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Sophie's World Audiobook
Sophie's World
Written by: 
Jostein Gaarder
Narrated by: 
Simon Vance
 >   > 
Sophie's World Audiobook

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

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Publisher's Summary

One day, 14-year-old Sophie Amundsen comes home from school to find two notes in her mailbox, with one question on each: "Who are you?" and "Where does the world come from?"

From that irresistible beginning, Sophie becomes obsessed with questions that take her far beyond what she knows of her Norwegian village. Through those letters, she enrolls in a kind of correspondence course, covering Socrates to Sartre, with a mysterious philosopher, while receiving letters addressed to another girl. Who is Hilde? And why does her mail keep turning up? To unravel this riddle, Sophie must use the philosophy she is learning - but the truth turns out to be far more complicated than she could have imagined.

A riveting novel that is also an exploration of the great philosophical concepts of Western thought, Sophie's World, with more than 30 million copies in print, has fired the imaginations all over the world.

Originally published in Norwegian under the title Sofies verden, ©1991 H. Aschelhoug and Co. (W. Nygaard), Oslo. Translation ©1994 Paulette Moller; (P)2007 Audio Renaissance, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC

What the Critics Say

"Gaarder pulls off the difficult feat of blending philosophy and entertainment in a way that will capture [young adults'] interest and make them eager to explore further." (School Library Journal)
"First, think a beginner's guide to philosophy....Next, imagine a fantasy novel - something like a modern-day version of Through the Looking Glass. Meld these disparate genres, and what do you get? Well, what you get is an improbable international bestseller...[A] tour de force." (Time)
"Sophie's World is sheer delight. How I wish I'd had it during my college freshman survey of philosophy!" (Madeleine L'Engle, author of A Wrinkle in Time)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (655 )
5 star
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Overall
4.2 (426 )
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Story
4.4 (420 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Steven GenevaSwitzerland 08-15-07
    Steven GenevaSwitzerland 08-15-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great introduction to Western Philosophy"

    If you're interested in the development of philosophical thought from the Greeks onwards but don't want to get bogged down in 'serious' reading this is the book for you. Well written, quite gripping and the narrator does a good job. Only criticism is that goes off at a strange tangent at the end.

    16 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DSS Michigan USA 09-30-09
    DSS Michigan USA 09-30-09 Member Since 2013

    DSS

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Sophie's World"

    The side story is kind of lightweight, and I almost put the novel down because of that, however, Sophie's narrative provides the little breaks in the philosphical passages that allow you to digest the ideas presented. Hardcore philosphy scholars will likely dismiss this as merely a broad overview of philosophic thought. However, for readers/listeners who would like to learn a little bit about philosphy without getting mired in Aristotle's lecture notes, this makes the subject seem accessible and maybe even a little engaging.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    wendy NJ 10-13-11
    wendy NJ 10-13-11 Member Since 2010

    Tell us about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Enjoyable!"

    This was assigned for a class which I took, so I was rather worried about it being dry and dreadfully boring. I was surprised that it's actually well written and presents an interesting overview. Recommended as a great introduction to the history of philosophy.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daryl Thurmont, MD, USA 10-23-07
    Daryl Thurmont, MD, USA 10-23-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Sophies world"

    Some of the audio was missing, I had the actual book in from of me and I had to stop and read several pages.

    34 of 41 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jenny Plano, TX, United States 05-14-13
    Jenny Plano, TX, United States 05-14-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Great learning, Good story, Interesting twist"
    Where does Sophie's World rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This is definitely one of my favorite audible books. Great learning, good story, and as the story continues there is an interesting twist to the plot.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I wish I could have. Second best had to do, that is to say, as I was driving back and fort to work.


    Any additional comments?

    I found that the audio was broken in three places. In two places some audio was missing, in one place two sequences had been turn around. It hurt the story a bit but not too badly.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jay Tennessee Colony, TX, United States 07-08-12
    Jay Tennessee Colony, TX, United States 07-08-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Interesting concept"
    What other book might you compare Sophie's World to and why?

    There may be other books like Sophie's World, but it was unique to me, which makes it hard to compare to other books. It is probably possible to slip in knowledge that would normally be above a child's level using this writing style (i.e., a textbook wrapped in a fictional story).

    In fact, I'm not sure some of Sophie's World wasn't above my head, and I've been listen to a some adult-level philosophy books lately.

    The first half of the book was excellent. The second half of the book, not so much. For one, the ending felt rushed, and current philosophy was done horribly. It isn't that I might not agree that New Age philosophy won't get us anywhere, but there was little to no reasoning behind putting it down, other than the author just didn't seem to like it.

    And I sort of see the need to include people like Darwin and Sigmund Freud, but some of this could have been dumped and more time spent on real current philosophy. And not only was too much time spent on this, but it was pretty much textbook, which as another reviewer pointed out, some information is now invalid scientifically.

    In hearing the author lay it on heavy for not believing in the supernatural, toward the end of the book, I wondered what an updated version of the book might include about quantum physics, or something like The Field, by Lynn Mctaggart, where the "spooky action at a distance" is pretty scientifically solid?

