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On Love

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  20,751 ratings  ·  1,959 reviews
"The longing for a destiny is nowhere stronger than in our romantic life" we are told at the outset of Alain de Botton's On Love, a hip, charming, and devastatingly witty rumination on the thrills and pitfalls of romantic love.

The narrator is smitten by Chloe on a Paris-London flight, and by the time they've reached the luggage carousel, he knows he is in love. He loves h
Paperback, 194 pages
Published January 6th 2006 by Grove Press (first published November 1993)
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Ahmad Sharabiani
Essays in Love, Alain de Botton
Alain de Botton, is a Swiss-born British philosopher and author. His books discuss various contemporary subjects and themes, emphasizing philosophy's relevance to everyday life. He published Essays in Love (1993), which went on to sell two million copies. Other bestsellers include How Proust Can Change Your Life (1997), Status Anxiety (2004) and The Architecture of Happiness (2006). In the Essays in Love, the narrator is smitten by Chloe on a Paris-London flight, a
Feb 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Imagine one of your close friends - let's call him AB - has recently embarked on an intense and tumultuous relationship.
You like hearing his take on things. Since AB is introspective and curious, he is able to describe his experiences to you in fascinating detail. Since he studied philosophy, he can relate his insights to you in a wider frame of thought.

That's the tone of this book. It's not pretentious, or mushy, or a how-to. Just a quiet, devastating examination of how we act when in love.

K.D. Absolutely
May 28, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010)
Shelves: 1001-core
”Mahal mo ba ako dahil kailangan mo ako o kailangan mo ako dahil mahal mo ako?” (“Do you love me because you need me or do you need me because you love me?”) is what the character of Claudine Barretto asks the character of Piolo Pasqual in Olivia M. Lamasan’s 2004 movie Milan . This is my favorite Tagalog love story movie and this question is one of those that Alain de Botton (born 1969) tried to answer in his book On Love: A Novel (2006), also earlier published as Essays on Love in 1993.

Todd N
Dec 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
Since reading The Consolations Of Philosophy and Status Anxiety by Alain de Botton, I've been on the look out for more of his books.

In Chicago on business a few weeks ago, I managed to find a copy of On Love used for about $7 (and a rare copy of The True Believer by Eric Hoffer for $3, not to brag or anything). Check out After-Words Bookstore on E. Illinois if you get a chance.

[Aside: It's really hard to locate books by Mr. de Botton in a used bookstore. First of all he could be filed under "D"
Nov 06, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one!
Jesus. What an insufferable read. If I weren't somewhat committed to the book club that assigned this, I would have given it up on page 2. Obnoxious, shallow, pseudo-philosophical, full of clichés and, most notably, boring. Horrifyingly boring. I normally don't get 'fed up' with a book after reading 3 pages, but I did with this one, and it's surprising that I made it all the way to the end.
In my defense: I really try hard to resonate with authors' perspectives when reading such books. I go into
Sep 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Boy meets girl, they fall in love, they fall out of love. Between these major beats, Alain de Botton traverses enough philosophical ground to make that old story entirely his own. It's a love story, of course, but it's intellectual more than it is romantic. It's not about some guy's fortunate/unfortunate heart, it's about a brain (with an impressive classical education) trying to come to terms with said heart.

And it's fun. And almost too quotable. I don't rush to mark up many of my books, but th
3.50 stars

In fact, I bought this book on my birthday and read it three years ago. It's quite readable since the author wrote in numbered essays under each Chapter with various lengths, e.g. Chapter 1 Romantic Fatalism, there are 18 essays, Chapter 2 Idealization - 14, Chapter 3 The Subtext of Seduction - 16, etc. till the end, that is, Chapter 24 Love Lessons. You may try reading any chapter you like to test your love hypothesis and see come what may.

Here are some of my favorite lines:

1. Cupid's
Mar 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
I love "On Love." I hate to describe this gem as something as typical as 'delightful', but it would be a completely accurate description. It was easy to read, but in no way simple. He manages to so perfectly capture the quarks and beautiful, nonsensical aspects of human nature that this book can do non other to affirm the joy of being alive. Botton's witticisms are spot-on and his linguistic juxtapositions are poignant and incredibly good humored. And yet, the novel manages to be touching whilst ...more
What a wonderful book. De Botton outlines many of the psychological and social processes that occur when you fall in love and get into a relationship. And he puts everything thoughtfully in a philosophical context. This sounds heavy-handed, but it's not, that is usually not: de Botton uses the fictional story of two people to make his view tangible and digestible. Occasionally he exaggerates a little (as in the example of the " Marxist paradox "), but almost always I had a liberating sense of re ...more
Jun 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jareed by: K.D. Absolutely
Also posted on my blog: i'mbookedindefinitely

I have been having different slices of the same loaf. And I plan to continue on finishing the platter until kingdom come. After reading Fromm's Art of Loving, Alain de Botton's On Love was consequently partaken of.

At the outset, Art of Loving must be considered as a league of its own. The theorizing Fromm achieved was incomparable in that love, like any other concept in the social sciences, could be easily demystified, unraveled and explained by the
Sadaf Matinkhoo
May 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Love at first sight, going out for a while, and breaking up. This has happened to most of us, joy at the beginning and heartbreak at the end. But you never think about it the way Alain de Botton describes in his book. You never analyze the behaviour of the people in the relationship this deeply and logically. And oh, how familiar was it all! That is the beauty of this book, you have already experienced it, but you never knew what you were experiencing. Alain de Botton takes you on a self-discove ...more
Dec 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy, romance
3.5 stars.

This is philosophy (thinly) disguised as novel, and I am all for anything that makes philosophy less dry and more relatable and readable. Here, we are taken through the entire life-cycle of a relationship, and Botton deeply analyses every aspect and phase of it. Think 500 Days of Summer as told by your local college philosophy professor.

