In life, it is hard to come across a good book. Millions of books are published each year, all over the world. J.D. Salinger, the author of the Catcher In The Rye says, “What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.” That statement is in fact true. When you come across a good book, it should be treasured. Paulo Coelho, the author of The Alchemist, is the “terrific friend” that readers of this novel wish they could call up at any time. The book itself could be passed down from generation to generation, and the meaning within the text will still be the same. As Ernest Hemingway says, “There is no friend as loyal as a book.” In this sense, The Alchemist is this book.
The story starts off with a young sheep herder named Santiago. Santiago always traveled and loved herding sheep with a passion. He loved his sheep and he felt that his sheep loved him. One day while wandering, he meets the old king. Once the old king tells Santiago he needs to go find his “Personal Legend”, his whole life begins to change in an instant. Listening to what the old man says, he sells all his sheep, and sets off for his quest. During his journey, he realized he experienced more problems than he ever did on his journey than when he was back at home. However, although his journey takes some drastic turns, he meets the love of his life, and becomes “one with the world”. At the end of the story, he meets the Alchemist, who teaches him how to do so, and how to follow his heart. Finally reaching the Pyramids, he finds no treasure but realizes that it was back at home, where he was from the start of the story. The theme of the story is the journey is sometimes greater than the treasure itself.
The Alchemist is by far one of the most influential and philosophical books of the 21st century. Every other sentence somehow benefits the reader with intellectual knowledge. In the book it states, “It’s the simple things in life that are the most extra-ordinary; only wise men are able to understand them”(Coelho 15). The intellectual quotes from within the book fill the character with a spirituality the same way a bible would.
The most inspirational quote, is when Santiago finds his own meaning of life, which states, “It’s true; life really is generous to those who purse their destiny”(Coelho 176). However, the purpose of the girl Santiago likes in the beginning of the story seems useless, since he doesn’t try to romance with her. However if looked from another viewpoint, his unwillingness and shyness from the merchant’s daughter caused him to pursue the next girl he thought was beautiful, and not let her get away. The book is quite romantic by doing so. For example, it states, “ …he learned the most important part of the language that all the world spoke — the language that everyone on earth was capable of understanding in their heart. It was love. Something older than humanity, more ancient than the desert” (Coelho 97). Love and Philosophy seem to balance each other out, and these themes worked in the book.
Paulo Coelho writing style is ancient, but can be read in a modern era. With his numerous amounts of facts and advice, he draws in the reader. Even the title “The Alchemist” makes the reader interested in a non-traditional book. While reading the book, a reader may not want to put it down. The writing style is so simple, “short and sweet” in a sense.
The Alchemist can be read in a day, but the words stay in your mind. It is quite difficult to find a book that is so powerful, and not that long. Even the bible takes days to read, fully understand and comprehend. Books like this one keep readers thinking; not jut while they are reading the book but cause them to reminisce afterwords.
People read for entertainment and/or educational purposes. The Alchemist is a fulfilling book, both for the mind and the soul. It is hard to find a book such as this one, even when a person may have access to many books. Paulo Coehlo takes a simple character and turns the concept into a spiritual adventure. Perhaps if more people read books like these, they would come to understand the purpose of life, like Santiago. They might even change the way they live. As the Alchemist says, “There is only one way to learn. “It’s through action. Everything you need to know you have learned through your journey”(Coelho 125). Just as Santiago applied this concept to his life, the reader can do so as well.