Jostein Gaarder is well-known for writing from the perspective of children and the majority of his books are aimed at a young audience. Sophie's World is somewhat of an exception to this as its intention is to bridge the gap between children's and adults' literature and it attempts to entertain a far more varies readership. The hero of the novel is a fifteen year old girl named Sophie and whilst the book is titled to reference her life and adventures, it's sub-title is "A Novel About The History Of Philosophy", and Gaarder tackles two thousand years of western philosophical thought. The book is popular because of its style, and the way in which it presents complicated ideas in a language that young adults can understand. Sophie's World has been used as a text book in many freshman introduction to philosophy classes and Gaarder spent eleven years as a high school philosophy teacher so his understood both the importance and difficulty of teaching the subject.
Sophie's World is acclaimed as both a novel and a history book and is set out in an easy to follow manner with each chapter focusing one one thinker or one school of thought. Simultaneously, the plot is intricately woven through the history of philosophy making it a pleasurable read. Gaarder has discovered a method of teaching that is entertaining as opposed to pedagogical and for this reason is popular with both adults and children.
Gaarder's first book that blended philosophy and fiction was The Solitaire Mystery which was critically acclaimed in his native Norway; with Sophie's World, Gaarder reached a worldwide audience and as well as being a best-seller in Norway was also a best-seller in Germany, France and Great Britain; in 1995, Sophie's World was the best-selling book in the world.