The Alchemist

The Alchemist
by: Paulo Coelho

Published: 1988

# of pages: 177

Quote: "When he looked into her dark eyes, and saw that her lips were poised between a laugh and silence, he learned the most important part of the language that all the world spoke - the language that everyone on earth was capable of understanding in their heart. It was love. Something older than humanity, more ancient than the desert." -Santiago & Fatima pg. 97


This novel was short, but it didn't lack for substance! I was amazed that every other page had such insightful descriptions and observations about life. I wouldn't say that it really taught me anything, but it did make me think about things more and I was amazed that Coelho obviously thought more about the "little" everyday things than I ever have!

The story follows "the boy" Santiago. He dreams a dream that changes his life. From then on he's on a quest to fulfill his destiny by following omens and listening to his heart. In the process, he travels the world and meets many friends...and enemies. I liked Santiago and was interested in his quest and the outcome. There's twists and turns on his journey that made it more interesting and made me wonder more than once what exactly he was going to find at the end.

All of the deep thoughts he has were very repetitive and sometimes seemed contradictory. That as well as his conversations with some of the other characters. I was very interested how all of the new agey sounding concepts mixed with religious concepts. I don't really get how they go together even after finishing the book. This book does mix many different religions and world views though. Christianity, Islam, and what I felt was a magical or kind of new age spiritualism.

If you decide to read this book I definitely recommend trying to read it in a short amount of time in as few readings as possible. Every time I picked up the book I would feel a moment of frustration at how repetitive and unnecessarily philosophical it was. However, after getting into it for awhile I was able to look past the parts that were full of cliches and pick out the parts that interested me and the core story of Santiago's adventures. At first I was also concerned about whether or not I was fully understanding the book or if I was missing important symbols, etc. But I think that it was fine to just read it for what it was. It did make me think more about life in general, but I didn't feel like it was truly any deeper than what was written on the page. The only thing I would be interesting in reading more about was the whole religious aspect of the book and what other people think about that.

That being said, I think this is a good book for the story and it is quite inspiring (although very unrealistic!). It's appropriate for young adults and adults alike. Let me know what you thought of it.

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3 comments:

Myckyee said...

I'm not sure this is a book for me but you wrote a very interesting review.

Andi said...

I read this one several years ago during a very unhappy time in my life. I loved it then and it helped me focus on and pursue those things that would ultimately make me happy (teaching, a Masters degree in lit, etc.), but I wonder how I would perceive it now that I'm in a very different place in life. Maybe time for a re-read!

Ladybug said...

I read this book about two weeks ago and I still haven't written a review. I'm not sure how I felt about it. I had it on audio and I didn't listen to it in one sitting.

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