The news is everywhere. We can’t stop constantly checking it on our computer screens, but what is this doing to our minds?
We are never really taught how to make sense of the torrent of news we face every day, writes Alain de Botton (author of the best-selling The Architecture of Happiness), but this has a huge impact on our sense of what matters and of how we should lead our lives. In his dazzling new audiobook, de Botton takes twenty-five archetypal news stories - including an airplane crash, a murder, a celebrity interview and a political scandal - and submits them to unusually intense analysis with a view to helping us navigate our news-soaked age. He raises such questions as "Why are disaster stories often so uplifting?"; "What makes the love lives of celebrities so interesting?"; "Why do we enjoy watching politicians being brought down?"; "Why are upheavals in far-off lands often so boring?"
In The News: A User’s Manual, de Botton has written the ultimate guide for our frenzied era, certain to bring calm, understanding and a measure of sanity to our daily (perhaps even hourly) interactions with the news machine.
©2014 Copyright © Alain de Botton 2014. (P)2014 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd
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"Great book. Essential listening/ reading"
This is a great book, with great advice and thoughts.
He is a lifeless reader, and emotionless. I've read the physical book, and he just doesn't bring the book to life.
Hopefully in the future Alain De Botton will be asked to narrate his own books. I spoke with him about this, and he said that he is not asked. Lets hope this changes.
"On The Media ..."
As always, after finishing one of Alain de Botton's books, you look up with a fresh perspective on something that had seemed sorted and steady in your mind; the world seems to be a slightly brighter and more interesting place. Here he takes on that multi-headed behemoth, the Media, and slowly dissects it and its relationship with us so that we can better understand its motivations and faults. A very good read, though the production (the music, and the constant interruptive numbers) was slightly distracting.
"Not his best"
I've read some great de Botton, such as 'How Proust can Improve your Life' and 'Status Anxiety', but here I was a bit disappointed. There are too many examples, so much of the book is a random stream of news stories - I will resist giving examples - lurid tabloid headlines, catastrophes and the day to day political and economic blur from 'serious' sources such as the BBC - but since we all know what 'stream of news' sounds like, it is unnecessary to rehearse it. Many of de Botton's points are thoughtful - how it is lack of context makes suff boring or unimpressive - but some of it seems rather obvious. I also found him a bit goody-two-shoes, as much of his thrust is about how we should be made to care more about e.g. death in Africa. He visits Uganda and through direct contact learns to care more. Well, did it help those Ugandans, Mr Goody-two-shoes?
Also funny habit of numbering paragraphs - so often you just hear '6' Plane crashes in Scottish field, and the 6 doesn't seem to relate to anything at all.
"Couldn't stick with it"
It's only about 5 hours but I couldn't make it to the end. It's all very woolly and superficial. Pick up Chomsky's "Manufacturing Consent" instead.
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