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Twenty-four-year-old Veronika seems to have everything -- youth and beauty, boyfriends and a loving family, a fulfilling job. But something is missing in her life. So, one cold November morning, she takes a handful of sleeping pills expecting never to wake up. But she does -- at a mental hospital where she is told that she has only days to live.Inspired by events in Coelho's own life, Veronika Decides to Die questions the meaning of madness and celebrates individuals who do not fit into patterns society considers to be normal. Bold and illuminating, it is a dazzling portrait of a young woman at the crossroads of despair and liberation, and a poetic, exuberant appreciation of each day as a renewed opportunity.
Published: HarperCollins on
ISBN: 9780061835438
List price: $10.99
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For me this book was about conforming to social norms and how we act and feel in our day to day lives to fit into what society prescribes. Veronika, a librarian (an awesome job I would imagine!), decides to commit suicide but luckily fails and ends up in an institution for the mentally ill. As she is 'treated' by the hospital's head physician she encounters other patients who are all looking for, but seldom finding, their place in the world.

I loved the dialogue and the opportunity that her 'illness' allowed for her to finally find and express her true self. Viewed as an unstable person allowed for her to voice and act out in ways she (and we as 'normal' individuals) would otherwise never have done.

"If one day I could get out of here, I would allow myself to be crazy. Everyone is indeed crazy, but the craziest are the ones who don't know they're crazy; they just keep repeating what others tell them to."

With this (and an on-going experiment by said head physician) Veronika finds love, acceptance and her true voice.more
If you knew you were going to die tomorrow, would you live differently? Would you regret the things you did, thinking you shouldn't have done this or that?

And to this, Coelho writes, why wait until you're dying? We're born to die , isn't that the saying? Certainly we'll die, and we don't know when. It could be tomorrow, it could be 50 years later. So why waste our lives? For a book titled as such, it talks a lot about the value of living.

I guess I really like this book because it's full of crazy people, people who don't conform, and I'm a little crazy myself. It's taught me to embrace my madness, to look at every day as if it's different from the day before it, to live like who I am, and how I want it.

When faced by your own mortality, I don't think you have a choice but to live your life to the fullest.more
Who the heck decided that this book - out of the hundreds of millions of books out there - belonged on the 1001 books to read before you die list? Seriously, I don't understand. I do not like Coelho's style at all. The upside: it was a quick read.

Two back to back 2 star books do not make me a happy camper. Jane Austen, I'm counting on you to get me out of this reading slump.

ETA: I have decided that this book must have been commissioned by Hallmark. Are all of Coelho's books like this?more
This is one of the most WTF books I have read in a while.

I had read some of "The Alchemist" also by Paulo Coelho and gave up on it after I couldn't stand his preachy attempts at philosophizing, but this was recommended to me by a friend. Because I know so few people who read, I latch on to any book they mention in the hopes that I can actually talk about books with someone in real life. I need to learn my lesson already.

