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Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder- Review by Nic Gibson

sophie book

What's the book about?

The book is a drama about a teenage girl reconnecting with a family member.  But it is also an understandable and accurate entry level crash course in Philosophy.  The 14-year-old protagonist, Sophie, receives a correspondence course in Philosophy through the mail, and takes the reader with her as she discovers the history of Philosophy from the Ancient Greeks right through Existentialism to modern concepts such as Darwinism.  At every step along the way, concepts are broken down and made digestible for Sophie, and us readers.  The idea that we are journeying through the book with Sophie doesn’t stop there though, as a mystery also starts to unravel – why is Sophie receiving letters addressed to an uncannily similar teenager named Hilde?  The twists, turns and revelations by the end require all the philosophical knowledge garnered from earlier in the book to be fully understood.

What have you enjoyed about the book?

I enjoyed that it gave a sort of ‘dummy’s guide’ to a wide range of philosophical topics, meaning these can be used as a jumping off point for taking your interests further.  At the same time, it was a real page turner of a mystery book, and I really bought in to Sophie’s world (excuse the cheap wordplay) and wanted to find out what would happen to her and the other eclectic characters by the end of the book.  The writing is always accessible and manages to make some of the more outdated and/or unusual philosophical concepts seem relevant, alive and interesting to anyone with a sense of curiosity.

Why should someone else read it?

It really is one of the best ways into what can seem a pretty daunting topic – Philosophy.  Having someone else do all the hard work in breaking down the key concepts is good enough.  But the fact that they’ve gone the extra mile and wrapped it up in an engaging story means that this really is worth investing your time into.

Recommended readers age?

Just like Sophie – 14 and up.  Without giving too much away, it would be especially appealing to those interested in modern, rule-breaking English literature, students of film, Psychology and of course Philosophy.

 

Nic Gibson

Head of English