For a few decades now, Alain de Botton has led what is either a pioneering career in literature, or a style of one so old we forgot about it. Over a wide range of books, de Botton has tackled the big issues — love, sex, the news, God or the lack thereof, and so on — in a relatively plainspoken philosophic form that's so earnest and sincere that some people think he's full of shit. Is he, though? Though de Botton is associated in some ways with the pat, almost glib up-with-peopleness of the TED Talk phenomenon, his true representation may be The School of Life, which is what it actually sounds like — a place where you can go to learn better how to live. If all of that makes you uncomfortable, though (no judgement there, mate), worry not: He's in Philly to read from his new novel, The Course of Love. We're pretty sure no one will try to hug you.