The plot and characters could've been anything, and were probably underdeveloped as a result, because they were really just a vehicle for his message that madness is all relative. Perhaps there are some kernels of truth there, but I think it's much a more nuanced idea than how he writes it, and it certainly doesn't have to be so obvious and heavy-handed. I can only be told what to think for so long without resenting you and your unlikeable, illogical characters. And, by the way, that argument is not exactly supported by having a character fall instantly in love with a man who just sits there as she plays piano for hours and then silently watches while she furiously masturbates. That makes sense. But who am I to judge? Maybe I'm the mad one!more
Mr Cohelo's books are extremely popular and having read "The Alchemist" I gave ths one a chance. It was better but still patronizing. All his books seem to say much about nothing. They assume the reader will be taken in by trying to sound mystical and that there is something behind it but you are left thinking "What was all that about"more
The lesser known of Paulo Coelho's books and I had to be really pushed to read it, yet even more so than The Alchemist, the message is so very simple. Be EXACTLY who you seek to be ... and that certainly rang home with me. A 'must read' in my mind but only after you have read the Alchemist :)more
i loved this book, message given was nice, which also included that too make some one happy even if its necessary to lie then its not a big sinmore
Is it only what we cannot have that we want? I liked the concept, but did not enjoy the writing much, or was that the translation?more
Loved this one. My only gripe about it is when the story sidetracks to give some background for the other patients. I thought that didn't really make much difference to me regarding the story, at times I felt they were just fillers. Four and a half out of five.more
Some love affairs with authors last only for a single book, while others span an entire oeuvre. For me and Paulo Coelho, it's the former. I loved [book: The Alchemist], so I thought I would love this. Not so much.All of the characters sound similar, and speak as if quoting from an essay. It's like Coelho is trying to directly address the reader, but hiding behind different characters. Which seems unnecessary, given that he breaks the fourth wall early in the novel and acknowledges his own history as a mental patient.If you're looking for a first-person "young woman in asylum" story, stick to [book: Girl, Interrupted].more
Went to download this book because I remembered wanting to read it a long time ago. After I downloaded it I remembered that I had read it last year. It was that forgettable. The story had so much potential. I'll probably like the movie much more, releasing in US in 2011, becuase the movie will probabaly help us feel more for Veronika. The way she was written, I feel nothing for her.I actually grew so bored with the book halfway through that I started skimming large portions of text just to get through it. I NEVER do that. And then I get to the end and it was exactly as I suspected. I might give it another read sometime when i have nothing else to read.more
This book is wonderful, my favorite by Paulo Coelho. The end is absolutely brilliant.more
Frankly, this is a terrible book.I've read two other Coelho books, and I see the pattern now: these are fictionalised self-help books, and they are every bit as vapid and soulless as the worst self-help books.In this example, Veronika decides to end her life; she wakes up in a mental institute, and slowly rediscovers life and a reason for living. How very predictable. The other major characters, three other inmates of the asylum, all seem on the point of recovering, or have already recovered from their problems. In fact, we don't see anybody in the asylum who really has a problem to speak of.The writing is worse than bad. Coelho's style has been praised as being simple and pared-down, much in the way of Hemingway's 'Old Man and The Sea', but the difference here is between simple and simple-minded. Coelho's is definitely the latter. It almost seems lazy. The characters, when they speak, say the most tremendously profound things - or they speak in hackneyed, unrealistic tones. Regardless, they speak in the same style and grammatical structure as the rest of the book. We only know when the characters are philosophising and not just Coelho thanks to the speech marks.I've read enough Coelho now to know that his writing is not for me. I shall not return to his books.more
Read in June 2000. An easy read with some interesting issues that were discussed.more
This book sketches an idea on the origin of insanity. Through the fates of four asylum inmates madness is seen to result from the conflict of our own desires and the expectations of our loved ones, and the force towards living a "normal" life, all of which create a fear of the outside world. Very convincingly, Coelho portrays normality as just a code enforced by a majority. An asylum is a place where one can ignore this code, where one can freely be "different", but the fear of reality persists. In this book, the haven is disturbed by Veronika's impending death, and some of the inmates are forced to face this fear.Apparently Coelho has himself been committed to an asylum. It seemed like a calm, safe place. This book has a positive tone throughout it, it is encouraging, soothing. Veronika's will of life in the face of death is like someone working harder to meet a deadline. I just wonder what happens when she finds out that she's not really dying...Coelho writes well, there is real thought to his text, but at times it's cheesy.more
How's this as an idea for a book? A young, beautiful woman decides life is not worth living and attempts suicide. She does not die, however; unfortunately, her suicide attempt has weakened her heart...she will only live for another week. I liked the idea for the book much better than I liked the book itself. The story, to me, simply seemed to be a device the author used to make his points about The Meaning of Life.more
