I've enjoyed de Botton's prior books. This one is a severe disappointment.
One of the things I've enjoyed about de Botton's work is how he brings a far-ranging understanding of canon of Western philosophy to bear on the major issues of modern life, doing so in an understandable and sometimes entertaining way. As I have no particular expertise in Western philosophy, I have always assumed de Botton was reasonably accurate in his understanding. Religion for Atheists gives me now great doubt about that.
In Religion for Atheists, de Botton discusses one subject that I have particular expertise in: Zen Buddhism. I found de Botton to be shockingly inaccurate. For example, he describes the Japanese Tea Ceremony as a ritual used in Zen. It isn't, and anyone who did a little as read the Wikipedia article on the subject could figure that out. Yes, Zen philosophy has heavily influenced the Tea Ceremony, so there is a relationship there. But it's like the US Thanksgiving holiday. The Thanksgiving dinner ritual is heavily influenced by Christianity, but Thanksgiving is not a ritual of the Christian church.
De Botton goes on to make a similar mistake about the Japanese Tsukimi festival, again thinking it's a Zen Buddhist festival. It's not.
Another weakness of Religion for Atheists is the author's numerous suggestions for impractical and implausible ways to implement valuable aspects of religion in an atheistic ways, such that it undermined the concepts the author was trying to promote.
De Botton's TED talk on this subject is pretty good. I suggest listening to that and skipping this book.
This book desperately needs editing down. Far too many words for too little content.
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