Books 10 October 2013 Books in brief: The School of Life, Jonathan Franzen and Yasushi Inoue Three new books you might have missed. Sign up for our weekly email * Print HTML Life Lessons Various authorsPan Macmillan, 128pp, £6.99 each What can reading Henri Bergson teach us about gruelling departmental meetings? Can Friedrich Nietzsche, attuned to his inconsistencies, enable us to negotiate conflict and see the merits of a change of heart? A new series of books from Alain de Botton’s School of Life does for Hobbes, Freud, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Byron and Bergson what de Botton’s books have done for classical philosophers and Proust. They are short, snappy reads, reminiscent of Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings blog – aphoristic digests from history’s great minds. The Kraus Project Jonathan FranzenFourth Estate, 336pp, £18.99 Karl Kraus, who died in 1936, was a Viennese satirist and poet who used his self-published newspaper Die Fackel (“the torch”) to rage against the media, capitalism and the stilted patriotism of an empire in decline. A century on, he is an ideal counterpart for Jonathan Franzen, who has translated and annotated Kraus’s essays. In notes along the bottom of each page, Franzen identifies parallels between fin de siècle Vienna and the technology-glutted US, while offering an autobiographical account of his kinship with the writer known by his enemies as “the Great Hater”. Consumer technology, Franzen argues, distracts us with perpetual yakking, making us restless and ill at ease, while companies such as Amazon run roughshod over the verbal culture to which Kraus belonged. Bullfight Yasushi InouePushkin Press, 128pp, £12 In 1949, at the age of 42, after working for many years as a journalist and literary editor, Yasushi Inoue began to write novels and short stories. Bullfight was his first. This novella has been translated by Michael Emmerich, known for his work with Banana Yoshimoto. It tells the story of Tsugami, a newspaper editor in Osaka, who takes a great risk when he agrees to sponsor a bullfight, only to find that his life increasingly resembles that of the bull. › Neil Kinnock: the history man The fantasy library at this year's Frankfurt Book Fair. Photograph: Getty Images. Philip Maughan is a freelance writer in Berlin and a former Assistant Editor at the New Statesman. Subscribe from just £1 per issue This article first appeared in the 07 October 2013 issue of the New Statesman, The last days of Nelson Mandela More Related articles Paula Hawkins: a pulp-feminist follow-up on The Girl on the Train George Saunders: “I would tell Trump supporters: I'm somewhere left of Gandhi” From zombie parades to Stranger Things: why is our culture obsessed with monsters?