Veronika Decides to Die

By Paulo Coelho, Margaret Jull Costa

183,961 ratings - 3.71* vote

In his latest international bestseller, the celebrated author of The Alchemist addresses the fundamental questions asked by millions: What am I doing here today? and Why do I go on living?Twenty-four-year-old Veronika seems to have everything she could wish for: youth and beauty, plenty of attractive boyfriends, a fulfilling job, and a loving family. Yet something is lacki In his latest international bestseller, the celebrated author of The Alchemist addresses the fundamental questions asked

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Book details

Paperback, 210 pages
June 1st 2006 by Harper Perennial

(first published 1998)

Original Title
Veronika decide morrer
0061124265 (ISBN13: 9780061124266)
Edition Language

Community Reviews

Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly

Pretty, single, 24-year-old Veronika decides to die for two reasons, both of them phony: one, because she realizes she will one day be old; and two, because a lot of things are wrong in this world. She then takes a lot of sleeping pills. While waiting to die, as if she's waiting for her cat to finish drinking its milk, Veronika decides to read a magazine and then write to the editor of that magazine. Which made the scene cartoonish.

This rare combination of phoniness and cartoonishness gelled and gave birth to this masterpiece. A masterpiece of nothingness, like a gigantic void proud of its vast emptiness. Paolo Coelho is like a god, not only to those who worship him, for he has created something out of nothing using the time-tested way of hoodwinking morons who read books like this: sprinkling lots of amphibologies and gobbledygooks to a plotless tale of nonsense. Gripping their highlighters, these morons would then make passages like this shine in neon, marvel at how deep they are, and then give the book a 5-star rating at

"We all live in our own world. But if you look up at the starry sky, you'll see that all the different worlds up there combine to form constellations, solar systems, galaxies." (p.162).

He could have added: If you feel all alone in this big, wide world as if you carry the weight of all the sadness there is, then look up at the starry, starry sky during a starry, starry night and realize that there are aliens living in all those other planets who, in their solitude, likewise pine for the worlds they cannot see.

Damn, I sure do sound better than Coelho!

Federico DN

Madness is wanting to be normal.

There is something very wrong with the world. Veronika wants to die. And she can certainly try, but she can also, certainly, fail. Committed to an insane asylum, she may actually find sanity in the craziest places of all.

Unfortunately, I cannot really go into much detail without spoiling much of the book's content, so I'm just going to say that those few who decide to read it may find in it a beautiful profoundly moving story, about life, and death.

Veronika is one of those characters that, despite all circumstances, you cannot but find her tragically adorable.

This is one of those 'love it or hate it' books, so you are probably going to love it plainly, or hate it deeply. You can tell which side the coin toss landed for me.

Still remaining, the movie (2009)

Until next time,


Locura es querer ser normal.

Hay algo muy mal en el mundo. Veronika quiere morir. Y ciertamente lo puede intentar, pero también puede, ciertamente, fallar. Confinada a un manicomio, puede que halle la cordura en el lugar más loco de todos.

Desafortunadamente, no puedo entrar en mucho detalle sin arriesgarme a arruinar mucho del contenido del libro, así que sólo voy a decir que aquellos pocos que decidan leerlo puede que encuentren en él una hermosa y profundamente conmovedora historia, sobre la vida, y la muerte.

Veronika es uno de esos personajes que, a fuerzas de las circunstancias, uno no puede evitar encontrarla trágicamente adorable.

Este es uno de esos libros de 'ámalo o ódialo', así que probablemente vas a amarlo plenamente, u odiarlo ferveramente. Podés adivinar de qué lado cayó la moneda en mi caso.

Queda pendiente la película (2009)

Hasta la próxima,


Fantastic read! Awesome! I could not put the book down!

“Veronika Decides to Die” – just read the title again….decides to die…
How many times have you said to yourself, at least I have, “Ahh…I don’t care, I don’t really want to live anymore”, without even thinking about the meaning of it.

