The Consolations of Philosophy was, for me, a fascinating re-introduction to everything I love about philosophy. In the book, Alain de Botton summarizes the ideologies of 6 great philosophers (Socrates, Epicurus, Seneca, Montaigne, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche) as they apply to modern-day issues: love, popularity, shyness, wealth, and so on.
But it’s much more exciting than that inadequate description makes it sound. It is like he took the entire history of philosophy, the entire history of ideas and thinking, and made it digestible, enjoyable, fun. Extolling all its old virtues, but giving it a modern twist. You have to check it out.
And it is a good summary, too. If you’re feeling like you want to brush up on the history of Western philosophy (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?), I could not recommend a more delightful way of doing it.
This was the best book I had read in a long time. And I almost immediately went and read everything else of his that I could find. As a philosopher, he is magnificent, but it is his writing that really takes my breath away (yes, I know I’m gushing. I don’t care. He’s that good!) It is brilliant, but unpretentious. Unassuming. Almost like accidental genius. Impossible to refute, kind of gently hinting at your inadequacy, but in an encouraging way somehow. Casually amazing. Insightful, but not pedantic. Charming. Wonderful.
Reading philosophy isn’t always easy, or fun. But this is. I would highly recommend it, a million times over. There can be a real consolation of philosophy.