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Desejo de Status

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  13,099 ratings  ·  1,327 reviews
"This is a book about an almost universal anxiety that rarely gets mentioned directly: an anxiety about what others think of us; about whether we're judged a success or a failure, a winner or a loser. This is a book about status anxiety." "Alain de Botton, asks - with lucidity and charm - where worries about our status come from and what if anything we can do to surmount t ...more
Paperback, 297 pages
Published 2005 by Rocco (first published 2004)
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Tom LA
Jan 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Status Anxiety" by Alain De Botton is a sparkly book that, for the most part, I enjoyed immensely. However, like other readers, I have some problems with it.

First, a gentle reminder to everyone who approaches a "philosophical" book like this one: all this rationalizing of reality can be helpful sometimes, but it is often overestimated, especially by academics. Even though it should be obvious, people tend to forget that reality stays exactly the same, with or without philosophical analysis. Th
Intentional Intellectual Blindness

Alain de Botton should be deeply ashamed of this book. If he isn’t, it can only be due to his continued ignorance of the most important research ever conducted about his chosen subject. The French philosopher and literary critic, Rene Girard spent most of his professional career analysing and theorising about the problem de Botton addresses: envy, its sources and its consequences. In 2005, the year after the publication of de Botton’s book, Girard, author of mor
Feb 27, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: brad
Shelves: 2008
this book claims to be absent any original ideas. It cites long (and I mean long) standing philosophical precepts, draws on well worn wisdom and largely repeats what has already been said.

what's remarkable then is that it does so in such a clear and erudite manner that nearly every part of it--and it follows the whole would--makes sense. fundamentally.

it offers no cure for status anxiety (as there isn't one) but it does give great insight into its roots, and some of the ways people have managed
Corey Fry
Jul 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone with a job
I loved this book. However, if you're going to read it, be ready to analyze your life, question your ambition and search for ways in which you can better treat your fellow humans.

I love comparitive philosophy. I especially love it when it's well-researched and well-written. Alain's style is conversational and informative but he doesn't come of sounding academic and esoteric. You learn from his research that our modern day obsession with 'stuff' isn't a modern convention.

I loved this book and re
Sep 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The more humiliating, shallow, debased or ugly we take ordinariness to be, the stronger will be our desire to set ourselves apart. The more corrupt the community, the stronger the lure of individual achievement."
- Alain de Botton, Status Anxiety


This is my second of Botton's books. I enjoyed a lot (not just because I love gay French writers who adore their mothers) his book: How Proust Can Change Your Life. It isn't a huge, transformative book, but one of those nonfiction for amateur books that
Matt Harris
Feb 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I drop my daughter off to her Early Learning Centre in the mornings, I sometimes hop out of the car and away from it with her as quickly as I can. Anxiety about my old Toyota Corolla with the salt-affected roof, and the missing wing mirror actually produces changes in my behaviour which have been frustrating, annoying me. These parents at my daughter's ELC have Mercs, Cayennes. At the very least; large, clean, new cars.

It was with this particular instance in mind that I approached Status A
Nov 27, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
I've read other books by de Botton and (unlike some readers) enjoyed his chatty style and self-deprecating anecdotes. This book is less personal and has more of an essay feel, but the modus operandi is still graceful, readable synthesis and organisation of material from various philosophers. He aims to explain and offer relief for 'status anxiety' in a culture, 'the West', where status is conferred by wealth. I found this book helpful, as I quickly realised that I can explain my attitude to 'Wes ...more

Underwhelmed. Botton is erudite, eloquent, wide-ranging, interested and interesting. He claims that we are consumed by status, and status anxiety, because we lack something more profound than the material satisfactions can hope to be. Veritas. He offers quite a few alternatives to the snobbery and mendacity which is obvious to many, if not most, in conspicuous consumption.

But that's sort of the problem- it's all possibility, perspective. Botton diagnoses the problem, surely, and has a lot of le
Ryan Holiday
Jul 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought it was good but not amazing when I read it, but now that a few months have passed I think of it fairly often. I ended up quoting it in my book and it turned me on to a handful of other writers I now like (and Gustave Dore's awesome drawings of future cities in ruins from the 1800s). The book can be a bit dense at times and I think that is why I had trouble with it at first, but it is full of important digressions and memorable lessons. For instance, the purpose of tragedy in Greek soci ...more
Simon Eskildsen
Apr 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For some reason, I haven't been able to get my hands on a Kindle edition (Amazon doesn't seem to have it), so I finally bought the physical book since a friend of mine has been raving about it for years. This book is an extremely sensible historical exploration into the question: How did we become so tied up in status? Why do we make decisions that undermine our long-term happiness to elevate our status? Happiness is something like success / pretentions, so either, you try to succeed more, or yo ...more
Bill Kupersmith
This is a most wonderful book & I am most grateful to Sara my GR & real-life friend for steering me to it. It did not tell me anything I'd not known before, but it organized & put everything together to yield excellent & valuable insights. It may look as if I took forever to read it but actually I never read more than a few paragraphs @ a time while on the elliptical trainer. One of the insights I found most clarifying was that in Antiquity & the Middle Ages when the status of everyone - peasant ...more
Chris Gottlieb
Entertaining, but not his best: I'm usually quite a fan of Alain de Botton's writing but I found this book a little disappointing. De Botton has a consistent style and approach: a light-touched, urbane tour of the great minds, usually in search of resolutions to widespread issues or questions, in this case the causes and potential solutions to status anxiety. It is a pick and mix of philosophy, art and economics: not in such large chunks as to be indigestible and sweetened with wit and amusing e ...more
Stephanie Jane (Literary Flits)
See more of my book reviews on my blog, Literary Flits

As someone who is consciously trying to step away from the West's predominantly consumer-driven lifestyles I am not De Botton's prime audience for this accessible philosophy work, however I still found a lot to interest me. I particularly liked his wide survey of historical attitudes to social status which looked at examples back to ancient Greece and Rome. It turns out that while what we believe will set us ahead of our peers has changed dra
James Marinero
Jul 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book when I was sailing to Brazil - achieving a lifelong ambition and leaving the rat race for a year or thereabouts. So, I was ready for this, with an open mind (eventually 78 nights at sea, many of them on my back looking at the stars). So, what about the book?