So Veronika said the same thing and decided to do something about it. Why?
Nothing bad had happened to Veronika, she was beautiful, had a regular life…very ordinary though ... but normal
She decided that it was not exciting enough, and decided to die!
But her suicide attempt didn’t succeed and she ended up in the mental hospital. The pills ruined her heart and she had one more week to live before she dies – or so she was told.

"An awareness of death encourages us to live more intensely." Having only week to live, Veronika re-discovers herself sexually and emotionally, falls in love, and starts having this eagerness to live.

In addition, her suicide touched lives of other people in the mental hospital, who started cherish every day of their lives.

"Basically everything that happens in our life is our fault, and our fault alone."

So when the next time you say to yourself, “Ahh…I don’t care, I don’t really want to live anymore” - think twice.

2014 Update:
I re-read this book this year for my book club... 6 years since I read it first. I agree with all points after my first read but want to add some additional points on issues that Coelho discusses:

- Conformity, society norms and its danger
- Madness/insanity and what they really mean within the chains of society norms; how society norms varies from culture to culture, and how personal individuality can be affected by these “norms”
- Death and life and how knowing that death is imminent changes your perception of life: you start appreciating every moment and allow yourself to express yourself
- The book discusses other characters, Mari, Zedka, and Eduard. They were hiding inside the walls of Vilette because they were trying to escape the real world due to similar reasons related to to not being understood by their families and society. Vilette’s environment created a shield from the real world, “society”, and allowed these “insane” people to express themselves and behave the way they want without criticism. At the end… Veronika’s suicide affects them profoundly awakening in them a desire to live outside of Vilette’s walls and also making them to realize that Vilette is just another form of controlled society with its own rules and acceptance. And that at the end the true happiness lies in our own desire and believe, in our own acceptance and willingness to remove any boundaries and allow ourselves to live to the fullest, and be happy!

Ahmad Sharabiani

(90 From 1001 Books) - Veronika decide morrer = Veronika Decides To Die (On the Seventh Day #2), Paulo Coelho

Veronika Decides to Die, is a novel by Paulo Coelho. It tells the story of 24-year-old Slovenian Veronika, who appears to have everything in life going for her, but who decides to kill herself.

While she waits to die, she cancels the suicide letter she starts to her parents while suddenly provoked by a magazine article.

The magazine article wittily asks "Where is Slovenia?", so she writes a letter to the press justifying her suicide, the idea is to make the press believe that she has killed herself because people don't even know where Slovenia is. Her plan fails and she wakes up from the coma in Villette, a mental hospital in Slovenia, where she is told she has only a few days to live due to heart condition caused by the overdose.

Her presence there affects all of the mental hospital's patients, especially Zedka, who has clinical depression; Mari, who has panic attacks; and Eduard, who has schizophrenia, and with whom Veronika falls in love. During her internment in Villette she realizes that she has nothing to lose and can, therefore, do what she wants, say what she wants and be who she wants without having to worry about what others think of her; as a mental patient, she is unlikely to be criticized. Because of this new-found freedom, Veronika experiences all the things she never allowed herself to experience, including hatred and love. ...

ورونیکا تصمیم می‌گیرد بمیرد - پائولو کوئیلو (کاروان) ادبیات، تاریخ نخستین خوانش: ماه سپتامبر سال 2000میلادی

عنوان: ورونیکا تصمیم می‌گیرد بمیرد؛ نویسنده: پائولو کوئلیو؛ مترجم: آرش حجازی؛ تهران، کاروان، 1378؛ در 236ص؛ مصور، عکس؛ چاپ پنجم 1378؛ ششم تا هشتم 1379؛ نهم تا یازدهم 1380؛ دوازده و سیزدهم 1381؛ نوزدهم 1386؛ بیست و دوم 1388؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان برزیلی - سده 20م

