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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ready for some questions?
Sophie Amundsen is is a normal teeenage girl living with her mom in a small town. Her father works with the U.N. peacekeeping forces and is stationed in Lebanon. When Sophie is about to turn 15, she receives a small note in her mailbox. It has only one question in it: "Who are you?"
This event signals Sophie's first contact with Philosophy. And as days go by and her...
Published on May 13 2004 by Jorge F. M

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This book is awful
I don't think I have ever been more bored in my life with a book. I'm talking mind-numbing. I could physically feel my brain cells atrophy with every turn of the page. It was so bad that I forced myself to read it to the end just to see how much mental discomfort a person can endure.
I think the author came up with the plot while waiting for a traffic light to turn...
Published on April 5 2001 by Dino Bob


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ready for some questions?, May 13 2004
By 
Jorge F. M "Jorge Flores" (Naucalpan Mexico) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Sophie Amundsen is is a normal teeenage girl living with her mom in a small town. Her father works with the U.N. peacekeeping forces and is stationed in Lebanon. When Sophie is about to turn 15, she receives a small note in her mailbox. It has only one question in it: "Who are you?"
This event signals Sophie's first contact with Philosophy. And as days go by and her birthday gets closer, all sorts of weird things start happening : a dog starts delivering her envelopes, letters for a certain Hilde Møller start arriving at her mailbox, a greek city appers before her eyes on video tape, and a misterious man is determined to teach her Philosophy. Sophie and her friend Jorunn will be drawn into a great adventure and at the same time she (and you, the reader), will start a grand tour on philosophy, from mankind's first myths up to the XXth. century.
Sophie's world accomplishes two things: it takes complex ideas and explains them in the most simple language possible (try opening a Kant or Hegel book and reading 10 pages without any formal philosopical background, like me), while keeping enough of a mystery in Sophie's journey to keep you turning pages. There's even a "Philosophical plot twist" that will make you think...
This book is not for those who study philosophy. It is for those who think philosophy is complex and out of reach. Highly commendable.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful introduction to philosophy with a mysterious twist., April 14 2010
This review is from: Sophie's World: A Novel About the History of Philosophy (Paperback)
Sophie Amundsen is a typical teenager in Norway. On the verge of her 15th birthday, Sophie begins a mysterious correspondence with a stranger who offers an unusual introduction to philosophy and the great philosophical thinkers of our time. The mystery engages and challenges Sophie at a time when she is looking at her life and her role in the world.

At the very least, this book presents historical philosophy in a way that makes it easy to understand. Sophie's lessons are delivered in a very unorthodox way and the mystery offers Sophie and the reader the incentive to continue with the lessons. The character of Sophie herself is incidental as it is the reader that becomes Sophie and part of the mystery.

