And now we’re on to day 12 of the 30DBC! I’ll say, honestly, today’s challenge stumped me. It really did. I was afraid that I might have to veto it. I wonder if Rhey of Sunshine would accept me taking lifelines – like “ask the audience” – what book did you used to love, readers, one that you don’t love anymore? And voila!
But, no, I really took some time to consider this. And I guess this challenge doesn’t necessarily suggest that you hate the book that you used to love now – just that you love it a little less. And that’s when I had to really consider one particularly book – do I love it as much as when I first read it? The answer was no, and therefore this book is …
Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder
And, back then, I loved it because it taught me a lot about philosophy, and it really made me ponder on certain aspects of life, and Sophie kind of reminded me of Alice in Wonderland, someone who was exceptionally curious about the world, and who had a cat, and a garden where she would crawl into the bushes and read notes from a mysterious teacher, a teacher of philosophy, Alberto Knox.
And the ending, I thought, was mind-blowing. ‘Cause it kind of made Sophie’s efforts in understanding philosophy very meta. I won’t spoil it for you if you do choose to read it.
But, since having to do this challenge, I have to own up to the feelings I currently have for this book. About two months ago I attempted to reread this book, and I realised several things that I did not before which made me realise that this book is not as spectacular as I first thought it was.
Firstly, and maybe because it is, after all, an English translation, the tone of the narrator sounds incredibly forced – as though Gaarder is doing his very best to portray a 14-year-old girl. And unsuccessfully. There is something quite off about the way Sophie behaves. I doubt that any preteen girl receiving heavy documents on a course on philosophy would be as enthusiastic as Sophie was. At times it definitely seemed like Sophie was being forced into the role of the model student of Alberto Knox – maybe it was intentional (due to the conclusion of the book) – but I realise that, on reading it a second time, it is somewhat off-putting. And an off-putting main character does not make for an enjoyable read.
Secondly, on second read, there are definitely dry moments in Gaarder’s philosophy. I loved realising that the story of Thor and Loki was in there! But there were definitely moments where my eyes glazed over. And I realised that was probably what happened in the first reading which made me not realise that Thor was in there in the first place. As enthralling as Gaarder attempts to make philosophy sound, there were definitely moments which were forced in Knox’s discourse.
At the end of the day, I have to admit and conclude that Sophie’s World is not as special as I first thought it was. Still, I would recommend it to anyone who wants a crash course in philosophy – it is basically all there in a nutshell and the glossary/index makes it a lot easier to go from Socrates to Berkeley. Gaarder really does try to pack most of it in there.
So, head over to Rhey of Sunshine‘s blog to find out her choice of today’s challenge. I’m going to go cry into a pillow now that I have admitted that my favourite book is not my favourite book anymore – but I’ll get over this break-up, I’ll recover. And tomorrow I’ll return, ready to discuss who is my favourite writer!
Till next time,