Posted in Book review, Books, Reading Challenge

Book review: The Course of Love by Alain de Botton

I founded a bookclub this autumn and The Course of Love was the second book that was picked to be read together. The theme was romance and we had all kinds of suggestions varying from historical to paranormal romance, but in the end The Course of Love won the vote and I’m very happy it did.

The partner truly best suited to us is not the one who miraculously happens to share every taste, but the one who can negotiate differences in taste with intelligence and grace .

I’m not even sure if I would’ve categorized this as a romance novel. It was a very different take on a genre that I am quite familiar with. The Course of Love felt more like a manual to being in a romantic relationship, and author Alain De Botton is the guide to it all.

In The Course of Love we follow our main characters, Rabih and Kirsten, as they navigate their way through falling in love, getting married, having kids and all the smaller and bigger moments that happen in between. It’s not easy, nor is it supposed to be. It’s a process and you don’t really know for certain if there is a happy ending for these two. That’s one of the many points of The Course of Love: nothing is certain when you bind yourself to another person and things are rarely clear as black and white. Either you learn to work with the relationship you have, or you will fall apart.

The Course of Love gives a non-epic analyze of a very average relationship. People make mistakes, we misunderstand each other and have huge expectations for our significant other, to help us fulfill our needs for love, acceptance and security. There is a clever notion in the book, something about divorcing and remarrying the same person over and over again as we live through our lives together and navigate the good and the bad in a relationship.

Even though the book sometimes (actually quite often) paints a very unpleasant picture of both Rabih and Kirsten, it’s not about finding a guilty person to each situation. The author sort of pauses the narrative in interesting moments and very deeply analyzes what is actually happening behind some weird behavior, hurtful words and moments of connection. It was really interesting to see how even the most horrible moments had very human reasons behind them, and how much everything can affect us if we don’t catch our emotions and thoughts before they turn to actions.

The Course of Love certainly makes you pause and think, and my bookclub very much enjoyed this “fresh take” on a romance novel.

The Course of Love is added to my Reading Challenge and fills the prompt of:

6. A romance novel

I was expecting to read something more traditional for this prompt, like a historical romance novel, so reading something so contemporary and different was a pleasant surprise. The Course of Love is an informative story and analysis of how to live in an ordinary relationship. Get ready to be swept away with beautifully written words about real love.

This year is so very close to the end and I’m clearly falling behind with my Reading Challenge. Still, I’m estimating that I will finish maybe 45 of 50 books for this year which isn’t bad at all. At least there is something to do better then when taking on next year’s Reading Challenge! 🙂 And who knows, maybe I’ll surprise myself during the Christmas holidays by reading a few more books.


I love books, games and the coziness of our house (currently it's the kingdom of me and my husband). My work in a game studio as a Senior HR Specialist keeps me busy and social, but I am an introvert in my core. Navigating life between my very social work and my introvert, less social personality can be tricky and it goes hand in hand with my interest in overall personal well-being.

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