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on October 22, 2008
Overall I liked the book very much especially since is was my first on my Kindle! I'm often preoccupied with what life is all about and I was very excited when I found something accessible and comprehensive from a professional philosopher with a 360 degree view on the issue. I found the first few chapters very satisfying but as the book went on, I sometimes struggled to keep up with the author and sometimes a little bored (the chapter on Carpe Diem is kind of boring). One of the problems with the author's style is that he's slightly repetitive. Once you struggle through a paragraph, often the next one reiterates the same idea, and takes just as much time to understand. Again, the section on Carpe Diem is a good example. I would love this book to be a bit less wordy.

The conclusion that meaning of life could be found in finding a satisfying activity that will last a lifetime is just OK. It could work for a lot of people but many others would still be left overboard. True, just because not everybody can be happy doesn't mean that the author's conclusion is wrong, but I would have enjoyed the book much more if I saw some acknowledgment that life can really, well, suck and there could be nothing we could do about it. That would make the discussion more honest. One just needs to think about the great number of those sick, oppressed, tortured (right this moment), deeply depressed, unjustly imprisoned, etc. Their suffering might be too all-consuming to think about anything but putting an end to it. Can they find a meaning to their lives?

I think it would be more honest if we said that there is a tremendous degree of chance and luck involved in our ability to make our lives bearable. We might know the recipe for a good life but our brain constitution could be such that implementing the plan would be anatomically/neurologically impossible. Even if some of us do find a way to get enjoyment out of our lives, it hardly has any significance after our death, because that enjoyment (or any other emotion for that matter) doesn't transcend our being.

Death erases all signs of our lives as Marcus Aurelius kept telling himself in his "Meditations". Our feeling of enjoyment is just a function of our brain (made possible by our dopamine based reward system) and so just another animalistic function that stops working the minute we are dead. How we felt during our lives has zero significance. Except our brains make us feel better when we do something that they think is good for us. A hard question for me is: if it doesn't matter how we feel during our lives, why not just enjoy our lives since it feels better (i.e. generates dopamine)? It sure is an enticing proposition but strangely enough, hurting gives its own pleasure. In the end, happy or unhappy doesn't change anything after our death and in that sense Camus' question "Why not commit suicide?" still stands -- at least for those whose suffering is hard to bear.

In my opinion, the best take on life, its meaning or lack thereof was given by Schopenhauer despite all the criticism his philosophy has received. Yes, his philosophy is pessimistic, but just because it is pessimistic doesn't make it wrong.
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on December 29, 2016
Julian has a really interesting perspective on the meaning of life. Love is rarely written about in Philosophy literture.
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on December 21, 2008
This is a good book for a reader who is not an expert of philosophy. One hears a lot of answers/maxims/directives/mottos when one asks about life's purpose. And on the surface a lot of these answers sound logical. Baggini digs deeper behind these answers and analyzes in what ways a particular motto/directive makes sense and in what ways it does not. Baggini stresses the point that a lot of the simple mottos that are thrown around e.g "sieze the day", "always strive towards your goals", "just try to be happy", "helping others is the greatest virtue" could mean different things to different people. And some of the inferences that could be drawn from these mottos just do not make sense. Hence one should be careful about latching on to catch phrases like these without fully understanding what it entails.

Baggini does not pre-suppose any deep philosophical knowledge on the part of the readers. So, he explains any philosophical concepts that he brings up. In this way, the book is also a good introduction to philosophy. As other reviewers and even Baggini himself have mentioned, Baggini provides no clearcut prescription but a framework which can be used to live a meaningful and purposeful life. Baggini discusses and identifies a number of components of the purposeful life, but it is up to the readers to work out the specifics and to bring it to fruition. I find this approach very hopeful and motivating although I can understand that it can also feel daunting.

For someone who is already well versed in philosophy, this book might not be a satisfying read. Baggini does not spend more than a couple of pages (small pages and large print!) on any of the philosophical concepts/theories that he introduces. But for the layperson looking to read her first book on the meaning/purpose of life, this book is great.
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on May 20, 2014
Alice Sebold seems to take on subjects a lot of writers won't, because she has a way of making them not a taboo but human and fascinating. 'The Almost Moon' begins with a woman in her 40's killing her elderly mother. Though it covers about 24 hours in time, the story bounces into the past here and there to fill us in on pieces of that past that tie into the story. It may sound simple, but I think it takes a lot of special talent from the writer to do it so seemingly easy as she does. I would encourage anyone that appreciates a good book to give this one a try. I can't wait to see what she turns out next.
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on December 14, 2009
Before The Almost Moon, I read Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones because a good friend recommended it. It was definitely worth the day and a half it took to read it (couldn't put it down), and because of that I went looking for more of Sebold's books. So along came The Almost Moon. Alice Sebold has a keen writer's instinct for storytelling and letting a story unfold. Her style is fascinating, her prose exceptional, and her ability to keep you in the story is magnetic. I since have purchased Lucky and can't wait to get into that.

Almost Moon is a story about relationships and how they build us up and wear us down. It takes our inner most, deeply hidden secrets about our real and possibly unexplored feelings and exposes them to the light of day. It is harsh and scary sometimes, yet plausible and soothing. Throughout The Almost Moon Sebold handles the opening line with great dexterity and amazingly helps us to walk in the shoes of another, to feel someone else's sense of failure and doom and missed oppportunities and perhaps bad decisions.

It's a bumpy road of a ride, and done so smoothly that you just don't mind!
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on January 2, 2013
I really love this author and this book did not disappoint! Always interesting! Things I cannot even imagine are discussed and I like that! Exposure is educational!
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on September 23, 2017
This book was one that sucked you in and you had to read every free moment of every day. Amazing
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on December 14, 2016
I enjoyed reading it because you couldn't assume to know the ending and it was an in depth look into why a person does what they do and their personal struggles in relationships. Another very interesting book by this author.
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on July 23, 2017
Great read but disappointed that the end left me hanging......
Is there a follow up read to this one? Would love to know the end!
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on November 10, 2014
Must read, for those who ever wonder why we are all here people on Earth for. Given, Baggini is a fluent philosopher in both modern and old ages, taken modern science into account, provides elegant and trustworthy view on these matter, something, even scientists from unrelated field would benefit from. Well complimented with his "The Ego Trick".
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