Book Review: The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho

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To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only obligation

Last time on my blog, I wrote about my trip in the United States. And I mentioned the books I bought in the Coop Bookstore at Harvard. One of it being The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. 

In the shortest description possible, the whole story is a beautiful enactment of one’s journey to reach their dream. The story itself focuses on Santiago, a young Andalusian shepherd who had a strong connection with his sheep. The only companion in his life which its simplicity taught the boy (Santiago) about important life lessons. One day, he got dreams about a treasure in the pyramid. And his devotion in reaching this dream is shown throughout the book.

This devotion didn’t come suddenly for the boy though. Fate brought him with an old man who claims to be a king, and a mysterious Gypsy women. Both of them were the one who pushed the boy to go on a journey to find this treasure. Because they believe on how God has prepared a path for someone who wants to follow their dreams. Then it’s the person’s obligation to find the omens and follow that path.

After the boy gave all of his sheep to the king (as a payment for interpreting his dream), he then go on a long journey to the Egyptian pyramid. This journey makes him meet a lot of people, from a thief, Englishman, and a crystal merchant. Also makes him travel across the country, somewhere he never knew before. Creating a very common struggle of language barrier.

The boy then remembers what his past sheep has ‘taught’ him:

But the sheep had taught him something even more important: that there was a language in the world that everyone understood, a language the boy had used throughout the time that he was trying to improve things at the shop. It was the language of enthusiasm, of things accomplished with love and purpose, and as a part of search for something believed and desired.

(page 64)

In my opinion, this is one of my favorite moments in the book. Because it lets the reader to think back about our humanity. How after all of the mess and conflicts human has created in this world, it is love and the joy of enthusiasm that connect us together. Even though the phrase may sound cliche, but after all, it is something we can’t ignore in life.

So from here, there’s this series of realization of the life lesson he started to remember throughout the journey until he meets the Alchemist. The person who becomes his mentor to guide him about what is truly important in his journey. After this interaction, it can be seen how the boy’s mindset has transformed. He had to learn how to listen to his heart, and understand the omens found in his surroundings to successfully achieve the treasure.

The boy went back to contemplating the silence of the desert, and the sand raised by the animals. “Everyone has his or her own way of learning things,” he said to himself. “His way isn’t the same as mine, nor mine as his. But we’re both in search of our Personal Legends, and I respect him for that.”

(page 86)

The book further explains about how some people may find different ways to reach their dream. And this saying connects quite literally to the real world. Where in many parts of the world, they still believe that there’s only one way for a person to reach a successful life. Education is getting generalized as if diversity in one’s way to learn is a bad thing to embrace. So I adore how this book address this problem subtly as a part of it.

Other than the ones being mentioned, there are actually much more valuable lessons that we can get while reading ‘The Alchemist’. And what I personally like is how the storytelling makes all of the lessons not overwhelming to understand. It seems simple, yet meaningful.

Therefore in conclusion, this book is a must-read for novel and philosophy reader, or anyone who’s trying to reach their dreams. To deepen your understanding about why our dream is something we must follow in life, and how helps from the universe can always be found by those who are looking for their Personal Legends.

5 thoughts on “Book Review: The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho”

  1. Hi. Long time no see you Ayunda. How’s life? Still remember me?

    Well, I once read this book but didn’t finished it yet. I think after this i gotta finish reading it. Nice review.

    Best regard from Ambon.

  2. One of my favorite books. When savoring this book, it felt as if I was traveling along Santiago from the pastureland of Andalusia to the desert of Egypt. Simple yet rich of meanings. I love the idea about the “personal legend,” that each person has her/his own role to play while living.

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