The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Thank you for being patient with the book reviews! I was very sick last week and I’m starting to feel better, so I’ve got three reviews to share with you today. To be honest I don’t really know what I was sick with. My doctor told me a sinus infection (that was definitely wrong), my boyfriend thought it was pneumonia, my mom said it was probably bronchitis. I couldn’t get tested for coronavirus because there were no drive thru testing places near my area, and the emergency rooms nearby aren’t testing anyone who isn’t a guaranteed positive. It was a frustrating week, but I’m doing my part to stay indoors and self-quarantine. If you can, I hope you’re doing the same.

I know I’m ridiculously late reading this book. I mean look at the cover – this book is older than me (barely – 25 is coming up on the horizon for me).This book is in the top 15 best-selling books of all time, and I can totally understand why. If you’re interested in seeing the rest of the list, I’ll link it here.  For a long time I was resistant to self-help books because I saw books as a form of escapism – a way to get away from everything and get lost in a story. I saw self-help books as the antithesis of that; completely focused on reality and possibility and how we all should be doing things. I’ve since gotten over the aversion to self-help, but for anyone who’s still apprehensive this book is a great introduction. I’m already sure this will be a book I’ll read again.

The Rundown

 This might be the only book I know of that has so much acclaim with zero clues about the subject matter. The title gives nothing away, and no one says what it’s about other than “it’s so good and it changed my life.” Basically, it covers this boy (we never learn his name) who’s working as a shepherd and travels around Europe with his flock. At the beginning of the story, he sells the flock and goes looking for a treasure that’s supposedly waiting for him somewhere in Egypt around the pyramids. Thinking about it now, that’s an incredibly vague description. I’ve never been to Egypt, but I assume there’s enough pyramids there that it would take years to find a treasure that’s buried among them. 

The book basically details how this boy comes to find his treasure. At some point in the middle of the story, he meets the elusive alchemist. He teaches the boy alchemy and helps him along his journey to get the treasure. Although there are no explicit self-help themes or lessons in this book, it’s pretty easy to figure out what the author is trying to tell the readers. There are so many good nuggets on our life’s purpose, how to chase it, and what happens when you reach your full potential.

Length: 182 pages

Additional Sections: Foreword, Prologue, and Epilogue – all worth reading and all very short. You don’t have to read the introduction to get the full story, but it’s so interesting to read how no one in Brazil cared about this book for YEARS. That was inspirational to me. He never gave up on his dream.

Genre: Fiction/Self-help

Year Published: 1988

The Good Stuff

This book is a smooth read. You pick up the lessons the author is trying to get you to understand, but it doesn’t get in the way of the story. I never even learned the kid’s name, but I was still so invested in the character. Here were some of my favorite takeaways from the book:

Before he embarks on his journey, the boy discovers that finding this treasure is part of his Personal Legend. A person’s Personal Legend is the reason why they were put on this earth. It is your true purpose in life, and only you know when you’ve reached it. I liked how the book emphasized that everyone’s Personal Legend is not to become a millionaire and earn a ton of notoriety. But when people have realized their Personal Legend, there’s an air of calm around them. There’s a sense of contentment and peace. You can tell when someone is doing exactly what they were put on earth to do. 

The best part of this book to me was the idea that even when you’ve reached a comfortable place in life, you have to keep going for your Personal Legend. There’s a part in the story where the boy is making good money and has reached a high status in the place where he’s living, and he feels like he’s at the height of what he can accomplish. He’s thinking, Have I reached my Personal Legend? How does it get any better than this? How am I supposed to give this up to go back to struggling and chasing this treasure that’s many miles away? Eventually, he knows he has to keep going. This was an incredible insight to me. Even when things are so good that you can’t even imagine it getting better, it can! Step out on faith and keep chasing your true purpose. Don’t let the physical and material comforts of the world stop you. 

I also loved the continuous mention of omens. These are the things in your life that keep pushing you towards your Personal Legend. Omens are reminders that you’ve got to keep going. Don’t ignore them. Coehlo was careful to include the fact that if you continually ignore the omens that show up in your life, they go away. And then you may never realize your Personal Legend. That voice in your head that’s telling you to keep going? Listen to it! That feeling in your spirit that you’re not yet where you’re supposed to be? Go with it. Omens are there to help you. 

All in all, this is a fabulous book. There are no boring parts or slow sections, and there’s nothing I would’ve done differently. This book deserves to be a classic, and I would recommend it to anyone. 

Overall Rating: 10/10

Thank you so much for coming back to read another review! I’ve also got reviews for We’re Going to Need More Wine and Salvage the Bones. I hope you enjoy them! Please also let me know what books you’d like to see reviews for. I’m open to most genres, and I want to put out reviews for things you’re interested in. Feel free to comment on any of my reviews or send me an email or a DM on Instagram. PLEASE do your part to encourage social distancing and quarantine yourself if you think you have symptoms of coronavirus. So many other humans are depending on you to STAY HOME! The sooner we all get on board, the sooner we can all get back outside.

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