THE SCHOOL OF LIFE IS DEDICATED TO EXPLORING LIFE'S BIG QUESTIONS IN HIGHLY-PORTABLE PAPERBACKS, FEATURING FRENCH FLAPS AND DECKLE EDGES, THAT THE NEW YORK TIMES CALLS "DAMNABLY CUTE." WE DON'T HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS, BUT WE WILL DIRECT YOU TOWARDS A VARIETY OF USEFUL IDEAS THAT ARE GUARANTEED TO STIMULATE, PROVOKE, AND CONSOLE.
We don't think too much about sex; we're merely thinking about it in the wrong way.
So asserts Alain de Botton in How to Think More About Sex, a rigorous and supremely honest book designed to help us navigate the intimate and exciting---yet often confusing and difficult---experience that is sex. Few of us tend to feel we're entirely normal when it comes to sex, and what we're supposed to be feeling rarely matches up with the reality. This book argues that twenty-first-century sex is ultimately fated to be a balancing act between love and desire, and adventure and commitment. Covering topics that include lust, fetishism, adultery, and pornography, Alain de Botton frankly articulates the dilemmas of modern sexuality, offering insights and consolation to help us think more deeply and wisely about the sex we are, or aren't, having.
"Few of us are remotely normal sexually," de Botton (The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work) writes in this accessible philosophical meditation. But though "e are universally deviant," the author opines that we are thus "only in relation to some highly distorted ideals of normality." Acknowledging that feelings of aberrancy are "aggravated by the idea that we belong to a liberated age," de Botton goes on to explore, in two illuminating sections, "The Pleasures" and "The Problems of Sex." The former addresses topics like biological and physiological reactions to sex, fetishes, fashion, and the subjectivity of beauty, while the latter deals with impotency, sexual rejection, pornography, adultery, and more. De Botton is never prescriptive, and the intellectual rigor of his investigation prevents this book from settling into a self-help reference guide. After all, his aim is to guide readers in how to think about sex in a different way, not to teach them how to have it. While he hypothesizes that the world would be far simpler if sex were taken out of the equation, the pragmatic yet optimistic de Botton concludes that "the pain sex causes us" is worth it, "for without it we wouldn't know art and music quite so well."