Media Coverage: How Philosophy Can Save Your Life


Above: Marietta and host Brian Keena, truly surrounded by jazz, in the studio of WTJU.

FEBRUARY 13, 2015

Marietta returned to WTJU for a visit with her perennial Valentine, the famed “Jazz Messenger” Brian Keena. Huddled around the turntable, they played tunes from all three of her books, songs that showcase the art of conversation enjoyed by musicians.

NOVEMBER 10, 2014

Take a look or a listen to Marietta’s interview with Carrie Contey as part of an online “conference” concerning parenting. They focused on Marietta’s years sharing philosophy with children and her book Little Big Minds, with topics from Marietta’s other two books emerging as well. You can now stream and download the interview in audio only form, or watch the video on youtube.

WINA “Charlottesville Right Now”
October 21, 2014
Charlottesville, VA

Marietta discussed her blog post, “Responsibility for Hannah Graham,” on Charlottesville Right Now on WINA radio. Listen here.

MONDAY, APRIL 14, 2014, 3-4PM

Marietta joins host Tom Graham on Virginia Insight on WMRA, National Public Radio (NPR). In addition to discussing The Philosopher’s Table and its impact on conversation, the interview also includes mention of How Philosophy Can Save Your Life. Broadcast available here.

Martha W. Steger, Hampton Roads Magazine. October, 2011.

“Nautilus National Book Award winner Marietta McCarty-author of the bestsellers Little Big Minds and How Philosophy Can Save Your Life: 10 Ideas That Matter Most -was my personal favorite of the weekend as she discussed simplicity during Saturday’s luncheon and afternoon program, and I found myself wanting to join one of the philosophy clubs she’s founded across the country.”

Read the full article here.

Caitlin Rung, Swampscott Reporter. May 18, 2010.

“Swampscott – Marietta McCarty, the national bestselling author of Little Big Minds, a guide for adults to share philosophy with their children, is visiting Marblehead this month to promote her second book, How Philosophy Can Save Your Life: 10 Ideas That Matter Most.

According to McCarty, How Philosophy Can Save Your Life is essentially the grown-up version of Little Big Minds. ‘I was asked to write the book by the publishers,’ McCarty said. ‘ Little Big Minds was being bought by adults to use themselves. They enjoyed the new wonder they discovered in the philosophy of Little Big Minds’ … “

MONDAY, MAY 10, 2010 3-4PM

Marietta will join host Tom Graham on Virginia Insight on WMRA, National Public Radio. Among other things discussed, Marietta will explain why that new book is titled How Philosophy Can Save Your Life.; Broadcast locally at 103.5 FM (Charlottesville), 91.3 FM (Farmville), 90.7 FM (Harrisonburg and the Shenandoah Valley), 89.9 FM (Lexington) and 94.5 FM (Winchester) and streamed online. Use the player below to listen to the interview, or click here to download.

Maria Mudd Ruth, The Accidental Naturalist Blog. April 28, 2010.

“As the Accidental Naturalist, I couldn’t resist writing about this particular award recently given to my cousin, Marietta McCarty, for her new book How Philosophy Can Save Your Life: 10 Ideas That Matter Most (Tarcher/Penguin, 2009). Since I taught her everything she knows (despite the fact that she is a wee bit older), I share her joy but none of the royalties. This system seems to work for us.

nautilusbookawardThe Nautilus Awards recognizes books and audio books that ‘promote spiritual growth, conscious living, and positive social change while at the same time they stimulate the imagination and offer the reader new possibilities for a better life and a better world.’ It’s a tall order, but my cousin has filled it with her chapters on Simplicity, Communication, Perspective, Flexibility, Empathy, Individuality, Belonging, Serenity, Possibility, and Joy. Each of these concepts is discussed in the context of two different philosphers (Epicurus, Socrates, Martin Luther King, Jr., the Dalai Lama, Albert Camus, Lao Tzu, Rita Maning, Simone de Beauvoir, Alan Watts to name some of the twenty). This is a book to be used, not read and then set on the bedside table. McCarty has included discussion questions, homework (reciting, reading, writing, and other activities), as well as an expansive list of music, poetry, prose, drama, and documentaries to help readers approach each concept from a myriad angles.

