The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is a beautiful story that I personally believe is one of those books that will keep on giving for as many times as you come back to it.
The story follows a young shepherd from Spain named Santiago who is quite content with the life he leads. He one day dreams of finding treasure at the pyramids of Egypt. He later meets a man that tells him of “Personal Legends” which are our hearts’ true passions. Santiago decides to follow his dream to Egypt to pursue what he believes to be his Personal Legend. As Santiago sets off on the adventure of his life to chase his dream, the book takes the reader along for the ride of hardships and unforeseen circumstances that befall him.
On the surface, this book is about a boy chasing treasure. But throughout the entire story, there are small tidbits of advice that far outreach any coming of age novel I have ever read. The story, at its core, is about living life fully. At every turn of the page, there is a quote that is unbearably truthful and relevant to the life any one of us is living today. Just a few pages into this book, I got a solid slap in the face by the quote “‘It’s this; that at a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That’s the world’s greatest lie.'” I mean, let’s stop there for a second and reflect. That quote ALONE is enough to send someone into an existential crisis! Or, in my case, open my eyes to the way I have been living.
Day in and day out many of us find ourselves falling victim to the current of life, being dragged along with no control of where we’re going. We follow a preset list of “we should” vs listening to our hearts and really asking “what do I want”. And sometimes, when we find a dream that makes our hearts beat to a different tune, we abandon it because it scares us half to death, because it’s uncertain. There is a section of The Alchemist where Santiago is learning how to communicate and listen to his heart. The pages were so powerful because Coelho gives dialogue to Santiago’s heart and I found myself thinking what my heart would say to me if it could speak only to then smack myself in the forehead because DUH! my heart can speak, if only I would listen.
I cannot stress enough how much every single person should find a copy of The Alchemist in their hands at one point or another in their lives. The ending is so genius in its simplicity because it only underlines the theme of this book so severely. The journey is the point of this life, not what we find at the destination but what we learn on our way there.
I have read about people who read The Alchemist once a year, and I can without question see why. This book is a necessary add to everyone’s collection!