The Alchemist – A Book Review

I first heard about The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho while watching an interview of actor Will Smith. Mr. Smith named The Alchemist as his favorite book, which piqued my curiosity. The next day my husband, who had also seen the interview, came home with the book.

The novel tells the story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy, who has the courage to follow his dream. Santiago has a recurring dream about finding his treasure at the Pyramids of Egypt. As he travels from his homeland of Spain to the foreign land of Egypt, he meets a king, a gypsy, an Englishman, and an alchemist, all of whom point him in the direction of his true treasure. What starts out as a quest to obtain worldly goods becomes a discovery of the treasures found within.

The novel’s message is that you should not avoid your destiny and that it’s never too late to follow and realize your dream. The book points out that everyone is an “alchemist” and has the power to find their treasure and fulfill their Personal Legend. “It’s what you have always wanted to accomplish. Everyone, when they are young, knows what their Personal Legend is. At that point in their lives, everything is clear and everything is possible. They are not afraid to dream, and to yearn for everything they would like to see happen to them in their lives. But, as time passes, a mysterious force begins to convince them that it will be impossible for them to realize their Personal Legend.” The book encourages people to move past that belief, like the lady I recently read about who finally obtained her college degree at 100 years of age.

The Alchemist is a short (163 pages) and simple fable, based on simple, yet profound, truths. It was originally published in 1988 in the author’s native Portuguese. It has since been translated in nearly 70 languages and has become one of the best-selling books in history. It is a book that I plan to read again and again and I recommend it for anyone who needs some encouragement in pursuing their own Personal Legend.

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