I have seen this book on the shelf of my college bookstore for over a year and every time I have wanted to engross myself in its pages. Then my mom gave it to me for my birthday and I was so excited to read it that I let it sit on my bookshelf for another six months before I finally read the first page. And after the first page I had the entire book read in two days. It’s funny how that works; you put things off continually knowing that if you just sat down to begin you would find enjoyment. So, to make a long story short, let’s get to talking about this inspirational book.
Join Santiago, a young man who gave up the opportunity to study as a priest so that he could travel the world as a shepherd boy. When he begins to have a recurring dream of traveling to the pyramids of Egypt, he looks for help in deciphering his dream and meets an old man who claims to be a king and encourages him to seek the treasure from his dreams. Though the answer he receives isn’t what he wants to hear he decides to take up the call and embark on his Personal Legend. Along the way he meets several people including a crystal merchant, an aspiring alchemist, and a real alchemist. Each person teachers him something about the world and about himself until the time he reaches his final destination and discovers what the treasure really is.
Paulo Coelho writes in a simplistic and impressive style. He does not spend time on a lot of detailed description unless it is necessary to enhance a moment in the plot, which he does with an almost effortless ease, using a contrast in detail to draw the reader’s attention to the most important parts of the story. It is a didactic tale, but one that was made so by design. Some will argue that didactic literature is of lesser quality, but there is a place for it in the world of books.
The spiritual nature of the book reminds me of Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet. They both focus on simplistic truths that provide meat for the individual’s soul. The Alchemist focuses on the inner journey of individuals to discover their true self. As of late this has been something that I have been struggling with. More specifically I’ve been struggling with finding purpose and meaning in my life. And after reading this book I still don’t know what purpose of meaning I have in my life, but I have a lot more hope in finding it now.
To say the least, I think this book is phenomenal. I am hard pressed to find anything that I think deserves to be changed or improved. The only thing that might have made the book a little better would have been to draw back a little from the didactic nature, hoping this would only improve it from a literary perspective. Rhetorically, however, this was a good move. Coelho is a very popular author who writes his books with the intent to inspire, not to mention that didactic novels have become very popular, though I doubt that the author’s intent was to write for the fancy of the public.
No matter what genre you read (I understand that some people read almost exclusively from one genre though I don’t understand why) this is a book for you. There are books that have the power to touch the lives of many people in remarkable ways and this will do that. So many people are looking to find meaning in their lives. Some are closer than others, but everyone needs a little push in the right direction now and then. And I promise you this is a book that will do just that.