Although not "great literature", I was completely captivated by the book and it is something that, if I had discovered it as a youth, would have changed my world.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth buying, reading and keeping :), April 7 2004
By 
M. B. Alcat "Curiosity killed the cat, but sa... (Hanoi, Vietnam) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
Do you want to know more about the History of Philosophy, but don't feel like studying?. This might be the solution for you !!!.
In "Sophie's World" you will find an interesting novel, intertwined almost seamlessly with the History of Philosohy. Is that possible?. For Jostein Gaarder, yes. This former philosophy teacher, born in 1952 in Oslo (Norway), reached success with this book, which has managed to attract even those not commonly interested in Philosophy and also, somehow, to become part of the bibliography of many undergraduate philosophy courses.
The plot of the book is rather simple. It centers on Sophie Amundsen, a fourteen year old girl approaching her fifteen birthday, who one day begins to receive letters from someone she doesn't know. In those letters, her unknown correspondent begins to tell her about the History of Philosophy, the subject he studies. Sophie's goes on receiving those letters throughout the novel, and they become an essential part of the plot, which is a mystery with unexpected turnarounds.
I would like to point out that I noticed a change in Sophie's attitude towards the world and what was happening around her, as the novel is nearer to its end. After learning in those letters about the History of Philosophy (that could also be called the History of Thought), she starts to think in a different, more analytical way. In my opinion, the reader suffers the same process that changes Sophie, and that is not a bad thing at all.
It is important to remark upon the fact that the letters that Sophie's correspondent sends her are written in a clear way, so that she (a teenager) would be able to understand them. Due to the fact that in those letters the main theme is Philosophy, the reader can not only enjoy a good novel but also have access to graspable explanations regarding the ideas of some philosophers, so far unknown or incomprehensible to him.
I recommend this book to anybody curious enough to want to read it. It doesn't require too much effort: you will learn without being aware of doing so. Concerning the age of the reader, I think that "Sophie's World" can be read easily by teenagers, but will also be appealing to adults who enjoy a good book.
On the whole, I believe this book is worth buying, reading and keeping. It is not perfect, though, because I think that the plot of the novel could have been better. However, there aren't too many perfect things in this world, and unfortunately that includes books. So my advice is: read it !!!. You are highly likely to enjoy doing that, and you will appreciate the change of perspective that "Sophie's World" will bring to you.
Belen Alcat
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A mere bagatelle..., March 4 2004
By 
Ulisses Braga-Neto (College Station, Texas) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This is a very original book. Sophie Almundsen starts unwittingly a correspondence course on Philosophy. Weird things start to happen, and it gets weirder and weirder to a point that makes you feel sorry for her. Maybe Gaarder's point is that one does not learn philosophy lightly: it is something that should change one's outlook and "rock their world" (hopefully not so much as in poor Sophie's case). The lessons are very informative, but one can see that Gaarder lost some steam towards the end; the coverage of the philosophers became very compressed as one goes past the Enlightenment. Although the philosophy course must be succint by necessity, I think the selection of his featured "philosophers" is lacking. For example, as someone mentioned, he devotes a paragraph to Nietzsche, but entire chapters to Freud and Darwin. He also completely left out one of the most important and original philosophers of the 20th century, Karl Popper. He says very little about Logic and the Philosophy of Science and of Mathematics. But I think this does not take away from the overall appeal of this book. Finally, where some reviewers seem to think the story is "arbitrary", especially towards the end, I think it is actually a subtle self-joke and very well in keeping with the plot of the book. The point is after all that Gaarder is pulling the strings on *his* universe, and everything for him is a "mere bagatelle."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Definitely An Interesting Mix!, Feb. 22 2004
By 
raneydae (Los Angeles area) - See all my reviews
Sophie's World starts off like a Intro to Philosophy course that's been made into a fictional story. There's nice little bits about Sophie/her philosophy teacher thown in as a nice break from the academic nature of the "philosophy course"...but then it starts to get really off-balance and confusing and your entire concept of Sophie's reality goes for a 360 degrees loop! And then the perception of Sophie's world seems to have always been clear and it all makes sense again. And then it all goes weird again.
This book is completley frustrating, yet completely addicting. When you've finished, you feel as though you've gained way too much knowledge in way too short of time (well, if you're new to the history of philosophy), yet the end destination completely makes sense and makes the journey of the book worth it.
As one of the reviewers on the back on the book said, mix together an Intro. to Phil. textbook with an Alice in Wonderland type fantasy - and you've got Sophie's World. It's an interesting mix of having to rely heavily both on your logic and your suspension of disbelief - your mind/brain/thinking part will definitely get a workout!! :)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This book is awful, April 5 2001
By 
Dino Bob (Tar Pits, ND) - See all my reviews
I don't think I have ever been more bored in my life with a book. I'm talking mind-numbing. I could physically feel my brain cells atrophy with every turn of the page. It was so bad that I forced myself to read it to the end just to see how much mental discomfort a person can endure.
I think the author came up with the plot while waiting for a traffic light to turn. It's amateurish. Was that garden party supposed to be a climax? It's like he ran out of ideas so he inserted some sort of Kafka-esque interlude. It served no purpose.
By page 150 I had figured that this book had some sort of deeper hidden meaning. I had Alberto marked as Mephistopheles and the major was God, and Sophie was some sort of Eve figure being tempted by the fruit from the tree of knowledge; and there was some sort of faith vs. reason dichtomoy being played out. Well, I was wrong. I know for a fact my imaginary plot was better than the one the author provided. If you want to enjoy this book, bring your own plot and read it into the one that's given.
What's the story with Hilde anyway? Does anybody in their right mind think that she would actually spend her days and nights reading this garbage. It took me 2 weeks to drudge through this. There's no way somebody spent 12-14 hours straight reading this. And then when she was done she re-read it twice more. Is she insane? This author seriously overestimates his talents.
What was with all that UN cheerleading? Is that what they teach people in Norway? The UN is nothing but cultural imperialisism. If they truly cared for peoples' well-being they would send out the troops to all the bookstores to seize this book and build the world's biggest bonfire.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Part of me is inclined to say that this book is over-rated., June 12 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Sophies World (Paperback)
Sophie is a young girl who recieves instructional letters in philosophy in her mailbox. As the book progresses, she becomes acquainted with her mysterious teacher and Gaarder begins to track the progress of Hilde, a girl about Sophie's age. Somehow, Hilde and Sophie's lives are linked through Sophie's philosophy course.

