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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The Alchemist is a simple fable that alludes to the fact that all of us have a purpose and a dream in life. It is a simple book, but nonetheless inspiring. It is a story about a young boy named Santiago who has reoccurring dreams about a treasure, when he goes to see a gypsy about the meaning of his dream she tells him to follow his dream and not to pay her now for her services but to pay her one tenth of his treasure once he finds it. Santiago left home to become a shepherd to follow his dreams of travel. He is hesitant to leave his flock, but begins to follow omens. Through his travels he overcomes many obstacles and meets many people who guide him in his journey. He meets to love of his life Fatima. Santiago tells her that he will need to continue on his journey but rest assured that he will come back to her. Through the story Santiago is led by many spiritual guides, and leaves the readers inspired. All of us have a purpose in life, and we need to listen to the omens around us. Our heart will lead us, where it will need to go.

I did enjoy the novel. However, near the end I did want it to end. This book was given to me from a coworker and I'm glad I read it. I do recommend the novel, especially for someone who is struggling to make life decisions. It's a spiritual and inspiring book that I'm happy to add to my "read in 2009 list."
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on January 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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on July 16, 2005
Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist is a provocative book. Some might call it "silly," but it is a journey of the soul, the being and the whole self. When reading this book, the reader gets a feeling of being through this journey already. Maybe it is because we have known already within us, within our soul this journey of self discovery, of self questioning and of self answering. The story is replayed here through the journey of the young Shepard boy who leaves everything familiar to follow a dream to discover that the reality of that dream lies in the familiar he left behind.
But it is the notion that he must leave 'his home' to discover the treasure is the key. It gives the reader inspiration to become more inward and outward at the same time to find clues to one's own destiny.
If you loved "The Little Prince" you will enjoy "The Alchemist." Another book I need to recommend - is "The Losers' Club: Complete Restored Edition" by Richard Perez, a very different but highly engaging little novel of self-discovery.
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on July 3, 2005
Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist is a provocative book. Some might call it "silly," but it is a journey of the soul, the being and the whole self. When reading this book, the reader gets a feeling of being through this journey already. Maybe it is because we have known already within us, within our soul this journey of self discovery, of self questioning and of self answering. The story is replayed here through the journey of the young Shepard boy who leaves everything familiar to follow a dream to discover that the reality of that dream lies in the familiar he left behind.
But it is the notion that he must leave 'his home' to discover the treasure is the key. It gives the reader inspiration to become more inward and outward at the same time to find clues to one's own destiny.
If you loved "The Little Prince" you will enjoy "The Alchemist." Another book I need to recommend - is "The Losers' Club: Complete Restored Edition" by Richard Perez, a very different but highly engaging little novel of self-discovery.
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on June 16, 2004
"The Alchemist" is the second book I have read by Paulo Coelho, the first being "Eleven Minutes". As with "Eleven Minutes" I found this book to be a quick read, and hard to put down. It is the story of a Spanish shepherd boy named Santiago, who goes in search of his "Personal Legend". He is started on his quest by a Gypsy woman and a man who calls himself king. He runs into many people and obstacles along the way, and always his desire to obtain his Personal Legend sees himself through. One of the people he meets is the Alchemist, from which the book gets its title, and he is instrumental in helping Santiago reach his goal.
This book is different then "Eleven Minutes" in many ways. The style is lighter, and it is clearly not meant to be a true story. The reader never doubts that Santiago will succeed in his quest, nor feels suspense at the dangers he encounters. However, suspense is not the purpose of this book. This book is about dreams, and listening to one's heart, and in that it does its job very well.
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on May 28, 2004
Paulo Coelho's captivative novel is a mild well-written story that allows readers to interpret it in any way they choose.. A candid description of a person's and everybody's need to realize one's destiny as the only compulsion.
This is a story about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who ventures from his homeland in Spain to North Africa in search of a treasure buried in the Pyramids. Along the way he meets a beautiful, young gypsy woman, a man who calls himself a king, and an alchemist, all of whom point Santiago in the direction of his quest. No one knows what the treasure is , but the boy tries to overcome the obstacles along the way through the desert. At the end of the day.. what is important is the treasures found within rather than the worldly possessions.
The words of wisdom don't come as heavy logs , but in small simple bundles which are easily taken in coz its something that one already knows, but never traversed through that kind of thought process.
Follow your heart and you would never want to get rid of this one!
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In the fable told by Paul Coelho, the character Santiago is a shepherd boy who dreams of treasures in Egyptian pyramids and leaves spain to make his dreams turn true. During his adventure, he learns many lessons on way and experiences the truth 'To listen to own heart' It knows all and explores to fulfil dream desires. Santiago meets many people but among them is a Alchemist who has a wise preach to Santiago. When Santiago confides in the Alchemist what he thinks, the Alchemist says that the fear of suffering is more than to actually 'suffer'. The fable is an inspiration to live upto dreams and live life fulfilling desires. If you do not dream you cannot reach for the stars and so does Paul Coelho has sound advice to make the most of inner aspirations and pick the pearls in life. Paul stress on importance of life and listening to our heart. We travel life's path once and hence, our aim should be higher to grasp and reach the goals to fulfil our dreams desire. A very good message and worth a Read - A great pick and must for bedside shelf.
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I listened to this on unabridged audio while travelling back and forth to work. From a plot point of view, this book is very, well, linear. Boy Shepherd has a dream, gets it interpreted, learns of treasure buried by the pyramids, talks to a wise king, learns he is on a quest for his personal legend, travels to Egypt, etc etc. There are no real plot twists (beyond one near the end), and the story is simple and straightforward.

