June 26, 2009

Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder

I never took a philosophy class. In fact, I didn't really have much of an idea of what philosophy was. I basically thought a philosopher was someone who wore a toga and said cryptic things. I was mostly wrong.

Sophie's World is part novel, part history of philosophy. It's about a Norwegian teenager who begins a correspondence course on philosophy with a mysterious stranger. As their interaction progresses, she learns a lot about philosophy in a very short time, and is at the same time bewildered in changes she begins to see in the world around her. She receives postcards meant for a girl named Hilde, and these cards turn up in odd places. She finds clothing in her closet that doesn't belong to her. She meets Winnie the Pooh, Little Red Riding Hood, and several other literary characters. The more she learns and the more things she sees, she and her teacher have to wonder about the fabric of their world. What is its true nature? Who is Hilde? Are any of them even real? What is real?

This is a very trippy book. It can also be boring at times. I found the sections on the Greek philosophers fascinating, the ones about Darwin and Freud even more so, but the others I had a hard time wrapping my brain around. I still don't get Existentialism. I can't stand Albert Camus. It also explores the big questions: do we have a soul? What is a soul? Is there a God? An afterlife? Is time linear or cyclical? What are we made of? Is evolution and the Big Bang God's method of creation or a separate scientific path?

This would be a great book for anyone who is curious about philosophy. And now that I have a better understanding of the subject I really think more people would live fulfilling lives if they read up on it.


  1. Have you ever read any of Gaarder's other books? I love "The Solitaire Mystery" and "The Christmas Mystery". Just an idea ;)

  2. im near to the end of sophies world its an amazing book theres not many like it the way its writen.would anyone be able to sugest another book like this.a lot of philosophy and a story so u dont get bored would be good.


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