Waney, December 30, 2012 (view all comments by Waney)
A very inspiring and positive book, it actually gives me hope that the things that I aspire for will in the end I would achieve if only I strive hard and don't lose hope until I get it. Sometimes the detours and the problems that we face now were later on in our life will make sense and when you remember that moment especially if you had overcome it you will know that you are thankful for that to happen because in the end you would learn something from it.
The Alchemist can be either intuitive or didactic depending on one’s mindset going into the novel. It has the potential to teach what some may call valuable lessons, and others preaching to the point of annoyance. If readers approach the book with a firm scientific understanding of the world, this novel won't appeal to them as much as those who are open to new ideas, because they won’t be able to relate to the majority of Coelho’s thoughts.
Since The Alchemist circulates many different religious viewpoints, it will seem very didactic to those who try to apply all Coelho’s ideas to their own lives. This is the kind of book that is overwhelming if taken in as a whole, so readers must understand that not every concept will be relatable. It would be unfair to negatively label the book based on those ideas that are unrelatable, because The Alchemist has so many valuable lessons that every reader can take away at least something. For some, however, there is only a small portion they can connect to (which often results in dislike of the novel).
One may agree with Coelho’s concept that God placed every living thing on the earth to fulfill it’s personal legend and reject the idea of Santiago conversing with the sun, while others believe the opposite. For this reason, there is no way to determine how much someone will take away from this book prior to reading it. Reading the back or hearing about it from another won’t have any impact, as there are too many ideas to summarize in this novel. One just has to pick it up, and see how much they learn.
Harry The Stallion Grant, September 10, 2012 (view all comments by Harry The Stallion Grant)
In a world of literature based on spirituality, religion, and quests for self-betterment, there is one book that takes all of these concepts and beats them all to a bloody pulp. That book is Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist.
The Alchemist is obnoxious, preachy, and full of bad lessons for the reader while being posed as “good” lessons. The story begins with a shepherd boy, Santiago, who, after having a dream of treasure in the pyramids twice, decides to act literally on his dreams and go search for treasure. Instead of planning out this venture, Santiago sells all of his sheep, talks to a magical king, and sets off to the pyramids with nothing but some money and the idea that he should treat everything as an omen, and to follow them. The prospect of acting literally on dreams is so unrealistic that the possibility of it being a relatable story is whisked away in the first few pages.
Santiago’s quest takes him through many trials, such as being stolen from several times and trying to turn into the wind. Santiago tells himself that he will make his own decisions despite relying almost entirely on Paulo Coelho’s religion sandwich of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and even his own philosophy. Coelho’s proposes the thought that everything in the world has a soul, which forms the Soul of the World through a hierarchal soul-tower. Santiago’s reliance on his religion is so great that he bets his life on it several times, one occasion based entirely on seeing some birds fight.
Santiago is told that everyone has a Personal Legend, which is essentially a destiny that people don’t realize and can choose to follow. It is, however, the only thing that will make them happy. Santiago’s Personal Legend, as he is told, is to find treasure in the pyramids. He is also told that the whole world will conspire to assist to him in achieving his goal. This is not evident, as it seems everything works against him (he is stolen from, beaten, and put in generally risky situations). Santiago is also told that coincidence does not exist, which explains why he sees everything as an omen (flying birds, snakes in a hole) and to be noticed and treated like something important in his life.
The worst parts of the book are not even in the story, but the pretentiousness of Paulo Coelho. This book creates his own religion (a Coelho Cult, if you will), through the binding of other religions. Coelho makes attempts to be philosophical with the quote (by the alchemist) “Everything that happens once can never happen again, but something that happens twice will surely happen a third time”. If something were to happen once, it would never happen again. For something to happen twice (and, evidently, a third time), it would defy the previous statement. Coelho’s own philosophy is a paradox.
In short, the book is most likely more enjoyed by those of spiritual belief or religious than those without.