Completely different to 'On Love' and 'The Consolations of Philosophy' (thanks Peter at for putting me on to Alain de Botton), the basic idea that our current system of measuring people on a scale of wealth (an
Todd N
Sep 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
This is the second of two books by Alain de Botton that I've read this month. The first one was about the ability of philosophy to console us during life's trials. This book is an examination of the causes and potential cures for social anxiety, which he defines as "a worry ... that we are in danger of failing to conform to the ideals of success laid down by our society and that we may as a result be stripped of dignity and respect."

Living in hypercompetitive Silicon Valley and having experience
Frieda Vizel
Sep 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a delightful book! So original, thought provoking, even feel-good. I listened to it on Audible and ordered the paper copy, which will be treated to a magic marker's worth of highlighter ink. Maybe I'll just highlight the parts I won't expect to return to in the future. To my poor friends: prepare to suffer through quotes with author attribution in an excellent French accent. "Doo Bootooon."

The book deals with the human need for love - love of society - a need we still dress up in feigned i
Sep 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really interesting. I don't tend to read this kind of thing, but I saw his TED talk about status, and despite status being something I don't think about a lot, his delivery was interesting and he had some solid ideas.

The book's a short philosophical exercise that goes through causes, and then solutions, of anxiety we feel about status. Both run the gamut from religion, politics, lovelessness, history, and other ways of looking at how we've looked at life over the last couple millennia. Do we pu
Feb 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love de Botton and think he's one of our best thinkers, but this was not his best work. It is worth the read and there are a lot of great ideas, but it doesn't really have a coherent story or thesis--just some good thoughts.
Apr 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just love his work, maybe I'm biased 🤷😁
Kressel Housman
A picture is worth a thousand words, and the picture below, which appears in this book, sums up the whole thing for me.

As you see, on top are four people, two of whom enjoy high status in their society, so they are happy. The other two are of low social status, so they are not. But in the bottom diagram, all four people subscribe to some much loftier value, which is why the ceiling above them is so much higher. When people are striving for higher values, status symbols become comparatively
Jul 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a perfectly delightful book - well-written, thoughtful, careful and creative in its interaction with history, and replete with well-chosen quotations. Not a full length essay, but pieces of ideas that fit into a kind of argument quite nicely. The first five chapters include the causes of status anxiety (lovelessness, expectation, meritocracy, snobbery, and dependence) and the second half examines potential solutions (philosophy, art, politics, religion, bohemia). He early on defines status ...more
Who said "comparison is the thief of joy"? If they hadn't, Alain de Botton would, as here he argues that most of our misery comes from the constant comparison of ourselves to others -- to their lives, their wealth, their accomplishments. A book addressing that -- marshaling philosophy, art, and religion to diagnose and combat the problem -- is arrestingly relevant these days, as it's never been easier to compare ourselves with our friends, our neighbors, and the people who we went to high school ...more
Apr 14, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Status Anxiety offers a generalized history of Western conceptions of status and the ways that art, philosophy and religion have mediated, supported and challenged these definitions. After several examples chosen from the broadest of time frames, de Botton only briefly mentions how this history can be related to our current time period and doesn't offer any ingenious perspective on how current institutions, behaviors or practices could mediate, support or challenge our current definition of high ...more
Jan 03, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The start of this book posits a very compelling, and interesting, thesis-- that in the western march towards meritocracy, we have created a society where there are "no excuses" for station in life, causing widespread anxiety and erosion of dignity. If the book had hammered further on this theme, perhaps showing how people create different social lives in order to change their reference points and raise status, or look at social segmentation and the increased preference for anonymous socializatio ...more
Neeraj Krishna
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Many of the most satisfying art works don’t feature exalted or rare elements; they are about the ordinary looked at in a special way, with unusual sincerity and openness to unvarnished experience.”
- The School of life.

The ideas presented in the book are certainly not new or out-of-the-box. de Botton emphasizes on the blatant experiences which we glaze over mindlessly. And this Inflection and emphasis, through thorough scrutiny has given and changed the meaning of the otherwise present-but-unnot
Ericka Clouther
I enjoy most books with an anti-consumerist bent, and this was no exception. Alain de Botton also talks a lot about great books that try to understand the meaning of life without reference to empty status. I'd read some of them and added the rest to my to-read list.

The problem of status, particularly with regards to consumer items is a bit unresolved. If we all lost interest in buying things, I'm afraid of what would happen to the economy. In this though, I am my own comfort, because however mu
Feb 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Shinynickel
This is one of the best books I've read in a long time. de Botton uses his usual clear and accessible style of philosophizing to dissect just why it is we never seem to be happy where we are, and just what it is that makes us always want more. This is one of those books that should be read once every year. de Botton is probably my favorite living author, and this book hit me at just the right moment in my life, but I suspect it will be relative and useful to me my whole life long.
Mohamed al-Jamri
I found most of the points in it to be obvious and common sense. It is a good reminder to care for the important things in life.
Mohammad Sadegh Jazayeri
Let me say this much: this book will have played a major role in any outrageously stupid life decisions I make.
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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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