In the Perspectives chapter, for instance, McCarty encourages you to listen to Janis Joplin’s ‘Me and Bobby McGee,’ Ella Fitzgerald’s ‘Don’t Fence Me In,’ Antonio Estevez’ ‘The One Who Sang with the Devil,’ and Bing Crosby’s version of ‘Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive.’ Does philosophy get any better than this? Could anyone have a cousin with more eclectic taste? What would Plato think?nautilus

The living nautilus, by the way, belongs to a family of marine creatures called cephalopods (octopuses and squid are in this family). The nautilis is the only cephalopod species whose bony body structure is externalized as a shell. Because this animal grows into increasing numbers of chambers within its shell, it has become a symbol for expansion and renewal. What a perfect symbol for a philosophy book!”

Ina Hughs, Knoxville News Sentinal. March 21, 2010.

“If someone asked you, ‘What are the 10 ideas that matter most in life?’ what would you say?

Way back when, I was a philosophy major because questions like that fascinated me. I was all into defining things: beauty, love, duty, the secret to life, truth. I thought that if I took all the right courses in college, I would come out full of answers and absolutes for a happy and productive life.

Of course, that didn’t happen. I’m still searching, reading, pondering, brooding, and burning the midnight oil. …

So what does ruminating about such things have to do saving a person’s life?

She quotes one of her students: ‘Good living for me means having the time to actually think and make my ideas coherent, instead of feeling forced to react on impulse – quickly and not very intelligently – to everything in my life’.”

Read the full review here.

Margaret Oleksa, Richmond Books Examiner. March 18, 2010.

“What comes to mind when you think philosophy? A room full of scholars contemplating why the sky is blue, or the meaning of life? Perhaps you took a college class designed to make you contemplate topics in ways you never thought about before? …

In How Philosophy Can Save Your Life: 10 Ideas That Matter Most, Virginia author Marietta McCarty delves into ten topics and how each can be applied to create a more fulfilling life. The ten big ideas are simplicity, communication, perspective, flexibility, empathy, individuality, belonging, serenity, possibility, and joy. While most people work hard to acquire lots of “stuff” and lead a hectic lifestyle, we often overlook the joy of simplicity and the basic essentials of life. And who couldn’t benefit from learning what communication really means and how to improve?

What makes a good philosopher or a wise person? McCarty sites Socrates’ secret was that he was keenly aware of how little he knew.

“How can we learn anything if we think we know everything?… [Socrates’] realization serves as profound incentive for each of us to embrace what we don’t know. When I assume I know it all, questions disappear. My mind locks shut with a satisfied click. If wonder and curiosity peak because I am humbled by my ignorance about so many, many things, then the search for knowledge can begin at least. One question gives birth to another, and Socratic dialogue guarantees a flexible mind that is perpetually on the go.”
Learn how an open mind can help guide you and the 10 ideas can be used to give answers to the most compelling questions of how to lead a meaningful, fulfilling life. The book is a great read and provides tremendous insights for better living. This is a great follow-up to McCarty’s bestselling book Little Big Minds outlines how you can share philosophy with young children.

McCarty encourages creating a philosophy club to discuss the various topics. How Philosophy Can Save Your Life contains discussion questions and reading resources to help get you started on your own or as a group. “A philosophy club?” you ask. Sounds lofty, but who isn’t a philosopher when by the water cooler at the office, or while kicking back with a few beers at happy hour? You know you enjoy getting together with friends to solve the world’s problems. Why not come prepared with a purpose?”

Read the full review here.

THURSDAY, MARCH 11, 2010, 7-9PM

Marietta joins the host of the Eclectic Woman Show on WTJU (91.1FM) as Blue O’Connell spins tunes from an intriguing variety of artists used for philosophizing in How Philosophy Can Save Your Life.

THURSDAY, MARCH 4, 2010, 4:10-4:30PM

Marietta joins the Charlottesville Right Now! with host Coy Barefoot to discuss her new book on 1070 WINA news radio. Use the player below to listen to the interview, or click here to download.


Marietta joins Here & Now with host Dan Skinner to talk about her new book on Texas Public Radio. Use the player below to listen to the interview, or click here to download.


Marietta joins the “Jazz Messenger,” Brian Keena on WTJU (91.1FM) for conversation as Brian spins music featured in How Philosophy Can Save Your Life.


