not.

Alain de Botton

What is fascinating about marriage is why anyone wants to get married.

Alain de Botton

When I see someone like Richard Dawkins, I see my father. I grew up with that. I'm basically the child of Richard Dawkins.

Alain de Botton

When I'm writing, I write all day. Other days, I sit around thinking. Or I run around from one meeting to another, out in the world. It varies, and I like that.

Alain de Botton

A city like London is sociable in a sense that there are people gathering in bars and restaurants, concerts and lectures. Yet you can partake of all these experiences and never say hello to anyone new. And one of the things that all religions do is take groups of strangers into a space and say it is OK to talk to each other.

Alain de Botton