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How to Think More About Sex

(The School of Life)

3.45  ·  Rating details ·  2,912 ratings  ·  359 reviews
Covering such topics as 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 perspective, he uncovers new ideas on how we can achieve that balance.
Paperback, 160 pages
Published May 1st 2012 by MacMillan (first published 2012)
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3.45  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,912 ratings  ·  359 reviews

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A.V. Flox
Nov 27, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: sex
I've heard about Alain de Botton's book How To Think More About Sex from so many people, I decided I had to read it. Their reviews were excellent -- "It's like hearing David Attenborough narrate various sexual situations and philosophize about them at the same time!" one of them said. I enjoy sex. I dig philosophy. I am a huge fan of nature documentaries, especially those narrated or presented by the aforementioned British broadcaster -- so how could I possibly resist?

I picked up the little boo
Seamus Thompson
May 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The latest in my reading series "Books With Titles That Get Me Funny Looks On The Bus" -- all part of an ongoing project to keep my own special brand of social awkwardness thriving.

Cheeky title aside, this is an interesting look at the various ways in which sexuality informs (and warps) our lives. In particular, it is geared towards readers in committed relationships struggling with the mundane, powerful realities of everyday life that can make trying to remain a sexual being with the person you
Jan 13, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I showed my friend this book, he said it looked like something Carrie of Sex and the City would read. I sneered. This book? Alain De Botton’s slim volume on the philosophy of sexuality, a book so hip there’s not even a picture on the cover, just a serif font and the author’s name? Pfft. Yeah. Right. Screw yew, dude. This thing was written for the under-sexed, under-Benzo’d undergraduate.

So I sat down and started reading it. De Botton gets off to an obvious but well-stated start. We deal wi
Apr 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like Alain de Botton, and I hate self help books. Now de Botton spearheaded a new series of philosophical self help books, the first one by him.

So, he says some weird things in this book, all of which are pointed out by the many reviews below. I liked the book a lot, I think because this is the only book I've ever read that tackles the themes of sex, long term commitment, love, attraction, etc in such a clear and simple way. He does say a lot of weird things (like, the way to make your partne
Bastian Greshake Tzovaras
Jun 05, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
So far I thought «Ass Goblins of Auschwitz» would be pretty safely the worst book I've read in 2013, but now I'm not too sure anymore. This book basically is a mix of the worst of Freud, the worst of evolutionary psychology and – for good measure – adds lots of naturalistic fallacies. Put this all in a blender and you end up with this mess… Got any fetishes? Let's grab some Freud. Oh, and evolution made sure sex in relationships will get boring after time, don't rebel against it, it's natural an ...more
Jul 05, 2013 rated it it was ok
I have tried, and failed, to love Alain de Botton's other books after reading (and loving) The Consolations of Philosophy. This book is a pathetic attempt at explanations for why we behave the way that we do about sex. De Botton has somehow managed to categorize sexual experiences into very stereotypical, Hollywood-esque boxes that are in no way reflective of reality. The book also contains some very boring attempts at humor, that are neither funny nor witty in any way. Ugh.

Alain de Botton is n
Nov 26, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: bizarre
I have always had ambivalent feelings towards Alain de Botton. On one hand, I hate the fact that he simplifies everything and on the other hand, I'm fascinated with his ability to make the most complicated concepts understandable for everyone. anyway, I cannot but admit that he has a broad knowledge about many things! "How to Think more About Sex" is not his best, yet it is an interesting and easy read.
If you are looking for a simple reading of Freud, that doesn't go deep into all his sophistic
Mar 31, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fic
"חרף מאמצינו הרבים להשיל מהסקס את המוזרויות שלו, הוא לעולם לא יהיה פשוט או נחמד באופן שאולי היינו רוצים שיהיה. בבסיסו, סקס איננו דמוקרטי או אדיב. הוא כרוך באכזריות, בחריגה מהמוסר ובתשוקה לכיבוש ולהשפלה. הוא מסרב להתיישב בצורה מסודרת עם אהבה, כפי שהוא אמור. "

ספר המרכז באופן תמציתי ובהיר ניתוח של הצורך האנושי בסקס והמניעים האנושיים לרצות בסקס מעבר להסברים האבולציו- ביולוגים.

לעיתים נוטה לאובר דרמטיזציה בעיני והתיאורים הופכים לסוג של טלנובלה. אבל, כשמתעלמים מהניסיונות הפואטים והדרמטיים של המחבר מדוב
Richard Kramer
Jan 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
The title is misleading; it could (accurately) be renamed as HOW TO THINK ABOUT SEX IN A MORE INTERESTING WAY. It's a little chapbook, this, really, not terribly ambitious, but full of lovely writing and the more than occasional arresting thought. He's very good on pornography, very good on how sex is a bear, particularly insightful on Our Culture's misunderstanding of fidelity, or perhaps I should say its unuseful way of regarding that concept. I read paragraphs of this aloud to friends. It's s ...more
Kathleen Brugger
Sep 28, 2013 rated it did not like it
My conclusion is this poor man has had some very bad sexual experiences. Why else would someone write this: "We might be so much better off if we didn’t have a sex drive; for most of our lives it causes nothing but trouble and distress. In its name, we do revolting things with people we don’t really like, only to feel disgusting and sinful afterwards." How sad. But how horrible that he feels he has the ability to write a "sexual self-help" book for other people!

