on March 23, 2004
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.
on April 12, 2004
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.
on March 13, 2001
Sophie's World has an interesting concept, but it is certainly not for everyone. I have some criticism of the book, but also some praise. First the criticism. This is really a philosophy text pretending to be a novel. (Which, I believe is ultimately a good thing). The characters are not that believable and are really just devices Gaarder uses to get his point across. The dialog is not believable either. Another potential problem for certain readers is that the philosophy lessons contained in this book are, in the novel, aimed at a 15 year old girl. If you have studied philosophy at some point in your life, this will probably be far too simplistic for you.
I still would recommend this book and here's why. Sophie's World will be an excellent read for anyone with a curiosity about philosophy, but who finds the whole thing a bit intimidating. I think it's a wonderful introduction to philosophy because it is aimed at that 15 year old character. Even if you have studied philosophy, this book will be thought provoking, if only because it makes you think about what you once studied. I think this would be a wonderful book for parents of teenage children to read with their children. It would certainly make for some excellent discussions. The true strength of this book is the material it covers. Philosophy is a fascinating subject and Sophie's World is the perfect choice for anyone who would like to gently ease themselves into that subject.
on March 16, 2002
I was saddened to see that some reviewers called Sophie's World "simple" and "disappointing." I first read the book several years ago in a high school class. Since then, I have never forgotten how emotionally moving and brilliantly written the book is. I returned to it recently. After the first few chapters I could not put the book down. Even though I knew how it would end, I had to stay up all night to finish it! There are so many things I love about the book. First of all, the main character is young, which makes her easily identifiable to young readers, and will let older readers see the world through her not-yet-jaded eyes. I also loved that the history of philosophy was such an integral part of the novel. Sophie's World is not a philosophy book with a story written around it, nor is it a novel with philosophy stuck awkwardly in. The two elements of the story weave together seamlessly to create a perfect symbiotic relationship. Although the philosophy is explained in easy-to-understand terms, the novel itself is complex, working on several different layers, and full of well-placed irony. It also addresses in a new and interesting some of the fundamental questions of human life, in the philosophy course and in the narrative: who are we?, why are we here?, and where did we come from? It is a fascinating, mind-exanding novel that I would recommend to anyone who wants an intellectual and fun novel.
on September 18, 1999
I think this book is effective in teaching the basics and key players in western philosophy -- up to the 18th century. So many pages are dedicated to the earlier periods, and then in a few short chapters in the end, the author crams in what he considers the most important people/belief systems in more recent times. Near the end of the story, the characters are in a hurry to escape the Major, which conveniently allows him to just skim thru (and even omit) some of the most important philosophers of modern day.
And what I found completely ridiculous is how he just casually dismisses all metaphysical philosophies of the 20th century in one swift paragraph. He claims tarot, clairvoyance, astrology, numerology, and basically everything that's becoming more widely accepted in the past decade as being "rubbish." This is so hypocritical, since in several of the chapters earlier, his characters explain how it's naive to just dismiss new ways of thought just because it seems inplausible at the time.
Anyway, despite the weak last chapters, it's a very educational read...
on May 15, 2003
Sophie's World is an easy-to-understand history of philosophy wrapped in a novel wrapped in a novel (whew!). How many books can you say that about? Basically, our heroine, Sophie Amundsen, comes home one day to discover that a mysterious philosopher has contacted her. They embark on a sort of philosophy by mail course; soon they meet, and the philosophy courses are given in dialogues (probably not a coincidence, considering some of the first ever philosophical writings were written in the form of dialogues). Simultaneously, Sophie starts recieving mysterious postcards addressed to someone named Hilde....Hilde becomes a mystery that Sophie must unravel if she is to determine the nature of her own existence.
Sophe's World is enjoyable and informative. At first, though, some readers may be tempted to skip over the philosophy and rush right into the novel; however, as the book progesses, the plot(s) become pretty contrived --it becomes more tempting to skip through the novel and jump right into the philosophy. Sophie herself can get a little annoying at times, and her plot portions may become exasperating, but it's worth reading. Despite this book's size, it is an easy read, but still it should be read with care and thoughtfulness.
The most attention in this compact little 'history' is given to Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Spinoza, Locke, Hume, Berkeley, Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Marx, Darwin, Freud, and Sartre. Also mentioned are historical shifts and trends--the Enlightenment, the Renaissance, etc--in order to give a little more perspective. What is included is very informative and interesting, however, it should be known that many important philosophers are either mentioned in passing or given little attention, and a few are omitted entirely. But all and all it is a good book, presenting information and explaining, making it easily accessible to anyone who'd like it. The point of the book, and of philosophy in general, is to get readers thinking, and it accomplishes that well. It is a good starting point for anyone with an interest in the subject, providing a nice overview so that after reading and digesting it, readers can then begin to pursue works mentioned with relative ease.
on September 9, 2002
I found a friend reading this book one day at a coffee house. It looked interesting and a easy way to overview a huge subject, namely philosophy, in a relatively short period of time. I ended up putting it on my wish list of books. A year or two later, I actually found it at a used book store and picked it up. As I read it, I found that many people I saw at restarants and coffee shops had read or heard of this book or were reading it currently. This book has a strong word of mouth hype attached to it and perhaps that's how you came across it.
