Unhappy with ‘Happiness’


Responding to our post on Monday about Alain de Botton‘s appearance at a CBC taping, one of our readers dropped us a line which included a line in closing “de Botton must be stopped.” Needless to say, they’re not such a big fan of The Architecture of Happiness. In our original post, we didn’t directly say anything positive or negative, just talked about someone meeting the author and enjoying the experience, but being as we like to give equal time to opposing viewpoints, we pass you over to a very negative (and also quite funny) review of the book from the January/February issue of I.D. Magazine. Here’s a bit:

Let’s be clear: a passion for architecture need not transform anyone into an anal-retentive prig. Alas, de Botton has been thus victimized, and it is a worldview he actively promotes in The Architecture of Happiness. It’s a shame, too, for an accessible introduction to architectural aesthetics, well grounded in history, would be timely in this design-obsessed age. Unfortunately, de Botton, best known for his 1998 best-seller How Proust Can Change Your Life, has not written that book. Instead he has produced a meandering, pompous disquisition that betrays an autodidact’s haphazard sense of the field, but with little of the original thinking that might be expected from an outsider.