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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book
This is an amazing book. It is a story of a young man who has a dream of hidden treasure. It is a book that alludes to that fact that all of us have a purpose and a dream. Yet many settle and give up their dream, and lose their passion for life. In this book it is stated again and again that each of us has our own Personal Legend, a quest; "When you pursue your personal...
Published on May 10 2006 by Steven R. McEvoy

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27 of 33 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Herman Hesse Wannabe
If nothing else, The Alchemist provided stimulation for me to search out more authentic sources on the topics it endeavored to attack (Buddhist philosophy, Arabian desert lifestyle, etc). And because it WAS a source of stimulation, and because I could not allow myself to group it with the 1-starred Stephen King or Danielle Steele 'novels', I give Coelho 2 stars for his...
Published on July 2 2004 by Ioana Stoica


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book, May 10 2006
By 
Steven R. McEvoy "MCWPP" (Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME)    (REAL NAME)   
This is an amazing book. It is a story of a young man who has a dream of hidden treasure. It is a book that alludes to that fact that all of us have a purpose and a dream. Yet many settle and give up their dream, and lose their passion for life. In this book it is stated again and again that each of us has our own Personal Legend, a quest; "When you pursue your personal legend the universe will conspire with you to make it happen." You will follow Santiago on his adventure and during the process be challenged to think about your goals and dreams and what you would have to do to pursue them.
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58 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't let the snobs make you miss this wonderful book!, June 7 2003
This review is from: The Alchemist (Paperback)
If you are considering reading this book based on the comments of this page, you will find the following:
1) At this moment, 471 people have taken the time to write a review about it.
2) Out of those 471 readers, 308 gave it 5 stars, and 71 gave it 4 stars.
3) Many of those readers (including myself) identify this book as one of those which can actually change your life, or open your mind to a new way of thinking. Not every book in this world receives that type of comment.
However, there are 41 comments that give this book just one star. The sad part of this is that those bad comments are always marked as the "most useful". I feel sorrow for those who did not read this book based on the anger and bad judgement of the negative reviewers. They really missed something valuable.
Most of the negative reviews come from three kinds of people:
1) Arrogant snobs, who always care more about the form than about the content; people who adore what they don't understand and call "children reading" anything that their minds can really process. They like to consider themselves separated from what they call "the masses", or "the shallow people", but in reality their are the shallowest of all. They are looking for fancy words and constructions, not for interesting questions. When you tell to one of this persons "Run! Save your life!" they don't pay attention to you. They analyze if "Save your life" could be expressed in a more elegant manner. While they think of that, the avalanche comes over their heads.
2) Phsicologysts or other counselors, who want to save you from going crazy after you read the book. They think that you will throw away your whole life under the influence of this book. They don't realize that the book actually promotes serenity, wisdom, balance and moderation. "The Alchemist" does not talk about leaving everything to pursue your dreams. It just says that you should have dreams, and make moves towards them. To this type of reviewer I recommend to read again the part about the spoon with oil in the castle.
3) People without imagination, who take things literally. Persons who strongly believe that God made the world in six days and slept on Sunday. This type of person says that "The Alchemist" associates "meaning" with "wealth". Nothing could be more wrong! The "treasure" is just a metaphore, and actually what matters is the trip, not the result. These reviewers concentrate their attention in things like "the treasure is just some gold", "he falls in love with a woman the first time they meet" or "the story talks about elixirs of life and phylosophical stones". They don't realize that this book is about the meaning of life, about the complexity of things that look simple, about the way our universe is built and all its parts are connected. The key concepts of the book are:
a) Every life has meaning. Each of us is the star of a story that is worth living.
b) There are messages everywhere. There is a logic behing everything. If you open your eyes, you will see interesting things in simple events or objects that others would ignore.
c) The standards of our society fill our souls with fear. They make us believe that we have to follow known patterns. They make us feel small, isolated and meaningless, but each of us has a place in the universe, and a function to acomplish.
d) Balance is essential in life. If you leave everything behind, thinking that God or "the universe" is going to give you everything, life will prove you wrong; but if you stay where you are and don't pursue your dreams, you will not live at all.
