Three great books, and all for very different reasons!
A Little History of Philosophy by Nigel Warburton
Genre: Philosophy, Non-Fiction
You would think that given this book charts the history and evolution of philosophy and the great philosophers that it would be insurmountably difficult to follow… and dull. However, you’d be wrong. Nigel Warburton pulls off an enormous feat and managed to make it a fun and worthwhile ride! This is the perfect book for beginners, easy to follow text, and the chapters on each philosopher is packed with very necessaries analogies to the brim. On the flip side, towards its final chapters, the book heavily focuses on the migraine-causing branch of philosophy, which is metaphysics, but that fault cannot be attributed to the author, as, holding a significant place in philosophy, it is essential for it to be covered. But it still gave me a headache… what do you mean does that table really truly exist? It’s right there… in front of our very own eyes! What more do you want?! It might work out better for you, but metaphysics was far too abstract for me. I guess if you’re into science, you might enjoy it, and I understand the importance of it, but I don’t… science. Still not sure how photosynthesis works.
Ah, Socrates. The bad boy of philosophy. Shockingly enough (!), I very much enjoyed the chapter on Socrates which primarily focused on moral philosophy. It reminded me of one of George R. R. Martin’s interview on Jaime Lannister pushing Bran out of the window. Is Jaime a ‘bad’ man for pushing Bran out of the window? What would happen if Jaime didn’t push Bran out of the window? Cersei would be charged with adultery, most likely executed. As would Jaime. Their children would be orphaned. A rock and a hard place. Those are the questions that Socrates asked, and its shades of grey influence can be felt in Martin’s work. It also reminded me of debating with my cousin (seriously, I cannot stress this enough, get yourself an INTP friend, you’ll have a blast! And be exasperated if you’re a Fi user).
Aquinas’s philosophy brought to mind Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind in that the arguments for the Big Bang are similar to those who believe in religion. What is the root cause of everything? I can’t eloquently explain my thoughts on this (I should have reviewed it right after I finished reading it!), but the arguments for the existence of a higher being bears a parallel to the arguments for the Big Bang theory: nobody truly knows the answer to how and whether space and time is infinite. Okay, I’m explaining this terribly. I’m glad that I’m not a philosopher. I’m sure those who love science will stone me for this paragraph. Apologies in advance, once again: I don’t science. At all.
A few other tidbits, I enjoyed Voltaire’s intellectual beef with what’s-his-face, you can also tell that I wasn’t impressed enough to remember his name, but I do remember it crossing my mind that his philosophy came across as emphatically rainbows and unicorns spiel. More thoughts: while I respected Kant’s ideas and his ‘sense of duty’, his adherence to the principles of ‘never telling porkies’ I found disastrously extreme. In Islam, we are permitted to lie under three conditions one of which is when an individual encounters a life-and-death situation, another being to mend a friendship, I don’t know the other – enlighten me. It’s a whole lot more practical and understanding than what Kant tells us.
Overall, I would highly recommend this. Bonus: do a buddy read and debate as you read. I can’t seem to find my copy (I penciled in notes), but if and when I do, I’ll be gifting my copy to the aforementioned cousin, and I cannot wait for him to drive me, pulling-out-hairs, mad.
Check it out on Goodreads.
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling
Genre: Non-Fiction, Humour, Memoir, Biography
Doesn’t hold a candle to Mindy’s other book ‘Why Not Me?’ Why Not Me? was a light and fun read, had me laughing and contained an unforgettable section in which Mindy wrote a short romance story in the form of emails! Whereas, this is somewhat scattered, and you had no idea what Mindy Kaling would be talking about next. I’d recommend Why Not Me? if your sense of humour is light, silly and goofy, but if you enjoy dark humour – and I mean really dark – then Is Everybody Hanging Out Without Me? would be the better option.
The first third of the book was so memorable though, and could be a reason why the rest just didn’t match the high standards that were set! Mindy writes about the journey to Hollywood and the writer’s room, how nobody was going to make space for her so she had to create space for herself, and I would recommend this to anyone who’s hoping to make it or get a break in their career. It was inspiring to read, and it planted seeds in my mind that sometimes there’s no space for you in the world unless you make it and take up space. And, for that reason, this book will stay with me forever.
Check it out on Goodreads.
The Story of Tracy Beaker by Jacqueline Wilson
Genre: Children’s Fiction
Oh, my. Rereading this through an adult lens was grim. Growing up, reading and watching Tracy Beaker (a national hero for us British children), I could only see how daring, bold and imaginative Tracy was, and all the ‘Dumping Ground’ misery was glossed over by Tracy’s star persona. And now, as an adult, I admire her for completely different reasons. I admire Tracy’s determination, how bravely she stands her ground and persistently believes in herself. But, especially, I felt sorry for Tracy Beaker too. As a child, I hated Justine (though when I saw the real-life Justine drive by my school, I screamed out her name like my life depended on it… and she looked at us, me and my friends, in response, with a blank expression), but now I see that… Tracy was actually in the wrong! Even so, you can’t really bring yourself to *hate* her or *dislike* Tracy for it, instead, as an adult, you simply understand.
It’s tough out there, especially for children in foster care. And it doesn’t help that we have some members of society who say that they would never adopt young people because by then they’re already damaged… I mean I also heard this in a children’s charity about how they don’t want to deal with adults who are child sex abuse survivors because by then they’re already… well, you get the gist *but, boy, was that a shocker*. Opinions such as these only worsen the stigma. And really? People are afraid to adopt young people who just need some love?! How about a more fitting re-framing of the situation – you don’t have the emotional capacity for it, so stop shifting the blame onto young people in foster care for situations that are out of their control. Or just be quiet.
Check it out on Goodreads.
To Sum Up:
A Little History of Philosophy – Socrates, yay. Do those tables really exist? Nay.
Is Everybody Hanging Out Without Me? – There’s no space for you unless you make it.
The Story of Tracy Beaker – rereading through an adult lens? Oh, my.
A Little History of Philosophy: Which philosopher is your favourite? What are your thoughts on philosophy? Does the table exist?
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns): Dark humour or light humour? Which Mindy Kaling show is your favourite? What are some celeb memoirs you’ve enjoyed reading?
The Story of Tracy Beaker: Have you reread a childhood favourite and what was it like rereading through an adult lens? Are you a fan of Tracy Beaker? Should society take a more compassionate approach to young people in foster care?
Let me know in the comments!
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