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The Socrates Express: In Search of Life Lessons from Dead Philosophers

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  876 ratings  ·  143 reviews
The New York Times bestselling author of The Geography of Bliss embarks on a rollicking intellectual journey, following in the footsteps of history’s greatest thinkers and showing us how each—from Epicurus to Gandhi, Thoreau to Beauvoir—offers practical and spiritual lessons for today’s unsettled times.

We turn to philosophy for the same reasons we travel: to see the world
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published August 25th 2020 by Avid Reader Press / Simon Schuster (first published 2020)
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Eric Weiner Cliff Notes won't excite you. Cliff Notes won't make you laugh so hard the pasta you're eating comes out your nose. Cliff Notes don't capture the true…moreCliff Notes won't excite you. Cliff Notes won't make you laugh so hard the pasta you're eating comes out your nose. Cliff Notes don't capture the true essence of philosophy, or anything else. Cliff Notes don't take you on a journey. But they're cheaper and thinner than my book. I have to give them that. (less)
Jake Sobbe I suggest you stop your efforts to "want to love" the book. I'm reading and will have read this book to see a different perspective, to understand. Er…moreI suggest you stop your efforts to "want to love" the book. I'm reading and will have read this book to see a different perspective, to understand. Eric does just what some of the ancient philosophers leave you puzzled and questioning yourself every step of your life journey.(less)

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Ryan Boissonneault
Sep 05, 2020 rated it liked it
Philosophy is most beneficial, not when treated as a lifeless academic exercise, but as a way of life that forces one to see the world in a new light. While science can provide us with information and knowledge (organized information), it is philosophy and the related fields in the humanities that furnishes us with wisdom.

The deepest questions regarding reality, knowledge, existence, morality, and politics cannot be solved by crunching numbers or running experiments; they must be solved by a pr
Apr 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Being a huge fan of both the author and the subject, this book was an easy choice. I eagerly waited for Netgalley to approve me for a copy and then, no less eagerly, read it. Although, actually it was a measured eagerness, I didn’t want to overcram my brain with a reading binge, opting instead to make it more memorable and distinct, so it was 3 major sections of the book over 3 different days. And so hop on onto the Socrates express, the man might have highjacked the title, but in this book he s ...more
Mariella Bogdanova
As a person who has never been too fascinated with philosophy, I was surprised to find this book really good. The author travels to places connected somehow with some of the greatest minds ever living and, in the meantime, shares his personal thoughts and background on some major topics. To me it was definitely a very enriching journey as I learnt so many things that I may have once heard of but which were never organized in my mind. In other words, we all know who Marc Aurelius, or Epicurus, or ...more
Oct 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I loved this book! I have been married to a philosopher for 56 years. I have read a few philosophy books over the years and this is by far the best one for me. Each philosopher is assigned a time period of the day from Marcus Aurelius at dawn to Montaigne at the end. Each of the 14 chapters has an action word associated with the philosopher. This turns the reader into a potential agent of change.

Each chapter begins with a short reference to the author's train travel: from the F train in New York
Gheed El Bizri
Feb 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing
We die because we are alive.

The Socrates Express by Eric Weiner is one lucky charm. It is a book I read with contemplation, pleasure and delight. And it is a book I’ll reread with the same attitude.

If I could have a conversation with a dead philosopher, I would choose Socrates without any hesitation. All that I’ve ever felt, ever wondered and ever thought of shiver their way into me every time I think of Socrates. With that being said, I felt deeply connected to the chapter “How to Wonder like
Sebastian Gebski
Feb 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
Not precisely what I've expected, because I didn't even check the ToC before reading :)

It's a practical book about renowned philosophers, but it doesn't present full doctrines, neither focuses on classics only. The concept is different, for each chapter the author picks up a topic, a 'dead philosopher', and elaborates on how that particular individual approached the topic.

