I loved writing this book review of The Alchemist as it’s among the best books I’ve read. It is a simple story with deep philosophical underpinnings. The story is about a boy who is referred to throughout the book as “the boy”. His story is not of a particular person, but of each of us.
The boy has dreams to travel the world and so becomes a shepherd. Along the way, he encounters strange people sent to help him realise his destiny. His courage in trusting strangers, following omens, and listening to his heart makes his dreams come true.
Coelho’s choice of shepherd as the boy’s occupation echoes Christianity. At the same time, the customs of the people in the story reflect the Muslim faith. It is a respectful and beautiful blend of religions. The message is that at some level, all religions point to the same truth.
This book asks the dreamer in all of us whether we have given up on our deepest desires, or whether we will have the courage to own and seek our individual destinies.
Who should read this book
Those who have dreams
The Alchemist gives heart to those pursuing their dreams but meeting insurmountable obstacles. It assures us that every difficult step along the journey has a reason, though not be obvious at the time.
Seekers of knowledge
As the title implies, alchemy is a key topic in the book. The book gives a simple yet profound twist to our understanding of alchemy. It describes the transformation, not of metal but of ourselves.
Those who want to travel the world
Travelling is a luxury these days. Yet there is another way to travel – with your life itself. This requires the courage to leave loved ones and the comforts of life behind, in search of places that you want to see. The book inspires those yearning to see the world to stop procrastinating and do just that.
Quotes from the book
My favourite quote
“When people consult me, it’s not that I’m reading the future; I’m guessing at the future. The future belongs to God, and it is only he who reveals it, under extraordinary circumstances. How do I guess at the future? Based on the omens of the present. The secret is here in the present. If you pay attention to the present, you can improve upon it. And, if you improve upon the present, what comes later will also be better.” (page 108-109)
“When someone sees the same people every day, as had happened with him at the seminary, they wind up becoming part of that person’s life. And then they want the person to change. If someone isn’t what others want them to be, the others become angry. Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.” (page 16)
“Everyone, when they are young, knows what their destiny is. At that point in their lives, everything is clear and everything is possible. They are not afraid to dream, and to yearn for everything they would like to see happen to them in their lives. But, as time passes, a mysterious force begins to convince them that it will be impossible for them to realise their destiny.
It’s a force that appears to be negative, but actually shows you how to realize your destiny. It prepares your spirit and your will, because there is one great truth on this planet: whoever you are, or whatever it is that you do, when you really want something, it’s because that desire originated in the soul of the universe. It’s your mission on earth… To realise one’s destiny is a person’s only real obligation. All things are one. And when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” (page 22-23)
Another book review of The Alchemist
Chill Girl writes a book review of The Alchemist from the perspective of an Arab Muslim. She gives some information about the faith against which the book is set.
8 replies on “Book Review: The Alchemist”
Or put another way, the sub-conscious mind has to be aligned with (believe) the conscious thought …. I look forward to reading that part in the book, thanks Daphne, interesting sharing thoughts today!
Thanks for the link. That was an excellent post, and the diagrams helped a lot with understanding what’s happening.
I’m not sure if we understand it in the same way, but I agree that Attraction happens at thought level, and the thought has to be so strongly believed that the mind thinks it’s real. And what the mind thinks, it creates.
You will love the part in the book where the boy is told to turn himself into the wind. Very fairy-tale like at one level, but I think you will understand what the author is saying at another level.
Thanks Daphne – I hope to read the Alchemist soon! Re: my take on the Law of Attraction, it would be too long to go into here(!), but I saw a good blog post on this recently, which I felt offered a good viewpoint, esp coming from a coaching perspective. Here’s the link, would be good to know what you think!
All the best for now
Good to hear from you again! I was thinking about you and guessed (rightly) that you must be busy leading a very full life!
Would love to hear your thoughts about the Law of Attraction sometime. I know people who have issues with the religious implications, but like you I accept its basic message that our thoughts create our reality to a larger extent than we realise.
Do read the Alchemist. I’m sure you’ll like it. Let me know what you think when you’re done!
I really enjoyed this review of the Alchemist Daphne – I was given the book years ago by someone who in turn had been given it by someone else, and so on, wanting the book to continue to pass into different hands, to pass on its message. I hate to say it, but I never managed to complete reading it back then so this has encouraged me to remedy that! I do think that “our thoughts (can) create our reality”, not just in relation to the Law of Attraction (which although I appreciate, I have some issues with!) but more generally in terms of making a conscious choice to focus on positive rather than negative thoughts since that inevitably leads one to feel brighter, easier, more self confident and happier than a focus on the negative does.
I’ve only just caught up with my RSS feed having had a bit of a hectic time recently and, as always, I really enjoyed catching up on your posts.
All the best
Thanks! Last time I looked, its at Powerbooks where I joined their book club and discussed that book by Mark Haddon (If I remember right?). 🙂
About Paulo, yup, he has a gift of putting into writing theories that might have otherwise been hard to understand.
Jocelyns last blog post..Give in order to Receive
Hi Jocelyn, his writing is amazingly beautiful, isn’t it? And that quote is just the reminder I needed that the future can be changed and it’s up to us to change it. I’ll look out for The Witch of Portobello.
ps: I tried to find my old copy of The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-time that you suggested I review but couldn’t find it, so will have to keep looking or buy a new copy before I can review it. I haven’t forgotten your suggestion though!
Thanks for reviewing this book and for writing your favorite quote here, 🙂 I also love Paulo’s writings and have recently been amazed by his book “The Witch of Portobello”.
Jocelyns last blog post..People Are Not Perfect