We spend most of our waking lives at work - in occupations often chosen by our unthinking sixteen-year-old selves. And yet we rarely ask ourselves how we got there or what it might mean for us. Equally intrigued by work's pleasures and its pains, Alain de Botton here heads out into the under-charted worlds of the office, the factory, the fishing fleet and the logistics centre, ears and eyes open to the beauty, interest and sheer strangeness of the modern workplace.
Along the way he tries to answer some of the most urgent questions we can ask about work: Why do we do it? What makes it pleasurable? What is its meaning? And why do we daily exhaust not only ourselves but also the planet? Characteristically lucid, witty and inventive, Alain de Botton's 'song for occupations' is a celebration and exploration of an aspect of life which is all too often ignored and yet as central to us as our love lives.
So I'm idly chatting to adam and I say "Oh, I've found another reason to hate Alain de Botton".
"Yeah?" he says.
"Yeah, he has a 2 million quid trust fund he hasn't touched." I say.
"200 million you mean..." says adam before reaching for the bucket of water we keep under the hole in our ceiling.
I wake up dripping and swear for a while. Then we both swear. Then we swear some more with added brutal fantasy elements.
The consolations of philosophy eh? Well I think 200 million quid in the background would help me to sleep. Shucks, I might even splash out on a waterbed. Think of the number of mosquito nets you could buy for 200 million quid. 40 million mosquito nets.