Book Review – The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho


‘Treason is a blow that comes unexpectedly. If you know you heart well, it would never be able to do that to you. Because you will know it’s dreams and wishes, and you will know how to deal with them.

You will never be able to escape from your heart. So it is better to listen to hat it has to say. That way, you’ll never have to fear an unanticipated blow.’


It is not very often that I pick up and book and realise that if I had of read it sooner than I wouldn’t have had to learnt a life lesson all on my own. A couple of years ago now I started a blog series called ‘Notes on Life‘. ┬áThe first ever post I made was Note No. 1 – Love’s Betrayal, where I said that ‘Your own heart will betray you more fiercely than any person ever could.’ It does make me wonder though if I hadn’t of learnt that profound life lesson all on my own whether the quote above from ‘The Alchemist’ would have even registered. I doubt there will ever be an answer to my question.

However, I have in reading this book at last answered another question on my own; why does everyone always exclaim that you have to read ‘The Alchemist’?

Normally when people tell me that I have to do something simply because it is ‘cool’ or ‘hip’ or the ‘thing that everybody is doing’, my gut reaction is be disinterested. I am a fiercely independent person; I like to make my own decisions about whether I am going to do something or not. I don’t like people making those decisions that I will like it and therefore I should be doing it for me.

I know the vast majority of the time people are very well meaning and want to introduce me to something that will make me happy, but I have always believed that my happiness comes from me satisfying my own curiosity at the pace that I have chosen to do so. My parents and my partner are some of the few people I listen to more closely than others, but even then I do things in my own time, I just generally think about it a lot quicker because I trust their instincts.

I wasn’t interested in fads like Twilight, or Fifty Shades or Hunger Games, at the height of their popularity. In truth the majority of the time I only ever end up reading trends like this because they are were so popular they registered on my radar on a fairly frequent basis. So in my own time I read the Twilight books, and wondered immediately why anyone actually liked them. I didn’t even make it halfway through the first Fifty Shades book before I just put it down in horror that something so badly written with such one-dimensional characters actually got published.

I read the Hunger Games trilogy from start to finish, and while I didn’t fall in love with the books as deeply as I have with others in the past, I really love the originality of storyline and the female protagonist who wants to protect her family more than just find a boy to live happily ever after with. I approached all of them with my own curiosity, not at the insistence of others. I can feel my curiosity about The Maze Runner building and I suspect by the end of the year I will have tried it out, but not until I am ready.

The copy of ‘The Alchemist’ I ended up reading was brought into work by a colleague who picked up the copy from the 2012 World Book Night, and put it on the staff room’s ‘Leave a book, Take a Book’ shelf, where I will return it to on Monday morning for the next person to discover. It’s been there for a while, and my curiosity about book’s made me look it up on the web. I generally don’t read books that I have no idea about or I haven’t heard about. ‘The Alchemist’ came back as one of those books that is on lots of must read lists, and is high up in the estimations of literary circles as a great book. I’m not disputing that, but naturally as curious as I am, I like my curiosity to lead me to a book when I am good a ready to be lead there.

So on Friday lunchtime, after having been near a copy of ‘The Alchemist’ for what must have been nearly eighteen months, I finished the book I had brought with me to work to read on my breaks and on my commute. I hadn’t actually anticipated I would finish it, as I usually remember to bring a back-up for such occasions. I wasn’t in the mood to play a game on my phone, so I picked up ‘The Alchemist’ to read on my way back home. I certainly didn’t discover the book by accident, but I very much love my journey towards finally reading it. I listened to my heart, and to the good omen of having finished my other book, and I found myself reading ‘A fable about following your dream’.

The plot of the book is fairly simple to follow; if your heart desires more than what you have in your life then no matter what obstacle you have to face, don’t give your on your dream, for that dream will live on in your heart. You do not want to reach the point in your life where fulfilling your dream is no longer possible. I think the most profound lesson that anyone would learn from the book is a simple truth; don’t ever give up. Sometimes there are signs in your life, omens are frequently referred to in the book, that you should listen to; good omens are to be followed and bad omens are to be listened to with a great deal of cautious.

So in answer to my question; hy does everyone always exclaim that you have to read ‘The Alchemist’? Because it will make you listen to your heart and your dreams, and it will teach you that you shouldn’t give up on them.

What a brilliant lesson for a book to teach you>


2 responses »

  1. Pingback: New Year’s Resolutions – Book Tag | A Young Writer's Notebook

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