Book review: The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work

Our choice of occupation is held to define our identity to the extent that the most insistent question we ask of new acquaintances is not where they come from or who their parents were but what they do, the assumption being that the route to a meaningful existence must invariably pass through the gate of remunerative employment

It is not the kind of book that will change your life but it is still an interesting read written in Alain de Botton‘s famously witty style. The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work is like a written documentary, a writer’s look at all that is peculiar, ridiculous, amusing and sad in modern work.

If like me you work in a big company I’m sure the chapters about accountancy or biscuits manufacture will surely put a smile on your face as it did on mine:

Manoeuvres which one might briefly have carried out on one’s own in the kitchen (readying an oven, mixing dough, writing a label) had at United Biscuits been isolated, codified and expanded to occupy entire working lives…

Along with such specialisation came a raft of esoteric job titles: Packaging Technologist, Branding Executive, Learning Centre Manager…

All in all, an enjoyable read by Alain de Botton.


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