As well as giving us a chance to read (or reread) some of the best works of literature from the past forty years, the advent of the Picador Classic series also seemed the perfect opportunity to ask the authors some big questions – about life and literature, their current obsessions and how times have changed.

Alain de Botton's philosophy throws light on the big challenges of our lives. In Essays in Love, he charts each stage of a relationship with startling clarity and explores emotions often felt but rarely understood.

 We asked the author and founder of The School of Life about his obsessions, reading habits, and the advice he would give to his younger self.

Where in the world do you find yourself returning to and why? 

I love the Utah desert. It's beautifully empty and returns perspective to rushed city lives.

What are you currently obsessed with?

YouTube: and making films for it on The School of Life's channel.

What happens to us when we die?

We live on briefly in the memories of those we've helped.

Which other author would you most like to have for dinner and why?

Sheila Heti, she's clever, witty and irreverent. And likes my work.

What’s your favourite fairytale or children’s book?

I love Goodnight Little Bear, about the bed-time adventures of a bear.

Print or ebook?

Print of course, ebooks are not books.

What’s your favourite film?

Paris, Texas by Wim Wenders

And your favourite music or music genre?

I love the music of Natalie Merchant.

What advice would you give your 15 or 20 year old self? 

It's a long haul. Plan for it.


Essays in LoveEssays in Love (Picador Classic edition) is introduced by Sheila Heti.