Jostein Gaarder

How terribly sad it was that people are made in such a way that they get used to something as extraordinary as living.

JosteinGaarder, The Solitaire Mystery


I read Sophie´s World when I was 15 years old. I don´t remember the book so well, because so many years have passed since I read it, but I can remember one thing: it made me fall in love with philosophy. It made me hungry for more, and it´s not so easy when you are speaking about philosophy! It was written in a simple way, and the plot was really catchy. So I decided to try to read another book from the same author, and I picked The Solitaire Mystery. In this book I didn´t find an amazing world, but two! It´s a story within a story.

Jostein Gaarder was born in Oslo (Norway) in 1952. His father was a headmaster and his mother a teacher and author of children´s books. He attended the University of Oslo, where he studied Scandinavian languages and theology. He published several cheldren´s books, novels and short stories. He won some awards and prizes. In 2005 he was awarded The Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav, and later the same year he was awarded an Honorary degree at Trinity College (Dublin). His best-seller is Sophie´s World, that has been translated in 44 languages.

Gaarder usually writes from the perspective of children. That means, he explores the worlds, he´s moving in, with wonder. His style is simple and clear, that´s why he can write about philosophy, evolution, theology and still made them exciting and easy to understand. In his novels there´s almost always a calm, pacific, nearly out of time atmosphere, maybe due to the nordic Norwegian settings. The endings are never banal nor foreseen, at least for me. He makes you think, and you go on doing it also when you´re done reading the book. You can appreciate the simple storytelling, or stop to ponder on something he wrote and go deeper and deeper.

Here are some of his books:

Novels/Short stories:

  • Sophie´s World (1991)
  • The Solitaire Mystery (1990) (Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis 1994)
  • Maya (1999)
  • The Orange Girl (2004)
  • The Castle in the Pyrenees (2008)
  • Checkmate (2006)
  • Through a Glass, Darkly (1993) (Norwegian Bestesellers´Prize 1993 – Buxtehude Bull 1997)
  • The Seller of Stories (2005)

    Children´s literature:

  • Hello? Is Anybody There? (1996)
  • The Frog Castle (1990)
  • The Christmas Mystery (1992)
  • Vita Brevis (1997)
  • Bibbi Bokkens magic library (1993)
  • The Ringmaster´s Daughter (2001)
  • The Yellow Dwarfs (2007)

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