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Registered Members => Book Talk => Topic started by: rab on August 19, 2016, 02:15 PM

Title: YA novels with philosophical ideas
Post by: rab on August 19, 2016, 02:15 PM
Can anyone think of YA novels that include discussions/use of philosophical ideas?  SOPHIE'S WORLD is sort of a philosophy primer; Lockhart uses Foucault in THE DISREPUTABLE HISTORY OF FRAKIE LANDAU-BANKS; and Green has some discussions in LOOKING FOR ALASKA. Do any others come to mind?
Title: Re: YA novels with philosophical ideas
Post by: dewsanddamps on August 19, 2016, 02:36 PM
I hope it's okay to cite my own, but LEARNING TO SWEAR IN AMERICA is based on an Immanuel Kant maxim, Do what is right though the world should perish. I got to thinking, What if the world really would perish?
Title: Re: YA novels with philosophical ideas
Post by: rab on August 19, 2016, 02:38 PM
Ha! I was just looking through my copy of your novel, Katie, to see if it might work. And it does!
Title: Re: YA novels with philosophical ideas
Post by: HDWestlund on August 19, 2016, 02:41 PM
THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING by Kari Luna deals with string theory and finding connections. Also has a talking panda and discusses alternate universes. One of my favorites.
Title: Re: YA novels with philosophical ideas
Post by: dewsanddamps on August 19, 2016, 02:44 PM
Hmm, depending on what you need Harriet Reuter Hapgood's THE SQUARE ROOT OF SUMMER might work. It's more physicsy than philosophical, but it's a terrific read. So mebbe?  :eh2
Title: Re: YA novels with philosophical ideas
Post by: rab on August 19, 2016, 02:44 PM
I didn't know THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING. Thanks!
Title: Re: YA novels with philosophical ideas
Post by: rab on August 19, 2016, 02:45 PM
Maybe to THE SQUARE ROOT OF SUMMER; I'll put it on the list. I knew I could count on Blueboarders to come up with good answers!
Title: Re: YA novels with philosophical ideas
Post by: Vijaya on August 19, 2016, 05:05 PM
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Pirsig (sp?)
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
The Little Prince by Antoine de Exupery (sp?)
Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Book of Everything by Guus Kuijer
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Stranger by Albert Camus
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Atlas Shrugged / Fountainhead / We the Living by Ayn Rand
Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

Okay, these aren't necessarily YA but I enjoyed many of these in high school and the others I discovered as an adult. I suspect you've read these too.

I was thinking that the timeless books are all philosophical in nature and look at this goldmine of resources (PBs): http://www.teachingchildrenphilosophy.org/BookModule/BookModule

Happy reading. Is this for a class you are developing?
Title: Re: YA novels with philosophical ideas
Post by: Betsy on August 19, 2016, 08:15 PM
I was thinking that the timeless books are all philosophical in nature

I so agree with this. I love philosophical books. Please keep 'em coming.

I've read almost everything on your list, Vijaya. Except I don't know Book of Everything. Looked it up on Amazon, but I couldn't find it.

There are TWO YA novels called The Theory of Everything. Has anyone read the other one? By JJ Johnson?
Title: Re: YA novels with philosophical ideas
Post by: AnneB on August 20, 2016, 06:38 AM
Betsy, here's the link to "The Book of Everything." Also, most libraries should have it.
 http://smile.amazon.com/dp/0439749182

eta: I see this gives the smile.amazon link. If that doesn't work, search the title adding The.  Also, don't be put off by the Amazon blurb. It makes it seem a lot more religousy than I remember it.
Title: Re: YA novels with philosophical ideas
Post by: rab on August 20, 2016, 08:26 AM
Thanks, Vijaya! What a great list of books! And thanks to Anne for the link. (Vijaya, this isn't for a class, but for a discussion I've been having with a colleague, who is writing an article about philosophy in YA lit.)
Title: Re: YA novels with philosophical ideas
Post by: Betsy on August 20, 2016, 10:05 AM
Thanks for the link, Vijaya. I like to read the reviews on Amazon (although they can be very misleading) before I invest time and money in any book--even from the library (time). Very intriguing book. You might want to check the spelling of his first name.
Title: Re: YA novels with philosophical ideas
Post by: Vijaya on August 20, 2016, 12:01 PM
I've not read the Theory of Everything but it looks interesting. Oh, and another book: The Giver by Lois Lowry. I would think many dystopians would fit the bill. Rebecca, what a wonderful topic for your friend.
Ellen, thanks, I'll fix the typo. Dutch names! I should know better.
Title: Re: YA novels with philosophical ideas
Post by: Betsy on August 20, 2016, 12:36 PM
Anyone could have made that mistake, Vijaya. Your fingers automatically want to type the more familiar "Gus."
Title: Re: YA novels with philosophical ideas
Post by: EricJ on August 20, 2016, 02:41 PM
I went into MT Anderson's "Feed" expecting William Sleator-like YA sci-fi, and found out that the entire second half of the book had pretty much kicked over plot for an extended philosophical criticism of the current Facebook-era strategy of corporate-marketing to "social media" teens by treating them like gullible idiots.
Not quite Freshman Philosophy 101, but does spark good discussion ideas about thinking differently at a time when it would help to.
Title: Re: YA novels with philosophical ideas
Post by: Melissa K on August 20, 2016, 08:43 PM
John Green's The Fault in Our Stars might and might not work since the main character's development hinges partly on a misunderstanding of the mathematical concept of infinity. If you're willing to include math under the umbrella of philosophy, it might be cool to discuss a book that shows incorrect thinking.
Title: Re: YA novels with philosophical ideas
Post by: rab on August 21, 2016, 08:45 AM
EricJ, every time I teach FEED in my YA lit class, I think it's going to be dated, but every time I reread it, it turns out to be even more relevant. And yes, it's got really good ideas for discussions, as does TFIOS, Melissa. I love the idea of looking at incorrect understandings! And THE GIVER? Love the way that book challenges readers with its ideas. Thanks again, Vijaya!
Title: Re: YA novels with philosophical ideas
Post by: Betsy on August 28, 2016, 02:26 PM
I loved The Fault in Our Stars. I accidentally ordered the wrong The Theory of Everything, the one by J.J. Johnson. It's really good! I highly recommend it.

No lengthy philosophical discussions (at least not so far--I'm about halfway through) but it's told through the eyes of a traumatized girl who feels that life doesn't have any meaning or purpose, after her best friend dies in a freakish accident.

Also Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver has a theme similar to Groundhog's Day, where a girl must live the last day of her life over and over until she gets it right--and what's really important. Sounds depressing, but is actually quite funny in places, and I thought it was very touching.
Title: Re: YA novels with philosophical ideas
Post by: rab on September 03, 2016, 05:15 PM
Thanks for these book recommendations, Betsy!
Title: Re: YA novels with philosophical ideas
Post by: writerjenn on September 08, 2016, 05:30 PM
A.S. King's ASK THE PASSENGERS discusses Zeno's paradox. And I seem to recall Rob Thomas's RATS SAW GOD as getting philosophical.
Title: Re: YA novels with philosophical ideas
Post by: rab on September 08, 2016, 07:18 PM
Oh, wow, RATS SAW GOD! Loved that book when it came out all those years ago. Thanks for the reminder!