Reader Comments: The Philosopher’s Table
Left: A happy reader takes Friday off to get a head start! (Photo credit: Kerry Mudd).
“When our book group pondered continuing our monthly philosophical discussions with The Philosopher’s Table as our guide, there were some raised eyebrows, ah’s and oh my’s!, followed by “what? do I have to cook???” We had just completed your book, How Philosophy Can Save Your Life, and very much wanted to use your third book for our book club. In order to continue our journey with you, we chose to have our discussions in restaurants in our community where we could experience the flavors of the different countries, if not the exact recipes offered in the book. If we could not find a restaurant serving food specific to the country of the month, we improvised to find one that served the food of that country. For example, we have no Brazilian restaurant in town, but we have a restaurant that serves the delicious fish tacos and bean salad suggested in your book, so we met there for June’s discussion of “Liberating Education.”
We found that by having our food prepared for us we could “single task” as you encourage, allowing us to put our time and focus on our discussions. Our solution of holding our philosophy tables in a restaurant instead of our homes enabled us to have a year of (to quote the author!) “clear thinking, quiet reflection and good conversation”.
PS. I’ve tried, and loved, many of the recipes in The Philosopher’s Table. Now my secret is out!”
Susan Johnson, Hurt, VA
“In The Philosopher’s Table Marietta McCarty serves up big ideas in delicious, easily digestible nuggets, while making the world’s most revered philosophers utterly real and relatable. A knowledgeable philosopher who wears her learning lightly, McCarty is also a fun and generous host who’d rather chat with you over a glass of chardonnay than lecture at you in a classroom. The Philosopher’s Table is a feast for the mind and body. It is a tonic for the soul. It’s a must-read for anyone who cares about good conversation, good food, and how to live a good life.”
Andrew D. Kaufman, Author Of Give War And Peace A Chance: Tolstoyan Wisdom For Troubled Times
“It was great to be a part of “The Philosopher’s Table” discussion last weekend. Hearing you speak was a breath of fresh air. After Sara and I left, I mentioned to her that I felt as if I had gone to church.
Thank you for being such a gifted teacher, Marietta. Thank you for being my teacher. Thank you for changing my life for the better. Your work touched my life in a lasting way and I will forever be thankful that life placed you in my path.
It’s been close to twenty years since I sat in your classrooms, Marietta, yet I vividly remember your passion for teaching philosophy to third grade children and your thoughts on how the education system needs a philosophical overhaul. It has been a joy to watch your success from afar. A special treat was hearing your interview on NPR. I think that I was grinning from ear to ear through most of the interview. Diane Rehm was downright giddy. What a fantastic moment. It is beautiful to see the fruits of your years and years of hard work. I hope that you are aware of how many lives you have touched through your teaching. Now that your books are out in the world, the possibilities for lives positively affected are endless.”
Carla Shifflett, Waynesboro, Virginia
“Talking with Marietta is always GREAT fun. And reading this book is almost as much of a joy as having her in the room with you. If you like ideas and you like food, you are holding in your hands an ideal companion.”
Tom Graham – Host Of “Virginia Insight” On WMRA, NPR
“The Philosopher’s Table is enchanting and for me a well of information for what I want to write about next. It’s a bulls-eye gift. Very small. Very smart. Very self-assured.”
Beatrix Ost – Author Of My Father’s House: A Childhood In Wartime Bavaria
“I loved The Philosopher’s Table, and I am grateful to Marietta McCarty for writing it. The author tells, but she shows more than she tells. For anyone who fears philosophy or feels unable to find an entry to philosophy, the author provides an easy way in through culture, music, food, and conversation. The writing mirrors the subject matter: clear, thoughtful, musical, sensory. The author gives, and the reader gets it.
Perhaps appropriately, I came to this book in the middle of a six-month sabbatical from my professional life. Although I had been contemplating a sabbatical for many years, events of the past year turned thought and desire into action. My father and my mother-in-law died within two months of each other; our youngest child left home for college, and my wife and I both turned 50. I needed to do something different, for at least six months if not longer. Now – in this period of freedom, reflection, possibility, and burgeoning happiness – was a great time for me to read and re-read this book.”
Daniel J. Meador, Virginia
“My significant partner and I have been enjoying using this wonderful book as a knowledgeable guide this year to prompt great conversation, community, and food. In some ways, the book is very much like the director’s notes a playwright provides. A setting is provided for the actors, as are suggestions for music, movies, and other informative and relevant cultural pointers. Each chapter is a rich new opportunity to explore “philosophers” that may not be the first ones that leap to mind but illustrate the author’s chosen topic beautifully.”