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Kendal, September 10, 2012 (view all comments by Kendal)
I thought that The Alchemist was a very insightful novel. Paulo Coelho included many useful life lessons to show to the readers and gave them a chance to examine their own lives and how they live them. The books' simplicity makes it great for all ages and it being so simple makes it so easy to interpret and understand. It is chalked-full of valuable life lessons and ideas that every human being should know or at least be aware of; from listening to your heart and following your dreams, to being one with the world and at peace with what is around you. So many ideas from a variety of religions and faiths have been tossed at you and all you need to do it read the book. Coelho could not have done a better job piecing together hundreds of ideas from so many religions to show how really similar we all are. He has done the human race a huge favor by showing us that no matter who or what we believe in, even if its nothing, that together we still all are very similar and can achieve anything if we work together. The Alchemist has a mix of different levels of realistic qualities throughout the novel. At some points the book almost becomes boring, however when the tension starts to build and events become exciting, it definitely makes this a worth while read. I personally didn't love this book however I still think that it is a good book. It was written well and for a large variety of audiences and will be an inspirational book for years to come.
T Howard, September 10, 2012 (view all comments by T Howard)
An Imperfect Gem
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho won’t change your life dramatically, but it will make you pause for a moment to consider the world. On the surface, it’s a simple fable about a shepherd who chooses to follow his dreams. If you can look deeper into the book, though, you begin to understand people’s fascination with it. The choice of whether or not to delve further into it is yours, but if you do, be prepared for a novel that you won’t soon forget.
The lessons The Alchemist teaches are ones most of us have known since we could tie our shoes--listen to your heart, work hard and reap the rewards, and most importantly, follow your dreams. Coelho has a way of sharing his philosophies without shoving them down your throat. Were there things I didn’t agree with? Sure. But I still thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It’s nice to take a step back and reflect on the basics. I stopped several times just to absorb what I had read. I was frequently touched by Coelho’s simple but whimsical words. The main character, Santiago, learns and grows so much through his journey, that you can’t help but feel like you grew a little bit alongside him.
However, no book is without its flaws--The Alchemist is no exception. It’s not an artful masterpiece. The characters aren’t complex enigmas. The language is blunt and Coelho’s lessons are clearly outlined parables. The plot is mediocre and offers few surprises along the way. But through these imperfections is still a small gem.
Imperfect or not, this book can remind us of the important things that your average day rarely does. If you want a book to touch you in a way that most can’t, I suggest picking up a copy of The Alchemist to see what you think of it for yourself.
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Whether you want to take a journey or to be reassured that life is filled with wonder and magic, this beautifully optimistic book is for you. Follow Santiago, a shepherd who follows a dream to find treasure hidden under the pyramids, but ends up finding so much more.
by Spencer Johnson, M.D., co-author of The One-Minute Manager,
"An entrepreneurial tale of universal wisdom we can apply to the business of our own lives."
by London Times,
"[His] books have had a life-enchanting effect on millions of people."
by San Francisco Chronicle,
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by M. Scott Peck,
"A wise and inspiring fable about the pilgrimage that life should be."
by Austin American-Statesman,
"As memorable and meaningful as Saint-Exupery's The Little Prince."
by Rudolfo Anaya, author of Bless Me, Ultima,
"An adventure story full of magic and wisdom."
by Gerald G. Jampolsky, M.D., co-author of Change Our Mind, Change Your Life,
"A most tender and gentle story. It is a rare gem of a book."
by New York Times,
"[This] Brazilian wizard makes books disappear from stores."
by Indianapolis Star,
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by Publishers Weekly,
"A sweetly exotic tale for young and old alike."
by Anthony Robbins, author of Awaken the Giant Within,
"A remarkable tale about the most magical of all journeys: the quest to fulfill one's destiny."
by Harper Collins,
Paulo Coelho's enchanting novel has inspired a devoted following around the world, and this tenth anniversary edition, with a new introduction from the author, will only increase that following. This story, dazzling in its powerful simplicity and inspiring wisdom, is about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried in the Pyramids. Along the way he meets a Gypsy woman, a man who calls himself king, and an alchemist, all of whom point Santiago in the direction of his quest. No one knows what the treasure is, or if Santiago will be able to surmount the obstacles along the way. But what starts out as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a discovery of the treasures found within. Lush, evocative, and deeply humane, the story of Santiago is an eternal testament to the transforming power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts.
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