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Status Anxiety | [Alain de Botton]

Status Anxiety

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. Best-selling 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.
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Publisher's Summary

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. Best-selling 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.

©2004 Alain de Botton; (P)2006 Blackstone Audio Inc.

What the Critics Say

"A smart and amusing inquiry....Thick with social history and as funny as [it is] acute." (Boston Globe)
"His richest, funniest, most heartfelt work yet, packed with erudition and brimming with an elegant originality of mind....An informative joy to read." (Seattle Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (123 )
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3.9 (41 )
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  •  
    Jesse Seattle, CA, USA 02-02-10
    Jesse Seattle, CA, USA 02-02-10 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A book about one of society's worst diseases"

    This is a beautifully written and narrated book about how and why much of society is so obsessed with status and why status and material wealth are now widely considered to be the same. I wasn't expecting but welcomed the sociology history lesson(there's quite a bit of it). The author describes himself as secular but I didn't find any notable criticism of religion or Christianity (maybe because I'm secular myself?). Check out the author's 15 minute talk on the TED Talks website for a preview of this book...

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer San Francisco, CA, USA 12-27-06
    Jennifer San Francisco, CA, USA 12-27-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "something no one talks about"

    This is the rare sample of a book which had me engrossed as an audiobook, which I wouldn't have gotten through if it was on paper. Presented as nearly an academic treatise, the book is filled with data and great anecdotes supporting his points. I've been highly recommending it to everyone I know, as it makes you think about the things we strive for every day, and makes you understand why they feel worth so much sacrifice.

    But it's not just a thoughtful, serious work -- it also kept me engaged with many amusing stories. I'm going to buy everything else he's written!

    18 of 21 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roy Beaumont, TX, United States 01-19-11
    Roy Beaumont, TX, United States 01-19-11 Member Since 2005
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    "From the Author of How Proust Can Change Your Life"

    Alain de Botton offers here a thorough orientation to status anxiety in this volume. The concept is first placed in historical, cultural, and philosophical context. Application to “real world” circumstances follow. This is a well written and thoughtful book. I particularly benefited from his discussion of meritocracy and its emergence in modern society. Listeners interested in the psychological or neurological antecedents of or sources of status anxiety, however, will be disappointed. Listeners looking for insight into how we can improve contemporary life and institutions will be disappointed as well. I was disappointed. Otherwise, the reading of Simon Vance is well done.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Greg Lansing, MI, USA 08-19-08
    Greg Lansing, MI, USA 08-19-08 Member Since 2006
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    "If everybody wrote like this I would read more."

    I gushed about de Botton in another review, so I'll skip it and just say how good this book is. It's thought provoking, smart, funny, educational... but mostly just a good "listen". It made me re-think that 14kt grill and pinkie ring too - whew!

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary Palm Coast, FL, United States 02-17-12
    Mary Palm Coast, FL, United States 02-17-12 Member Since 2011
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    "So important for the modern, anxious homo sapiens."
    Any additional comments?

    He's a smart, accessible philosopher - and I feel much, much less anxious after reading this book.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tim United States 03-28-12
    Tim United States 03-28-12 Member Since 2010

    My reviews are honest. No sugar coating here.

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    "Status Quo"

    After reading about the different social classes, I got one very important thing out of it. As reader of the classics, like All Quiet on the Western Front, Brave New World, the explanation of Jane Austen's writing and how the classic almost always have the same pattern, makes sense..

    Totally worth the read. It explains a lot of the status quo.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jon 08-02-07
    Jon 08-02-07
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    "False Advertising!"

    Reading the description of this book gives the impression that it is an academic treatise which addresses the role of status and self perception.

    It is, in fact, a thinly veiled endorsement of the ancient Middle Eastern mythology, “Christianity” and in as much contains quite a bit of nonsensical rambling.

    The author has made a truly laughable, if not insulting, attempt to disguise his goofy Jesus rants by interweaving references from history and literature.

    I am pretty sure it says in the Bible “Thou shalt not tricketh people into downloading thine religious audiobook"

    32 of 64 people found this review helpful
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