I discovered Alain de Botton when I was like 15 and he was doing a book tour for How Proust Can Change Your Life that I caught on CSPAN. Of course I had never read Proust—I’d never even heard of him—and learning all about how he wrote like 94 pages about falling asleep didn’t exactly have me running to my local library to check out Remembrance of Things Past.
What kept me from changing the channel was… well, first of all, there clearly was nothing else on TV or I wouldn’t have been watching CSPAN. But secondly, and more importantly, was the fact that Alain de Botton is just this incredibly compelling speaker, with this super accessible, articulate, deliciously British delivery. His talk on Proust should have been a meta-snoozer—literally—but there I was enthralled.
Years later I came across his book On Love, which I thought was fabulous because the cover is hot pink and there are numerous romantical graphs. This week Alain randomly popped up again—this time in my iPhone podcast queue—speaking so eloquently about the importance of religion psychologically, culturally and epistemologically that I almost dropped to my knees and converted to atheism on the spot.