19 October 2014

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

I’d been hearing about Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist for a long time, but I finally got around to reading it.

Much has been said - and written - about this book. It seems to ignite passions, both for and against, all over the place. But it has definitely touched a chord with millions of people all over the world.

Having read it, I think it’s likely that a big part of a person’s reaction to the book comes from their state of mind when they read it.

The Alchemist follows Santiago, a shepherd from Andalusia, Spain, who dreams of a treasure in the pyramids and is encouraged to go in search of it, to fulfill his own Personal Legend. He crosses the sea, apprentices with a crystal merchant, joins a caravan across the Sahara, and eventually meets up with the titular alchemist. Along the way, Santiago learns how to connect with people, with the world, with the divine, whatever shape that takes. He faces obstacles but realizes giving in to them will ultimately leave him unfulfilled.

I’ve been working on a couple of projects lately, ones I’m very passionate about. Whether they’re what I was “meant to do” - my own Personal Legend - I couldn’t say. But I’ve been working towards them, some of them for months and others for years, and it’s certainly frustrating to meet opposition to them. Sometimes you just need to be reminded not to give up. The Alchemist gave me that reminder.

To be honest, it wasn’t my favorite book. It was light on narrative, heavy on allegory, and not exactly fulfilling. But it was helpful, whimsical, and short, which means I was able to get through it quickly.

It hasn’t earned a place on my shelf, but it was worth the read.