"Sophie's World" was an exciting read, in a sense - that may be because I was taking an introductory course to philosophy when I read it, and was able to push through pretty fast. There's a clear division in the beginning, between Sophie's life and the text of the letters she's receiving. Here, I admit I was reading the book more for the Sophie part than the philosophy. This changed, however. Truth is, there's not much to the character of Sophie. After awhile, her part of the dialogues between her and the teacher became nothing but mindless prompts. What are her interests? She goes camping, once, and she has one friend, but other than that, she hardly has an identity.

Gaarder follows the history of philosophy chronologically, and does an excellent job of illustrating how it develops over the centuries. Contrary to first approach, I began reading for the philosophical parts of the book rather than for Sophie. Or Hilde. (There's not much to Hilde, either.) Gaarder's characters are shamefully underdeveloped, but he makes up for this with the philosophy, which he presents with pure genius. In the second half of the book, the focus is on individual philosophers, rather than philosophy as a historical/intellectual movement. The chapters devoted to Democritus, Darwin, Kant, Hegel, Sartre, and particularly Søren Kierkegaard, are fascinating.

The ending to "Sophie's World" was outrageous. I think that this, in addition to the faceless characters, is the main drawback of the book. In my opinion, there's a lot of buildup throughout the book that goes to waste. Perhaps I didn't fully comprehend what was going on. Then again, something tells me that even if I did completely understand the ending, it would be inconsequential anyway.

My recommendation? Do not read this book if you are looking for a literary masterpiece. You must read this book from a philosophical point of view. Whether you know much about philosophy or not doesn't matter - it serves well as an introduction to the subject, or simply presents a new way to look at philosophy for the more learnèd. I even recommended it to my religion instructor, a PhD in philosophy. I think that it's worth the time, because it's something unique and different; unlike any book you've ever read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm not a child, and I enjoyed it!, March 21 2004
By 
DvoraT (Catalunya Spain) - See all my reviews
I'm a middle-aged person and I know very little about philosophy, having taken an introductory philosophy course over 35 years ago in college. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I took it from the library, thinking it was Sophie's Choice. I soon discovered my mistake, but it turned out fine.
In middle life, after your parents die and perhaps other friends or parents of friends, you begin to think much more about the meaning of life, eternity, the soul, etc. Having very little academic background but lots of ideas of my own, I loved reading about the history of thought.
I recommend the book to anyone not too conceited, who has not studied philosophy and has questions about where all this came from, eternity, the soul, God, life...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Best Place to Start, March 23 2004
By 
Pedro Javelly (Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico) - See all my reviews
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Sophie's World is a complete experience. I must admit I was not a constant reader. Nevertheless I have always been interested in Philosophy, and Gaarder's book is the best way to keep you interested in a great story along with all the knowledge you can acquire. Usually Philosophy History is hard to read and understand if you're not into philosophy itself. But Sophie rides with you into a very easy, understandable course on every important philosopher along human history. I really recomend this excelent work.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlight Thyself, April 12 2004
This review is from: Sophieís World (Audio Cassette)
To make a long story short, this book intelligently epitomizes the essences of the hisory of philosophy and stimulates the reader's thoughts of the world and everything it comprises.
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Sophie's World: A Novel About the History of Philosophy
Sophie's World: A Novel About the History of Philosophy by Jostein Gaarder (Paperback - March 20 2007)
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