Out of the negative reviews, there is one that I respect very much. It says something like "if you like this book, you deserve it". This book is what you want to make of it. If you are looking for the shape of the words or for an explicit confirmation of your beliefs, you will be disappointed. If you read this book with an open mind, you will enjoy it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book, July 19 2006
By 
Steven R. McEvoy "MCWPP" (Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Alchemist - Gift Edition (Hardcover)
This is an amazing book. It is a story of a young man who has a dream of hidden treasure. It is a book that alludes to that fact that all of us have a purpose and a dream. Yet many settle and give up their dream, and lose their passion for life. In this book it is stated again and again that each of us has our own Personal Legend, a quest; "When you pursue your personal legend the universe will conspire with you to make it happen." You will follow Santiago on his adventure and during the process be challenged to think about your goals and dreams and what you would have to do to pursue them.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truth is beauty, beauty truth, Aug. 29 2006
By 
Asia (N.S. Canada) - See all my reviews
After you're through reading the recommended list of books that the New York Times and everyone else says you're supposed to read (Brown's "Da Vinci," McCrae's "Katzenjammer" and Martel's "Life of Pi," might I suggest you tackle this book---"The Alchemist." It is simply superb. Easy to read, it is nevertheless somewhat complex in meaning. The content of this novel is remarkable in its telling. I kept me up at night, but not in that thriller kind of way. Rather by its deep meaning and insight into human nature. I highly recommend it.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You Can't Make A Silk Purse Out Of A Sow's Ear, Jan. 23 2007
Paulo Coelho was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1947, has been awarded France's Legion d'Honneur, Italy's Grinzane Cavour and was inducted into the Brazilian Academy of Letters in 2002. "The Alchemist" is invariably blurbed as "much loved" and was first published in 1988.

"The Alchemist" tells the story of Santiago, a native of Andalusia. He had trained, briefly, for the priesthood though had always been keen to travel. As a result, he left the seminary and - since the only Andalusians who travelled were shepherds - bought some sheep. As the story begins, he has just arrived - aptly enooough - at an abandoned church where he is planning to shelter for the night. That night, for the second time in about a week, he dreams of being taken to the Pyramids by a girl. There, she promises him a hidden treasuer if he comes to the Pyramids when awake. Although he has his dream interpreted in a nearby town, he only decides to follow his dream following a conversation with a man who calims to be the King of Salem.

"The Alchemist" is a very short, pleasant, easily-read book and has a message I'd really love to believe : everyone has a single goal in life (even if we don't realise it) and that the Earth itself wants us to be happy. Maybe I've just become too cynical over the yeras, but I couldn't honestly describe it as anything other then fluff - very likeable fluff, admittedly, though still fluff. Coelho himself has become an alchemist of sorts with this book, though he hasn't needed to turn lead into gold : he's made his fortune telling people to chase their dreams and to follow the right omens.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Alchemist, Dec 15 2008
This is a great book to help the world-weary soul. I helps open your heart again and see beyond the everyday problems that crust your heart with worry and toxic sludge. A very easy read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Personal Journey, Dec 5 2006
Seeking treasure as well as ancient and worldly wisdom as Santiago travels around the world facing many obstacles and doubts to finally reach his sruprising destination. Along the way, he makes friends, meets the love of his life and most significantly, gains wisdom from an enigmatic alchemist. Light and present reading for readers of all ages. The truth about one's personal journey reminds me of the second part of "Why Some Cats are Rascals" titled "Enchanted Forest" - another pleasant reading with many educational values.
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27 of 33 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Herman Hesse Wannabe, July 2 2004
By 
Ioana Stoica "Ioana Stoica" (Washington, DC) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Alchemist (Paperback)
If nothing else, The Alchemist provided stimulation for me to search out more authentic sources on the topics it endeavored to attack (Buddhist philosophy, Arabian desert lifestyle, etc). And because it WAS a source of stimulation, and because I could not allow myself to group it with the 1-starred Stephen King or Danielle Steele 'novels', I give Coelho 2 stars for his effort.
Basically, this is a simple story of a man on a journey through Arabian deserts; on his way he meets mystics, women, takes up odd jobs in glass blowing, caring for sheep, and such soul searching enterprises. Suppossedly by the end of his adventurous journey (which leads him to a "treasure") he 'learns'/attains the meaning of life.
I do believe Coelho was a little theologically confused at the time he wrote this story. His main messages are:
"Follow your heart", and "Learn the Language of The World"; but see, Coehlo and his main character are Christians; the boy travels through a (mainly) Muslim land, and though he ends up at the Egyptian pyramids, the preachings seem to be quite "eastern" in take (buddha comes to mind). But of course, the whole POINT of Eastern philosophies is that they cannot be described in words (Coelho constantly preaches about how things cannot be told, they must be experienced).
For all that, Coelho does a lotta telling.
The language is quite simple, which can be beautiful (read: Herman Hesse); however it comes off as quite redundant and sermonic. Every other sentence contains at least one reference to either "The Soul of the World", or "The Personal Legend", or "Follow Your Heart" with a big fat capital H. By the end of the novel I am skimming most passages.
The characters are flat (I didn't really "feel" them, what they were going through, and there was no character development), and the storyline resembled that of a children's folktale (I like folktales).
Overall, it was a worthwhile read given that it only took a couple hours, presented some interesting ideas (albeit, without illustrating any of them satisfactorily), and removed me to the Spanish countryside/Arabian desert for a bit (I am a sucker for folktales, and if this book is nothing else, it would make a BEAUTIFUL illustrated children's book-- I like that).
