Book Review: The Alchemist

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

Book Title: The Alchemist
Author: Paulo Coelho
Publication Date: 1988
Genres: Adult Fiction, Philosophical
Goodreads Rating: 3.71 Stars
My Rating: 4.5 Stars

Every few decades a book is published that changes the lives of its readers forever. The Alchemist is such a book. With over a million and a half copies sold around the world, The Alchemist has already established itself as a modern classic, universally admired. Paulo Coelho’s charming fable, now available in English for the first time, will enchant and inspire an even wider audience of readers for generations to come. The Alchemist is 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. From his home in Spain he journeys to the markets of Tangiers and across the Egyptian desert to a fateful encounter with the alchemist. The story of the treasures Santiago finds along the way teaches us, as only a few stories have done, 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.

Let me preface this with saying that I have never really enjoyed a translated book. Generally, I find that things truly get lost in translation and it is impossible to get the full story when books are translated from other languages to English. Also, usually the writing gets very poor, and I can’t stomach reading it. (For example, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)

That being said, I loved this book. It was very simple, yes. It was a little contrived, yes. But Santiago was young and determined and fresh, and the quotes from this book are awesome. Even though this book is written as more of a parable or a moralistic story, I fell for it completely. I love the idea of dropping everything that you have known in search of that one thing that you know will make you happy. Of course, in real life, people generally can’t do this sort of thing, but it’s pretty inspiring to read a story about someone who left behind everything that he knew in search of his true happiness.

I wouldn’t say that this is an overly optimistic book. It’s pretty honest when dealing with his struggles and his doubts about the path his life has taken. There were bumps and issues along the way, but through determination, Santiago was able to find a path to lead him to where he is supposed to be. It was more determination than optimism that kept him going throughout the story.

Also, this is not a religious book by any means, but it does present the idea of Fate and Destiny and the fact that, while things may seem like a stumbling block, they are really a ladder to take you to the next part of your life.

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”

“When you possess great treasures within you, and try to tell others of them, seldom are you believed.”

“People are afraid to pursue their most important dreams, because they feel that they don’t deserve them, or that they’ll be unable to achieve them.”

“So, I love you because the entire universe conspired to help me find you.”

“I’m afraid that if my dream is realized, I’ll have no reason to go on living.”

“This wasn’t a strange place; it was a new one.”

“When each day is the same as the next, it’s because people fail to recognize the good things that happen in their lives every day that the sun rises.”

“He never realized that people are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of.”

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