It’s Christmas Day and I am in Tromso in the north of Norway.  Not coincidentally, I have just finished reading The Christmas Mystery by Jostein Gaarder.  I’m reading Gaarder’s books on the recommendation of my friend, Kenny, who thinks they’re great.  He’s been encouraging me to read them for ages and I finally caved in this year.

The first title I read (just a couple of days ago) was The Orange Girl.  Whilst I understand the philosophical point being made, I’m not sure that I enjoyed the book for itself.  The Christmas Mystery was another story altogether, though.  It can be read in many many ways but, as a Christian, I read it as a discussion about the true meaning of Christmas.  And I enjoyed it as a story, too.  I couldn’t put it down; I wanted to know what would be revealed behind each door of the Advent calendar.

I’m not sure that I think these are children’s books, although I bought them in a children’s department.  I’m also not sure (sorry, Kenny) that I’d buy any more of Gaarder’s books.  I enjoyed one but not the other and I’m not sure what I think of the style and quality of the writing.  But that’s a problem as, of course, I read them in translation.  My Norwegian has some way to go before I’ll be able to read them in the original.  Maybe until then I’ll borrow the English translations from a friend…


  1. I heard of Jostein Gaarder as the author of sophie’s world but I never read one of his books. My friend told me the content of Sophie’s world and I honestly have to admit that I wasn’t interested into it. Everything was very confusing and I think it’s not easy to read. So, he’s not the right author for me, but I never knew that he’s from Norway.

  2. Thanks for reading the books Jane.

    I wouldn’t say his books are for children, although some of them could be enjoyed by children and adults alike. The ones I enjoyed most are Sophie’s World and the Solitaire Mystery. The thing I like most about Jostein Gaarder’s books is that I find them very easy to read. I like the style, the way he thinks (even if I don’t always agree with him) and the way he puts across his story/message. I also like the way he asks questions about life without always giving an answer, as if he himself is still searching and wondering and doesn’t have all the answers.

    Since a book is a form of communication I suppose it is a fairly meaningless statement to say that a book is a “good” book. To say that it is a good book for me (or for some other person or persons) is a much more meaningful statement since the perspective/understanding/outlook of the reader is as key as that of the writer, in terms of the contents being understood/enjoyed.
    So I wouldn’t claim that Jostein Gaarder is a great author, but I would say he is a great author for me and I’ve enjoyed his books very much.

    I’d be happy to lend you any of them should you ever consider reading another.

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