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Philosophy Made Simple

3.38  ·  Rating details ·  579 Ratings  ·  101 Reviews
Rudy Harrington is ready for a new life. His daughters are grown, his wife has died, and the idea of running an avocado grove in Texas suddenly seems infinitely more appealing than staying in his rambling Midwestern house.

So a new life it is. Rudy heads off for a part of the world where he knows scarcely a soul. But he has a guide: a slender book called Philosophy Made Sim
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Paperback, 304 pages
Published March 1st 2007 by Back Bay Books (first published March 8th 2006)
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huzeyfe
Nov 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Öncelikle isminden başlamak istiyorum. Orijinal adından çok farklı ve hatta çok daha şeker bir isimle Türkçe’ye çevrilmesi fikrini pek bi sevdim. Çünkü “Hayatı Kolaylaştıran Felsefe” (hatta orijinal adını birebir çevirdiğimizde bu bile tam karşılığı olmuyor) “Avokado Bahçesi” kadar sıcak ve insanı saran bir auraya sahip değil. Hatta “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” filminin Türkçe çevirisinden sonra -Sil Baştan- en başarılı isim çevirisi diyebilirim :)

Gelelim kitaba… Madem çevirisinden ba
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Kim
May 26, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
My rating went from 3 stars to 2 because of what happened to Norma Jean. Did not like that at all.
Cat Tutt
Feb 21, 2017 rated it liked it
This one kinda went wrong for me. I was really enjoying the book until the plot resolution. Perhaps I am just not the target audience for this book, or maybe I just didn't get it, but I felt parts of it were terribly far fetched in a book otherwise grounded in reality.

Most likely the ending of the book projected the author's intended tone, but it just wasn't for me. That said, it is well written and was a pleasure to read, even if the closure of the plot left something to be desired.
Tim
Dec 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017, fiction
The title caught my attention at a used book sale; I picked it up, thinking it was a non-fiction book. The story is about a recent widower and his relationship with his grown daughters. Deciding he would like a change in his life, he sells his house and moves halfway across the country. The titular Philosophy Made Simple is the book within the book he is reading; his autodidactical philosophical education is the lens through which he considers his own past and present existence. Fitting, since t ...more
Alex
Aug 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book sat on my shelf unread for some time, and I recently picked it up as part of an introspective journey that is part of making a life change at age 52. As I pack up/wrap up my life in a house that has been home for 26 years, years that seem to have passed very quickly, floating down a river of raising and maintaining a family, I find myself wondering if my perceptions of my life are really correct; was all as I perceived it to be? Was I so entrenched in the moment of the life, that I mis ...more
Kristal Kitap
Feb 11, 2017 marked it as yarım-bıraktıklarım  ·  review of another edition
bu kitabı da yarım bırakıyor olmak üzüyor ama beni kendine çekemediği için maalesef elim kitaba gitmiyor. bir gün tüm işimi gücümü düzene soktuğum zaman okurum belki ama daha uzun bir süre daha okumayı düşünmediğim için yarım-bıraktıklarım arasında yer buluyor kendine :(
Sera
Sep 28, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bu kitabı resim yapan fil Norma Jean'le hatırlayacağım daha çok. Gerisi karısı öldükten sonra evliliğini, kızlarıyla ilişkilerini ve yaşamını sorgulayan bir adamın doğaya kaçışı,vs vs. yer yer kişisel gelişim tadında anlardan oluşuyor. Günlük hayatla felsefi düşünceler arasındaki ikilemler bir süre sonra geri planda kalıyor ve karakterin yolculuğunun vardığı nokta da tartışılabilir. Yan karakterleri de o denli ilgi çekici bul(a)madım. Norma Jean hariç tabii :)
Çeviri gayet özenli görünüyor ve ak
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Lee
Jul 22, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A "sequel", in a way, to Sixteen Pleasures, Hellenga's love letter to Florence and his hilarious look at the hypocrisy of the Church. Not as beautifully written as Fall of the Sparrow, my personal favorite, but he does examine the "meaning of life" by telling everyday stories and reflecting on them through classical philosophy. Not as thorough as Sophie's World but not as didactic either and more fun. The Bookmarks review on amazon is good. One thing I love about Hellenga is that he provides ins ...more
Vicky
Jun 24, 2009 rated it liked it
This book would have merited four stars except that the ending does not seem to fit the rest of the book and left me disgruntled.
Booknblues
There is something about Robert Hellenga's writing that I just love and Philosophy Made Simple is no exception. This is the story of Rudy Harrington, Margot's (from The Sixteen Pleasures) father and it takes place at roughly the same time. Rudy, 60, a widower, with three grown daughters wanders around his empty house in Chicago and feels the ghosts and the aimlessness of his present existence. After being given a book called Philosophy Made Simple which was written by the uncle of his daughter, ...more
Pinar Mutlu
Kitabın ismi çok sevimli geldiği için konusunu da okuyarak almıştım, insanı sıkmadan içerisinde felsefi anlatımı olan kitapları severim, bu açıdan kolay okunabilir olduğunu söyleyebilirim ama bir önceki kitaptan da hikayeyi tamamlaması gereken unsurlar olduğu için (belki de daha önce o kitabı okumak gerekliydi) bazı konular benim için havada kaldı diyebilirim. Genel olarak çok akıcı bir kitap değil, ancak farklı kültürler, bir insanın biraz da orta yaş bunalımı ile hayatını gözden geçirmesi, piş ...more
Serra
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Kitabı alma nedenim ismini ve konusunu eğlenceli bulmamdı. Eğer kitabın orjinal ismi olsaydı, felsefi bir kitap derdim ve almazdım. Kitap karısı öldükten sonra, kızlarının kendi yaşantısına devam ettiğini gören Rudy'nin Texas'a taşınıp avokado yetiştirmek istemesiyle başlıyor. Kitapta felsefeye, Hint kültürüne ve felsefesine, aile bağlarına, aşk ve sevgiye, farklı inançlara, hatalara, sadakate kavramlarına değinilmiş ve farklı kültürlerden insanların bu kavramlara bakış açılarını okuyabiliyoruz. ...more
Yelda Ergin
Jul 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-read
good reading
Lisa Tener
Jul 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
My favorite read this summer so far. Love the characters, the humor, the sweetness and zany surprises of this book. Beautiful writing, too.
Nancy
A little disjointed at to time and character, but an enjoyable book.
Sargon
Jan 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: folks who want to appear smarter at the surface just to get play
20080102: I'm only a couple pages in. This book looked interesting since it is fiction and offers me some philosophy at a high level. I've always wanted to know about the major philosophers so that I could 'philosophize' with friends, sounding smart in front of hot chicks. I guess this is my chance to beef up on my philosophical knowledge and maybe even gain some interest in learning more.

