Tag Archives: Alain de Botton

Book Review: Art as Therapy by Alain de Botton & John Armstrong

Art as Therapy by Alain de Botton Title: Art as Therapy
Author: Alain de Botton
Publisher: Phaidon Press
ISBN: 9780714865911
Genre: Non-Fiction, Art, Essays
Pages: 239
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

It is the end of the year and I close the year with a book I just finished and cannot stop talking or thinking about – “Art as Therapy” by Alain de Botton and John Armstrong. May be a lot of people know Alain and are aware of what and how he writes and then there are others who are yet to discover his style and works. I envy the latter set of people. They are so lucky to discover his works and his line of thought. At the same time, because this book is co-written, it is always good to see another perspective, in this case of John Armstrong.

Alain de Botton according to me is a master at what he does – he integrates human behaviour across a range of topics and we have witnessed that through his works. “Art as Therapy” on the other hand is a different matter altogether.

“Art as Therapy” speaks of art in the manner, which is accessible to everyone. It is not about wine glasses in hand and appreciating something on the wall, and acting all pretentious. It is about nonetheless, life and how we live art and also sometimes its therapeutic and redeeming nature in our lives. The bigger question that the book seeks to answer is: What is art’s purpose? What does it do or not do for humans? Why is it needed at all?

In this book, de Botton covers different aspects of life through art – love, nature, money, and politics and how art acts as a catalyst to solve the daily worries of life. A photograph then becomes more than a photograph. A painting then becomes something that you connect with so strongly, that you can never let go. Alain looks at everyday problems, everyday issues and uses art to solve them. May be solve is an incorrect term here, he uses art to get an understanding of life and then perhaps cure the soul.

With examples and more illustrations throughout, Alain and John reveal how we as humans cannot lose sight of the bigger things, and how sometimes art is the only solace. They talk about looking at art with fresh eyes and viewing it the way you never would have thought of. Each painting, each art form transforms itself in their hands and that is more than reason enough to read this book. They show us how art heals us in ways we cannot even imagine. Art is then an imperative force in our lives, which perhaps we do not pay attention to – given the hustle-bustle of our technology-ridden lives. They remove art from the shallow galleries and bring it out to readers and the so-called common man through this fascinating concept and even more wondrous book.

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Here is he talking about Art as Therapy indeed and it is brilliant:

Book Review: How to Stay Sane by Philippa Perry

How to Stay Sane by Philippa Perry Title: How to Stay Sane
Author: Philippa Perry
Publisher: Macmillan
ISBN: 9781447202301
Genre: Non-Fiction
Pages: 160
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

The School of Life is a series of books launched by Alain de Botton or I think commissioned by him. Each book is unique and different in the sense that each book speaks of a different aspect of life – which either people do not talk of or just plainly ignore. These are lessons on how to live life better, not to be mistaken for a self-help series (though they do that at some level), but more like a lesson, a guide, something which can be tweaked to your choice or preference.

The various books in this series are about how to think more about sex, how to find fulfilling work, how to worry less about money (this should be everyone’s read), how to change the world, and lastly the one which I will be reviewing right now – How to Stay Sane by Philippa Perry. The book works on a simple premise: In today’s world, we need more mental health than ever. We need to take care of it and not let go of it. The book just tells us how.

“How to Stay Sane” just lets the readers know how to actually remain sane – connecting with the situation and at the same time giving a very objective view to the entire concept. The book is divided into small chapters – dealing with Self-Observation, to relating to others, to dealing with stress and finally rounding it with what is the story and a couple of exercises to actually work on being sane.

While it appear to be a self-help book in most ways, How to Stay Sane is not in so many other. The writing is crisp, to the point and very subtly laced with humour and simplicity. The mind is studied most often and to figure why we get the way we do. The way our relationships function, the stress most jobs cause and how we can actually deal with all of it. A great book to be read without any prejudice or pre-conceived notions.

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