And, still, somehow, both spiritually interesting and thought-provoking. It has the sense of a legend or myth in and of itself, and had some wonderful lines to it ("What goes into a man's mouth is never evil, but what comes out of it is often so," and so on). It made me think a few times, and that's always welcome. The notion that everyone has a Personal Legend - and that the universe will try to get you onto the path of said Legend, is a very solid piece of interesting writing.

I think I had less of a "this shall change my life!" reaction than most I've spoken to who've read this, but at the same time, I quite ended up thinking about it for a few days (I only now just write this review, but I finished it last week).

Definitely recommended.

'Nathan
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on March 7, 2004
The writing is beautiful in its simplicity, but Coelho is a perpetrator of the dreaded "telling, not showing". Mostly, he flatly explains what the reader should be feeling and what lessons he/she should glean from the text rather than encouraging him/her to think and figure things out.
Of course, this is a fable, and it is designed to be readable by people of widely varying ages. It is a nice journey tale, with a strong mystical and religious bent, which encourages people to follow their dreams, and which portrays some wonderfully exotic and magical locales. The illustrations by Moebius are also perfectly suited to the tone of the story.
On the matter of religion, Christianity was most definitely a strong theme. However, I never found it to be out of place or overly preachy on the subject, and I am a devout atheist. The way in which religion weaves through the story is similar to and as inoffensive as the way ancient Greek spiritual practices are embedded in "The Iliad". There is no Pat Robertson to be found here.
In short, "The Alchemist" will not alter the way you see the world. It clearly is not intended to do so. It is simply a highly entertaining, perhaps pleasant and comfortable, and quite simple tale to be enjoyed.
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on December 26, 2003
This book, by Paulo Coelho, is, like all fables, written on many levels. Ostensibly the story of a shepard in Spain who, unlike so many people, follows his dreams. He does get a little help from the supernatural, but many of the stories most intersting thoughts come from his musings on nature. His travels take him across the Mediteranean into Africa, where he meets several archetypal characters (the Man Afraid of Change, the Waiting Woman, the Wise Shaman, the Warrior Chief, the Cynical Fool), learns about himself and his dreams, and finds his destiny.
An interesting way to look at this story is to ask the question: who is the title character? Alchemy is such a potent idea--the changing of one element into another has had a grasp on the human mind for as long as we have known about elements. But, of course, alchemy has secondary meanings--an alchemist transforms. Is the boy an alchemist, for transforming himself and the lives of those around him? Is God the alchemist, for transforming the destinies of humanity? Is the reader the alchemist, for taking the fable and transforming its words into something personally meaningful?
My favorite part about this book was its gritty reality. I like epics, but there were no sweeping vistas and no ubermensch heros in this book. Everything the boy does (and we never learn his name) is something you and I could do. I guess that's the point of the book.
Update: As ihath commented on my weblog, you do learn the boy's name. It's revealed on the first page. But, as I remember, it's not used much throughout the book, maintaining the everyman nature of the story.
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