June 12th 2018
“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.”
—Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
The Alchemist was a book I had heard a lot of buzz surrounding but also knew absolutely nothing about. Seeing as it was a rather quick read of only 170 pages, I plucked from the shelves of my local bookstore and eagerly took it home. There, it sat on my shelf for the better half of six months without being touched. I’m not sure what made me hesitate from reading it for so long, but the other night, I picked up out of the random desire to read.
Before I go into my full objective review of the book, I just want to tell a quick story. Recently, I have been feeling down and conflicted. I am set to move around this time next year and the thoughts about whether or not I should go have been weighing on my mind particularly often lately. When I picked The Alchemist off my shelf, it wasn’t for any grand reason, aside from the desire to pick something random to read for the night.
However, I began to read and realized the story spoke very well to my current situation, which brings me to the plot summary:
The Alchemist is the story of a young Shepard who has spent the past 2 years of his life traveling through the fields of Spain with his flock. It wasn’t a glamorous life, but the boy was content. With his flock, and a girl from a nearby village he was interested in pursuing, the boy felt as though he had everything he needed to live a happy life. However, when he goes to explore a recurrent dream about a treasure buried in Egypt, he is faced with the choice of whether to remain where he is content and familiar, or leave behind comfort for a quest to discover the treasure and his personal legend.
I don’t want to give away much more of the plot because it really is a journey you should experience for yourself. Personally, I really related to the Shepard’s struggle to leave behind his love and his flock in order to see where his destiny takes him. I feel like his story as a whole speaks well to the human condition.
The book touched the topics of Personal Legend, the Soul of the World, the Language of the World, and the concept and destiny quite a lot. What I gained from the novel is that every single choice we make contributes to a chain reaction that adds value to our journey to finding our Personal Legend. It also speaks a lot about learning from the world around you and not being so passive that you miss out on life. Because, life is not just a thing that happens to us that we have no control over, it is a thing that is gifted to us so that we can find divine purpose.
In my opinion, this book is just a collection of amazing life lessons wrapped up into one epic story of personal growth. If I could criticize anything about the book, it is the main character. Despite being a very compelling character, I feel he lacked dimension. There were points in the book where I didn’t really care about him, but just his journey. Despite seeing a lot of growth throughout the book, I just feel the depth wasn’t there. I didn’t leave the book feeling like I had really connected with him…but I did connect with him on a more mental level which I think is the redeeming factor that keeps me from giving this book a lower score.
One thing I truly loved about the book was the fact that it was so mystical while still being realistic. The magic elements of the books really just felt like the true magic of the universe being personified.
I also would like to recommend that if you like to highlight or underline while you read, this is a great book for you. I kept a pen nearby the entire time and I am looking forward to looking at the notes I had taken and the passages I have marked off.
Overall, I am incredibly happy that I made the haphazard decision to read The Alchemist and would recommend it to anyone interested in adventure and the human condition.