I can only imagine that the amount of enjoyment you will get out of this book is relative to the amount of things that you have gone through that Bot
I discovered that I don't know a lot about myself, yet I have not decided whether this is good, or bad...
You would expect that, by age, you would find answers to solve at least, - half of the mysteries that ruled your Univers.
You solve some, but, immediately, behind them, ten other heads appear, like in fairy tales...And so, you take it from the beginning, relentless, tireless.
Who am I ? At this question, Botton just lays a new layer of fog, beyond all your certaintes, until now.
" If being
Abhijeet Lele
Mar 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful narration of emotions that a man undergoes in love.
Kana Junnie (Khanh)
Aug 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fav
Until this day, I’ve never encountered such a book which holds both emotional and rational contains like this and which has the ability to stretch out of itself as a romantic story into my own romantic experiences. Not just that I’ve enjoyed the intellectual and fully analytic lessons from the protagonist, I’ve also fallen in love with the emotional and sentimental details of his relationship. Never has a story moved me so much it made me engage in several profound introspections about myself an ...more
Cormac Healy
Jul 06, 2016 rated it did not like it
I think I made it about 80 pages through this book, and I am pretty angry at myself for persevering that far, as I could tell within about 10 that I was going to hate this one.

What a stinker of a book. Everything I dislike in literature crammed into one soppy, patronizing mess. There are few things I am certain about in life, but I can say with absolute certainty that I would not get on with Mr Alain de Botton. Never have I read a book where I have disliked the author more. I am not sure if it
Stephanie Sun
How many of us read the Carver story "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love" for the first time and were brutally disappointed to find four alcoholics talking at a kitchen table, and not a collection of erudite, pseudo-intellectual, slyly funny musings about romance and sex?

In 1993, Alain de Botton, at 23, rushed in to fill the gap with a novel stylized as the highly organized, possibly pretentious diary entries of a self-aware yet unreliable male narrator throughout the duration of a relat
Eunice Moral
Mar 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Wow. Okay. This book spoke of love in the way we already know but fail half of the time to articulate. And also why do books have this way of showing up just when you are at a certain moment or situation in your life and everything in the book feels like it was written especially for you? A kind of wonder I will never have the ability to fathom. Essays in Love is basically one’s journey in and out of it along with everything trivial and profound. There is some sense of realization it imparts wit ...more
Mohammad Zakerzadeh
For sure it is one of the best I have ever read in the topic. It tries to discuss about different philosophical and psychological aspects of it, though the depth of those topics are kept not too much to be more understandable by non-expert people.

I am personally against Freudian so did not like the part of the book which tells that you love somebody because you want to see him/her in the opponent's arms in your unconscious. It looks nonsense to me.

Also I prefer that the end of the described love
Olga Nikolaeva
May 09, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Even though I had no idea about Alain de Botton, I was free of expectations, open to like the book... it never reached me. More than that, most of the time the book irritated me. I found its form interesting but only for a short while. To divide chapters into numbered paragraphs, which may resemble some of classic philosophy books, is not enough to make the book's meaning deep enough. I tried to search for some sort of beauty in the sentences, considering the subject, but they left me floating o ...more
Andrina Nathania
I was constantly reminded of a quote by George Orwell upon reading this book.

"The best books are those that tell you what you know already."

Essays in Love told me exactly that.

Oct 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
love had to be appreciated without flight into dogmatic optimism or pessimism, without conatructing a philosophy of one's fears, or a morality of one's disappointments.
Jan 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I just finished this book an hour ago...and I needed this book. I picked it up at the wasn't even in any order, it was just lying in the wrong section...rejected. I'm not saying I felt an empathetic tug towards (Frued, get out!), but it is brightly colored, so I blame my crow like behaviour and the recent "get back together happiness" I was then experiencing. Basically, it "studies" love through a boy meet girl story with the protagonist as the well educated boy. It's wonderful! Upo ...more
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Very immature. Pseudo-philosophical, and not nearly as insightful as the author thought it was. Turned into a bit of a hate-read by the end!

Style was irritating—why number each paragraph? And the switch between the flashes of intense personal feeling and out-of-context quotes by random historical thinkers was jarring. Just all over the place.
Oct 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I recommend this book to everyone who has ever suffered from a heartbreak.
Mar 20, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Christ, what an asshole
Apr 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A few weeks back, I thought I should open some old boxes and check what books which are there inside. One should never do this, because one is never sure what is going to come out of an old box. One can get lost in a different world for a long, long time. But unfortunately I didn’t follow my own advice and I took the first box and opened it. And out jumped dozens of books. All of them were unread and all of them were good. I didn’t know what to do then. If I take all the books out of the box and ...more
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Everyone knows how the usual romantic story goes... well, this is not it! The author walks us through a simple love story between two normal people from the first spark to its bitter end and the next love interest appearing on the horizon. Full of philosophical references it is certainly an interesting read and I bet everyone will recognize themselves in one situation or the other. We, humans, are strange species indeed... unable to not have feelings despite knowing that it will likely cause us ...more
Aug 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
LOVE LOVE LOVE!!! Read it in one sitting because I was hungry for more relatable wisdom, but at the same time immensely curious about what was going to happen to these two lovers
Feb 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
On Love charts a love affair between the narrator and Chloe, a woman he meets on a British Airways carrier from Paris to England. After “an exchange of biography,” the usual digression begins: romance, intimacy, heartbreak and rebirth (or progression, depending on which way you look at it).

Sharp and witty, de Botton is the kind of person you hope to be seated next to at a dinner party. While in the throes of love’s grip, watching his beloved in a grocery store, he tells us: “For a moment, I fant
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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 li

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