For Jessica, yes, reading the book first and see if the movie rendition is worhty. That's what I always do. LOL. And This is my favorite Coelho book.In one his his many interviews Coelho said this is a book about life and death. Agreed 100%. It starts off with our protagonist Veronika's night when she deided to overdosed herself with sleeping pills. only to wake up in an asylum called the Villet, the doctor then explained how they managed to revived her but barely, she was told that she only have a few days to live. She then found and met interesting people. The horrifying treatments and the heartbreaking story of their life made me finish the book in one sitting.I can never really describe how much this book change the way I view mental illness. Veronikas situation is so colloquial that I felt the depression that drove her to suicide. But like any other person looking outside the box I also feel that her stunt earned her a place in the aylum and then I got to know her, like Zedka, Mari and most especially Eduard. In a society that one simple act of temporary violence is considered a disease thus said people are shunned by the public and most of their relative. Example: Mary, in a heated arguement with her co-worker pulls her hair, out of frustration. Said co-worker then pressed charges and Mary was sent to a mental institution backed up with paper works from a professional that labeled her as a bi-polar, Mary then was given medications that they think would help her "get well" and the result... could be many things. She maybe now suicidal, lost or even dead. I respect the professionals but I question the authenticity of their diagnosis. My point is, can someone really say one is truly disturbed, based on one given situation? Because for me people who annoys you or people who lost their temper and smash, say an ex-husbands windshield because she caught him cheating doesn't count. (ok, enough reality shows. LOL)Beautifully written. Based on Paulo's personal experience in the asylum. Prepare to cry. A life changing book.more
We all have ways that we deal with life. In Coehlo's book, these isn't much difference between the coping skills of the institutionalized and the rest of us. Should these people be in a mental institution, or is it really that they cannot cope with life in a way that is socially acceptable?"During her life Veronika had noticed that a lot of people she knew would talk about the horrors in other people's lives as if they were genuinely trying to help them, but the truth was that they took pleasure in the suffering of others, because that made them believe they were happy and that life had been generous with them. She hated that kind of person, and she wasn't going to give the young man an opportunity to take advantage of her state in order to mask his own frustrations." p. 37"She was in a mental hospital, and so, she could allow herself to feel things that people usually hide. We are all brought up only to love, to accept, to look for ways around things, to avoid conflict. Veronika hated everything, but mainly she hated the way she had lived her life, never bothering to discover the hundreds of other Veronikas, who lived inside her and who were interesting, crazy, curious, brave, bold." p. 76"You say they create their own reality," said Veronika, "but what is reality?" "It's whatever the majority deems it to be. It's not necessarily the best or the most logical, but it's the one that supports the desires of society as a whole." p. 95"That's how it should be with you; stay insane, but behave like normal people. Run the risk of being different, but learn to do so without attracting attention. Concentrate on this flower and allow the real "I" to reveal itself." "What is the real 'I'?" asked Veronika. Perhaps everyone else there knew, but what did it matter: She must learn to care less about annoying others. The man seemed surprised by the interruption, but he answered her question. "It's what you are, not what others make of you." p. 110She would consider each day a miracle--which indeed it is, when you consider the number of unexpected things that could happen in each second of our fragile existences. p. 217more
This was a very strange and compelling book, I read through it in one night. I really had no idea what to expect from it and if I had any expectations it surpassed them like most of this authors books do. I know a lot of people don't like a book that is simple and direct with it messages but I love this authors style and how he get to the heart of an issue and really make you think. What if? What would I do? Would I do the Same thing? I think most of his books are a must read ,period! Just read it and be surprised, I don't want to give anything away but so far each book I read by this author makes me think about what parts of my life are working and what parts could be changed , and maybe what kind of person I really want to be. Hey maybe Insanity is just being really , deeply honest. :0)more
Veronika unsuccessfully attempts suicide and is put in an insane asylum for her efforts; but she damaged her heart and only has a week to live anyway. During that week, she learns to let go of her inhibitions (now that nobody expects anything from her as a dying unstable lunatic) and finds more passion in life now that she's staring death directly in the face.It's an interesting look at how society defines insanity. 'Sanity' is kind of majority rule by definition, but then insanity becomes a rather subjective marker of when someone is making others around them uncomfortable, or acting out in ways we find disagreeable. Veronika Decides to Die is based in some part on Coelho's own experience in an asylum, when his parents sent him away for wanting to pursue art instead of something practical. Both the writing and the story are so simple and subtle, it reads more like a parable or allegory than a novel. But it raises interesting questions about sanity and the imperative to be accepted.more
