ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

A Beginner's Guide to Reality - Book Review

Updated on May 19, 2020
David3142 profile image

I love reading, especially science-fiction and action packed thrillers, and enjoy sharing a good book with others.

The White Rabbit from 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland'

The White Rabbit from 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland'
The White Rabbit from 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland'

A Book That Changed Me - A Beginner's Guide to Reality

When asked to write about a book that changed me, I really struggled to think of anything. Sure there are lots of books I have enjoyed and read several times such as the Narnia books, or Lee Child's Jack Reacher books; and there are many books I have learnt a lot from, but I couldn't really say any of them had changed me.

Then I remembered 'The Beginner's Guide to Reality' and how it had changed my view of the world around us and in this article I would like to share it with you.

Photo of The White Rabbit courtesy of wikimedia commons

What is the Book About?

As the title suggests, this is a book all about reality. Baggott draws a lot from popular culture, referencing Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass (hence the rabbit in the photo) and movies such as The Matrix trilogy, Thirteenth Floor and Memento; using these as discussion points to help explain his ideas and get you thinking more deeply about reality.

The book is split into three parts; part one looks at social reality, part two deals with philosophers and their take on reality and finally part three delves into some quantum mechanics and its applications.

I first came across the book when it was on display in the University of Warwick bookshop and it immediately grabbed me. I read through it fairly quickly and have re-read it several times since.

A Beginner's Guide to Reality

A Beginner's Guide to Reality: Exploring Our Everyday Adventures in Wonderland
A Beginner's Guide to Reality: Exploring Our Everyday Adventures in Wonderland
Does this book exist? This is one of the many questions asked and answered by Jim Baggott.

Part One - Social Reality

In Part one, Baggott deals with Social Reality by looking at consumerism and the existence of money and civilisation, among other things. He draws on examples such as New Coke, Disneyland and of course 'The Matrix' to examine these ideas in more detail. Baggott draws heavily on works from other philosophers, such as Jean Baudrillard, looking at their ideas and how they fit into the modern world. It's a very interesting start to the book.

Part Two - The Doors of Perception

This is the part that I found most interesting. In this chapter, Baggott deals with the concept of existence looking at examples such as Plato and his prisoner in the cave, the ever looming 'Matrix' trilogy with its computer generated world of people oblivious to the fact that none of it is real and 'The Thirteenth Floor', another film which examines the idea of computer generated worlds.

This chapter really got me thinking about existence. Baggott lays down some very plausible ideas about our existence and whether we'd know or not if we were in a Matrix style existence. It's quite scary stuff if you really think about it.

The Matrix - Red or Blue Pill

In the book (and this lens) the philosophy of the Matrix is discussed a lot. In the film, when Neo first encounters Morpheus, he is given a choice between two pills. The blue pill returns him to his 'normal' life in the machine, oblivious to what is actually going on; the red pill keeps him in 'Wonderland', out of the machine and in the real world.

Which Pill Would Take, Red or Blue?

Which pill would you take?

See results

Part Three - Physical Reality

This is the chapter which will probably lose most people. Here, Baggott starts examining quantum mechanics and with reference to the works of physicists such as Einstein and Bohr. As a maths graduate I really enjoyed this part, but if you are looking for a more philosophical slant on things, the first two chapters are certainly more for you.

What Effect Has This Book Had On me?

I don't know if this book has affected the way I am from an external point of view or not. It certainly hasn't made any large changes in the way I physically approach life. What it has done though is question my views on reality and how I (and other people) perceive the world around me.

I now find it quite amusing that if I walk into a shop and buy something, I pay for it by handing over some pieces of paper (bank notes) which are actually, physically worth next to nothing or I hand over a piece of plastic and some computers somewhere move electronic money around.

I watch films like 'The Matrix' and just wish they'd venture further into the philosophy of things instead of just giving up and becoming mindless action films for the most part.

Anyway, in conclusion, 'A Beginner's Guide to Reality' is an extremely interesting book, guaranteed to get you thinking and wanting to discuss points with others.

© 2013 David


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)