Oftentimes the simplest ideas and concepts are the ones that are hardest to understand. This is certainly true with the concept of "reality." In our everyday lives we take it for granted, and even in most professional and scientific contexts this is an almost entirely unproblematic term. However, when we push against the frontiers of our knowledge, as is the case in many subfields of physics, psychology, and philosophy, we quickly encounter situations where "reality" has to have a very precise technical meaning if we want to understand some of the most fundamental phenomena of the world that we live in. "Reality: A Very Short Introduction" tackles many such exceptionally tricky consideration, and brings the ideas from the forefront of science and philosophy to the general audience.
In relatively few pages, this very short introduction manages to bring forth some of the most enduring problems that have stymied philosophers, scientists, and other thinkers for centuries. The book is divided into four chapters, each of which addresses one aspect of our understanding of reality. The chapters are: 1. Dreams and simulations, 2. Is matter real?, 3. Are persons real?, 4. Is time real? These chapters provide a general overview of the topics that have framed our discussion about reality. The author relies on variety of disciplines for his assertions and findings, but the primary source of ideas about reality come from physics, philosophy, and psychology. In a sense, these disciplines may be though of as representing three aspects of reality that we encounter in all aspects of our lives: psychological, physical, and metaphysical. The weight that we assign to each one of these aspects will probably depend on our own ways that we think of reality, but it is fair to say that all of them play a fundamental and important role.
This book is very well written and all explanations are lucid and clear. However, this is not a book that you can easily wade through. The nature of reality is a complex subject, and the means of analyzing it and the kinds of arguments that this analysis employs require a reasonably high level of intellectual discipline and appreciation for abstract thinking. If you are willing to invest some of it, then after reading this short book you'll come away with a renewed sense of appreciation for the world that we live in at its most fundamental level.