The book is also blandly conventio
Leo Robertson
Sep 30, 2014 rated it did not like it
After Alain de Botton touches himself (to Boticelli paintings and the cinematic works of Godard), he feels empty. Past 40, he is painfully aware of death. People find him sexually repugnant, and shame bathes his world.

'I know', de Botton bottons, 'If I convince everyone they have to feel like me, I will have all the power. But what to do with it?'

So begins his increasingly powerful legacy, beginning with Religion for Atheists, where he convinces the 40 and not-yet 40 to either fear death or begi
Jan 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Having read some of the other reviews, I’ve decided instead of simply reviewing the material, I’d put in my bit to perhaps to defend this book. The title, and reactions to it (“Oh, I definitely need to read that” or “I’m embarrassed this will appear on the top of my 2013 book list”) demonstrate the need for this book. I’m quite relieved my copy is the little one with a modest cover which another person can’t see me reading. De Botton addresses the way in which we think about sexual activity – ho ...more
Henry Le Nav
Jan 25, 2013 rated it liked it
I had great hopes for this book but was somewhat disappointed. It is a very short book at least on the Kindle. Only 1339 locations. The fact that the print length is 185 pages tells me that the printed version of the book is loaded with white space.

de Botton will make a pithy observation, and you will think oh this is going to be good. Then he keeps writing and the pithy thoughts turn into somewhat boring sentences that turn into words that turn into letters that turn into pixels on my Kindle's
Picked this one up for free at NEIBA.
I love the idea -- A little school in a storefront with a mission to help people live wisely and well. Sweet, well-meaning. Unfortunately, as of p.49, it seems like the author of this volume is a sad person who is projecting his disappointments as "universal." I think there is a lot of negative opinion here that is offered as "fact." It is readable and parts of it are fun -- I'll keep going, and see if my opinion changes by the end.

Here's what I can appreciat
Ena Rusnjak Markovic
Has some flaws but really lucid and astute. Has problematic aspects that made me cringe a number of times while reading. But I think there are some really interesting ideas in it, as long as you don't take them too far, or read them too literally.

I do feel like he's writing from his own very personal experience and perspective, but then bringing in bits and pieces of theory to support it. It kind of reminds me of the kind of thing Naomi Woolf does, when she takes her experience and then writes
Margaret Heller
Feb 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a short book, an extended essay in the School of Life, which is a kind of philosophical self-help venture that all of Alain de Botton's work has been leading up to seemingly. That said, I really enjoy his particular take on life--I get the sense that many men do not share this attitude. Much of his take on sex may strike one as overly conservative, but the idea that human nature remains essentially unchanged even as our expectations and trappings of life change is convincing to me. The p ...more
Shima Masoumi
Jun 02, 2016 rated it liked it
Well I don't think it's a masterpiece nor a must read; but it's good to read it once in a lifetime.
" we might be so much better off if we didn't have a sex drive; for most of our lives, it causes us nothing but trouble and distress. In its name we do revolting things with people we don't really like, only to feel disgusting and sinful afterwards. Those we desire usually dismiss us for being too ugly or not their type; the cute ones have always already got a boyfriend or a girlfriend; most of our
Sasha Martinez
Aug 14, 2012 added it
Shelves: 2012
As I was reading How to Think About Sex, I posted:
Mayhap Alain de Botton is on to something here—to replace the usual vows and platitudes with something more cautionary, downbeat, pragmatic: “I promise to be disappointed by you and you alone. I promise to make you the sole repository of my regrets, rather than to distribute them widely through multiple affairs and a life of sexual Don Juanism. I have surveyed the different options for unhappiness, and it is you I have chosen to commit to.” And
Mai Anh
Feb 19, 2017 rated it liked it
My friend used to tell me that he didn't understand why many people made a big deal out of sex and then I told him that "yeah, it's a really big taboo in Asian country". So rather than think about it wrongly, I guess it's better to learn it more properly through books. Alain de Botton is well known by his another book "on love" (vietnamese transalation is available), so it must be good for a read.
This book clearly does not teach us how to have more intense or more frequent sex, but rather to sug
Jan 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Who isn't interested in sex? This book is a quick and entertaining read, and while it doesn't answer all one's questions about sex--how could it? Sex is too complex for easy answers--it does provide some interesting insights. Most of us are attracted to people who radiate health and well-being. Sometimes people are unaware of their real feelings--e.g., subtle anger--that could result in sexual withdrawal. The regularity and security of marriage isn't great for sex (although some sex therapists d ...more
Dec 29, 2014 rated it liked it
I have to say, I'm a bit disappointed with the book. Despite a great amount of insight littered throughout, there's an equal amount of weaknesses. Mildly thought provoking, albeit unsubstantiated, opinions about what excites us and how we choose partners but it’s all downhill from there. Alain de Botton presents some stark and sobering realities of sex and offers up several dilemmas that he intends to explore. However, his idea of exploration is more like flip-flopping on specific issues . First ...more
Fernando Rodriguez-Villa
Alain de Botton's title is probably too clever for its own good. He means "How to be more thoughtful about sex" rather than "how to think about sex more frequently." This is, of course, the joke; but it evades most readers / browsers (the title DOES make the book a funny one to read in public - I read a lot of it at a bar around the corner).

