Title: The Alchemist
Author: Paulo Coelho
Genre: Fantasy/ Philosophy
Publication date: 1993
Paulo Coelho’s masterpiece tells the mystical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure. His quest will lead him to riches far different—and far more satisfying—than he ever imagined. Santiago’s journey teaches us about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, of recognizing opportunity and learning to read the omens strewn along life’s path, and, most importantly, to follow our dreams.
It has been a while since my last review and to be honest I didn’t expect my come back to be with The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I started it today by chance – I was at the gym and I had no music on my phone (I know there is this thing called The Internet but I was almost out of battery). So I decided to start the audio book then and here I am, few hours later, writing a review.
I was a bit skeptic at first – I’ve heard a lot of talk about Paulo Coelho‘s books and mainly how when a model in some competition is asked for a favorite book they always say something by Paulo Coelho since that is supposed to make them look smarter, more spiritual or something. So in my head I expected The Alchemist to be something of a commercial bullshit that was ‘cool to read’. I’m happy to say that it was not the disappointment I was preparing myself for.
The story revolves around Santiago, a shepherd who is content with being what he is, happy to always be on the move. His life changes when he has the same dream twice about a treasure he would find in Egypt, by the pyramids. The prospect of the treasure is thrilling but he is used to be a realist, to be content with what he has and not want for more. He meets a gypsy and then an old man who claims to be the king of Salem and both of them encourage him to embark on this uncertain journey.
He sails to Egypt and that is where all his troubles begin. He gets robbed and he doesn’t have money even for food let alone to go home; he doesn’t speak the language; he doesn’t know anybody there; and most importantly, he can’t travel to the pyramids.
The young shepherd goes through a whole ordeal of misfortunes, difficulties and situations which would sway any man from their path and send them running back to what is familiar, safe. But he pushes through, he remains positive. He almost gives up on his dream a few times but he is often reminded that it is his destiny and if he does not fulfill it he’ll never find true happiness.
This is a story of perseverance, of fate and strong will and it was refreshing to read. There were a bit too much philosophical deviations for my liking but all in all it was not boring or overbearing. The part where the shepherd talked to the wind and the sun was too much for me but I guess it is a matter of choice.
One thing I especially liked about it was the fact that it did not revolve around love. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I like a good love story as much as the next girl but this story promoted all the right ideas. You don’t need love to make your live meaningful; love is not the end goal of your existence – love is a drive for a person, a support system that allows them to do better, to achieve more.
Your loved ones, if they truly love you, should never force you to abandon your dreams or settle for less. I love this idea and I am super happy with how it was presented. I’ve been trying to implement it in my writing too but in The Alchemist it is simply put, clear and so true that I had to stop for a second just to enjoy it.
So to rate it properly I would give it a 4/5 rating. I enjoyed it and it was surprisingly easy to read but it was a bit slow-going for me, a bit more on the philosophical side rather than the adventure/action side. It’s a matter of preference, of course, and this is mine.
What about you? What rating would you give? What are your thoughts and takes on The Alchemist?