The Alchemist

Posted October 1, 2014 in Decision Making, Resilience, Self-Insight, What We're Reading

By: Paul Coelho

Review by: Julie Melaschenko

The Premise: Paulo Coelho’s timeless classic recently celebrated it’s 25th anniversary. The story of an Andalusian shepherd on the search for his treasure in Egypt takes the reader on a journey to a faraway land where life is simple, but meaning is deep. The book has been heralded by many famous celebrity and political figures (no to mention the 65 million people who’ve bought the book) as a life changing, monumental piece of literature. The story is short, simple, clean and without pretention. It lays out some pretty simple concepts about following your dreams, listening to your heart, and having the courage to believe in yourself. The main character, Santiago sees a vision one night. In this vision, he is in Egypt near the pyramids, about to find a treasure. With guidance from a wise man, Santiago leaves his sheep behind, his family and familiar surroundings for the raw, untamed north African desert. Along the way, his luck, or lack of it, provides valuable life lessons, sometimes from the most unlikely places.

The Bottom-line: I stumbled across the book in O magazine where the doyenne of all things spiritual and life-changing shared her interview with the author. To be honest, I have a healthy dose of skepticism when it comes to this sort of thing, so I didn’t know if I would agree with the masses. I ordered the book, and when it came, I was surprised at how short it was. This was not an 800 page tome. But it begged to be read. And read it I did – it was hard to put down. Was it life-changing? Well, that’s hard to say, but I understand why this book is so popular. I know I want to read it again. I found it appealed to the wanderlust in me. Starting out in Spain, and then following a caravan over the north African desert, I was transported. It feels like this is the kind of book where the reader adds more of the context to the story, depending on where they are in their own lives. I imagine that it would give different meanings in different circumstances. If I was thinking of taking on a new role, a big career move or a cross-country relocation, this book would definitely provide a framework for distilling down to basic human needs and clearing mental clutter to highlight what really matters.

Roundtable Rating: Really interesting book. A definite must-read.

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