دختر جوانی بیست و چهار ساله به نام «ورونیکا» و از اهالی «اسلوونیا»، که‌ به‌ برهان‌ آزادی‌ و فراموشی‌ همیشگی‌، به‌ دنبال‌ مرگ‌ رفته، زندگی‌ را باز می‌یابد؛ او نزدیک‌ یک‌ هفته‌، بین‌ زندگی‌ و مرگ‌ سرگردان‌ است، ولی‌ آگاهیش از مرگ،‌ باعث‌ می‌شود، زندگی‌ کند، و کارهایی‌ را انجام‌ دهد، که‌ پیش‌ از آن‌ هرگز نکرده‌ بود؛ «ورونیکا» به‌ آنچه‌ ندارد می‌اندیشد، و زندگی‌ خود را دوباره‌ ارزیابی‌ می‌کند

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 21/07/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی

Gloria Mundi

Veronika is a 24 year old Slovenian woman who one day decides to kill herself, apparently because (1) "everything in her life was the same and, once her youth was gone, it would be downhill all the way" and (2) everything is wrong with the world and she feels powerless to make things right. After she takes an overdose of sleeping pills, Veronika wakes up in a mental asylum and the remainder of the book is, basically, a series of interactions between Veronika and a number of the inhabitants of the asylum, including a young schizophrenic named Eduard, who mainly stands around mutely and masturbates while Veronika plays the piano. Veronika (what else!) inexplicably falls in love with him, after she similarly inexplicably regains her joie de vivre.

I suppose, that tells you pretty much everything you need to know about Veronika, and certainly Coelho does not add much else in terms of characterisation. Some reviewers have pointed out that to create realistic characters or believable plot is not the point of this book and certainly not Coelho's intention. I guess one really has no choice but to agree with this as it is patently obvious that this is not so much a book as a meditation on insanity with characters and plot which are merely vehicles to convey the author's thoughts on the subject and encourage the reader to reflect on the same and to explore how they may feel/behave/think in similar circumstances.

Paulo Coelho himself makes a brief and pointless appearance at the beginning of the book to tell you that it is based on his own experiences as a mental patient and proceeds to bash you over the head with his message, which is that everyone is crazy, insanity and genius are two sides of the same coin and we should all let our inner freak out and stop trying to conform.

As a reader, I find this approach supremely unsatisfactory. For some reason, I tend to be much more receptive to the message when I can actually bring myself to care about the story or the characters, however unsympathetic they may be. I am sometimes able to forgive lack of plot or character development if the book is particularly informative or beautifully written or manages to turn me on or makes me think about a subject in a new and interesting way. Unfortunately, this book did none of that. Veronika fails even as a placeholder because her actions are so absurd and incomprehensible that I was completely unable to relate to them or to put myself in her shoes. So all that was left was the message and I had absolutely no patience for Coelho's particular brand of preachy self-help pop-psychology.

juicy brained intellectual

this shitty, whiny book in a nutshell, which is all it deserves: a simple, trite, self-indulgent allegory that poorly contemplates the similarities between genius and insanity

i think this is the worst passage i've read so far:
Vitriol was a toxic substance whose symptoms he had identified in his conversations with the men and women he had met. Now he was writing a thesis on the subject, which he would submit to the Slovenian Academy of Sciences for its scrutiny. It was the most important step in the field of insanity since Dr. Pinel had ordered that patients should be unshackled, astonishing the medical world with the idea that some of them might even be cured.
As with the libido—the chemical reaction responsible for sexual desire, which Dr. Freud had identified, but which no laboratory had ever managed to isolate—Vitriol was released by the human organism whenever a person found him- or herself in a frightening situation, although it had yet to be picked up in any spectrographic tests. It was easily recognized, though, by its taste, which was neither sweet nor savory—a bitter taste. Dr. Igor, the as-yet-unrecognized discoverer of this fatal substance, had given it the name of a poison much favored in the past by emperors, kings, and lovers of all kinds whenever they needed to rid themselves of some obstructive person.

if you are filled with the incomprehensible rage that follows after utter dullness like this, we will probably make good friends.

so i actually finished this, and guess what! it was consistently awful. entirely insipid with a delightful dose of misogyny--outside of the entire premise of the book, a young woman just "deciding" to kill herself basically because she's bored; apparently veronika only discovers life is worth living after meeting a boring artist dude & and (spoiler ahead) it turns out her male doctor was drugging her with a medicine that mimics heart attacks solely so she could discover how important life is worth living. what??? in no way is this examined for how fucked up it is and we're supposed to just sit back and enjoy the shitty advice on how to live life that's being spewed. i probably would have enjoyed this when i was fifteen and didn't know any better, but i'm an adult human with critical thinking skills. i am not impressed with contrived, falsely "deep" drivel. y'all shouldn't be either.