My second book by Paulo Coelho and I liked this one much more. An interesting idea to plot the idea of your own mortality and imminent death into your brain to cure you from your suicidal thoughts. This book makes it quite plausible and believable, really. Though I have taken lectures on suicide I am not quite sure it would really work like this in real life.Enjoyable read, I can recommend it. :)more
There are some books that you find just in the nick of time and then there are others that you never would have found unless someone else suggested them. Veronika is young and full of doom and dread and tries to commit suicide. She ends up in a mental institution and then changes the thinking of many of the others.more
This is the second of Mr. Coelho's books I have read, and I am thirsty for more. I am drawn to the female characters he is able to present. They are unremarkable, but it is this quality which in the end makes them remarkable. The simplicity of the narrative makes it easy to relate to the characters and take their lessons learned and apply them to your own life. Veronika Decides to Die was the perfect book to read at this particular moment in my life. I am moving out of a my home, and will not be moving into my own space for at least half a year. I feel overwhelmed by the mundane of life and its routines. Every time I think about breaking free, I feel trapped. Here in this book, and in this moment, I am able to take a moment and recognize that it is the moments of eccentric which make life something worth living.more
To be honest, I'm just not sure what to make of Veronika Decides to Die. I've read a few of Paulo's books now, and am afraid I can't get as hyped up about them as the general mass of opinion. Maybe it's because I've read too many similar types of books over the decades? To start with I can't really get into and appreciate the whole 'package' because I don't like his style; it grates on me. Not exactly sure why; too removed, dispassionate, simplistic, superior, a bit too clever, even egotistical in parts... At best I'd call it bland. The characters are not convincing and there is no empathy engendered for Veronika (or Eduard for that matter) and that's sad. Zedka and Mari did get a slightly better deal from him though.I know some of the simplest books pack the hardest messages, but this one just doesn't do it for me. Some of the descriptions of the way people react to stresses and stressors and illness were insightful, and I agree with part of his theory on 'the madnss within'; but the way he portrays many of the aspects of the mentally ill and lumps everyone together in one big mad basket really is very annoying, and the bits about the 'heart problem' was absolutely and totally ludicrous. I know, I know, it's not meant to be a medical textbook - it's a fable.It was so obvious right from the start where the book was heading and what the 'message' was/is, that I'm not certain I gained very much from reading it. The same message is gleaned by and from anyone who has been diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening illness - and delivered with so much more passion.I'm sure the fans will love it no matter what, but I certainly will not be looking for any more of his.more
I always enjoy Coehlo and more often than not I find that I can take words, sentences and paragraphs that resound. Often giving hope and inspiration I find his books insightful and perceptive. Veronika Decides to die is no exception. Veronika is a young, single, attractive girl who tires of what she sees as the banality of her life and the hopelessness of everything in the world. After contemplating suicide for sometime she eventually tries, fails and wakes up to find herself in Villete, the mental institution consigned to an illness that means she will die in days. The book centres around Veronika and the impact her stay has on some of the other patients. Coehlo challenges the notion of insanity. The characters come across as 'normal' people who have become tired with society and trying to fit into the 'norms' and rules that have been set for all. As the story unfolds Coehlo relates the impact Veronika's death sentence has on several characters and their paths to 'recovery'. Challenging the construction of reality the book focuses on the idea that the people who are really 'insane' are the ones living on the outside, blindly fitting into this reality and that the 'normal' people are the ones in Villete, escaping the reality that has been constructed. For people who have read other Coehlo books I would heartly recommend. As ever, the book is, in parts, inspirational and thought provoking. For those not familiar with Coehlo I would also recommend this however, I feel The Alchemist would be a good book to begin with. Personally, I feel that is his best work out of the ones I have read so far.more
I really enjoyed this book and find that many things that I am encountering in the days, since finishing the book, are bringing back snippets of the story! I didn't think that the book had impacted me beyond a good read but I am finding it resonating with me in many areas.The story is compelling and driven well with the main character (Veronika) - I didn't find myself in a hurry to get to the next page but also didn't find myself putting it down until I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer.I highly recommend any book by Paulo Coelho and this one is no exception...if you haven't read his stuff - don't wait any longer!more
The story is original. A woman carries out careful suicide plans but wakes up in a psychiatric ward where the doctor tells her that in the attempt she has damaged her heart beyond repair. She will live for only a week. What would any of us think or do during several final days of introspection? A great premise spoiled only by a tasteless sex scene.It was a good story that could have been great.more
Read all 47 reviews

