book review · books · Shar

Thoughts on Sophie’s World

Hello Virtual Readers! Yet another last-minute post from Shar… this time not because I’m busy with university (because I’m finally finished, hurrah!) but because I’m busy holidaying. Actually tho… Anyway, the last book I finished (not including Half A Yellow Sun because that post will be later) was Sophie’s World, so here are my thoughts on it.

Sophie’s World is a pretty famous book, published in the 1990’s by Norwegian author Jostein Gaarder. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a novel but described as a ‘short history of Western Philosophy’. The plot changes and gets more confusing and mind bend-y as the story goes on, but it starts with a fourteen year old girl getting strange letters about philosophy in the post. She doesn’t know who they’re from or why she’s getting them, just that they’re making her ask questions she’s never thought of answering and opening her eyes to the mystery of the planet and her place on it.


I first tried to read this book when it was recommended to me by my teacher when I was about 11. I remember the edition I read had a cool cover, coated though it was in the plastic from the school library. It was a shiny dark blue with a silver feather on it. Unsurprisingly, it was far beyond my young brain and I quickly gave up and returned to more exciting MG books.

Sophie’s World still took me a while as I read it along with several other things and in the midst of my final week of semester and exams. However, I think my mind was ready for it.

It starts off as an epistolary novel – that is, one that is told (at least partially) in letters. Basically, there would be a  lecture/info dump, then a bit of Sophie living her life, then another letter. Later on in the book there were still lectures but told to Sophie orally. This meant that there were long sections of the novel that were just facts rather than a storyline. I found myself longing for the main storyline even as I tried to understand the lecture-y bits. These were fairly dense and (probably typically for philosophy) I had to reread a lot of sections. I personally think that this could have been done better and that the philosophy sections could have been better integrated into the storyline, but I’m also aware the novel was translated and that could have been part of it. I did like how educated I felt by the time I finished.

The book got stranger and stranger, especially towards the end as if started to make less and less sense.  There were stories within stories and awareness of the author and hallucinogenic car chases and I was confused and very confused. On the plus side, there were fewer dense, boring lectures and more of philosophy being the landscape but I didn’t really enjoy it tbh and I was just like : AAAAghh???!!AghgRSAaaa????hmmmmohh??!!!AAaaohhhhmmmmhommmyom hmmmm or something of the like. I was mostly just reading to finish.


To be honest, I don’t think I fully understood this book, unless it was supposed to be confusing and have a storyline with little relevance to the dense info-heavy sections. I learned a lot of jolly interesting things about philosophy and I’m glad I read it but also just very, very confused.

What have you been reading lately? Can you describe it in a sound like I tried to? What have you been screaming about recently?


5 thoughts on “Thoughts on Sophie’s World

  1. We read this in my high school philosophy class (or was it my AP Euro class? I can’t recall) and it was… yeah. It was confusing, especially the ending. Which, in all fairness, is also how I feel about philosophy! I’m reading Madeline Miller’s Circe right now, and it is not nearly so confusing. It is just kind of sloooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwww. But that’s okay.


    1. Yes, I think philosophy is definitely confusing! I had to concentrate quite hard to understand a lot of the concepts. I’ll look up Circe! Slow books can be good at the right time 🙂


  2. This is a great review! I have read that one a while ago, but I remember getting out of my reading more confused than satisfied haha, I think the book just lost me too many times for me to really… enjoy it, somehow :/


    1. Yeah exactly! I do feel like I learned things and I think I’m glad I read it but it wasn’t the most fun read to be honest… maybe I was missing something?

      Liked by 1 person

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