A book club of the month selection. But do I agree with their assessment?
Combining magic, mysticism, wisdom and wonder into an inspiring tale of self-discovery, The Alchemist has become a modern classic, selling millions of copies around the world and transforming the lives of countless readers across generations.
Paulo Coelho’s masterpiece tells the mystical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure. His quest will lead him to riches far different—and far more satisfying—than he ever imagined. Santiago’s journey teaches us about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, of recognizing opportunity and learning to read the omens strewn along life’s path, and, most importantly, to follow our dreams.
I wrote last Friday regarding my search for a local book club that I could physically attend during daylight hours. In that effort, I went back to the library in Crown Point where their monthly read was The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson.
This week I got to attend a start-up book group closer to my neck of the woods that they named Fiction Addiction. (That was the name of a Meetup I tried a couple years ago but decided against as I wanted to find a group that was BYOB (bring your own book).) For their inaugural meeting, they chose The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.
First, let me say that because I could not download a digital copy, I had to pick up a physical copy–old edition, with this cover (l). There is apparently a 25th Anniversary Edition with an updated cover (r). Remember that old comic who used to squeal out “HATED it?” Well…perhaps that might be going a bit too far but it would not be an understatement to say it was all I could do to get through this book. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who felt that way as there were some rather scathing reviews on Goodreads.
Amazon* 4.6 out of 5 stars 14,769 ratings
Guess I’m not exactly a book snob as I could not get into the simplistic writing style, the narcissistic attitude of the main character, Santiago, or the whole quest to follow his dream. The Alchemist is a traveler Santiago met on his journey to find his Personal Legend. (Oh, puleeaze, spare me.) And then there is Melchizedek.
This becomes so deeply philosophical it had my head spinning and spent a great deal of the time muttering wha??? huh?? The author professes to be Catholic but had me SO confused–really? I think somewhere he crossed a few lines, and I don’t mean just across Egypt, Tangier, or the Sahara Desert. Confusion reigned supreme. Mysticism could be one term, but he was talking to his heart and it was answering.
A book of messages, told in fables or parables, targeted those who seek their treasure–their personal legend. (Would be that we all had that luxury? Although wandering through the Sahara with warring factions wouldn’t be my choice for a peaceful existence. I was rather surprised to note that the Englishman he met along the way (also seeking his treasure) spoke Esperanto (among other languages), which I discovered when I dabbled in Gallifreyan.) Then starts dropping some of the buzz words:
The Master Work
(Solid part of the Master Work) Philosopher’s Stone
Soul of the World
Urim and Thummim
(Liquid part of the Master Work) Elixir of Life
Language of the World
I must admit to believing in the rule of three and I’ve seldom ignored that third nudge. It was this young man’s third dream about his treasure that set his course. He sells his sheep and sets sail (literally) from Andalusia for the Pyramids. It will not be an easy journey and he’s robbed (oops) three times. Perhaps THAT should have been his omen.
I read this library book as an introduction to a new reading group. This is going to be a good group and if you are in the NW Indiana area fourth Tuesday of the month, I recommend. Members consensus of this one below. Have you read this book? Did you like or learn from it? Am I truly out to Lunch? I’d love to hear your opinions!
As to next month, we are looking forward to reading Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan. I plan to rent the DVD and compare the two. You are probably way ahead of me–what did you think?
Genre: Personal Success & Spirituality, Mysticism & Spirituality, Alchemy, Literary Fiction, Religion and Spirituality
Publisher: HarperOne: Anniversary Edition
- ASIN: B00U6SFUSS
Print Length: 178 pages
Publication Date: February 24, 2015
Source: Fiction Addiction Book Group NW Indiana Library
Title Link: The Alchemist
The Author: The Brazilian author PAULO COELHO is considered one of the most influential authors of our times. His books have sold more than 165 million copies worldwide, have been released in 170 countries and been translated into 80 languages.
Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1947, he soon discovered his vocation for writing. He worked as a director, theater actor, songwriter and journalist. His collaboration with Brazilian composer and singer Raúl Seixas gave some of the greatest classic rock songs in Brazil. In 1986, a special meeting led him to make the pilgrimage to Saint James Compostela (in Spain). The Road to Santiago was not only a common pilgrimage but a turning point in his existence. A year later, he wrote ‘The Pilgrimage’, an autobiographical novel that is considered the beginning of his career.
In the following year, COELHO published ‘The Alchemist’. Slow initial sales convinced his first publisher to drop the novel, but it went on to become one of the best selling Brazilian books of all time.
Other titles include ‘Brida’ (1990), ‘The Valkyries’ (1992), ‘By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept’ (1994), the collection of his best columns published in the Brazilian newspaper Folha de S. Paulo entitle ‘Maktub’ (1994), the compilation of texts ‘Phrases’ (1995), ‘The Fifth Mountain’ (1996), ‘Manual of a Warrior of Light’ (1997), ‘Veronika decides to die’ (1998), ‘The Devil and Miss Prym’ (2000), the compilation of traditional tales in ‘Stories for parents, children and grandchildren’ (2001), ‘Eleven Minutes’ (2003), ‘The Zahir’ (2005), ‘Like the Flowing River’ (2006), ‘The Witch of Portobello’ (2006), ‘The Winner Stands Alone’ (2008), ‘Aleph’ (2010), ‘Manuscript found in Accra’ (2012) and ‘Adultery’ (2014).
He has received numerous prestigious international awards. He is member of the Academy of Letters of Brazil since 2002 and Messenger of Peace by the United Nations since 2007. In 2009 he received the Guinness World Record for the most translated author for the same book (The Alchemist).
The man behind the author likes to write and practices Kyudo – a meditative archery. He loves reading, walking, football and computers. In that sense, he has always maintained a close contact with his readers but now, and thanks to the new media, he has established an incredible feedback with them. Paulo was the second most influential celebrity on Twitter in 2010 according to Forbes and he is the writer with the highest number of followers in the social media.
In the past years Paulo Coelho has expanded his presence in the internet with his daily blogs in WordPress (http://paulocoelhoblog.com)
Instagram (http://instagram.com/alkmist), among others.
He is equally present in media sharing sites such as Youtube (http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=paulabraconnot) and Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/photos/paulo_coelho/sets), offering on a regular basis not only texts but also videos and pictures to his readers.
*As of February 24, 2020
©2020 V Williams