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4.6 out of 5 stars81
4.6 out of 5 stars
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Gaarder's book takes the reader to a mental amusement park complete with fanciful reveries, contemplative incredulities and introspective visions. Several times I would ask myself "why am I reading this?" Speculative curiosity and introspective wisdom would probably best answer that question. The book is comprised of two intermingling aspects: a young boy's biography (travelogue included) and a fairy tale like account by a shipwrecked sailor, recorded in a miniscule book that the boy acquires surreptitiously on his journey from Norway to Greece with his father. The tale is spun around the fifty-three cards in a standard deck of cards (the fifty-third being the most important, the Joker).

Philosophically contemplative and introspective readers with a liking (or at least a tolerance) for fantasy may appreciate Gaarder's book--especially those who liked his highly acclaimed Sophie's World. Although I was a rather reluctant reader, I was oddly charmed and, having completed it, I couldn't brush it off as trivial. Actually I think I might go back to it some time for a second reading to savour more of its multifarious flavours.

"This world, I thought to myself, is such a fantastic miracle that it's hard to know whether one should laugh or cry. Perhaps one should do both, but it isn't easy to do both at the same time.... I sat thinking how terribly sad it was that people are made in such a way that they get used to something as incredible as living. One day we suddenly take the fact that we exist for granted--and then, yes, then we don't think about it any more until we are about to leave the word again." p 289 (hardcover)
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on February 10, 2011
Item was delivered in a reasonably time manner. The book had been slightly damaged on corners, but nothing serious.The shipper could have avoided it thought by choosing appropriate packaging. However, if the seller ever wanted to consider this, it should not cost the buyer higher freight rate, since it is already high enough!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 21, 2004
The Solitaire Mystery follows a young boy, Hans Thomas, and his father on their way to find their runaway mother. Along the way, they encounter various people, each connected by a strange world long ago, leading ultimately to the unraveling of the mysterious pasts of Hans and his family.
The Solitaire Mystery explores the strange world of coincidences and determinism. It dabbles in the philosophy of consciousness, reminding one of Descartes's elegant statement, "Cogito ergo sum," except declared this time by a pack of living playing cards. While definitely surreal, Gaarder touches questions intrinsic in every culture in the world.
The only problem I had with this book was its story-within-story format. This made it somewhat difficult to follow, as it reached the point when Hans was reading a book about someone telling someone else a story told to him by another person.
However, despite the heady material The Solitaire Mystery utilizes, it still reads as light and whimsical. This is a fairytale a la Alice-in-Wonderland, but at the same time, deep and profound.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 15, 2004
I actually did not buy this book here at , but I checked it out of my library. I was looking for a book randomly, and the fish on the cover caught my eye, so i picked it up, and checked it out. Oh my god. This book has changed my life forever. The book made me think so much about the world around me, and to really question life itself. How ignorant we are to walk around in our little lives, completely ignoring the greatness of everything around us, like how the sky stays up there, and how we stay planted on the ground, and how rain falls. After crying a little, and laughing a little, I finished the book with great satisfaction, and whole new persepective on life. If everyone in the world read this book, the world would be a grander place, in which we don't worry about petty differences, but instead wonder. Five stars, and nothing less.
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on March 11, 2004
The Solitaire Mystery by Jostein Gaarder is easily one of the greatest books that America has ever overlooked, though it's obscurity shouldn't make its value questionable. This tale is extremely complex, but an overall beautifully interwoven story. Not only do you become immersed in it by page one, but it's extremely psychological,philosophical-- a book that I like to call "symbolic fantasy", just like Michael Ende's books, especially the Neverending Story. You will discover so much profundity in this book while you enjoy it although you probably won't catch half of it until you read it again! A must read! Along with it I'd recommend the Neverending Story, other Jostein Gaarder books, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery, Alice in Wonderland, the Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, anything.
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on January 10, 2004
I absolutely love this book and have read it numerous times!
I read Sophie's World by the same author and really liked it so I decided to try this one and bought it at my local bookstore (I was 15 at the time) and I loved it then I still love it now (I'm 18) and would reccomend it to people of any age. Kids will love it for it's fantastical story and adults for the story but also the insight, poetry, and philsophy. It's an amazing tale of fate and fantasy and the details just lock together so cohesively to form the complex story.
It's a must read!
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on September 29, 2003
Gaarder's story leads to a fantastic journey, in which the questioning of our own conditions of existence is the key to gain a broader perspective of it. When you read "Maya" following this one, there is an even great pleasure in reading these books.
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on September 2, 2003
Bottom Line: read it. To yourself, to your kids, to your friends, to your dog, to anyone who will listen. Let the fairy to of a boy searching for life in a unique story put a sparkle of curiosity in your eye. Absolutely enjoyable and lovely.
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on July 31, 2003
It was simply the greatest. Anyone should read it and would love it. Totally sweet fairy tale, but also has philosophical conversations, metaphors and allusions to Plato.
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on June 29, 2003
Let me start off by saying I really enjoyed Sophie's World, but this book just seem to ramble on without any getting to any kind of point. I finally got bored with it and couldn't finish it.
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