My review of "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coehlo

The Alchemist The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

From Review
Like the one-time bestseller Jonathan Livingston Seagull, The Alchemist presents a simple fable, based on simple truths and places it in a highly unique situation. And though we may sniff a bestselling formula, it is certainly not a new one: even the ancient tribal storytellers knew that this is the most successful method of entertaining an audience while slipping in a lesson or two. Brazilian storyteller Paulo Coehlo introduces Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who one night dreams of a distant treasure in the Egyptian pyramids. And so he's off: leaving Spain to literally follow his dream.

Along the way he meets many spiritual messengers, who come in unassuming forms such as a camel driver and a well-read Englishman. In one of the Englishman's books, Santiago first learns about the alchemists--men who believed that if a metal were heated for many years, it would free itself of all its individual properties, and what was left would be the "Soul of the World." Of course he does eventually meet an alchemist, and the ensuing student-teacher relationship clarifies much of the boy's misguided agenda, while also emboldening him to stay true to his dreams. "My heart is afraid that it will have to suffer," the boy confides to the alchemist one night as they look up at a moonless night.

"Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself," the alchemist replies. "And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second's encounter with God and with eternity." --Gail Hudson --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly
This inspirational fable by Brazilian author and translator Coelho has been a runaway bestseller throughout Latin America and seems poised to achieve the same prominence here. The charming tale of Santiago, a shepherd boy, who dreams of seeing the world, is compelling in its own right, but gains resonance through the many lessons Santiago learns during his adventures. He journeys from Spain to Morocco in search of worldly success, and eventually to Egypt, where a fateful encounter with an alchemist brings him at last to self-understanding and spiritual enlightenment. The story has the comic charm, dramatic tension and psychological intensity of a fairy tale, but it's full of specific wisdom as well, about becoming self-empowered, overcoming depression, and believing in dreams. The cumulative effect is like hearing a wonderful bedtime story from an inspirational psychiatrist. Comparisons to The Little Prince are appropriate; this is a sweetly exotic tale for young and old alike. 50,000 first printing; $50,000 ad/promo.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Maybe I was hoping for some great, philosophical "Aha" moment when I read "The Alchemist" but I didn't. It nearly lulled me to sleep. Maybe I had too high of expectations or not, either ways, "The Alchemist" did have the "WOW" factor for me. I was initially going to give this only one star but I decided to bump it up because the concept was there but the writing wasn't.

I am a little irritated that I lost 2 1/2 hours of my life that I can not get back.

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  1. Thanks for the honest review.

    I've heard great things about this book. I would love to read it someday in Spanish. (I speak it fine. Reading is another story)

  2. Hi Juju, thanks for commenting. I have a feeling that there is some translation issues. It comes off as flat, childish and boring. I am sure in it's NATIVE language it's much much better. At least that's my guess, lol. Many spiritual books, fables, etc. that are initially written in another language doesn't transfer to English in the same poetic fashion. At least in my experience!

  3. You know I had people telling me to read this book and I'm always like nahh not really my thing...and thank God I didn't read it, I wouldn't want to lose 2 1/2 hours of my life either :/ But great honest review!

  4. Finally someone who feels the same way! I kept waiting for something fantastic to happen in this book when I read it and it never happened. Everyone else I know who's read this can't stop talking about how amazing it is, it made me wonder if we were reading the same book. Good to see I'm not alone in not liking it all that much!

  5. Yes, thank you for the honest review. I read this book, and while I certainly didn't get all the buzz (it's even one of my husband's favorite books) I didn;t think it was that bad. I think I would give it 3 out of 5....definitely not 4! There were a couple good quotes here & there....and I actually thought the writing was decent. Just...something lacking. Maybe relatabilty??

  6. I havent read this yet and have heard the mixed reviews. Thanks for this review as well.


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