20080110: Great book and awesome story. I loved learning about Indian culture as well as bits and pieces of
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Chrissie
Feb 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
OK, I have now finished, and what I wrote below still holds true. Furthermore, he so very well depicts family relationships: how parents feel as their children grow up, how kids relate to their parents as they grow up, how husband and wife relationships change as time rolls on and how nothing stays still. Also I love his interest in all sorts of miscellaneous subjects be it avocados, Hindu gods, elephants, Italy. In other books - olives, bats, jazz, apples.........

Hellenga's books are all about
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Donna
Sep 07, 2011 rated it liked it
Between watching today's coverage of the WTC commemorative events and looking around at my stacks of books, I have to wonder, how much of our fiction, nonfiction and memoir actually centers around joyous events? Or, if joyous, than what else happens in said venue that is not? I would postulate that 75% of our cultural media surrounds negative events. Perhaps I am wrong. No, I'm not saying that this is another one of those books, but, in a number of ways it is; Death of a loved one (cancer), trag ...more
Bookmarks Magazine

Quieter than The Sixteen Pleasures, Philosophy Made Simple is almost__but not quite__as fine a novel. Although it touches on relationships between parents and children, farming, friendship, and life events, the overarching theme speaks to how philosophical beliefs play out in daily life. Hellenga juxtaposes the history of philosophy, from Plato to Kant, with Rudy's search for meaning. This approach, given the seriocomic tone of the novel, seemed artificial to a few critics, smart to some, and ov

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Christine
I enjoyed this book, but the ending was sad. Since I don't like to cry, this book only gets 3 stars instead of the 4 it deserves.

Rudy spent his entire life in Chicago raising three daughters and living with his bigger than life wife. When his wife tragically dies, Rudy decides to pick up his roots and move to Texas. He takes over an avocado farm and meets a cast of local characters.

The most prominant colorful character is the Russian with a circus elephant. The Russian craves his vodka, while th
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Lorraine
Jan 23, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: philosopher rookies and book clubs
It took a long time for me to get through this one, but it was good. (It's not a tough read, just not compelling.)

I read this at the same time I read Mark Haddon's A Spot of Bother which made for a great contrast. Both are about older men after retirement trying to make sense of their kids, their life, their wife's affair. My prejudice going into this book was that the main character, Rudy, would be a fool and make dumb mistakes with his newly acquired avocado grove. Didn't happen. This guy is n
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Iowa City Public Library
Rudy Harrington makes a new life in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. It’s a long way from Chicago and his life as an avocado buyer. Norma Jean, an elephant who paints, is left in Rudy’s care and she opens his heart and spirit to new possibilities in life.

This book had a great sense of place. I was born in the Rio Grande Valley and visited there often while I was growing up. The description of the place reminded me of the Santa Ana Bird Refuge and other places in the Upper Valley.