Reviews

For me this book was about conforming to social norms and how we act and feel in our day to day lives to fit into what society prescribes. Veronika, a librarian (an awesome job I would imagine!), decides to commit suicide but luckily fails and ends up in an institution for the mentally ill. As she is 'treated' by the hospital's head physician she encounters other patients who are all looking for, but seldom finding, their place in the world.

I loved the dialogue and the opportunity that her 'illness' allowed for her to finally find and express her true self. Viewed as an unstable person allowed for her to voice and act out in ways she (and we as 'normal' individuals) would otherwise never have done.

"If one day I could get out of here, I would allow myself to be crazy. Everyone is indeed crazy, but the craziest are the ones who don't know they're crazy; they just keep repeating what others tell them to."

With this (and an on-going experiment by said head physician) Veronika finds love, acceptance and her true voice.more
If you knew you were going to die tomorrow, would you live differently? Would you regret the things you did, thinking you shouldn't have done this or that?

And to this, Coelho writes, why wait until you're dying? We're born to die , isn't that the saying? Certainly we'll die, and we don't know when. It could be tomorrow, it could be 50 years later. So why waste our lives? For a book titled as such, it talks a lot about the value of living.

I guess I really like this book because it's full of crazy people, people who don't conform, and I'm a little crazy myself. It's taught me to embrace my madness, to look at every day as if it's different from the day before it, to live like who I am, and how I want it.

When faced by your own mortality, I don't think you have a choice but to live your life to the fullest.more
Who the heck decided that this book - out of the hundreds of millions of books out there - belonged on the 1001 books to read before you die list? Seriously, I don't understand. I do not like Coelho's style at all. The upside: it was a quick read.

Two back to back 2 star books do not make me a happy camper. Jane Austen, I'm counting on you to get me out of this reading slump.

ETA: I have decided that this book must have been commissioned by Hallmark. Are all of Coelho's books like this?more
This is one of the most WTF books I have read in a while.

I had read some of "The Alchemist" also by Paulo Coelho and gave up on it after I couldn't stand his preachy attempts at philosophizing, but this was recommended to me by a friend. Because I know so few people who read, I latch on to any book they mention in the hopes that I can actually talk about books with someone in real life. I need to learn my lesson already.

