Sophie's World: A Novel about the History of Philosophy

Sophie's World: A Novel about the History of Philosophy - Jostein Gaarder, Paulette Møller The Philosophy Sections = 5 stars
The Fiction Sections = 1 star

I loathe giving this book 3 stars (avg). It's going up on my shelves and I know I will return to it often in the future but that is true only because of the revelation which were the philosophy sections. The fiction brought to mind the Dorothy Parker quote "This book is not to be put down lightly, it is to be thrown across the room with great force."

So as not to work myself up into a tizzy I'll start with the good. The author is (was?) a high school philosophy teacher in Norway and this shows in the text. He has a genuine love for the subject and the talented teachers ability to condense, reword and present complicated material in an easy to digest manner. After each section I felt that I had a nice overview and that I was at a good starting point for further exploration. As many others have pointed out the focus is on Western philosophy but Eastern philosophy made enough appearances to whet the appetite for that subject as well. I loved these sections of the book with a burning passion and didn't want them to end. If only the book had been comprised solely of these passages! Alas the author felt the need to wrap them up in a fictional tale.

And here's where I get to the bad. I really hated the parts about the lives of Sophie & Hilda. Initially I was intrigued but once I figured out what the "twist" was I was bored. The boredom soon changed to irritation and then to fury as my beloved philosophy passages were jarringly interrupted by frivolous asides or whole sections of worthless text. This book made me want to take a pair of scissors to it so I could remove the offending passages. Then when I come back to revisit certain chapters my eyes would not have to even skim over those unnecessary words.