ajburman, September 10, 2012 (view all comments by ajburman)
The Alchemist is a good attempt to teach life lessons but can lose the reader quickly. Paulo Coelho uses the few characters that are relevant in the book to demonstrate following dreams and taking risks but those risks were sometimes un-realistic and result in a poor reading experience.
While on the journey with Santiago, you can find yourself rooting for the shepherd and connecting with his struggles. It is easy to become skeptical of the boy’s decisions. Several times in the story, the boy cites “The Omens” as his gut feeling when making substantial life decisions without considering the possible consequences or giving them much thought at all. The story soon becomes un-believable and begins to just feel like a fairy tale. The life lessons and meaning seem to get lost and the story leaves you wondering if the boy really does have magical powers. I started to lose the ability to relate with the boy and the story at about that point.
During the journey, the boy is told to “Listen to your heart. It knows all things, because it comes from the Soul of the World, and it will one day return there.” It is easy to get lost when the boy is talking to himself or to different parts of the Soul of the World. It can sometimes feel like this magical force is more developed than any of the other characters in the story, especially the two women. That under development really takes away from the feelings or relativity to any of the other characters other than Santiago.
Overall, The Alchemist is an entertaining story full of life lessons when the boy is repeatedly told to listen to his heart and follow his dreams. The reader can find themselves lost in the story at times and then skeptical on the next page. But at the end of the day, it is a flawed attempt to teach many life lessons in a short story of a boy in the desert.
Riley1319975, September 10, 2012 (view all comments by Riley1319975)
This “novel” was repetitive and degrading to women. The main theme of the book was that the journey, not the destination is the important part. This lesson was stressed many times throughout the book. Although this is an important lesson, having several people teach this to the main character and several stories within the story with this moral may have been a bit of overkill. Any reader could glean this speck of knowledge without so much as a second glance at the words or any thought about the book and meaning at all.
Most of the story was completely straight forward including some parts which made women seem weak and helpless. About halfway through the book the main character, Santiago, falls in love with a girl living the town he is passing through. When Santiago is talking to the girl about not wanting to leave to finish his “personal legend,” she tells him that he should go and that she understands that men must leave. She tells him she will await his return and that, being a “desert woman”, it is what she must do. Later, after Santiago tells the girl that he is leaving and she begins to cry, he asks her why she is crying. She replies, “I’m a woman of the desert, but above all I’m a woman.” This reply makes it seem as though women are powerless creatures who cannot help but cry. This remains consistent throughout the “novel.”
This “novel” could have easily been condensed into a short story. Although there is a message in it, the way the message shown makes it sound as though this story could have been written to children and not the adults it was shot towards. It seems as though the author simply forgot who his audience was.
All of these notes considered, it would be a good book to read to a child. However, if you want to find a book to read that commands higher order thinking or you want to find a story that has women who actually seem like humans right along-side the men, then I recommend searching elsewhere.
cpmclaughlin15, September 10, 2012 (view all comments by cpmclaughlin15)
I have heard many opinions of this book good and bad. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is about a young man trying to accomplish his personal legend, or his goal, as he undergoes a long and eventful journey. This book has won many prestigious awards and has much international acclaim and I thought that it was worth giving a shot. It took a little bit of time to learn to apply the morals to my own life and I had to remind myself that this story is a fable. If one is not a fan of fantasy stories this book is not for them but personally I learned a lot of good values from the book.
The characters that the boy meet and the events that they experience bring about a lot of inspiration and motivation. The book really stresses the importance and greatness of having extreme goals and achieving them. As a teenager I enjoyed reading the book because I could easily relate to the age and mind of the main character. I could apply my goals to the efforts that he put into his. Paulo Coelho did an excellent job depicting scenes and getting messages and mood across clearly one example being, “I’ve crossed these sands many times-- But the desert is so huge, and the horizons so distant, that they make a person feel small, and as if he should remain silent.” This is one example of where the author provokes thoughts from the reader. All in all I recommend this book not just because is well known but because the message is clear and the journey is interesting. It was inspirational and motivating for me and will be for anyone who reads it.
ematlock97, September 10, 2012 (view all comments by ematlock97)
Definitely a Fable, but with Good Intentions
“The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho was a little too much like hearing stories of Santa Claus as a kid. The story tells of a boy who goes on a journey to find his treasure and learns many useful facts about life along the way. These lessons were taken from many religions and philosophies, and teachings that we have all learned growing up. These ideas were very unrealistic at times and hard to follow. As a child, it is satisfying to hear that Santa will reward good behavior with presents on Christmas morning; reading “The Alchemist” was the same way. Much of the focus was on how the journey is more important than the treasure at the end, and all the world will conspire to help you achieve your dreams. I liked toying with the ideas of the Soul of the World and omens. However, these concepts, like Santa, are hard to fathom in reality. This makes it a challenging book to focus on and pull true meaning out of. Coelho enlightens readers with philosophies about following your heart and living your dreams, and you will be rewarded with your treasures. It was too overloaded and complex on these ideas though. It was just not my cup of tea.
This novel was such a mixture of religions and so unfocused that it became boring and repetitive, especially toward the end. However, with so many different philosophies and ideas included, anyone could pick out parts that they remember and take to heart. The thought that the treasure hunt is greater than the treasure was proven by the end of the book, which was annoyingly insufficient (unlike the rest of the plot). Overall, “The Alchemist” had thoughtful philosophies and an excessive amount of fantasy. Coelho had good intentions with his novel but it was too jumbled and did not do him justice.
niki.callahan, September 10, 2012 (view all comments by niki.callahan)
The mysteries and life lessons in The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho, are what make this book incredible. Not only are there mysteries around every corner, the book itself is a mystery. You have to read between the lines to uncover the hidden messages that come with every section of the book. You have to dig deeper in order to realize the importance of the book and why you should to read it.
Santiago, the main character, takes a journey to find his treasure that he keeps dreaming about. He encounters some people along the way that become great friends and guide Santiago closer to his treasure. He learns so many important things along this journey that make him a stronger and more intelligent human being. Through each section in the book is a hidden message that also guides Santiago closer to his treasure. By investigating each section, you unmask the true message and what it means or symbolizes.
I feel like one of the most important and helpful lessons in the book is one said by a camel driver Santiago meets. He said, “If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man. You’ll see that there is life in the desert, that there are stars in the heavens, and that tribesmen fight because they are apart of the human race. Life will be a party for you, a grand festival, because life is the moment we’re living right now” (85). The camel driver means that if you focus on right now and don’t worry about what happened yesterday or what will happen tomorrow, you’ll be alright. You don’t need to worry about anything else except the moment you are living right now.
I believe the journey itself is Santiago’s treasure. The book helped me to understand- as everyone should- that it doesn’t matter about how much money you own or the clothes you wear, it’s about the friendships and knowledge you gain throughout life and on your journey that produce the real treasure. Because of that journey Santiago chooses to take is what makes the book mysterious yet incredible.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No (1 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)
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,
"A magical little volume."
by Joseph Girzone, author of Joshua,
"A beautiful story with a pointed message for every reader."
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,
"A touching, inspiring fable."
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,
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho continues to change the lives of its readers forever. With more than two million copies sold around the world, The Alchemist has established itself as a modern classic, universally admired.
Paulo Coelho's masterpiece tells the magical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure as extravagant as any ever found.
The story of the treasures Santiago finds along the way teaches us, as only a few stories can, about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, learning to read the omens strewn along life's path, and, above all, following our dreams.
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.
Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.