The plot and characters could've been anything, and were probably underdeveloped as a result, because they were really just a vehicle for his message that madness is all relative. Perhaps there are some kernels of truth there, but I think it's much a more nuanced idea than how he writes it, and it certainly doesn't have to be so obvious and heavy-handed. I can only be told what to think for so long without resenting you and your unlikeable, illogical characters. And, by the way, that argument is not exactly supported by having a character fall instantly in love with a man who just sits there as she plays piano for hours and then silently watches while she furiously masturbates. That makes sense. But who am I to judge? Maybe I'm the mad one!more
Mr Cohelo's books are extremely popular and having read "The Alchemist" I gave ths one a chance. It was better but still patronizing. All his books seem to say much about nothing. They assume the reader will be taken in by trying to sound mystical and that there is something behind it but you are left thinking "What was all that about"more
The lesser known of Paulo Coelho's books and I had to be really pushed to read it, yet even more so than The Alchemist, the message is so very simple. Be EXACTLY who you seek to be ... and that certainly rang home with me. A 'must read' in my mind but only after you have read the Alchemist :)more
i loved this book, message given was nice, which also included that too make some one happy even if its necessary to lie then its not a big sinmore
Is it only what we cannot have that we want? I liked the concept, but did not enjoy the writing much, or was that the translation?more
Loved this one. My only gripe about it is when the story sidetracks to give some background for the other patients. I thought that didn't really make much difference to me regarding the story, at times I felt they were just fillers. Four and a half out of five.more
Some love affairs with authors last only for a single book, while others span an entire oeuvre. For me and Paulo Coelho, it's the former. I loved [book: The Alchemist], so I thought I would love this. Not so much.All of the characters sound similar, and speak as if quoting from an essay. It's like Coelho is trying to directly address the reader, but hiding behind different characters. Which seems unnecessary, given that he breaks the fourth wall early in the novel and acknowledges his own history as a mental patient.If you're looking for a first-person "young woman in asylum" story, stick to [book: Girl, Interrupted].more
Went to download this book because I remembered wanting to read it a long time ago. After I downloaded it I remembered that I had read it last year. It was that forgettable. The story had so much potential. I'll probably like the movie much more, releasing in US in 2011, becuase the movie will probabaly help us feel more for Veronika. The way she was written, I feel nothing for her.I actually grew so bored with the book halfway through that I started skimming large portions of text just to get through it. I NEVER do that. And then I get to the end and it was exactly as I suspected. I might give it another read sometime when i have nothing else to read.more
This book is wonderful, my favorite by Paulo Coelho. The end is absolutely brilliant.more
Frankly, this is a terrible book.I've read two other Coelho books, and I see the pattern now: these are fictionalised self-help books, and they are every bit as vapid and soulless as the worst self-help books.In this example, Veronika decides to end her life; she wakes up in a mental institute, and slowly rediscovers life and a reason for living. How very predictable. The other major characters, three other inmates of the asylum, all seem on the point of recovering, or have already recovered from their problems. In fact, we don't see anybody in the asylum who really has a problem to speak of.The writing is worse than bad. Coelho's style has been praised as being simple and pared-down, much in the way of Hemingway's 'Old Man and The Sea', but the difference here is between simple and simple-minded. Coelho's is definitely the latter. It almost seems lazy. The characters, when they speak, say the most tremendously profound things - or they speak in hackneyed, unrealistic tones. Regardless, they speak in the same style and grammatical structure as the rest of the book. We only know when the characters are philosophising and not just Coelho thanks to the speech marks.I've read enough Coelho now to know that his writing is not for me. I shall not return to his books.more
Read in June 2000. An easy read with some interesting issues that were discussed.more
This book sketches an idea on the origin of insanity. Through the fates of four asylum inmates madness is seen to result from the conflict of our own desires and the expectations of our loved ones, and the force towards living a "normal" life, all of which create a fear of the outside world. Very convincingly, Coelho portrays normality as just a code enforced by a majority. An asylum is a place where one can ignore this code, where one can freely be "different", but the fear of reality persists. In this book, the haven is disturbed by Veronika's impending death, and some of the inmates are forced to face this fear.Apparently Coelho has himself been committed to an asylum. It seemed like a calm, safe place. This book has a positive tone throughout it, it is encouraging, soothing. Veronika's will of life in the face of death is like someone working harder to meet a deadline. I just wonder what happens when she finds out that she's not really dying...Coelho writes well, there is real thought to his text, but at times it's cheesy.more
How's this as an idea for a book? A young, beautiful woman decides life is not worth living and attempts suicide. She does not die, however; unfortunately, her suicide attempt has weakened her heart...she will only live for another week. I liked the idea for the book much better than I liked the book itself. The story, to me, simply seemed to be a device the author used to make his points about The Meaning of Life.more
