School of Life? Do me a favour!

The School of Life is the name of a new bookshop in Bloomsbury. Like that snobby, pampered, money-jaundiced literary coterie of a century before this shop aims to teach readers how to choose the 'right' type of book in a vein not altogether different from that of Woolf's dressing down of Wells, Bennett and Galsworthy in her sanctimonious essay Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown, despite claiming that she adopted a persona of 'the common reader'.

Like most bookshops The School of Life will offer recommendations. However, and here's the rub, this shop will charge fifty quid for the 'privilege'. Stuart Evers has written a piece for Guardian online here in which he says that "Personally, this kind of self-help gubbins leaves me cold, and despite the appealing store furnishings, I couldn't help but feel oppressed by the smugness of the whole affair. " The School of Life even has its own 'faculty' including the ubiquitous pop-philosopher Alain de Botton, whose own books feature prominently - surprise, surprise. The book choosing service is offered by 'therapists' - proof, if any were needed, that anyone can call themselves a therapist as long as there are people gullible and vulnerable enough to buy into that 'you therapist, expert' and 'me helpless, know-nothing' crapola. There are also dinners in which 'one' can practise the art of how to strike up a stimulating conversation about life's 'big issues'. It saddens me, this, because it feels like the pet project of someone with a few connections and enough disposable money to throw at it whilst thinking that fifty quid for a few book recommendations is nothing more than a few pennies. And what really scares me is that there's more and more 'recovery fascism' - more and more 'services' are popping up in this fast-growing capitalist worshipping Americanised recovery-esque/pseudo philosophy whose only aim, hidden under the cloak of 'helping', is financial profit, pure and simple.
Here's a question - why is this 'shop' open in Bloomsbury? Why not Hackney, Vauxhall or Catford?
Why? Because no-one there would pay the fifty quid to be given a reading-list, that's why! And it's easier to fleece the 'worried well' than those in need of more services. Besides, surely the whole experience of seeking out answers is seeking them for yourself - isn't that a very important part of 'enlightenment'? Going to the bookshop and leisurely browsing and thinking for oneself, finding a gem, and then sharing it with a friend. Word of mouth. Free. Gratis. Zilch.

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