The Alchemist

So Friday, after work, I went to half price bookstore to see if I could find some of your favorite books (which if you still haven’t told me, I’d still like to know). One of my coworkers had mentioned this book, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, in passing to me in one of our many conversations about books. She told me it was a quick read and read like a parable. Since The Road was a bit of a heavy read, and I just started Mila 18 (recommended by the same coworker), which will be another heavy read, I was looking for something a bit lighter.

The book begins with Santiago, the boy, in Spain tending his flocks. He has a reoccurring dream that leads him to a gypsy for interpretation. A chain of events unfolds that leads him on a quest for his treasure to the Pyramids in Egypt. He meets a variety of characters on his way, a king, an Alchemist in training, warrior chiefs, a true Alchemist, his true love, and a variety of thieves and bandits. Each character holds a truth that helps Santiago on his path to find his treasure and recognize his ‘Personal Legend’.

The idea of a ‘Personal Legend’ in the book is the path laid out for you that leads to maximum fulfillment, happiness, learning, love, etc and no regret. The achievement of your ‘Personal Legend’ is assisted by getting to know your heart and learning how to communicate with it so that you become friends and can communicate honestly and openly. Coelho tells the story in a timeless manner with such simplicity and wisdom that it does convey the idea of a parable.

A quote from Santiago’s heart that sums up the book fairly well: “People are afraid to pursue their most important dreams, because they feel that they don’t deserve them, or that they’ll be unable to achieve them. We, their hearts, become fearful just thinking of loved ones who go away forever, or of moments that could have been good but weren’t, or of treasures that might have been found but were forever hidden in the sands. Because, when these things happen, we suffer terribly…

Everyone on earth has a treasure that awaits him. We… seldom say much about those treasures, because people no longer want to go in search of them. Later, we simply let life proceed, in its own direction, toward its own fate. But, unfortunately, very few follow the path laid out for them- the path to their Personal Legends, and to happiness. Most people see the world as a threatening place, and, because they do, the world turns out, indeed, to be a threatening place.”


  1. Posted July 20, 2008 at 6:12 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I found this book to be a great fable. It also influenced my writing a bit.

  2. krissnp
    Posted July 20, 2008 at 8:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

    it was a great book.

  3. cooperella
    Posted July 21, 2008 at 1:13 pm | Permalink | Reply

    i read this book when i was going through a weird transitional thing a few years ago. parables are a little too transparent for my personal liking these days, but the lesson it teaches is definately as timeless as you say!

  4. aarthilal
    Posted July 21, 2008 at 6:00 pm | Permalink | Reply


    I’m a big fan of Paulo Coelho! You will love this! He’s the first best-selling author to be distributing for free his works on his blog:

    Have a nice day!


  5. elliek
    Posted July 28, 2008 at 1:40 pm | Permalink | Reply

    This sounds good, maybe I’ll try it when I get a little further through the books I’ve already purchased!

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