Article in brief: the author writes her review and reflection on rereading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.
“The Soul of the world is nourished by people’s happiness. And also by unhappiness, envy, and jealousy. To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only real obligation. All things are one” -The old man, The Alchemist
I read The Alchemist novel when I was a teenager and I really hated it. I was disappointed and never understood why it was considered a masterpiece. As I grew older I read almost every piece written by Paulo Coelho and grew to consider him one of my favourite contemporary writers. Still, I was hesitant to reread this specific book. I kept a close eye on New York Times best sellers and the book has been on the list for literally more than three hundred weeks, so why not give it another try?
As an adult I have to admit, I’m glad I reread this novel. I’m in awe with the amount of optimism this book carries within it. The novel follows Santiago, a Shepherd boy who has a recurring dream that leads him to leave the land he understands, travel to the pyramids and embark on a journey of self-discovery.
“People need not to fear the unknown if they are capable of achieving what they need and want.” -The Englishman, The Alchemist
The novel is probably popular due to Paulo Coelho’s ability to tell us what we as readers want to hear. He encourages his readers to follow their dreams. His characters voice his belief about how we first start dreaming as young children, and how we abruptly stop believing in our ability to achieve our dreams not out of fear, but because we had those dreams at an early age. He believes that those dreams we have as children are our real destiny, and we should read all the signs around us that can lead us to the right path.
The Alchemist is an exciting novel. It bursts with positivity and tells us nothing is impossible to achieve as long as we believe in our ability to do so and when Santiago meets the old king, he tells Santiago “When you really want something to happen, the whole universe conspires so that your wish comes true.”
Signs and omens are two of the themes of this literary piece. The boy, Santiago, travels from the Andalusian fields to the African shores following signs and omens he believes are meant to lead him to find the treasures he dreamt of. Throughout his journey, Santiago meets many different people. Thieves, kings, crystal merchants and alchemists, but when he reaches the pyramids he understands that “Treasure lies where your heart belongs” and in his case, the treasures lie in the wisdom he gains and the discoveries he makes. His treasure actually lies in the journey itself.
This time around all the ratings in the world cannot rate the knowledge a reader will achieve from those simple 177 pages. It is not only 5 out of 5. It is beyond that, all the way to the stars.
An avid reader, Maitha has always dreamt of being a recognized novelist and poet. For the last decade she focused on HR as a career, which has taken her away from her dream, but it’s never too late. Her column Pocket full of Books focuses on book reviews and doesn’t necessarily focus on a specific genre.
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