I don’t usually take book recommendations from anyone. I’m very picky about what I read, naturally. But my best friend raved about this book and convinced me to buy it straightaway. I promptly called the secondhand bookstore in my college town and they had it. When I purchased my copy, it smelled old and wonderful, with a few lovely tatters on its paperback cover. I couldn’t wait to dive into Sophie’s World, a history of philosophy by Jostein Gaarder.
Okay, so it has been three maybe four years since I started the book. And I hate not finishing novels, so this one was like a little gray cloud following me ever since I gave up at the halfway mark. After A Week in Winter, I decided maybe it was finally time. I not so regretfully admit to breezing through the later philosophy lessons to get to the main plot; I had already studied most of the philosophers in my various courses at college. Regardless.
Sophie’s World begins with Sophie, a soon-to-be fifteen year old, arriving home from school to find two notes addressed to her. They contain tiny questions, a total of nine words between the two, yet her life would never be the same again.
Who are you?
Where does the world come from?
The arrival of the notes coincide with a mysterious postcard addressed to a Hilde, and from there Sophie embarks on an educational journey through philosophy. An odd sort of man, decked out with a beret, becomes her mentor and teacher, starting with Democritus and flowing through Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Kant, Darwin, and more. As she becomes consumed with philosophical questions, more connections to the mysterious Hilde pop into her life. Sophie can’t help but wonder what they mean.
Who is Hilde?
And why does her mail keep turning up in Sophie’s world?
What is discovered in this novel will blow your mind, if you find the strength to make it that far. Little did I know, years ago when I put it down, I was five pages from making the big discovery, figuring out the entire purpose of the book. From there, it made it a lot easier for me to return to its pages and finish the 513 page novel. Let me make it absolutely clear that this is not an easy read. Unless you love philosophy and don’t have to actively process it in your head. Then you will undoubtedly love it. As I am working on writing my own story, this was insightful to me on a number of levels, all of which I cannot share with you here. I can say that it reminded me of The Neverending Story, particularly when Bastian is reading. It pretty much turns your world around, or at least, the world of the characters.
If you are looking to brush up on your knowledge of philosophy, or just enjoy reading novels that teach you a subject in a textbook sort of way, Sophie’s World is for you. I’m happy to finally close this book, knowing that I am done with it. And it may be the last book I share for a while. Let me explain.
I’ve noticed that I am torn each day with how I spend my time. Reading novels or writing them? Throw blogging into the mix and…sometimes it feels easiest to let them all lay by the wayside. I suspect that I can wrap up my novel in the coming two months (maybe less than that if I hunker down this week), so I’m going to focus on that, with hopefully not as many distractions. I will say I’m pretty proud that I’ve read twenty four books since starting this blog, a personal record I’m sure. Like I mentioned yesterday, I’m trying to figure out what is best for me. I hope you have a wonderful weekend. If nothing else, Sophie’s World has me craving a garden party and sailing.