This book was gifted to me by my uncle, and to be honest is not the type of thing I would ever take off the shelf myself. From the outside, A book that promises a history of all of western philosophy can sound very intimidating, but I think Gaarder does a great job and breaking all of this information down into bite sizes pieces for the reader.
Also, I think Gaarder does a good job of giving just enough information about each philosopher or method of thinking to give the reader a good overall understanding of each subject, while still encouraging the reader to seek out more info about everything covered in the book. Personally, I used my notes app to write down certain ideas or philosophers I found interesting so that I could come back to them later If I ever had time.
While this book does work as a beginner’s guide to philosophy, it also has what I would say is a relatively strong story with interesting characters. Most of the philosophy in the book is taught through a character named Alberto Knox, a philosopher who slowly teaches the protagonist, Sophie, the history of philosophy piece by piece. I think this is an effective way to keep the reader engaged while they learn about these concepts, as the reader can put themselves in Sophie’s shoes for most of the book. The plot does develop later, which adds a lot more substance to the characters and the story. One thing I like about how Gaarder handles this story is that later on in the book is how we see Sophie use the same philosophical concepts both her and the reader have just learned, serving as an example of how to approach thinking like a philosopher.
This book can be a bit boring if you are not at all interested in Philosophy or have no desire to try learning about Philosophy, but I would encourage anyone else to try this book because I think It can serve a starting point for anyone to become more involved or educated about philosophy.
Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder is available to check out from the Mission Viejo Library.