Topics are very universal (like aging, death, enjoyment), but there are few unobvious ones as well (walking or getting out of
Gary Anderson
Sep 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
My formal study of philosophy and philosophers began and ended with an undergraduate Intro to Philosophy course. What did I retain from that semester? Mostly, as Hamlet would say, “Words, words, words.” On the first day, the professor said that he refused to apologize for his vocabulary. Then he proceeded to use words I didn’t know but scurried to look up. (I had, after all, received a dictionary among my high school graduation gifts.) They included dichotomy, vituperative, and vicissitudes. His ...more
Ben Rogers
Sep 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Solid book.

Great conversational tone and topical, high level view of lots of philosophers.

I would recommend reading the original source materials (the leading books from each of them). I've read most of them and I like to delve into the full teachings.

Would recommend to people who like trains too (I don't care about them, but I know there's a big Reddit community of train people), as the whole book situated around train rides.

Oct 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
When i hear philosophy i liken it to overthinkers and debaters...sure my philosophical sister has a lot to do with that association. But this book...this book is a journey through the eyes of Weiner's eyes, his views as well as academic ones on a series of great and past philosophers who influence humanity to date.
The author is funny, the audio book has intermissions of train hoots which really adds images to the book as you listen. Some of these philosophers i have read or have had one form of
David Hill
Oct 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent book best read slowly..The author has packed a lot in there to ponder and imagine..Really well done.
Angie Boyter
A very personal tour through life with famous philosophers as guides
In The Socrates Express author Eric Weiner explores life and the world from the vantage point of a train, his preferred mode of travel. Each of the fourteen chapters visits a particular aspect of life with a different philosopher as guide. We learn how to get out of bed like Marcus Aurelius, how to fight like Gandhi, how to appreciate the small things like Sei Shonagon (the only one of our guides I had not heard of), and so on u
Cathy Hodge
Sep 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely delightful train journey to different places and times, to explore the lives and thoughts of philosophers. Eric Weiner uses his amazing Storytelling ability to visit the lives of these diverse philosophers in their hometowns. We also get anecdotes about the authors personal applications of the philosophic "Big Ideas." This book's Lessons are accessible and easy to read. Enjoy. ...more
Nov 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
I came upon this book by accident. I was waiting for a certain audiobook on hold to become available and I needed something to read in the meantime. This was available and so it ended up in my hands. I have lived a life without a deep exposure to philosophy; sure I knew a little about Socrates, Thoreau, Nietzsche and Gandhi. This book came to me at the right time: blame it on Covid-19 or my age or the current simplicity of my life- it resonated with me. This part memoir, part travelogue and Wei ...more
Feb 10, 2021 added it
Eric Weiner's railway-heavy personal survey of philosophers was breezy and self-reflective. He flattens and softens some of the philosophers in an effort to squeeze them into relatively short chapters, but to be honest, this sort of long-form personal essays dealing with one particular subject has a certain effect on me. A chill way to dip into some famous philosophers, but by no means a substitute for reading their writings, or at least their wikipedia pages.

