Alain de Botton's favorite books

  • In Search of Lost Time

    In Search of Lost Time

    Marcel Proust
    The Way by Swann's
    Fiction

    Since the original prewar translation there has been no completely new rendering of the French original into English. This translation brings to the fore a more sharply engaged, comic and lucid Proust. IN SEARCH OF LOST TIME is one of the greatest,most entertaining reading experiences in any language. As the great story unfolds from its magical opening scenes to its devastating end, it is the Penguin Proust that makes Proust accessible to a new generation. Each volume is translated by a different, superb translator working under the general editorship of Professor Christopher Prendergast, University of Cambridge.

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    what makes Proust such an enchanting writer, that he is so interested in daily life

     — Source

  • The Unbearable Lightness of Being

    The Unbearable Lightness of Being

    Milan Kundera
    Twentieth Anniversary Edition
    Fiction

    When The Unbearable Lightness of Being was first published in English, it was hailed as "a work of the boldest mastery, originality, and richness" by critic Elizabeth Hardwick and named one of the best books of 1984 by the New York Times Book Review. It went on to win the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction and quickly became an international bestseller. Twenty years later, the novel has established itself as a modern classic. To commemorate the anniversary of its first English-language publication, HarperCollins is proud to offer a special hardcover edition. A young woman in love with a man torn between his love for her and his incorrigible womanizing; one of his mistresses and her humbly faithful lover -- these are the two couples whose story is told in this masterful novel. Controlled by day, Tereza's jealousy awakens by night, transformed into ineffably sad death-dreams, while Tomas, a successful surgeon, alternates loving devotion to the dependent Tereza with the ardent pursuit of other women. Sabina, an independent, free-spirited artist, lives her life as a series of betrayals -- of parents, husband, country, love itself -- whereas her lover, the intellectual Franz, loses all because of his earnest goodness and fidelity. In a world in which lives are shaped by irrevocable choices and by fortuitous events, a world in which everything occurs but once, existence seems to lose its substance, its weight. Hence we feel, says the novelist, "the unbearable lightness of being" -- not only as the consequence of our private acts but also in the public sphere, and the two inevitably intertwine. This magnificent novel encompasses the extremes of comedy and tragedy, and embraces, it seems, all aspects of human existence. It juxtaposes geographically distant places (Prague, Geneva, Paris, Thailand, the United States, a forlorn Bohemian village); brilliant and playful reflections (on "eternal return," on kitsch, on man and animals -- Tomas and Tereza have a beloved doe named Karenin); and a variety of styles (from the farcical to the elegiac) to take its place as perhaps the major achievement of one of the world's truly great writers.

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    a book that I gave out a lot. I don't know if I still would, but I do admire this Czech writer very much

     — Source