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De Botton argues that individual concerns about status-achievement stem from a basic desire for respect and admiration from peers. Maybe this doesn’t sound groundbreaking, but the common, and most damaging, theme of this yearning for higher status is that most people experience it as a shameful and unique personal shortcoming. If you count yourself in this number, read Status Anxiety for a brilliant, funny, and comforting explanation of just how wrong you are.
Lastly, I know that books in Western Philosophy, like technical repair manuals, often fall into the category of “things only read by professionals.” However, De Botton is accessible, so please don’t be intimidated. Get curious.
— Sarah, Vroman's
Anyone who's ever lost sleep over an unreturned phone call or the neighbor's Lexus had better read Alain de Botton's irresistibly clear-headed book--immediately. For in its pages, a master explicator of our civilization and its discontents turns his attention to the insatiable quest for status, a quest that has less to do with material comfort than with love. "Every adult life could be said to be defined by two great love stories. The first--the story of our quest for sexual love--is well known and well charted...The second--the story of our quest for love from the world--is a more secret and shameful tale. And yet this second love story is no less intense than the first." This is a book about an almost universal anxiety that is rarely mentioned: 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. Bestselling author Alain de Botton asks--with lucidity and charm--where our worries about status come from and what, if anything, we can do to surmount them. With the help of philosophers, artists, and writers, he examines the origins of status anxiety before revealing ingenious ways in which people have been able to overcome their worries in the search for happiness. We learn about sandal-less philosophers and topless bohemians, about the benefits of putting skulls on our sideboards, and about looking at ancient ruins. The result is a book that is not only highly entertaining and thought-provoking but genuinely wise and helpful, too.