I also enjoyed th
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Dawn Ethel
Jul 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I stumbled upon this book in an accident of fate, with no expectations at the cost of 2 dollars at a thrift store. It was surprisingly a pleasant read weaving the existential crisis of a retired blue collar man with the thirst for meaning in the life he raced through with philosophies and religion. While the view of the protagonist is unfamiliar territory, I am very interested in philosophy and religion, so this was very eye opening to me in the best way. I have been meaning to expand my knowled ...more
Jon
Apr 01, 2011 rated it liked it
A story about an aging white guy whose wife has died and whose three daughters have grown and left home and now he is trying to come to terms with his own mortality. The title refers to an intro to philosophy book that the main character reads throughout the novel and, presumably, the philosophical ideas he is encountering along the way are supposed to provide insight to both him and to the reader. This ends up being an under-developed part of the novel as you (and he)learn little about the phil ...more
Ainiah
Jun 21, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
Right well, unlike what the title says, it isn't exactly all about Philosophy. True, the protagonist spends half his time thinking about the "big things" - but don't we all? It makes no great effort to delve into any philosophical stance in particular, just skimming here and there. Random characters are suddenly perfectly apt to converse about the big questions and stuff with minimal effort spent to develop their personality, attitude etc. And the usage of Indian thought was really cliche imo, c ...more
liz
May 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I have no idea how Robert Hellenga came up with the idea for this book, but I'm so glad he did. It's 1967, and Rudy Harrington moves out of the house in Chicago where he and his wife raised three daughters until her death seven years ago. Where does he move to, you might ask? Excellent question! He buys an avacado farm in Texas. Of course!! To guide him in the transition he has the book "Philosophy Made Simple," written by the Indian uncle of his daughter's fiance, as well as support from Medard ...more
Marvin
Aug 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
Another wonderful book, the fourth fine novel by Hellenga (with some of the same characters as in some of his earlier ones). The main character is a 60-year-old widower, with three grown daughters, one of whom is getting married. He's reading a book titled Philosophy Made Simple, and he's trying to apply what he learns in each chapter--about Plato, Aristotle, Berkeley, Kant, Schopenhaur, etc.--to his daily life, to find his grounding in other words (much as in The Ground Beneath Her Feet, and he ...more
LibraryCin
3.25 stars

Rudy has three grown daughters and his wife died a few years ago. He decides he wants a change, so he moves from Chicago to Texas to run an avocado farm. There is a local Russian man who has an elephant, Norma Jean, who makes paintings and Rudy forms a bond with her.

I am having trouble rating this one. The story was mostly good, but I have issues with Norma Jean. As much as I loved her in the story, I have major problems with wild animals as pets! And, there was (not a lot and it was
...more
Jgrace
Philosophy Made Simple – Hellenga
4 stars

Rudy Harrington is at a crossroad in life. He is a widower. His nest is emptied of his grown daughters. He is ready for a change. He begins to study philosophy. He sells his house and moves to an avocado farm. The story that follows is occasionally humorous and very warmly human.
I liked Rudy. I can identify with his need to grieve for his wife and his far from perfect marriage. He is a wonderful supportive father of some very unconventional daughters. I
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Martin Witchard
I'm cheating here that I read this book to relate an amusing story.

My penchant is for non-fiction and, seeking to expand my knowledge in the subject of philosophy, I ordered this book.

When it arrived I looked at the cover and thought "Hmm, they changed the cover design". I opened the book and started to read and thought "Wow - this is an interesting start to a discourse about philosophy". I kept reading a few more pages until I got a little bored and skipped ahead to the drum on philosophy.

Th
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“Fussing over food was important. It gave a shape to the day: breakfast, lunch, dinner; beginning, middle, end.” 7 likes
“It took him half an hour to reach the little mission chapel. From his position on his back in the river he could see just the tip of the steeple, but for the most part he gazed upward at the constellations. Rudy knew his constellations, because each one of his daughters had done a science project on them and they'd spent hours lying on their backs in the middle of the Edgar Lee Masters campus looking up at the sky. As the river bent to the south, he could see Virgo and Centaurus coming into view. At first they reminded him of true beauty, and he was overwhelmed. He knew that this heart-piercing ache, however painful, was the central experience of his life and that he would have to come to terms with it. No one - not Aristotle, not Epicurus, not Siva Singh - would ever convince him otherwise. But then it occurred to him that Virgo and Centaurus were just as arbitrary as the rudimentary classification system he'd used for his books - Helen's books. There were a lot of stars left out of the constellations, and nothing to stop you from drawing the lines in different ways to create different pictures. He wanted to lift his wings and fly, but he didn't have the power. He could only let the river carry him along.” 3 likes
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