Reading Update: Sophie's World (& Why I Like Philosophy)

I don't usually do reading updates, but it's been about three weeks of me reading Sophie's World by Jostein Gaardner, and since I only read one book at a time, TSC has lacked some book related content. I've read 180 pages of Sophie's World.

Sophie's World is one of those books that I would never pick up on my own, but I would absolutely read if someone recommended it to me. In fact, that is the reason I am currently reading it. My accounting teacher recommended it. I want to be an intelligent, well learned person. I like philosophy. These two postulates should mean that Sophie's World is right up my alley.

In a way, it is. I enjoy Sophie's World in the sense that I find philosophy and history supremely fascinating. I love looking at the academics and society's of the past and seeing how humanity has developed. Reading about people's ideas of the world, and they reached their conclusions is fun. It's also so cool to see how these people have currently influenced society, or basically how they dealt with life.

I particularly love this Epicurus quote: "Death does not concern us, because as long as we exist, death is not here. And when it does come, we no longer exist." 

I think that's really what attracts me to philosophy. It's absolutely relevant in life, because it's about life. Often, there is no clear answer, and as Gaardner writes early on, some people just don't look at the world like that. Some people just accept the world as it is, and I guess I can't. I want to know more. I don't want to live a passive life, and I feel like philosophy is important because it allows you to think and question and wonder.

I'm currently taking a philosophy course so I'm obviously the right sort of person for Sophie's World. The story itself is very strange thus far. Sophie has been receiving letters and postcards from a mysterious someone that wants to teach her philosophy. Sophie is fourteen and not opposed to trying something new out, and so she decides to do as the mysterious letter sender says. Often, she receives blank pages with questions, and most of the beginning of Sophie's World is Sophie reading about the pre-Socratics, the great Greek philosophers, the beginning of Christianity, and now I've gotten to the part about the Renaissance. 

I feel like Sophie's World has taught me a lot about philosophy. I can read the questions myself and answer them to myself, and then I'll read Sophie's opinion, and then the philosophy teacher's opinion. It's very readable, if not long. The writing is accessible, and if you don't mind nonfiction, I'm sure Sophie's World will fly by. 

I'm a YA reader, and I also don't challenge myself when it comes to reading very often so staying committed to pages and pages on Neoplatonism, Heraclitus and St. Augustine requires more discipline than I can muster sometimes. Needless to say, Sophie's World is completely different from YA. 

The really interesting thing about Sophie's World is that the plot is crawling. Someone used the term "page-turning" to describe the book, and that is absolutely not my experience. There is the mystery of who is sending the letters, and other mysterious items Sophie is receiving, and now I'm getting into the part of the book where it seems like a deeper story is being revealed. 

Still, I've noticed the story for me is dry so I try to make it more fun by imagining weird things. And as all philosophers do, I have two theories on Sophie's World. Don't worry, as far as I know, these aren't spoilers: 

  1. The entire story is an enormous hallucination. Sophie is not Sophie: she is Hilde (someone else that is often mentioned) and in a Shutter Island-esque plot twist.
  2.  Sophie is in a coma looking for reasons to live again. 

I mean, Sophie is ridiculous: she makes some incredibly unreasonable decisions to meet strange people and go places without alerting her parents. Furthermore, Sophie's life is very one-dimensional. It is so typical that only Sophie "gets" philosophy (her mom thinks it's like a drug!) and because this book has been so praised, I'm assuming this is all done on purpose. 

I guess I'll see!



  1. I think I read this when I was taking a philosophy class too! I remember really enjoying it - I think taking it with a class to help me understand was so helpful, and philosophy is really interesting. Early philosophy I think - later it just gets too confusing. :D I'm glad you are really thinking about the story as you go along as well - hopefully it will all pay off for you in the end! :)

    1. Haha I just finished it and um, I was on the right track in some ways, but wowww was I wrong in some others. I've actually found that reading this book has substituted for studying for philosophy class! :p



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