The Course of Love: A Novel by [de Botton, Alain]

$13.99 on Kindle, but I recommend buying this little beauty for your bookshelf.

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I LOVED this little book. It  feels like a how to manual for anyone in a relationship or anyone who has been through a long term relationship. I didn’t always love the main characters each for different reasons at different times, but that really depicted an honest feeling as to how they were feeling towards each other at the time as well. Coming in at only 241 pages, it is a quick read kind of. I say kind of because there were many times I had to re-read passages because of how amazing and quotable this story is. Rather than give you a traditional review, I am going to post the books synopsis and give you some of my favorite quotes. I highlighted so many parts of this book that when I was done my list of highlights was over 50 long! The cover of this novel is also very beautiful. I read it on my Kindle but have ordered it to put on my bookshelf. I really think that when you not only love a book but admire its beauty, it deserves a place on your shelf.


We all know the headiness and excitement of the early days of love. But what comes after? In Edinburgh, a couple, Rabih and Kirsten, fall in love. They get married, they have children—but no long-term relationship is as simple as “happily ever after.” The Course of Love is a novel that explores what happens after the birth of love, what it takes to maintain love, and what happens to our original ideals under the pressures of an average existence. You experience, along with Rabih and Kirsten, the first flush of infatuation, the effortlessness of falling into romantic love, and the course of life thereafter. Interwoven with their story and its challenges is an overlay of philosophy—an annotation and a guide to what we are reading.

This is a romantic novel in the true sense, one interested in exploring how love can survive and thrive in the long term. The result is a sensory experience—fictional, philosophical, psychological—that urges us to identify deeply with these characters, and to reflect on his and her own experiences in love. Fresh, visceral, and utterly compelling, The Course of Love is a provocative and life-affirming novel for everyone who believes in love.

Quotes! I realize I posted a TON of quotes here, but I really hope that you read through them all. the quotes are in order of how I found them in the book and they take our main characters through the start of their love through the raising of their children to adulthood. There are some wonderful quotes about parenting further down the list that really hit home for me.

♥ A marriage doesn’t begin with a proposal, or even an initial meeting. It begins far earlier, when the idea of love is born, and more specifically the dream of a soul mate.

♥ It may come very fast, this certainty that another human being is a soul mate. We needn’t have spoken with them; we may not even know their name. Objective knowledge doesn’t come into it. What matters instead is intuition, a spontaneous feeling that seems all the more accurate and worthy of respect because it bypasses the normal processes of reason.

He will continue to trust in the possibility of rapid, wholehearted understanding and empathy between two human beings and in the chance of a definitive end to loneliness.

Love stories begin not when we fear someone may be unwilling to see us again but when they decide they would have no objection to seeing us all the time; not when they have every opportunity to run away but when they have exchanged solemn vows promising to hold us, and be held captive by us, for life.

We seem to know far too much about how love starts, and recklessly little about how it might continue.

Love means admiration for qualities in the lover that promise to correct our weaknesses and imbalances; love is a search for completion.

There is no one more likely to destroy us than the person we marry.

The success of any relationship should be determined, not just by how happy a couple are to be together, but by how worried each partner would be about not being in a relationship at all.

Marriage: a hopeful, generous, infinitely kind gamble taken by two people who don’t know yet who they are or who the other might be, binding themselves to a future they cannot conceive of and have carefully omitted to investigate.
We end up believing that our struggles are indications of having made some unusual and fundamental error, rather than evidence that our marriages are essentially going entirely according to plan.
At the heart of a sulk lies a confusing mixture of intense anger and an equally intense desire not to communicate what one is angry about. The sulker both desperately needs the other person to understand and yet remains utterly committed to doing nothing to help them do so.  We should add: it is a privilege to be the recipient of a sulk; it means the other person respects and trusts us enough to think we should understand their unspoken hurt. It is one of the odder gifts of love. 
We can say something sensible and polite to any stranger, it is only in the presence of the lover we wholeheartedly believe in that can we dare to be extravagantly and boundlessly unreasonable.
True love should involve an acceptance of a partner’s whole being.
Few of us ever grow more reasonable or more insightful about our own characters for having had our self-esteem taken down a notch, our pride wounded, and our ego subjected to a succession of pointed insults. We simply grow defensive and brittle in the face of suggestions which sound like mean-minded and senseless assaults on our nature rather than caring attempts to address troublesome aspects of our personality.

Childhood sweetness: the immature part of goodness as seen through the prism of adult experience, which is to say, from the far side of a substantial amount of suffering, renunciation, and discipline. We label as “sweet” children’s’ open displays of hope, trust, spontaneity, wonder, and simplicity—qualities which are under severe threat but are deeply longed for in the ordinary run of grown-up life. The sweetness of children reminds us of how much we have had to sacrifice on the path to maturity; the sweet is a vital part of ourselves—in exile.

The role of being a good parent brings with it one large and very tricky requirement: to be the constant bearer of deeply unfortunate news. The good parent must be the defender of a range of the child’s long-term interests, which are by nature entirely impossible for him or her to envisage, let alone assent to cheerfully. Out of love, parents must gird themselves to speak of clean teeth, homework, tidy rooms, bedtimes, generosity, and limits to computer usage. Out of love, they must adopt the guise of bores with a hateful and maddening habit of bringing up unwelcome facts about existence just when the fun is really starting. And, as a result of these subterranean loving acts, good parents must, if things have gone well, end up as the special targets of intense resentment and indignation.
Whatever modest denials parents may offer—however much they may downplay their ambitions in front of strangers—to have a child is, at the outset, at least, to make an assault on perfection, to attempt to create not just another average human being but an exemplar of distinctive perfection. Mediocrity, albeit the statistical norm, can never be the initial goal; the sacrifices required to get a child to adulthood are simply too great.
In an ideal world, marriage vows would be entirely rewritten. At the altar, a couple would speak thus: “We accept not to panic when, some years from now, what we are doing today will seem like the worst decision of our lives. Yet we promise not to look around, either, for we accept that there cannot be better options out there. Everyone is always impossible. We are a demented species.”
How could a parent ever truly approve? How could they possibly be expected, after eighteen or so years of answering to a child’s every need, to react enthusiastically to a new and competing source of love? How could anyone sincerely perform the requisite emotional somersault and not suspect in their heart—and let on as much, through a succession of more or less sour remarks—that their child had mistakenly fallen into the clutches of someone fundamentally unsuited to the complex and unique task of administering to them?
Maturity begins with the capacity to sense and, in good time and without defensiveness, admit to our own craziness. If we are not regularly deeply embarrassed by who we are, the journey to self-knowledge hasn’t begun.
We must concede that adultery cannot be a workable answer, for no one can be its victim and not feel forever cut to the core.
By the standards of most love stories, our own real relationships are almost all damaged and unsatisfactory. No wonder separation and divorce so often appear inevitable. But we should be careful not to judge our relationships by the expectations imposed on us by a frequently misleading aesthetic medium. The fault lies with art, not life. Rather than split up, we may need to tell ourselves more accurate stories—stories that don’t dwell so much on the beginning, that don’t promise us complete understanding, that strive to normalize our troubles and show us a melancholy yet hopeful path through the course of love.
Hopefully you made it through all those, now go buy this book!

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