For Jessica, yes, reading the book first and see if the movie rendition is worhty. That's what I always do. LOL. And This is my favorite Coelho book.In one his his many interviews Coelho said this is a book about life and death. Agreed 100%. It starts off with our protagonist Veronika's night when she deided to overdosed herself with sleeping pills. only to wake up in an asylum called the Villet, the doctor then explained how they managed to revived her but barely, she was told that she only have a few days to live. She then found and met interesting people. The horrifying treatments and the heartbreaking story of their life made me finish the book in one sitting.I can never really describe how much this book change the way I view mental illness. Veronikas situation is so colloquial that I felt the depression that drove her to suicide. But like any other person looking outside the box I also feel that her stunt earned her a place in the aylum and then I got to know her, like Zedka, Mari and most especially Eduard. In a society that one simple act of temporary violence is considered a disease thus said people are shunned by the public and most of their relative. Example: Mary, in a heated arguement with her co-worker pulls her hair, out of frustration. Said co-worker then pressed charges and Mary was sent to a mental institution backed up with paper works from a professional that labeled her as a bi-polar, Mary then was given medications that they think would help her "get well" and the result... could be many things. She maybe now suicidal, lost or even dead. I respect the professionals but I question the authenticity of their diagnosis. My point is, can someone really say one is truly disturbed, based on one given situation? Because for me people who annoys you or people who lost their temper and smash, say an ex-husbands windshield because she caught him cheating doesn't count. (ok, enough reality shows. LOL)Beautifully written. Based on Paulo's personal experience in the asylum. Prepare to cry. A life changing book.more
We all have ways that we deal with life. In Coehlo's book, these isn't much difference between the coping skills of the institutionalized and the rest of us. Should these people be in a mental institution, or is it really that they cannot cope with life in a way that is socially acceptable?"During her life Veronika had noticed that a lot of people she knew would talk about the horrors in other people's lives as if they were genuinely trying to help them, but the truth was that they took pleasure in the suffering of others, because that made them believe they were happy and that life had been generous with them. She hated that kind of person, and she wasn't going to give the young man an opportunity to take advantage of her state in order to mask his own frustrations." p. 37"She was in a mental hospital, and so, she could allow herself to feel things that people usually hide. We are all brought up only to love, to accept, to look for ways around things, to avoid conflict. Veronika hated everything, but mainly she hated the way she had lived her life, never bothering to discover the hundreds of other Veronikas, who lived inside her and who were interesting, crazy, curious, brave, bold." p. 76"You say they create their own reality," said Veronika, "but what is reality?" "It's whatever the majority deems it to be. It's not necessarily the best or the most logical, but it's the one that supports the desires of society as a whole." p. 95"That's how it should be with you; stay insane, but behave like normal people. Run the risk of being different, but learn to do so without attracting attention. Concentrate on this flower and allow the real "I" to reveal itself." "What is the real 'I'?" asked Veronika. Perhaps everyone else there knew, but what did it matter: She must learn to care less about annoying others. The man seemed surprised by the interruption, but he answered her question. "It's what you are, not what others make of you." p. 110She would consider each day a miracle--which indeed it is, when you consider the number of unexpected things that could happen in each second of our fragile existences. p. 217more
This was a very strange and compelling book, I read through it in one night. I really had no idea what to expect from it and if I had any expectations it surpassed them like most of this authors books do. I know a lot of people don't like a book that is simple and direct with it messages but I love this authors style and how he get to the heart of an issue and really make you think. What if? What would I do? Would I do the Same thing? I think most of his books are a must read ,period! Just read it and be surprised, I don't want to give anything away but so far each book I read by this author makes me think about what parts of my life are working and what parts could be changed , and maybe what kind of person I really want to be. Hey maybe Insanity is just being really , deeply honest. :0)more
Veronika unsuccessfully attempts suicide and is put in an insane asylum for her efforts; but she damaged her heart and only has a week to live anyway. During that week, she learns to let go of her inhibitions (now that nobody expects anything from her as a dying unstable lunatic) and finds more passion in life now that she's staring death directly in the face.It's an interesting look at how society defines insanity. 'Sanity' is kind of majority rule by definition, but then insanity becomes a rather subjective marker of when someone is making others around them uncomfortable, or acting out in ways we find disagreeable. Veronika Decides to Die is based in some part on Coelho's own experience in an asylum, when his parents sent him away for wanting to pursue art instead of something practical. Both the writing and the story are so simple and subtle, it reads more like a parable or allegory than a novel. But it raises interesting questions about sanity and the imperative to be accepted.more
