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on 23 June 2012
'Veronika Decides to Die' is a strange book in that it's intention isn't really to tell a story, but to tell you a philosophy. Yes there are characters and even mild plot points but ultimately the author is more interested in you understanding the meaning behind the characters and his belief of the freedom contained in 'madness'.

It's an interesting book, but I did find myself wanting it to be more plot driven. The writing however, is beautiful, probably some of the best prose I've ever read, often feeling like a poem or the retelling of some dream. Everything flows. Yet at the same time, I'm not sure I can really recommend it to anyone as it is not a traditional story, and certainly wasn't what I was expecting. It is a short read however, and it does make you think (no matter how preachy the author is about the way he thinks his readers should see the world).
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on 30 January 2002
Absolutely inspirational. Veronika has spent her life shielding herself from anything that might hurt her, but because she's never felt anything extreme she feels her life is dull and uninteresting. Makes you realise that you have to go through the depths to reach the highs, and that's what makes life exciting and interesting.
I read this after a fairly painful break-up and it helped me realise that even though what I was going through was hard, I'd at least never have a 'what if' feeling about that particular person, and that I'll look back on these experiences in future and be glad I've lived life to the full.
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on 18 January 2000
As it changed mine. This book is a miracle. Coelho speaks about life and death, about love and hate, about madness and sanity ... and I felt like he was talking about me, as if he knew what is in my mind and in my soul. Maybe it is a great book or maybe I was just ready to hear his words and be influenced by them. I don't really know, and it doesn't matter. This book came to me at a crossroad in my life and changed the direction I took. I really believe it changed my future, and I am deeply grateful to Mr.Coelho. I hope some day he will visit my country and I will be able to thank him in person.
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on 31 October 2002
After I read 'The Alchemist' I wanted to explore more of this authors writings, and 'Veronika decides to die' seemed the natural progression.
Something that struck me, was my visualisation of the little town in Slovenia where Veronika lives was very clear, Sometimes I read books and find the picture in my minds eye to be clouded and interrupted, but in this book it was clear as a bell and sharp. Even the hospital she spends much of her time in: I could almost smell the bleach!
I think the main tone of this story is that life is precious, and we should make the most of it. I guess in the hurly burly day to day events of city life, that can be all to easy to forget, and Coelho tries, and succeeds to wake us up to the fact that there is more to life than work and toil, that we only have to look out of our windows and see the world turning to understand how important life is.
Coelho's writing is poetic and deep, probably not the light relief someone might want on holiday, but these books are I believe important and the message they have, page after page is a message that is good and incredibly simple. There are SO many things to read out there, hundreds of thousands of books to choose from, and of course, choice can only be a good thing. But here is a book, that like 'the alchemist', the story does not leave you when you close the book for the last time. The story and the message will be there every day, and I think will make that day a little bit easier and more fulfilling.
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on 29 June 2012
Veronika decides to die, ends up in a mental institute with people who may or may not be really mad and through her experiences is inspired to see life a different way. If you are looking for a fable filled adventure like The Alchemist this may not be for you. There is no magic nor pyramids. However, there are still similar themes of "living life to the full" and "Doing what you born to do." This book had all the dark aspects that could have made it into a horror movie - attempted suicide, mental hospitals, strange doctors, snowy weather. If it were written by Stephen King there would be psychotic clowns and deranged doctors. However, Paulo Coelho has managed to cleverly put a positive spin to a sad circumstance. This book will keep you up at night not because it is scary but because its themes of living for today will let you ponder about whether you are living for the now and not tomorrow.
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on 1 July 1999
I read this book in Spanish. I am not found of "The Alchemist"(everybody loves this book, but for me it was just a fairy tale), but I decided to give a second try to Paulo Coelho. Veronika is much more real, without this spiritual non-sense, showing to all of us that we are not made in an assembly line, but as a unique spark of God.
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on 26 July 2016
I didn't realise this book was in a smaller format than the rest of his that I had ordered and it feels rather flimsy. As to the content, its o.k. but not one of his books that I'd go back to again and again.
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on 23 February 2004
I picked up this book not knowing what to expect sometime after reading the Alchemist (which i found rather average compared to what people had told me about it). Much to my supprise, this book was instantly enjoyable and did not hesitate in getting into the "story", we are taken through the last few days of what remains of Veronikas life and we discover what Veronika (and a lot of us) discovers, which is, there are a lot of good things worth living for in this life which we seem to have forgotten about as it is so easy to concentrate on the bad. This book is beautiful, poetic and best of all very easy to read. The book does not fail to inspire the deepest of Sceptics and the hardest of men. A book for all to enjoy.
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on 17 October 2014
Now I have read one P. Coelho (Eleven Minutes) I find myself looking for "the life message" as I read. A good book, but I think he tries too hard to educate when, if like me, you are reading more for relaxation.
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on 7 August 2014
A very strange subject for a story, but it gives the opportunity to explore some challenging issues, and to raise some thought-provoking questions. It felt somehow less immediate to me than some of his other books, but few of us have any experience of life in a psychiatric hospital to relate it to, so perhaps that is inevitable.
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