The Alchemist ~ Paulo Coelho


Paolo Coehlo is a name I’d heard before of course. But I never opened The Alchemist until a couple of weeks ago when I read it for this challenge. I was surprised when I received it in the mail to see how small a book it was. I read it in French instead of English.

The Alchemist follows Santiago, a young Andalusia shepherd, as he decides to follow a dream and travel to the Egyptian Pyramids. A gypsy interprets the dream as meaning a treasure is buried there for him to find. On his way, he meets a King – Melchizedek from the Old Testament – a crystal salesman, an Englishman in search of an alchemist, the love of his life in an oasis and the alchemist himself. The journey through the desert allows him to discover his Personal Legend and the Universal Language as well as the Soul of the World.
It’s almost cliché to say the book reminds us the journey is more important that the destination. In fact, the treasure and power the shepherd seeks in within.

The book wasn’t all that impressive: it felt a bit like a fraud. It was a book pretending to be a novel when it’s really a religious lesson. It’s in faith one finds their Personal Legend and achieve who they truly are. I don’t adhere to the message. I do see how chasing your dream no matter what and attempting to be your best self if a good thing but religion isn’t the only way to achieve that.

I guess I was disappointed because everyone I know who’s read the book was raving about it, because whenever you research it on the internet, it’s “changed people’s lives”… I don’t know.
It wasn’t a bad book per se, but I don’t see what makes it such a big deal. Really it’s the story of a guy who follows a dream, which meaning he’s not even sure about, only to find out that the treasure he sought was actually exactly where he was. But he had to follow the dream to realize his potential…

I’ve been this guy; I left my home to follow a dream only to realize that one can achieve their dream wherever they want, or that maybe by following one dream you end up realizing others you didn’t even know you had. So in that sense I sort of could relate, although I wasn’t in search of a treasure. Still it didn’t blow my mind… Maybe I was expecting too much from it.

The writing also didn’t impress me; at least the translation felt somewhat – I don’t know – awkward. Short sentences that didn’t give you the chance to breathe even when the character slowed down. That was curious.
So yes, all in all I may need to re-read the book to determine what makes it so special but right now I haven’t figured it out.

Have you read the book?
What did you think?

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