Essays in Love

Author: Alain De Botton

Genre: Relationship, Philosophy, Fiction

Alain, along with Nassim Taleb, is probably one of the most interesting philosopher-writers of our times. The story goes that when he got a million-dollar cheque on his first book ‘essays in love’, his father was actually upset agonizing over what Alain would do with his life. Because his father you see was the owner of a hedge fund and the family net worth was about 250 million dollars, and he did not relish his son becoming either a philosopher or a writer!

When Alain decided to write his first book, he had a dilemma. On the one hand, he wanted to write something really deep which had an intellectual content to it. On the other hand, he also realized that any philosophical work could become drab and boring, especially for a young audience and especially on a theme so exciting as love. “I appreciated how novels could generate emotion, moving you, perhaps to tears, through characters with some of the quality and immediacy of real-life acquaintances. At the same time, I was drawn to the genre of the essay… where the author takes the reader around some highly thought-provoking philosophical ideas, in a tome that is intimate, digressive and charming.”

So, he created this book: a beautiful blend of a fictional story and a non-fictional analysis on every aspect of the love story. It outlines the entire “love cycle”: how a man and a woman get attracted to each other, all that they do during courtship, how they fall in love with each other, how the relationship continues from the exotic to the mundane, and how sadly they grow “out of each other”, its aftermath with hint of suicidal tendencies, and eventually how they both move on with their lives. But unlike a usual love story, after every few incidents, Alain includes a deep reflection on the feelings, emotions and ethics involved and generally a larger insightful commentary on this interesting affair we call love. What really goes inside the mind of a man who is trying to woo a girl, how do insecurities play out, why exactly does boredom come in, why do people get tempted with the “other”, and then what circumstances help one move on. The book sold more than 2 million copies and was adapted to a movie (My last 5 girlfriends).