Marietta joins the Frankie Boyer Show on Lifestyle Talk Radio. Use the player below to listen to the interview, or click here to download.

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2010, 11:00AM 

Marietta joins the Linda Mackenzie Show, where positive people and radio unite for conversation and guest quesions. The show currently goes to over 3 million listeners in 108 countries with their live stream and 24/7 simulcasting radio partners.

Wellesley Free Library Reference Blog. February, 2010.

“Marietta McCarty scores big in this gem of a book. Taking on the time-honored question “What is the good life?” McCarty explores 10 ideas, which if clearly understood and integrated into our daily lives, would form the building blocks of a life well lived: simplicity, communication, perspective, flexibility, empathy, individuality, belonging, serenity, possibility, joy.

Each chapter includes a banquet of ideas and approaches, ancient and modern, Eastern and Western, in unique pairings, e.g. Epicurus and Charlotte Joko Beck; Epictetus and Lao Tzu; Shunryu Suzuki and Jane Addams. Discussion questions and “homework” include suggested musical compositions, art, and literature all of which would develop and enhance our understanding of the 10 ideas. McCarty suggests that while the reader can enjoy a solitary exploration of these ideas, the richness of each idea can be enhanced in discussion with others. Detailed suggestions on the formation of a philosophy circle are given. Book clubs will enjoy a break from fiction titles and the delving into one or all of the ideas. Don’t miss this one!”

Read the full review here.

Psychology Today. February 1, 2010

“If your book club likes to talk about ideas more than plotlines, this optimistic and pragmatic how-to should be next on your list. In each of 10 chapters, McCarty explains a ‘big idea,’ such as Flexibility or Possibility, then offers discussion questions and meditative exercises (spend time with water to understand Serenity). The 4 philosophers she quotes and the artists whose works she urges you to sample are surprisingly diverse. Cat Power has as much to offer as Camus. McCarty’s enthusiasm for human achievement and potential is contagious. She encourages fun and sociable self- improvement-enlightenment for the yoga-averse. – Sonya Sobieski.”

Frederic & Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality And Practice. January, 2010.

“Anyone who studied philosophy in college knows that it is a real challenge to make this material relevant to everyday life. McCarty has taken on that challenge, and she comes through with flying colors. In the opening pages, she defines philosophy as clear-thinking and then goes on to suggest ways to set up a philosophy club to talk about ‘meaningful topics that are central to good living.’

This rewarding and eclectic paperback is divided into ten chapters with substantive material by various philosophers, thinkers, and spiritual teachers. …

It is immensely pleasing to read these philosophers as they reflect upon beauty, materialism, gratitude, self-improvement, love, relationships, and the quest for meaning and truth.”

Read the full review here.


Marietta interviewed on With Good Reason with host Sarah McConnell, Virginia’s only statewide public radio program, which aired on public radio stations across Virginia throughout the week. Use the player below to listen to the interview, or click here to download.


Marietta interviewed on Strategies for Living with host David McMillan. Use the player below to listen to the interview, or click here to download.


Marietta interviewed on WAMC’s The Roundtable with host Joe Donahue. Listen here.


Liz Humes, host of the weekly author-interview radio program Wordy Birds will broadcast an interview with Marietta on WRIR (97.3FM) Public Radio at noon on New Year’s Day.

Carolyn Leavitt, Boston Sunday Globe. December 27, 2009

“Self-help always becomes even more fascinating when it’s backed by a little scholarship. In ‘How Philosophy Can Save Your Life: 10 Ideas That Matter Most,’ Marietta McCarty assistant professor of philosophy at Piedmont Virginia Community College and best-selling author of “Little Big Minds: Sharing Philosophy with Kids’ reveals how studying the greatest thinkers of our time can change your life for the better.

McCarty divides her book into 10 chapters, each dealing with one of the big ideas she feels are necessary for a good life: simplicity, communication, perspective, flexibility, empathy, individuality, belonging, serenity, possibility, and joy. Full of personal anecdotes, each chapter explores the topic at hand with the help of two or more philosophers.

For instance, when it comes to perspective, you can broaden yours by taking a tip from Mary Wollstonecraft, who saw past the mores of her society and refused to limit herself to conventional women’s roles. Instead of being wary of change, you can learn to be flexible, embracing the new and living in the now as Alan Watts advised.