NOTE TO ALL Reviewer-Reviewers: Please consider rating the reviews as helpful if they contain pertinent information on the item under discussion, not if you agree with what the reviewer has to say. I've noticed unhelpful one-liners get "helpful" votes (when the reviews were positive), and other, more full/explained (but more negative) reviews get NO helpful votes -- this IS NOT A VOTE on how much you agree with the other reader! Be FAIR :o)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Best-Seller Seminar, May 12 2003
By 
Sergei (London and Moscow) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Alchemist (Paperback)
It has wisely been said ´¿Nothing succeeds like success´¿. Coelho proves the validity of the theorem. His ´¿Alchemist´¿ is a masterpiece of how to write a best seller. Simply, follow what has worked before. The basic rules are five. 1. Have a hero of wide appeal. 2. Have a story most people can identify with. 3. Appeal to the heart. 4. Have a happy ending. And (and this is really the GOLDEN rule) 5. Keep it simple. This is the formula that brought us ´¿JL Seagull´¿.
On to ´¿The Alchemist´¿. Everybody knows stories about children sell, that will do. So this book is about Santiago, a Spanish teenager. Who is he? Umm, make him a shepherd, that has worked before. Also has many positive connotations attached to it. What is he to do? Must be something admirable - but not too far fetched, so we can all identify with it. So Santiago is to follow his heart and set out on a quest to realise his dream - who among us would disagree with such a noble pursuit? It is something youngsters would like to do while for the older it brings back sweet sabbatical memories. But what exactly is Santiago to do? Easy, he is to journey to the Pyramids to discover a hidden treasure. Beautiful, it unites the romantics of the world. Set everything in an undetermined period to avoid unnecessary research and allow creative latitude and you´¿re ready for characterisation and plot.
Here Coelho goes a bit wrong. His supporting cast is a bit one-dimensional and the plot follows the simplicity rule too rigidly. But overall, Coelho succeeds admirably. He improves on the success of ´¿Love Story´¿ by avoiding the pitfall of a somewhat Western-hemisphere story and a sad ending. His hero comes perilously close to death but he not only survives, he finds his treasure. He also gets the girl; Fatima, whom he has met in the desert and fallen in love with, has pledged to wait for him until he returns from his quest.
I am actually quite impressed by the way Coelho furthers the appeal of his book. He expertly laces a western-culture message of ´¿You are the master of your destiny´¿ on an Oriental background of things predetermined and evidenced by omens. An amazing feat, with the result that both Western Executives and fate-believing Easterners proclaim this to be their favourite book. Coelho is also careful not to overclarify his hero´¿s objective. If you are so inclined, you can very well see Santiago´¿s quest as a one of self-discovery and improvement. A touch of spirituality does wonders for sales these days.
All the elements are there, then. But Coelho´¿s major achievement is not so much his adherence to the formula as his treatment of it. He focuses on the word ´¿simple´¿ with exemplary single-mindedness. It is not just the story, nothing else in this book is taxing. The language is easy, conversational even: no uncommon words, no artistic syntax, no long phrases. And its length (less than 170 pages even with big-point size characters) means you can read it in one sitting. With the ´¿Alchemist´¿ Coelho truly gives the word ´¿simple´¿ new-found depth. It is the only deep thing in this book.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Just so unbelievably bad, March 14 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: The Alchemist (Paperback)
It probably isn't worth criticizing a book like this. If you happen to be a fan of the genre -- simpleminded, inspirational fables -- you'll probably like this book. If you're not a fan of this genre, stay as far away as possible.
The book is basically a string of fortune cookies presented in the form of a story about a Spanish sheperd boy who listens to his heart and seeks a treasure buried (inexplicably) near the Egyptian pyramids. And when I say the boy listens to his heart, he really listens to his heart: by the end of the book, he is having full debates with his heart, not to mention with the desert, the wind, the sun, the Magical Hand, and the Soul of the World, all of whom speak in conveniently short sentences.
The lessons contained in this book do not constitute "simple wisdom" or "spiritual messages." They are feel-good cliches, pure and simple. Some of the cliches may be true, but they're unlikely to change anyone's life. As one of the positive reviewers of this book notes, "THE POINT, is that what you search for is usually RIGHT THERE all along, and that the journey you take to find it is about learning lessons and growing as a person. Get it yet? LIFE IS IN THE JOURNEY, NOT THE DESTINATION!!" There you go. You don't have to read the book now. You've just saved yourself ten bucks.
Although you won't learn anything from this book, perhaps you'll get some spiritual uplift from the story itself. I personally found the story pointless and the writing limp, but you be the judge:
"Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure."
"One is loved because one is loved. No reason is needed for loving."
There are about ten quotes like this per page, so if this sort of thing cheers you, you might find the book to your liking. Alternatively, you could rent the Wizard of Oz, which is far more enjoyable and conveys the same messages.
Basically this book spends a lot of time trying to convince you of the joys of journeying and learning about life. If you don't need any convincing, I recommend buying some real literature or going on an actual journey. You might actually learn something.
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The Alchemist - Gift Edition
The Alchemist - Gift Edition by Paulo Coelho (Hardcover - April 20 2006)
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