Covers the following philosophers ch
Robert Stevens
Sep 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
I quite enjoyed this book, which comes as no surprise because I love his three other books, especially his first two. To me, this book is part travelogue, part memoir, and part introduction to the philosophers and their beliefs. You learn a little bit about the places he goes, the philosophers themselves, and the journey (life’s journey and his journey with his daughter). This book does not provide in depth looks at the philosophers and their respective philosophies, but an express trip through ...more
Sep 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I've read all of Eric's books, and this one is just as enthralling, humorous, engaging and insightful as Geography of Bliss, Geography of Genius and Man Seeks God. I've always had a layperson interest in philosophy, but considering our mass collective self-isolating and quarantined existence of late -- along with all the death, loss, anxiety, fear and existential questions of this COVID time, this book is quite apropos for the times. It does not only deliver due to its timeliness in digging into ...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Eric Weiner travels by train to sites where the great philosophers formulated their ideas and shares the life lessons of each that he discovers on his pilgrimages. Which philosophers does he explore? Marcus Aurelius, Socrates, Rousseau, Thoreau, Schopenhauer, Epicurus, Simone Weil, Gandhi, Confucius, Sei Shonagon, Nietzsche, Epictetus, Beauvoir, and Montaigne. What new things did I learn? Stoics aren't really stoic and Epicureans aren't really obsessed with pleasure. Nietzsche's thoughts were us ...more
Priscilla Carina
Feb 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing
My first big dive into philosophy - an eye-opening experience! Everyone that is interested in philosophy should give this one a try. Eric Weiner's writing style fits very much with the topic at hand. You start this journey at dawn and end it at dusk, whilst meeting philosophers you might have known from their grand names but also those who might not be that well known I dare to say. Especially four philosophers caught my attention: Epicurus, Gandhi, Sei Shonagon, and Simone de Beavoir. People, m ...more
Sep 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
I loved the personal feel that this books presents from the very beginning. I have always thoroughly enjoyed learning about philosophers and schools of learning. (I’m a research Professor, so it comes with the territory). However, this book presented them as sort of “neighbors next door” kind of people and I really enjoyed the human element this brought into these historic figures. This was a wonderful change of pace from my normal reading and I truly enjoyed it.
Jen Loong
Sep 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
This one took much longer to read surprisingly...

Delightful travelogue, mixed with biographies of philosophers, mixed with anthropology accounts and historical stories

Chapters on Simone Weil and Ghandi were particularly memorable, even though you always learn smth from stories from the Antiquities
Nov 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
I don’t have a strong interest in philosophy. I do have a preference for history and people. Weiner as one of my favorite authors is always an easy choice to pick up. He writes with amusing clarity.

My favorite section in this book was the reflections on Shonagon. “She knew our lives are nothing more or less than the sum of a million tiny joys.” That stuck with me enough to jot it down.
Harte  Reads
Jan 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, tbr-owned
Weiner discusses the theories of several philosophers so it a great overview of philosophy. But more importantly, Weiner illustrates how these ideas can be food for the soul and a path to a rich life filled with meaning.
Chris Boutté
Sep 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I’ve read a lot of books breaking down different philosophers, but this is one of the best.
Oct 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I haven’t had this much fun reading a book in years!
Dec 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Perfectly in my wheelhouse. Lots of memorable quotes, some laughs and of course I learned a lot. My favourite non fiction recipe.
syifa juliawan
Mar 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you are new to philosophy and doesn’t want Nietzsche to cause you headache, this book is for you.
Rick Wilson
Dec 20, 2020 rated it liked it
Mostly charming attempt at making philosophy approachable to modern readers. Felt a bit overdone
Sheri Hazeltine
Nov 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book, especially Eric Weiner’s sense of humor.
Nazila Fathi
Sep 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Eric Weiner is a great storyteller and with a sense of humor, he distills the wisdom of philosophers all the way from Socrates, to Rousseau, Gandhi, de Beauvoir, and even to Confucius. He makes philosophy understandable and fun and raises serious questions about the realities of our modern life. I highly recommend this book.
Jack Hicks
Sep 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Socrates Express, The Search of Life Lessons from Dead Philosophers
Eric Weiner, 2020
We live in a world of constant face-paced news, access to overwhelming reams of information, a world of catastrophes that ricochet around the world, a world of outrageous omnipresent politicians bombarding us with non-stop propaganda, a world where sanity seems to have evaporated. How to make sense of such a world? What is our place and how should we live our lives in such an environment? Human history has al
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Eric Weiner is best-selling author of such books as THE GEOGRAPHY OF BLISS, THE GEOGRAPHY OF GENIUS and the just-released THE SOCRATES EXPRESS.

His books have been translated into more than 20 languages. A number of high schools and universities have incorporated them into their curricula. Weiner is the recipient of the Borders Original Voices Award, and a finalist for the Barnes & Noble Discover

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