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He wrote a fascinating book called “How Proust can Change Your Life.” “Not a Novel” appears below the title. It's a delightful combination of a literary biography and self-help manual (as it says in the inside cover blurb).

The chapters are divided into topics such as How to Love Life Today; How to Take Your Time; How to Express Your Emotions, etc. De Botton writes beautifully about Proust and why he wrote as he did. Some of de Botton more interesting statements in explaining Proust:

“How to Open Your Eyes”

Because of the speed of technological and architectural change, the world is liable to be full of scenes and objects that have not yet been transformed into appropriate images and may therefore make us nostalgic for another, now lost world, which is not inherently more beautiful, but might seem so because it has already been widely depicted by those who open our eyes.

“How to be a Good Friend”

There seems to be a gap between what others need to hear from us in order to trust that we like them, and the extent of the negative thoughts we know we can feel toward them and still like them.


One really funny bit that made me laugh out loud when I was riding the train to work. De Botton described Monty Python's All England Summarize Proust Competition, in 15 seconds or less, in swimwear and then evening dress. Now I'm going to have to search out the Monty Python fans so they can tell me which disk it's on so I can Netflix it.

I tried reading Swann's Way. Proust's excessive wordiness and endless descriptions made my eyes glaze over and I couldn't finish it. I gave up when he got to the madelines. Now after reading this book it almost makes me want to give it another try. Perhaps if I just skim lightly over the descriptions and just go for the dialogue.

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