Sophie’s World – Jostein Gaarder


Chosen by Rachel

After Sophie Amundsen finds a note in her letterbox asking ‘who are you?’ and ‘where does the world come from?’ she becomes embroiled in a philosophical riddle about existence. A fictional book which manages to summarise two thousand years of philosophical history.

❍ “This is a book that requires attention, but provides great pay offs. An excellent introduction to philosophical beliefs through the ages which you could investigate further if you were so inclined. Despite being simply written, Gaarder has produced such real life characters that I was surprised and emotionally affected to discover the truth about their existence. A novel that mixes up the roles of reader/writer, teacher/student and creator/being and had me pondering my own existence. Probably one of the most thought-provoking novels I’ve come across, although in the end I had to agree: I know nothing.” – Rachel

 ❍ “I loved Sophie’s World for where it led me in thinking about philosophy and religion. Raised as a Catholic, I think it was especially interesting and thought provoking. And with regards to the fictional storyline, I was gripped by the mystery of unusual events. I loved where Jostien took me emotionally and imaginatively. It was witty and playful. My only regret was that in reading it under pressure I felt I did not give it enough time! It is not a book to be rushed, or read with a cluttered mind. I plan to re-read it one day soon, when I can absorb and reflect on it in a more mindful way.” – Sonya

❍ “This is a book to savour and unfortunately I didn’t! It provides a wonderful history of philosophy which does at times feel like you are back in school being lectured. The explanations on various philosophers’ theories, the culture of the time and the interplay between Sophies’s World’s characters is complex – I felt like I needed to do some further research to fully understand at numerous points throughout. This book is clever with a book within a book within a book … but the ridiculousness of Sophie’s later life left me a touch annoyed. I think I would have relished the big questions if I read this much earlier in my life … but now I know I know nothing (Socrates would agree!)” – Jo


Published 1991
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
544 pages

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