The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)

First published: 1988, This edition: 2012, Harper Collins, Pages: 161

With over 65 million sold copies and translations into 80 languages (holds Guinness World Record for the most translated book by a living author), I needed to find out for myself what the book was all about. Those are some serious accolades. I didn’t read any reviews before writing this one because with such a popular book, I wanted to be undiluted so to speak. A few people in my circle have read the book and have differing opinions. Some sing its praises, others are just ok while others don’t get the overfuss.

I understand why some people are left underwhelmed by this book. The book is super simple; a simple story line, simply written with simple language for everyone to understand. Teenagers and even pre teenagers can easily read this book. It is simply a story about a Sheperd boy who’s on course to find treasure and learns a lot of lessons along the way. The book is only 160 Pages so you could read it in a day or two. Similar to a tiny book I read in my first year at tertiary, « Who moved my cheese? » by Dr Spencer Johnson, I believe the strength of ‘The Alchemist’ lies in its simplicity. I’m not going all ga-ga about it but I love the plenty subtle life lessons I found in it. In its simple wording are nuggets that are dynamite. It’s the kind of book that has ideas that provoke conversation for everyday life. I would call it a self-help book in novel form. I’ve decided that I want to read the book again and then take pictures of underlined areas I had to stop and ponder on. If you focus on the simplicity of the plot or the writing, especially if you’re an avid reader used to reading some heavy crime / thriller type books, you will miss the ‘stop and smell the roses’ kind of lessons. From the first read, I took the following from it;

1) Following one’s dreams comes with sacrifices. Sometimes the sacrifices pay off and sometimes they don’t. No dream worth pursuing will cost you nothing.

2) There are many challenges in searching for one’s ‘treasure,’ whatever it may be for each one of us. Others will take the plunge and others will be overwhelmed by the responsibility and not even attempt.

3) We only have now. Tomorrow or the next second is promised to no one. We need to learn to be present in the moment instead of letting moments pass us by, by always looking to the future.

I also want to look at some of the challenges I had with the book but I’ll leave these for when I’ve done a second read…But I think this will be one of those books where you either love it or you don’t.

Often we have to go beneath the surface to discover treasure.



2 thoughts on “The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)”

  1. They say simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Therein lies the secret of the Alchemist. Good review

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