David Lerman, Virginia
“Marietta, Dave, Parker and I hosted our first Philosopher’s Table dinner last night, and (we believe) a great time was had by all! We invited several PVCC friends, and we were delighted by the variety of conversation about Zen and surprised by the wonderful selection of themed food that showed up. We gathered at 5:30, and the last guests left at 10:30! We also enjoyed decorating with Japanese-theme flowers, candles and our best “Japanese” clothes! Multiple copies of Zen Mind and the Philosopher’s Table were in evidence around the table.
We surprised our guests with two minutes of silence (“za-zen”) at the table before the first course was served, then asked everyone to write down a question about the text that they wanted to have the group address during the conversation. We had a note card and pen by each place setting. This turned out to be a good technique, as sometimes the conversation wandered, and our guests often helped us bring it back to the topic at hand by raising the question they had written down at the beginning of the evening. Our party included 3 children, and they participated in the question writing and discussion before excusing themselves while the adults talked on.
We’ve already sent out our invitations for next month (to a completely new guest list). We are very much looking forward to the next dinner.”
Erin Hughey – Commers, Virginia
“Congratulations on The Philosopher’s Table. I treated myself to a copy before Christmas and enjoyed the first chapter especially. I really need to change my ways and practice single tasking. Your book impresses me in several ways. First of all, your breadth of knowledge not only of philosophy but of culture in general – people, places, music, food…is huge! Secondly, I’ve enjoyed the quotes from students and other “philosophers,” which bespeak a very clear-thinking and powerful teacher. So, I applaud your lifelong learning and communication. Well done!”
Babbie Shelton – Birmingham, Alabama
“Greetings, Marietta. The journey has begun. I am, of course, beginning at the end with December’s “Dare You.” Thank you for providing this delightful roadmap to adventure. It was a great pleasure to meet you. I look forward to seeing you again at one of your Philosopher’s Table public events. All the best, Dee”
Dee Bogetti, Richmond, Virginia
“What a great find: philosophy, recipes, music and dinner party conversation starters! Once again, author Marietta McCarty opens up philosophy to the masses, to hearts and minds alike. I can’t wait to gift this book for the holidays–it’s an especially great gift for hosts and hostesses who will appreciate the beauty of this simple and elegant book. The easy to digest pages of wisdom encourage me to call my friends for gathering. Now I can easily delegate deliciously selected dishes to complement conversational themes, and all the while this attractive paperback can sit handily nearby on my nightstand or coffee table.”
Rachel Gerny, West Hills, California
“I find my all time favorites in The Philosopher’s Table: Thoughtful conversation, delicious food, and new music! It’s a book I keep close to inspire meaningful discussion on a daily basis with my partner. This book is full of wit and wisdom. It brings accessibility to worlds close and far away, and an appreciation for cultures and philosophies old and new. I love the responsibility that the author is putting on me as the reader, she asks readers to bring life to the wisdom of these great philosophers – have some friends over for dinner, put away the phones, and enjoy the best things in life: our minds and our friendships…and our palates~!”
Kristen Brooking, Portland, Maine
“I hope you are great and don’t burn up the road too much on your Philosopher’s Table (Greatest Book in History) talks and presentations. Looks like a roaring success that is giving many people just what they need but also crave – a philosophical intellect and way of thinking that becomes everyday – for everyone as part of our lives – taste, tactile, inquisitive, questioning in the workplace, home and kitchen for US ALL. A sensuous feast in every way. EGADS!”
Maura Duffy, Italy
“I just wanted to tell you how happy I am about your newest book. I’ve got a copy for myself (we just renovated our kitchen, so it’s good timing), and one for my foodie friend.
Over the past few years, I’ve met so many people who prize informal education, and who consider themselves lifelong learners. How amazing is it that there are writers like you out there to show them the beauty of philosophy (the food part really doesn’t hurt either)!”
Amy Leask, Canada
“The entire study of Eastern and Western Philosophy is suddenly turned on its head by this simple book. How can anyone hope to understand the philosophy of a culture without \’trying on\’ the rest of the culture? Bertrand Russell without Elvis Costello and Earl Grey? Kant without Bratwurst and Strauss? Impossible. How is it that no one has made these connections before?”
Matthew Mudd, Virginia
“You could say my life has been a succession of big dinners enjoyed with as many of my friends and family that can be squeezed around the table—all eating, talking, and laughing. I have sometimes wondered which part I enjoy the most. Is it the tasty meal, the flowing wine, or the boisterous conversation that so often ensues as a result of the first two elements? Marietta McCarty goes at it rather brilliantly from another angle, encouraging you to put the lively conversation first. Choose a philosophical topic from her book, and it comes matched with a dinner menu and music list. Invite a few friends, neighbors, and colleagues, and voila! Welcome to the first seating of your own Philosophy Dinner Club.”
Tom Douglas, Executive Chef, Restaurateur, And Author