Aug 13

Book Review: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

“I don’t live in either my past or my future. I’m interested only in the present. If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man. Life will be a party for you, a grand festival; because life is the moment we’re living now.”

The Alchemist is written as a parable that follows a young shepherd named Santiago who has a recurring dream about finding a treasure near the pyramids of Egypt.  Santiago wrestles with the idea of leaving all that he knows and has come to enjoy in his life for this idea that something out there is waiting for him.  As the book begins Santiago is heading into a local town that he has not been in for over a year with the goals of making money off of his sheep and wooing the local merchant girl who he talks with about the books he reads.

Early on in his journey a Gypsy fortune teller tells him that his dream is true.  Then he meets an old king, Melchizedek who tells him he should sell his sheep and go to Egypt, assuring Santiago that this is his Personal Legend.  He says that when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.  This statement is basically the theme of the entire book.

Santiago is convinced to follow his dream and sells his sheep in order to fund his journey.  Along the way he meets an eclectic cast of characters, each of which has an important lesson to teach him about life.  For example, he finds what he believes to be a friend in a local tavern.  This friend promises to help him on his way and leads him into the streets of the local marketplace in order to buy supplies for their travels.  Somehow his new partner convinces Santiago that he should carry the money and the next thing Santiago knows his ‘friend’ has slipped away into the crowd.  He quickly learns his lesson not to be so trusting of every person who claims to be a friend.

Now Santiago is in a new country has lost all of his money, his sheep, and feels like his Personal Legend is slipping out of his grasp.  Santiago then has to make a choice, on one hand he can try to scrape up enough money to go home and become a shepherd again or follow his heart and pursue the dream that has taken hold of his heart.

The Alchemist is a quick read at around 160 pages and slips from the realm of an action adventure story to more of an allegory about life and the role of destiny has on it.  At times the conversations that Santiago has with the people that come in and out of his life can become a little preachy and a little too deep for light reading, but if you are look for a little life affirming or the push to follow your own dream this book will be right up your alley.  I give the Alchemist four shells out of five.
4 shells

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  1. Cecilia

    Sounds interesting have to put it on wish list.

    1. Kenny and Karen

      It is worth the read

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