    In the future, I will probably listen to the first half of this book again, and it alone makes it worth purchasing, which is good because the second half was a let down.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer United States 04-23-11
    Amazon Customer United States 04-23-11 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Story within a Philosophy history overview"

    This was an awesome book. I've long been curious about Philosophy and the philosophers. I have the book to read but could only focus on a couple of chapters focusing on the details. Then listening I was in rap attention of each episode of the chapters and characters. What a surprise ending, or did it end? You will enjoy it for its story telling and what you learn of Philosophy as well.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    rudy 03-19-13
    rudy 03-19-13

    for the love of 'purpose and reason'!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "brief historical masterpiece of philosophy"
    If you could sum up Sophie's World in three words, what would they be?

    artistic history of philosophy


    What other book might you compare Sophie's World to and why?

    another book that is difficult to compare to as it goes well beyond traditional writings of history that become ill in affect and redundant in nature....well thought out and expressed through the refreshing mind of a young adolescent.


    Which character – as performed by Simon Vance – was your favorite?

    all of the characters were expressions of brilliance of intellect.....the relationship between sophie and alberto was equally brilliant and well developed...both characters, as performed by Vance were worthy of Oscars.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Although not able to because of time constraints; YES, i would have loved to have reveled in one sitting and may return for such an experience.


    Any additional comments?

    Sophie's World should be common place in Each and Every educational system....every teenage adolescent would benefit immensely from an the open mind of Jostein Gaarder and every mind should remain as inquisitive as the greatest of philosophers.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rich 08-25-15
    Rich 08-25-15 Member Since 2014

    Thoreau's 'Walden' and Ayn Rand's 25th anniversary introduction to 'The Fountainhead' summarize my library well.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Easy-to-Read, Broad Overview of Western Philosophy"

    If you've heard of names in philosophy like Nietzsche, Hume, Plotinus and the like, wanted to learn more and didn't know where to start, this is an excellent read. The book is targeted for the intellectual YA audience, but I think it's great for anyone looking for an introduction into this field.

    I really appreciated the history of western theology present in the book as well--I wasn't expecting that to be present, but it's a very necessary component for what this book is trying to accomplish. Hearing someone talk about Jesus as just another philosopher in a historical context was very refreshing.

    I found Spinoza, Kant and Kierkegaard and Sartre to be most interesting. And the pre-Socratics. And the Renaissance. And Marx. And the British empiricists. Heck, it's ALL interesting. Now there's a whole slew of other authors and titles that I want to read.

    The fictional plot is a pleasant-enough vehicle for the book. I didn't find myself engrossed with the characters, but that wasn't why I read this title. I appreciated the acknowledgement of philosophy's male-centric history, and that more women are needed in the field. Perhaps that's why Gaarder chose his characters to be teenage girls, to encourage the girls of today to take up philosophy--nice touch.

    Vance's narration was fine. It took a little while to get used to his "reading a storybook" intonation, but that actually fits the title well.

    I wouldn't be surprised if I decide to read this title again in 2-3 years; a credit well-spent for sure.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gretchen 11-17-11
    Gretchen 11-17-11 Member Since 2015

    GretchenMargarita

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    "Fantastic"

    This was a wonderful journey into philosophical history, deep thought, and the universe. I am still reeling from the excitement and depth of it all. I highly recommend it!

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
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  • Amazon Customer
    England
    2/3/16
    Overall
    "excellent to listen to"

    This is a fascinating story and very easy to listen to. I would recommend it wholeheartedly

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • sandrodc
    Barcelona, Spain
    12/8/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Outstanding combination of subject, story telling and performance."

    The idea of writing the history of philosophy in a language suitable for for young adults is a stroke of genius in itself. But Gaarder's brings it to life in a plot that is imaginative, humorous and faithful to the subject at all times. Finally, Simon Vance's performance adds an extra dimension to this already extraordinary take. Its as if the characters were telling it themselves!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Dylan
    5/31/16
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    "A great book with some niggling scientific errors"

    The majority of the book is very good. I actually feel that I know more of the general layout of philosophy.

    I found the chapters on science at times boring, inaccurate and infuriating. Scientific accuracy is of course not the main point of the book but the errors annoyed me and brought me out of the story. The chapters on Darwin and Freud dragged, and Alberto's framing of evolution as having direction was particularly infuriating. It picked up again after that though, and was a very clever and altogether delightful listen.

    The narrator's voice for Sophie grated on me but I got used to it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Dean
    5/25/16
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    "A very good introduction"

    This is a great book for geting a more basic level of understanding into some more difficult philosophy. From an simple enough start dealing with more early ideas, the escalation into more difficult philosophical thought gets explained in a easy to understand manner.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Fabricio
    3/17/16
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    Story
    "This is not a book but a gift to the humanity"

    The way that the author chooses to tell us about the history of philosophy is brilliant.
    Also he makes us think outside of the box.
    I would suggest this book to every human in the planet!!!!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Chris
    2/3/16
    Overall
    Performance
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    "A quick as you like trip through philosophy"

    A wonderful whistle stop tour through the key movers and shakers in the wide realm of philosophy, seen through the eyes of one (or two, or maybe more) young girl. It won't help you pass your Phil101 class, but will make sure you know your Aristotle from your Existentialist.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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