My second book by Paulo Coelho and I liked this one much more. An interesting idea to plot the idea of your own mortality and imminent death into your brain to cure you from your suicidal thoughts. This book makes it quite plausible and believable, really. Though I have taken lectures on suicide I am not quite sure it would really work like this in real life.Enjoyable read, I can recommend it. :)more
There are some books that you find just in the nick of time and then there are others that you never would have found unless someone else suggested them. Veronika is young and full of doom and dread and tries to commit suicide. She ends up in a mental institution and then changes the thinking of many of the others.more
This is the second of Mr. Coelho's books I have read, and I am thirsty for more. I am drawn to the female characters he is able to present. They are unremarkable, but it is this quality which in the end makes them remarkable. The simplicity of the narrative makes it easy to relate to the characters and take their lessons learned and apply them to your own life. Veronika Decides to Die was the perfect book to read at this particular moment in my life. I am moving out of a my home, and will not be moving into my own space for at least half a year. I feel overwhelmed by the mundane of life and its routines. Every time I think about breaking free, I feel trapped. Here in this book, and in this moment, I am able to take a moment and recognize that it is the moments of eccentric which make life something worth living.more
To be honest, I'm just not sure what to make of Veronika Decides to Die. I've read a few of Paulo's books now, and am afraid I can't get as hyped up about them as the general mass of opinion. Maybe it's because I've read too many similar types of books over the decades? To start with I can't really get into and appreciate the whole 'package' because I don't like his style; it grates on me. Not exactly sure why; too removed, dispassionate, simplistic, superior, a bit too clever, even egotistical in parts... At best I'd call it bland. The characters are not convincing and there is no empathy engendered for Veronika (or Eduard for that matter) and that's sad. Zedka and Mari did get a slightly better deal from him though.I know some of the simplest books pack the hardest messages, but this one just doesn't do it for me. Some of the descriptions of the way people react to stresses and stressors and illness were insightful, and I agree with part of his theory on 'the madnss within'; but the way he portrays many of the aspects of the mentally ill and lumps everyone together in one big mad basket really is very annoying, and the bits about the 'heart problem' was absolutely and totally ludicrous. I know, I know, it's not meant to be a medical textbook - it's a fable.It was so obvious right from the start where the book was heading and what the 'message' was/is, that I'm not certain I gained very much from reading it. The same message is gleaned by and from anyone who has been diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening illness - and delivered with so much more passion.I'm sure the fans will love it no matter what, but I certainly will not be looking for any more of his.more
I always enjoy Coehlo and more often than not I find that I can take words, sentences and paragraphs that resound. Often giving hope and inspiration I find his books insightful and perceptive. Veronika Decides to die is no exception. Veronika is a young, single, attractive girl who tires of what she sees as the banality of her life and the hopelessness of everything in the world. After contemplating suicide for sometime she eventually tries, fails and wakes up to find herself in Villete, the mental institution consigned to an illness that means she will die in days. The book centres around Veronika and the impact her stay has on some of the other patients. Coehlo challenges the notion of insanity. The characters come across as 'normal' people who have become tired with society and trying to fit into the 'norms' and rules that have been set for all. As the story unfolds Coehlo relates the impact Veronika's death sentence has on several characters and their paths to 'recovery'. Challenging the construction of reality the book focuses on the idea that the people who are really 'insane' are the ones living on the outside, blindly fitting into this reality and that the 'normal' people are the ones in Villete, escaping the reality that has been constructed. For people who have read other Coehlo books I would heartly recommend. As ever, the book is, in parts, inspirational and thought provoking. For those not familiar with Coehlo I would also recommend this however, I feel The Alchemist would be a good book to begin with. Personally, I feel that is his best work out of the ones I have read so far.more
I really enjoyed this book and find that many things that I am encountering in the days, since finishing the book, are bringing back snippets of the story! I didn't think that the book had impacted me beyond a good read but I am finding it resonating with me in many areas.The story is compelling and driven well with the main character (Veronika) - I didn't find myself in a hurry to get to the next page but also didn't find myself putting it down until I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer.I highly recommend any book by Paulo Coelho and this one is no exception...if you haven't read his stuff - don't wait any longer!more
The story is original. A woman carries out careful suicide plans but wakes up in a psychiatric ward where the doctor tells her that in the attempt she has damaged her heart beyond repair. She will live for only a week. What would any of us think or do during several final days of introspection? A great premise spoiled only by a tasteless sex scene.It was a good story that could have been great.more
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