“The two hardest tests on the spiritual road are the patience to wait for the right moment and the courage not to be disappointed with what we encounter.”

Let's rephrase. "“The two hardest tests on the Coelho humbug reading journey are the patience to wait for the right moment (which never comes) and the courage not to be disappointed with what we encounter (on that road to nowhere by the way of nonsense).”

I confidently stated once that I had only read two books by Coelho, the first being an innocent accident (who could have imagined that The Alchemist could be that bad?) and the second a concession to my disbelief that the first could really be as bad as that. I had to try another one to make sure the incompatibility of Coelho's thinking and mine was truly authentic and irreparable. I chose 11 minutes and it took me no longer to know we had to part.

Guess my shock when I found this book on the top of a shelf and was about to throw it away and skimmed through it and realised I recognised enough of its content to know the horrible truth: I have read three Coelho books! Three! Imagine the other books that I did NOT spend that reading time with, that may now remain unread because I spent valuable minutes and (oh horror!) hours reading THREE books of utter nonsense - and as far as I recall without external force of any kind? I can't really call it FORCE MAJEURE or anything as forgiving as that.

What if I never get to read all books by Forster, Woolf, Dickens, Grass, Stendhal, Zola or Jamaica Kincaid or ... or ... or... What if some of those wonderful books I have in my bookshelf remain unread forever while I have THREE Coelhos in my mental library?

I am a teacher and I am good at explaining the importance of focus, priority and choice to my students. If you choose to spend time on this, something else won't happen. Think first, act wisely, use your time to add value to your life!

I am quite a Veronika, come to think of it. I have it all and then I end up reading Paulo Coelho. Really, if you think I am exaggerating the misery of this, just read the first page and gasp (BUT don't say I RECOMMENDED it to you, that would be adding shame to misery if I made people read this too!).

Veronika is so privileged and lucky, she decides it is time to commit suicide (thus we are introduced to a meaningful plot in the first sentence). The second paragraph drifts off on a riff about Veronika having met the Brazilian author Paulo Coelho and how she starts being interested in Computer Science because of this, reading a magazine and digging deeper into it while she prepares for her suicide. Right? Because that's what we do while we plan to kill our fictional selves? We get interested in our "creators", who invade not only the novel, but also the mind of the suicidal yet unfocused protagonist... And of course our creator has some meaningful reflections to quote from the fictional magazine while the pills dissolve in Veronika's stomach (as we are kindly informed, but that's not the reason for her passive interest in computer science - she is passive by nature, hence the unmotivated suicide!?). "Where is Slovenia?" Right. That's the question I would raise while randomly reading a science magazine, waiting to die. And then ...

Enough said. I recant my reading of three Coelhos. Is there any redemption or will the entire universe conspire to punish me for my lack of taste?

What's the verdict?


At about 50 pages in, it's a little frightening how much I've identified with Veronika thus far, how much I understand her rationale for wanting to die. She can only see one path unfolding for herself, and it's one she can't stomach. I get that. But unlike Veronika I haven't given up hope that my path may yet fork off in unexpected and exciting directions.

I also read and think there must be a certain kind of comfort in going truly insane. Not this garden-variety neurosis I experience, but really, disconnected-from-reality insane. We're so frightened of the idea of insanity, of not knowing what's going on around us or not being able to distinguish truth from fantasy, but what would it be like to live it? There's a part of me that thinks maybe it would be just a little liberating, and I can understand why the Fraternity (?) wants to stay in the asylum instead of returning to the world outside.


I'm settled in to read. It's drizzling rain and the sky outside is a deep, melancholy gray. I've got pillows stacked up on the couch, the cat languorously swishing his tail as he gazes out the window, and a cup of chocolate truffle coffee on the little rolling cart we use for a coffee table. Angelo Badalementi's haunting soundtrack music from Twin Peaks pours from the tinny speakers on my laptop. It's kind of a perfect day.