De Botton IS very thoughtful about sex and I'm glad I read the book. It does a good job highlighting the very human frailties sex & sexuality bring into
Apr 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How to Think More About Sex allows a more realistic and mature look at human relationships -- beyond the moralistic manner people regard marriage, love, and sex in our modern age. Botton argues that it is rare for marriage/love/sex to co-habit easily together, although it can. Our society's obsession with how a marriage should operate leads people to get down on themselves if they do not always love or desire the person with whom they are married. A short book that nonetheless provides large ide ...more
Nov 06, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book is not mind blowing or life changing in any way, unless you have never given much thought about the place of sex in our modern society. At best, it opens your eyes to what could be if we were a little morally upset when it comes to sex. It is very well written, though
May 29, 2013 rated it did not like it
The passages quoted from the book are beautifully written and sound like a refreshing take on thinking about sex. de Botton is clearly an excellent writer, and the beginning of the book is so very promising. For example: "Ultimately, sex is a grounding mechanism that reminds us of our own imperfect humanity, and in that imperfection lies the messy richness of being human" and "We are granted an extraordinary opportunity to feel comfortable in our own skin wen a willing and generous lover invites ...more
Laura Wilcox
Apr 23, 2016 rated it liked it
I found some of the ideas in 'How to Think More About Sex' interesting and found the writing style sharp, sometimes amusing, sometimes erotic. However, I've thought rather a lot about sex before and did not find most of this book to be as perception changing as some I've read. I would say it is a good starting point, but to proceed with caution. Take it all literally and you will find yourself caught up in a Freudian inspired 'hysteria', crying over a wrist watch that subconsciously reminds you ...more
Oct 10, 2016 rated it did not like it
Alain de Botton's name climbed up on my to-read list because of his wonderful YouTube channel 'School of Life', and when I found an audiobook of this short book I took the chance to finally 'read' some of his work.

The title feels a bit like the bookish variant on clickbait, and could have been called 'How to think about sexuality' or 'How Alain de Botton thinks about sexuality'.

In the beginning I was quite charmed by this book. He starts with the taboos still resting on sex (which in 'liberated
C.E. G
Aug 28, 2013 rated it liked it
It's a philosophy book, okay?

Passages that I loved:

*It could sound disgusting -- and that's the point. Nothing is erotic that isn't also, with the wrong person, revolting, which is precisely what makes erotic moments so intense: at the precise juncture where disgust could be at its height, we find only welcome and permission.

*We were bothered by sex because it is a fundamentally disruptive, overwhelming and demented force, strongly at odds with the majority of our ambitions... it refuses to sit
Jul 22, 2015 rated it it was ok
This book is limited in what it accomplishes and is not the book the title and description would lead one to believe. de Botton takes a lot of things for granted and narrowly focuses on a type of very bland, monogamous, heterosexual married sex. As a result, the book reads as more of a how-to for coping with one's sex life post-marriage and the blandness that this is likely to entail. It does not speak to the wide and varied world of sex I was expecting to encounter and outright ignores homosexu ...more
Harry Doble
May 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy, sexology
A brief tour into sexology. Alain de Botton's position on sex is that of an irrationalist, he references Freud a lot and talks about base impulses as something we've just got to find a way to live with. There are some good insights into the pleasures and problems of sex, particularly loneliness, sexual rejection, and lack of desire, mixed with a few things that I find questionable.

The first is that he'll often shoehorn in philosophy references in a very forced way. Fetishism is very interesting
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Alain de Botton is a writer and television producer who lives in London and aims to make philosophy relevant to everyday life. He can be contacted by email directly via

He is a writer of essayistic books, which refer both to his own experiences and ideas- and those of artists, philosophers and thinkers. It's a style of writing that has been termed a 'philosophy of everyday lif

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“Without sex, we would be dangerously invulnerable. We might believe we were not ridiculous. We wouldn't know rejection and humiliation so intimately.” 14 likes
“Sex gets us out of the house and out of ourselves.” 10 likes
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