Nevertheless, I found that the nonfictional material is covered very well, difficult topics are broken down into much easier understood principles. The fictional part, consisting of a young girl, the nearly 15 year old Sophie, and her aged mystical philosophy teacher Albert, at times was very sophomoric. Eventually i realized the best way to summarize this book is to call it a philosophy textbook for middle school children. And in fact, in the end, that is what the author comes near to describing it as himself.
In the end, i'm not unhappy with it. It was entertaining, and I learned a few things about philosophy on the way. It's light and easy, and easily recommended. It is an appetizer in the feast of philosophy. Maybe it will satisfy the lightest appetite on philosophy, more than likely it will make you want to jump into something a little meatier.
on July 8, 2003
Three stars go to SOPHIE'S WORLD, mostly because as far as philosophy goes, it's a wonderful reference. It's very complete, (though I'd like more on Buddah and Nietzsche), and, although Alberto is often adressing the reader, (and Sophie), like a child, it is put into terms comprehensible for your average reader. If you want to be more worldly or at least familiar with various philosophers throughout history, this is the book for you; it gives the general idea of every major philosopher, relates them to each other and political events of the time, and offers specific quotes. As a textbook, this is your ultimate Philosophy In General.
This is a book that gets your brain moving. As you read the words of these various philsophers, you'll also start asking questions of your own. It's a good book to read slowly ... don't just read it, think about it.
But as a novel, I'd have to say that I didn't enjoy it nearly so much. The relationships between the character and the author do provide a unique twist, but this theme is highly overused. And it's not even overused in different ways, (I don't know how many times someone came knocking at Alberto's door). The last three chapters were very predictable -- I wasn't fascinated by the plot, I was annoyed with it. But ending on a positive note, I thought the notion that book characters live eternal lives, such as spirits, was a lovely one.
Immerse yourself in a general overview of philosophy with this book, but don't read it for the fantasy plot.
on April 6, 2003
My little brother, who loves reading philosophy and other deep subjects, passed this book my way. I began it not knowing at all what to expect. I was not prepared for the amazing journey I would go on with Sophie, as her life is affected by a corresponding "philisophy teacher" who askes her the questions of life and explains to her how philosophers of old responded to these questions.
You will read some great summaries of philiosophical beliefs as they were passed down from one society to the next. As Sophie tries to sort what she agress with and disagrees with you will do the same. I found myself having to take time to read this book, to think about the views, and re-read some of these summaries. You will also be taught how philosophy evolved into science, and then eventually into religion. All in all, the book is a true simple summary of the history of philosophy, with an underlying plot that will surprize you, and even have you scratching your head now and then trying to figure out exactly wht IS going on.
One nice thing about this book is that I believe it could be enjoyed by adults and teens alike. I think for high school students of philosophy this book should be a must, because the discussions it will invoke will be amazing!
The material is deep, seeing how it is philosophy and mans questions of existence, but the book is a light read, and won't leave you to shaken, like some soul searching books might do. it is a fun read, especially if you enjoy pondering philosophies of life. Remember, it is more philosophy then story, and if that is what you are looking for, you will love this.
I noticed new editions of this book recently in reprint at the book store, and I was excited to see it making a come back. You will be glad you read it !
on September 29, 2001
Sophie's World is a deep book, preparing someone for a look at life like never before. Recommended for anyone interested in, say, philosophy, or just an interesting or different way of looking at things, this book would be an excellent choice.
It was possible that space had always existed, in which case she would not also need to figure out where it came from. But COULD anything have always existed? Something deep down inside her protested at the idea. Surely everything that exists must have a beginning? So space must sometime have been created out of something else. But if space had come from something else, then that something else must have come from something. Sophie felt she was only deferring the problem.At some point, something must have come from nothing. But was that possible? Wasn't that just as impossible as the idea that the world had always existed?, from the beginning of SOPHIE'S WORLD.
A deeper meaning of life, throwing back and forth the ideas of WHO ARE YOU? and WHERE DOES THE WORLD COME FROM?, possibilities are thrown at Sophie from an anonymous being. Placing envelopes inside her mailbox addressed to her with no stamp, this unknown being creates a new life for Sophie... maybe something that would interest you. In fact, almost definitely something.
The book is a nice long book(513 pages... thick book), perfect for a nice winter read by the fire for endless hours or a summertime hideaway in the breezes of humid air and chirping birds. It's a good book to cuddle up with and be lost in Sophie's World for eternity. In all terms, an EXCELLENT book that I would recommend to anyone...(besides children, anyways), but anyone say 13 or older could understand the concept and even begin to create their own world, much like Sophie's.