Shelf Life Expiration Review: Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder

Slowly but surely, I’m flipping through the pages of the books I’ve hoarded and neglected and will be giving mini-reviews on what I think of them in the new segment Shelf Life Expiration Reviews.  Last month, I took to task reading the philosophical narrative Sophie’s World: A Novel About the History of Philosophy by Jostein Gaarder. What a powerful read.

Sophie's World | Shelf Life Expiration | Stressing Out College | stressingoutstudent

I’ve had a mild fascination with the history of major philosophies for quite some time, having read a little here and there throughout my hefty academic career. However, I had been having a hard time figuring out where to properly begin my sojourn into the world of philosophy – something more put together than a series of Wikipedia articles, but that would take less effort than reading translations of interpretations of translations of old texts?

Sophie’s World was my answer.

Gaardner opens us into the cradle of western thought in Greece and guides us through the cliched whirlwind tour of the history of western philosophy. At first, the metanarrative seemed like a cheap, lazy veil of a story to carry the history lesson through. But it ended up taking a brain-picking turn for the unexpected. Socrates, the Renaissance, Hume, Hegel, Darwin. It’s by no means an exhaustive look at the history of western philosophy – he gives Nietzche a mere sentence of a mention – but it’s great for newbies like me. And the index at the back makes for easy referencing.

I still don’t understand all of what happens narratively in the novel with Gaarder toying with questions of perspective and reality, so I suppose I’ll just have to read it again sometime. Not complaining here. Sophie’s World gets the Shelf Life Seal of Approval from me.

This is the first Shelf Life Expiration Review of hopefully many more to come. I’ll try my best to read a non-school-related book each month from my Shelf Life Expiration List and tell you how great, mediocre, or terrible I think it is. Have you read Sophie’s World? Or any book like it? Feel free to share your opinions in the comments below.

Halloween: To Slut or Not to Slut

Vampires, goblins, ghosts – and whores?

Fetch the smelling salts – this is a small tribute to an overstated moral dilemma when it comes to a holiday so removed from its original purpose and meaning: how women (and girls) are allowed to dress sexier – or sluttier, depending on your view – on Halloween. That’s for true feminists and uber-conservatives to debate about. All I have to say is this: if it doesn’t hurt anyone, then let it be. If it doesn’t take away your ability to eat, breathe, or watch reruns of “Friends” on a lonely Friday night, then it just shouldn’t matter. So who cares that women dress in tantalizingly unrealistic mock-ups of law enforcement officials, educators, pirates, and condiments?

Taco Bell Hot Sauce Costumes

Yo quiero Taco Bell

Does the increase in the depth of cleavage suck up the oxygen in the air like a vacuum? Does the extra exposure of skin force you to shield your eyes for fear of creating cataracts- nay, blinding! your tender sensibilities? (Smelling salts at the ready). Oh, the depravity! Oh, the diminished light of innocence and purity! What has our society come to? (You should read up on a chapter of history of the parents of western civilization. I promise it’s related). Think of the children! (Yes, let’s shelter your kids even more so that they become as well-adjusted and socially savvy as you). 

First Day on the Internet Kid Meme

And I don’t apologize for the use of “slut” and “whore” liberally. It is true that all words carry common connotations and associations with them. These two words are most often used derisively and pejoratively. However, it is also true that the baggage of these words can be used to counter the stigma – to empower rather than to demean. And if/when such terms are thrown at you disdainfully with the intent to maim, brush it off. Are you a really a “slut” or a “whore“? Or are you just enjoying yourself, not harming anyone in the process? So go! Slut it up and have fun. (Don’t you dare even think “YOLO.” Grr).

I do apologize (not really) for being preachy on Halloween, when you’re supposed to party, watch horror movies, and get sick on booze and candy. And I do apologize (actually) for such a half-assed Halloween post.

So Happy Halloween to all and to all a freaky, fantastic night. !

And be sure to Trick as well as Treat:

Got a great Halloween story? A prank? Any thoughts about the moral fiber of this holy of holy days? Share your two cents in the comments section below.