I love European weekend papers. I love the juicy book reviews and profiles and I loved them most when I was in London and filled my basket with The Guardian’s ObserverThe Sunday TimesThe Independent. I’d sit in the park outside my flat devouring them until the clouds moved in.

Uh oh.According to philosopher Alain de Botton, I’ve got a big case of envy.What were those weekend supplements doing to my soul?

”We’re crazy inside because envy is corroding us.’’ De Botton told a Brisbane audience at the Queensland University of Technology during his March visit.


So all those author profiles were making me envious. Now I never thought of it that way.Everyone feels envy all of the time, de Botton said. The question is: what are we really envious about?Look at Elon Musk, co-founder of PayPal and one of the brains behind Tesla Motors, who’s now launching rockets into orbit. De Botton isn’t jealous of Musk’s beautiful wife, his millions, or even his hair, he said. He envies Musk’s courage, the courage to keep going despite the opposition.


Don’t repress envy or pretend it doesn’t exist. Dissect it. If we study what is behind our envy, we’ll be able to find clues to who we really are, de Botton said, suggesting we start an ”envy journal’’.Ah.So here I was telling myself that I was reading the supplements to be inspired, when subconsciously or even unconsciously, some part of me was looking for a connection, for a sense of camaraderie or belonging: hey if J.K. Rowling can do it, so can I.

The thing is I want to read about the years of struggle, the daily fight because it makes me feel ‘normal’. I want to learn about the middle-aged writer in a slump and the waitressing actress before her big break, but do I get this from the glossy supplements?

No. I’m ladled out perfection and left feeling alienated, alone and an underachiever.

Maybe I’ve been using newspapers for the wrong thing?