I just came across this passage.


The doctors said that a recently discovered substance, serotonin, was one of the compounds responsible for how human beings felt. A lack of serotonin impaired one's capacity to concentrate at work, to sleep, to eat, and to enjoy life's pleasures. When this substance was completely absent, the person experienced despair, pessimism, a sense of futility, terrible tiredness, anxiety, difficulties in making decisions, and would end up sinking into a permanent gloom, which would lead either to complete apathy or suicide.


In Zedka's case, however, the reasons were simpler than anyone suspected: there was a man hidden in her past, or rather, the fantasy she had built up about a man she had known a long time ago.

Oh, Zedka, I suspect many of us can trace the roots of depression to the fantasy of a man (or woman) hidden in our pasts.

I'm now eager to read on and discover Zedka's story.

The impossible love. The refusal to believe the impossible love is impossible. Hope itself can be a sort of madness sometimes, when it's false, when we allow it to consume us rather than uplift. Yes. I know this.

Now back to Veronika, and, holy shit, I could just as well be reading my own journal.

She had overcome her minor defects only to be defeated by matters of fundamental importance. She had managed to appear utterly independent when she was, in fact, desperately in need of company. ... She gave all her friends the impression that she was a woman to be envied, and she expended most of her energy in trying to behave in accordance with the image she had created of herself.

Because of that she had never had enough energy to be herself, a person who, like everyone in the world, needed other people in order to be happy. But other people were so difficult. They reacted in unpredictable ways, they surrounded themselves with defensive walls, they behaved just as she did, pretending they didn't care about anything. ...

She might have impressed a lot of people with her strength and determination, but where had it left her? In the void. Utterly alone.

I suspect Veronika soon will learn she's not quite as alone as she thinks. God, I hope so.

Also? I think I have to stop reproducing passages from this book or I'll end up quoting the whole damn thing.

Dr. Igor? The psychiatrist? Quite possibly the craziest character in the book. He's laughably absurd. I loved the interchange between him and Veronika's mother -- the jumping back and forth between points-of-view and the mother's puzzlement at the things Igor was saying.

Oh. Here's another snippet.

"Haven't you learned anything, not even with the approach of death? Stop thinking all the time that you're in the way, that you're bothering the person next to you. If people don't like it, they can complain. And if they don't have the courage to complain, that's their problem."

The supposedly insane people in this novel are all ones who are challenging and rejecting these unspoken rules we all live by, that hold us down and hold us back. These ideas that we should follow certain expected paths and behave in certain ways and suppress our true selves. These lunatics are calling bullshit on society, and it's wonderful.


And now I'm done, and I feel like I've gone on a journey with this book and come out the other side much like Veronika, Mari, Eduard and Zedka -- ready to embrace my life and my capacity for love.


2 bemused yes bemused stars !

Veronika has a mild personality disorder and attempts a serious suicide attempt. She is placed in a private psych. hospital in the capital of Slovenia. She is beautiful and artistic and hypersexual and "special" (I suspect that this is the way Mr. Coelho views himself as well)

Through pretentious and contrived conversations and situations filled with half-facts, pseudo-wisdom and a whole lot of malarkey she is cured. This is not a novel but rather a vehicle for Mr. Coelho to brand his own personal philosophies to the masses. (almost like propaganda)

This book elicited a bemused response from me at this age so I decided to imagine what Jaidee at other ages would have thought and felt about this book.

Jaidee at 14 - 1 star- "really weird and kind of boring"
Jaidee at 19 - 3 stars- "Wow that Veronika is one cool and sexi chick."
Jaidee at 23 - 3.5 stars- "Poor Veronika -she is so misunderstood another victim of patriarchy"
Jaidee at 28 - 4 stars - "Wow there is some pretty cool stuff in this book...very deep"
Jaidee at 37 - barely half a star- " what a bunch of ridiculous bs"

Perhaps this book has elements of all the above and that is why Mr. Coelho sells so many damn books.