The Year of Living Philosophically

Online reviews of The Year of Living Philosophically

‘An outstandingly good read: to make he major tenets of two thousand years of philosophy as easily entertaining as this takes supreme skill. To write such seeming-effortless prose takes rare skill too. This is a wonderful book and I only regret I didn’t come across it when I was teaching philosophy myself and desperately casting round for something engaging and approachable to help my own poor students. I am speechless with admiration so had better take Wittgenstein’s advice and shut up!(

‘This is hilarious! It reads like a male Bridget Jones’ Diary, in a good way. Dictionary editor Dave comes across as a very sympathetic, sensitive soul, obsessed with words and wordplay, which will appeal to anyone who loves words. The whole concept of the plot is original and clever – trying out a different philosophy to live by each month. And it was quite endearing how Dave put so much effort into pursuing each of his randomly picked philosophies. I like the faux naive, ironic tone of the first-person narrator, and the way his thought processes often contradict what he is saying to the other characters. I love the setting in the publishing house with its dictionaries from the most obscure countries imaginable! And I especially like Dave’s desperate infatuation with the seemingly unattainable Vanessa.’ (

‘Bridget Jones meets Plato – and Kant and Descartes and… (without the weight angst). Dictionary editor (dic ed, for short) Dave Gardner tries out a different philosophy each month for a year to kickstart his boring existence and to improve his love life (“… might fool her into thinking I’m an interesting, hidden-depths sort of person”). This diary is a very funny account of the year he lived “philosophically.” I found this book enormously entertaining and cleverly written. The situations that Dave gets into are hilarious. But this book isn’t just a work of humour; it’s also a very readable glance at the 12 philosophies that Dave tries out. The explanations about the 12 are clear, easy to understand and not overly long. They’re woven into the diary seamlessly and painlessly.’ (

‘There are not many books (hardly any in fact) which make me laugh out loud, but this one did on many occasions. The fact that it is thought-provoking, sensitively crafted, very well-written, and manages to convey complex ideas (‘philosophies’) in such a natural and engaging narrative way is all the more to its credit. For me, Robert Grossmith hits just the right spot: A funny, intelligent, and most enjoyable read. In a word – classy.’ (

‘If you’ve always fancied learning a bit more about philosophy but couldn’t actually get off your bahookey, then look no further. Dave’s attempt at living according to a philosophy a month for one year while trying to pursue the love of his loins makes for some belly-laughing situations. For existentialism, not only do we get the explanation, we get the look.
Mon, Nov 22
Wore my black polo-neck and black jeans to work. Kind of wish I hadn’t now.
‘Hey Dave. New look?’ Belinda said as I joined the others in the coffee area during the morning break.
I gave a Gallic shrug.
‘And is that a beard you’re growing? Or just a 5 o’clock shadow?’
Another shrug. Surely there must be more to Existentialism than this.
I think Dave Gardner, like Jim Dixon (Lucky Jim), is a character who will stay with you long after you’ve clicked off that final page.’ (

The first few chapters of the novel were originally trialled at, where they received the following reviews:

‘At last I’ve come across a piece of fiction on this site that isn’t escapist but that engages instead with the everyday in a thought-provoking, intelligent and witty narrative – and that’s also impeccably written. In the three chapters I’ve read you’ve managed to portray the narrator’s philosophical explorations in a readable, easily assimilable way. You’ve done this of course by admirably concrete applications of the different systems, rooted in laddish reality. The diary form is well chosen, too, since it creates an intimate narrative voice that draws in readers who might otherwise find the subject of a wide-ranging philosophical investigation – even in the jokey approach you’ve employed – a little daunting.’

‘This is great! Most fun I’ve ever had studying philosophy, and I’ve only got through Determinism and Hedonism so far. I love Dave’s voice – how can someone so apparently superficial do such a good job of presenting these philosophies?’

‘This is really good fun. It moves well and is highly entertaining, and the last paragraph where he uses determinism in a practical sense gave me a dose of the giggles. I cringed, I just couldn’t help it.’

‘This is a lovely and amusing idea. It brings to mind that long line of diary-writing duffers who have gone before: Pooter, Adrian Mole, Simon Crisp and (my personal favourite) Darren Tackle.’

‘This is brilliant. It’s a great idea, witty and well written.’

‘Original, knowledgeable, clever, funny, irresistible.’

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