McCarty is spirited and funny, and she gives you help in implementing all you’re learning by providing thoughtful discussion questions, and even a little homework under amusing topic headlines like Listen and Hum, Recite and Write, Read and Talk, Watch and Reflect, and Get Up and Do. Want to find serenity in your life? Get out and garden. Need a new appreciation of joy? Go to a place ‘that makes your heart sing’ or listen to Vivaldi’s ‘The Four Seasons’ to reflect on how each season is musically exhilarating.

McCarty’s devotion to philosophy is obvious, and her tone is so conversational that it’s nearly impossible not to get enthusiastic too. ‘Entertaining new ideas can transform lifestyles’ she says, and this book – push-ups for your mind – most definitely makes you see and understand your world and yourself differently.”

Jim Ward, ECHO. December, 2009.

“The title of this book by Charlottesville author and Piedmont Valley Community College professor Marietta McCarty is somewhat misleading. It refers, not to literally saving your life, but to making life a lot more interesting, engaging and fulfilling than it would have been if you had not read the book. It answers the question ‘What is the Good Life?’ It does so by referring to various philosophers on the ten ideas that the author believes matter most. Each idea is explored using the writings of various philosophers from Plato to the Dalai Lama and Martin Luther King. As the book makes clear, philosophizing … ‘need not lay blame, or tell you what to do, or make demands. It spreads before you a banquet of ideas and approaches, ancient and modern, Eastern and Western, and leaves you with all the necessary utensils to sample every dish.’ Suggesting you might be one of the prisoners in Plato’s cave, the ideas in this book seek to release you. It also asks if you consciously map out the future of your life as Simone de Beauvoir challenges us to do, or whether or not we intentionally create our own problems and difficulties as hinted at by Charlotte Joko Beck. …

I found this book to be very rich in resources for those who ask the questions: Who am I? Why am I here? What is my purpose? So rich in fact that one could spend a good portion of ones life delving into it.”

Read the full article here.

Body & Soul. December, 2009

“Philosophy professor Marietta McCarty does us the favor of simplifying some of history’s most profound philosophical nuggets. In How Philosophy Can Save Your Life: 10 Ideas That Matter Most, McCarty turns to everyone from the Dalai Lama to Albert Camus to show how we can use key concepts like simplicity and empathy.”

Fran Gardner, Suite101.Com. December, 2009.

“Various authors have tried to make philosophy more approachable. Sophie’s World explored the history of philosophy through the eyes of a precocious teenager,and Icon/Totem has produced a series of clever little books that use comic-style graphics to introduce philosophers such as Wittgenstein, Hegel and the Existentialists.

But in How Philosophy Can Save Your Life: 10 Ideas That Matter Most, Marietta McCarty goes far beyond those attempts. Her goal: for everyone to read, love, understand and live the most important human ideas. Her method: to introduce the work of great thinkers and then to give readers hundreds of ways to live and explore those ideas. …

But the real strength of How Philosophy Can Save Your Life is how it relates philosophy to life — as in the rest of your life. Each of the 10 chapters is followed by penetrating discussion questions and pages of “homework,” suggestions for working with the ideas of the philosophers using books, music, movies, art, creativity and life experiences. Intended for explorations either by yourself or with others, they combine art, living and thought in exhilarating, far-ranging and surprising ways. …

With its astounding richness of exploration and experience, How Philosophy Can Save Your Life could help you blaze your personal path for years.”


CBS 6 (WTVR)’s Virginia This Morning. Tune in to a live interview segment during this local morning show with hosts Cheryl Miller and Greg McQuade.

Library Journal. November, 2009

“[McCarty] opens up a whole new world to those who have never explored philosophy in detail.”

Publisher’s Weekly. October 26, 2009

“A warmhearted introduction to philosophy that blends Eastern and Western intellectual traditions with specific exercises to enhance the reader’s ability to think philosophically for herself…. Throughout, the author emphasizes the ability of active reflection to improve lives, by promoting open-mindedness, the awareness of cultural diversity, social understanding and the ability to recognize priorities.…[the book’s] focus on philosophizing as a group activity and on the everyday practice of thinking, supplemented by each chapter’s collection of exercises centered around music, poetry and the arts, taken together provide a pleasantly tangible approach to understanding how notions like tolerance, flexibility and perspective can enrich our busy lives.”