"What makes Smith’s book genius isn’t just the ability to lay out an interesting, eloquent, and relevant piece of work – which he does. The kicker for “Breakfast with Socrates” is that it’s just plain funny."
The Christian Science Monitor
"Robert Rowland Smith takes the reader into a worm hole of psychology, sociology and theology to show us the hidden meanings in our daily lives. A thoughtful and continuously entertaining picture of human behavior. A filling mental meal that should leave you delightfully satisfied."
"The author is genuinely good at making connections between important ideas and lived experience, and successful in showing that philosophy can be a vehicle for making the trivialities of life more meaningful (and hence more bearable) than they otherwise might be."
"Philosophy made accessible and applied to the quotidian...manages to be funny without underestimating the reader."
The Financial Times
"This charming book wears its erudition with ease and suggests that despite what Socrates says, it is in fact the unexamined day that is not worth living."
"Rowland Smith supposes his reader is his social and intellectual equal who just happens not to have studied the discipline he did. Taking an aspect of daily life in each chapter - getting out of bed, going to work - he explains key concepts in a way that is amusing and enlightening. He doesn't apply the concepts for his readers but allows them to draw their own conclusions."
"...a very knowledgeable and affable guide."
"I am often asked to recommend a good introduction to philosophy - now I've discovered one. There are plenty of books but mostly they're either the 'wrong kind' of philosophy or they are terribly written. Smith's work is witty, inventive and intelligent - Carl Schmitt on arguing with your partner, Jacques Derrida on booking a holiday - and brilliantly shows how grounded High Theory really is."
Times Higher Education Supplement
"Smith does not argue for one idea over another but applies the theories in an interesting and sometimes lighthearted manner...The author's accessible writing style and presentation will make this book appealing to readers with a general interest in philosophy or those looking to add some humor and meaning to the ordinary events in their lives."
Modeled on the pop philosopher Alain de Botton's trademark blend of everyday observation and intellectual sophistication, this lively jaunt through the course of a day treats readers to such disquisitions as Thomas Hobbes on rush-hour traffic, Jacques Lacan on shopping, and Friedrich Nietzsche on work. Journalist Rowland Smith does a fair job of concisely explaining big ideas, and he offers a surprisingly colorful cast of thinkers from Carl Schmitt to Michel Foucault. He's at his best teasing out the little idiosyncrasies of modern experience, where simply washing your face in the morning betrays a remarkable optimism for the day ahead and fighting with your partner once in a while might actually be a good idea. While occasionally skirting into shallow discussions of some philosophers, the author maintains the central conceit of describing a typical day with admirable resourcefulness. This charming book wears its erudition with ease and suggests that despite what Socrates says, it is in fact the unexamined day that is not worth living. (Mar.)
In this short and entertaining book, Smith (Derrida and Autobiography) uses the ideas of past philosophers, psychologists, and artists to analyze the daily, and sometimes mundane, actions of our lives. Topics such as commuting, eating, and sleeping are looked at through the lens of various thinkers to show how we can critically examine everyday actions and events. For example, in the section "Going to the Gym," he applies the ideas of Heidegger to explain the possible shortcomings of exercise because, while it can temporarily change your body, it can't change your being, and he compares modern-day gyms to Foucault's theory of how states create a docile and obedient citizen through routine and monitored activities. Smith does not argue for one idea over another but applies the theories in an interesting and sometimes lighthearted manner. VERDICT The author's accessible writing style and presentation will make this book appealing to readers with a general interest in philosophy or those looking to add some humor and meaning to the ordinary events in their lives.—Scott Duimstra, Capital Area Dist. Lib., Lansing, MI