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.

Fill Thy Vat of Knowledge!

What do you do when it’s 11 PM on a Thursday evening, you don’t have class tomorrow, and you currently can’t sleep? Why, take to the interwebs, of course! And by the interwebs, I specifically mean the lovely HowStuffWorks.com. There is always time for learning! Knowledge never sleeps! Quench your thirst of information that was not previously known to you! This introductory paragraph has too many exclamation marks, so I sound like a spaz!

Anywho – obnoxious punctuation aside – I love HowStuffWorks. Whenever I feel that my “Useless Trivia” data stores are running low, I know I can just click on the HowStuffWorks icon in my favorites bar and bask in the knowledge feast laid out before me. I won’t emerge from this gluttonous trance until I’ve gone through the main page and ripped through a dozen articles using the Random Post button. “Learn how Everything Works!” is their site tagline. And indeed, they attempt to show you how everything works from describing how to break into a house, to explaining how dying of embarrassment is worse than freezing to death, to enlightening you on what in the world the appendix is for (kind of).

I Heart Guts Appendix. So cute.

Seriously, I’m just here to screw with you.

I first discovered the site when I was in 8th grade whilst looking for science articles for science class (reduntantly redundant) because most of the links the teacher provided pretty much sucked (meaning it was hard to find articles that fit the criteria for the assignments – not dissing the integrity of the scientific reporting, so lay off). It was love at first click, but as with all deep and irrational loves, it came at the price of my self-respect. Soon I was obsessed with the site, coming back to her – I’m just going to pretend the site is female, just because – everyday. She seduced me with her full, shapely articles. My hunger for her knowledge had me coming back again and again until my brain ached and eyes fatigued. The noetic siren had dragged with me into the depths of her surveys, and quizzes, and pages of sweet, sweet information.

Well, that was unnecessarily melodramatic.

But I’m over all that now. The relationship between me and her is totally under control and I am in no danger of succumbing to her know-it-all wiles again. Basically this is a love post – borderline lust post – to HowStuffWorks.com. She fills that emptiness within and is there whenever I need her (and have access to WiFi).

No, not really. This all really was unnecessarily melodramatic. But thanks, HowStuffWorks, for helping me be semi-funny and teaching me how sarcasm works. (Gee thanks)*.

Read these interesting articles from that vixen of a site:

*Sorry, that joke was too easy.

What sites do you like to waste time be productive on? Have a favorite HowStuffWorks article? Share it!