My Take

Thoughts on: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Photo Courtesy / thestudentreview.co.uk

I like books.

But somewhere along the way I stopped reading as much. Perhaps it was the assignments, the addiction to TV shows or simply not finding a book as exciting as Harry Potter. But, this year I began to read again. When I read a book, I will not put it down till I have completed the entire thing or at least a substantial part of it! It is just so satisfying to curl up in a blanket wearing my most comfortable (and most ragged) pajama’s and dive head first into a good book.

Personally, a good book has to be one which is fantasy based or part fiction at least. I can read fiction and fantasy, with some adventure and never feel boredom creep up on me.

Now that I am loving my reading time again I would like to share my thoughts with you! In this section called “My Book Bag” I will write about some of the books I have completed reading. So, my first pick of the lot is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, which I finished reading this morning.

Funnily enough, I have always come across books by this author in almost every library and book store. Despite looking at these books often I have never read one. That is, until yesterday when my sister suggested The Alchemist. After nestling in to my blanket, warm and cozy as ever, I set foot into the world of a boy named Santiago.

I admire how Coelho can make the life of a simple shepherd boy immensely engaging from the word go. The protagonist is a young man who has a recurring dream about a child leading him to the Egyptian Pyramids, and she tells him that he will find great treasure here. Santiago ends up at the house of a Gypsy woman who can interpret dreams. The woman predicts that this means he will find a treasure at the Egyptian Pyramids which will make him a very rich man. Pessimistically he turns away but shortly meets a man who claims to be a King.

The King tells the boy of his destiny and the universe which we inhibit. After advising the boy to sell of his sheep and set out on a journey to Egypt, he hands the boy two stones called Urim and Thummim which answer yes and no to objective questions they are asked. Upon arrival in Egypt, the boy is robbed and left with nothing – not even enough money to find his way home, or buy back his sheep. The tale goes on to depict his journey and how he ultimately meets an Alchemist along the way who leads him to fulfilling his destiny and finding the treasure.

The ease with which life lessons and philosophical messages are embedded within the story is incredible. In my opinion, Coelho is a writer who has grasped the concept of teaching his readers without preaching at them.

For instance, Santiago has to believe entirely in his destiny till the absolute end of his journey in order to find his treasure. He meets many people along the way including a crystal merchant. This merchant remains in his comfort zone for so long that his dreams take a back seat. Until eventually he has no desire to fulfill them. Or rather, he lacks the courage and destiny has passed him by. I can name many people whom I know personally who wish to be leading different lives. They possess dreams that never came to fruition. Or perhaps they put them on the back burner until those dreams became nothing but ash.

Coelho clearly demonstrates that for our dreams to be achieved, a lot of courage, perseverance and hard work are required. And of course, faith. It is never a simple deal. No short cut. Furthermore, when we lose something it serves a purpose. We will regain much more soon enough. Perhaps it is an idealistic thought and much practice is needed to entirely adopt this ideology. However, it is better than wallowing in negativity. At least optimism feels better on the inside.

The supernatural phenomena is stretched slightly too far when Santiago begins to converse with the wind, sun and sand. He then goes on to decipher their purpose and calling, ultimately unraveling the idea that our Universe (The Soul of the World) is imperfect.

All in all, The Alchemist has many more lessons to teach a great deal of readers from all walks of life. Its universal appeal rests on the fact that you can be 20 or 70 and still be intrigued by a story of fantasy, philosophy, discovery, adventure and ones undying need to fulfill their destiny.

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