This is one of those inspirational gems that you carry with you long after the story has ended. Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy, sets out on a journey in search of a treasure he has been told awaits him at the Pyramids of Egypt. A treasure of worldly goods, Santiago knows not what it contains, but he is steadfastly kept on the path towards it through the guidance, and encouragement, of those he meets along the way.
The Alchemist is a book about self-discovery: emphasizing the importance for all of us to follow our dreams and listen to our hearts. In so doing, we will live fulfilled lives and know God: the purpose of our creation. This is not to say that The Alchemist is dogma or bible bashing. Coelho is gentle in his approach, talking about how all religions point to the same light. His story is for believers, agnostics and non-believers alike.
Each person has their Personal Legend revealed to them at an early age, but not all choose to follow it, ultimately leading to an unfulfilled life. Our Personal Legend is our reason for living: our goal in life. By attaining our Personal Legend we add to the Soul of the World: to the purity of the earth. Santiago’s Personal Legend is to find the treasure at the Pyramids in Egypt.
Presented in a deceptively simplistic fashion, Coelho is indeed a master craftsman. Imbuing a deep wisdom and sense of optimism into his story, and with a nice twist at the end, The Alchemist leaves you wanting to follow your heart and revisit the dreams of youth.
Coelho is one of the world’s bestselling authors. The Alchemist has sold over 65 million copies and has been translated into over 70 languages. An interesting character, Coelho was institutionalized at the age of 16 by his parents. He managed to escape three times, however, before he was finally, officially released at the age of 20. According to his website he researched becoming a writer and came to the conclusion that a writer “always wears glasses and never combs his hair and has a duty and an obligation never to be understood by his own generation, amongst other things.” Read his biography at paulcoelho.com.