The Alchemist

The Alchemist

Paulo Coelho's enchanting novel has inspired a devoted following around the world. This story, dazzling in its powerful simplicity and soul-stirring wisdom, is about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried near the Pyramids. Along the way he meets a Gypsy woman, a man who calls h...

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Title:The Alchemist
Author:Paulo Coelho
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Edition Language:English

The Alchemist Reviews

  • Christopher

    I really disliked this book. I dislike it in the way that I dislike a great deal of modern self help books. Their basic message is that if you want something to happen, you need to want it as hard as you can, without caring about anything else, not allowing yourself to doubt it, or let criticisms will get in the way then it will happen.

    I disagree with this notion, not only because it is false, but because it is bad.

    Just because we desire something, does not make it good. This idea of 'following

    I really disliked this book. I dislike it in the way that I dislike a great deal of modern self help books. Their basic message is that if you want something to happen, you need to want it as hard as you can, without caring about anything else, not allowing yourself to doubt it, or let criticisms will get in the way then it will happen.

    I disagree with this notion, not only because it is false, but because it is bad.

    Just because we desire something, does not make it good. This idea of 'following your heart' is often wrong. Who are we to be the arbiters of truth? Why should our hearts be sources of information that go beyond logic, doubt and reasoning? Haven't we all desired things that have turned out to not be in our best interest, or to be harmful to others? Andrew Jackson was a man known to have a lot of integrity. He was always 'true' to himself and followed his heart. Andrew Jackson is the man who initiated the 'Trail of Tears'. Moving Native Americans from their homes and into reservations.

    Next, this idea of not letting ourselves doubt or consider doubts. This is a terrible and dishonest way to live. If we don't consider doubts, and entertain them often, then we are deliberately blinding ourselves. Deliberately making ourselves ignorant. If someone doesn't give serious consideration to the idea that they may be wrong. Give serious thought to why they believe what they do, and that perhaps those who doubt them may be correct, then they are behaving in a dangerous and dishonest way.

    Not giving heed to the concerns doubts and criticisms of others is something I believe is a major fault in modern society. Often, people fail to recognize the needs of the group and the community. We place so much emphasis on the needs and rights of the individual. This causes people to focus so much on themselves to the detriment of others around them. At times, it can be beneficial to go against the group, but one should first give serious consideration to the groups concerns.

    According to Ideas like the Alchemist, groups like, the Westboro Baptist Church,(godhatesfags.com) should be seen as American heroes. These are people who take a totally irrational stance, and stick to it as hard as they can in complete defiance to the views of everyone around them.

  • Sarah

    I feel like everyone LOVES this book, but I was kind of underwhelmed. I know that translation affects the quality of writing, but I could not get into this writing style. At all. I felt like it was totally affected and contrived. He was going for this "fable/parable" style, but it seemed to fail miserably. The parable-like quality was totally contrived, and I thought the "moral" was pretty stupid.

    Moral: everything you want and need is close to home. Take chances. Follow your "personal legacy."

    T

    I feel like everyone LOVES this book, but I was kind of underwhelmed. I know that translation affects the quality of writing, but I could not get into this writing style. At all. I felt like it was totally affected and contrived. He was going for this "fable/parable" style, but it seemed to fail miserably. The parable-like quality was totally contrived, and I thought the "moral" was pretty stupid.

    Moral: everything you want and need is close to home. Take chances. Follow your "personal legacy."

    Then....there was a supernatural element which was just plain dumb. Granted, I am not religious. I think god-fearing people get more out of this bc they can take that leap of faith, excuse the phrase. If this was supposed to be a story of magic, I may have been into it. But it was supposed to be a simple story of knowing yourself. And I think, philosophically speaking, when you truly know yourself that is when you truly realize your destiny. Why do you need supernatural forces to convey that message? This was about realizing your destiny, or "personal legacy." It could have been done without the hocus pocus, and, yes, the cheese.

    In short, the book attempted to be deep and failed. "Speaking with the wind and the sun" and "being a shepherd" and getting over "personal hardship" all as part of a transparent "higher plan" (read: personal legacy) doesn't make a plot deep. A character simply called "boy" and short sentences doesn't make a story a fable. Learning from your flocks and from nature doesn't make a character inexplicably wise. I really got nothing out of this book.

    It is short though. The book came very highly recommended. Read it to judge the hype for yourself. After all, a whole nation, including Bill Clinton (who I'm into), thought it was a touching account that personally changed them. Then again, this is the same country who thought The Celestine Prophesy was worthwhile. Gag.

  • Marte Patel

    Utter drivel. The book was badly written, righteous, condescending, preachy, and worst of all, the ending was morally questionable. All the fables and stories are stolen from elsewhere, religious ideas and spirituality are badly mixed, and everything is so

    .

    The book harps on about tapping into the Soul of the World, the Language of the World, about your one true path and other nonsense. The basic idea is that if you really want something and "listen to your heart", the whole universe will

    Utter drivel. The book was badly written, righteous, condescending, preachy, and worst of all, the ending was morally questionable. All the fables and stories are stolen from elsewhere, religious ideas and spirituality are badly mixed, and everything is so

    .

    The book harps on about tapping into the Soul of the World, the Language of the World, about your one true path and other nonsense. The basic idea is that if you really want something and "listen to your heart", the whole universe will help you achieve it if you only look for omens. A questionable idea in a world where people no longer want to work hard and achieve independently.

    It reads like a really bad self-help book written for 8 year old children and disguised as a symbolic parable. I read a lot of books and I can safely say this is the worst book I have ever read. It's only saving grace was that it was mercifully short.

  • Warwick

    The problem with this book is not just that it's bad, which it certainly is, but that there are so many people out there who want to corner you at parties and tell you how it's totally changed their lives. In a way you might as well read it just so you can see how feeble-minded they must be to get any kind of philosophical nourishment out of this inexhaustible stream of clichés. The profound lessons you'll learn from this book amount to nothing more than several variations on the theme of "only

    The problem with this book is not just that it's bad, which it certainly is, but that there are so many people out there who want to corner you at parties and tell you how it's totally changed their lives. In a way you might as well read it just so you can see how feeble-minded they must be to get any kind of philosophical nourishment out of this inexhaustible stream of clichés. The profound lessons you'll learn from this book amount to nothing more than several variations on the theme of "only the very ugly is truly beautiful, only the very stupid are really intelligent, only black is white, only up is down" etc etc.

    The writing is too simple to be really bad, but it's the content that gets you. By the end of the book you'll want to track down the philosopher's stone yourself and carefully beat Coelho to death with it.

  • Bill  Kerwin

    A good parable--like "The Prodigal Son"--should comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. The problem with this little book is that it does precisely the opposite.

    Coelho's message--and, boy, is this a book with a message--is that each of us has his own Personal Legend, and that if we recognize that legend and pursue it sincerely, everything in the Universe (which is after all made up--wind, stone, trees--of the same stuff we are) will conspire to help us achieve it. Corollaries: 1) peop

    A good parable--like "The Prodigal Son"--should comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. The problem with this little book is that it does precisely the opposite.

    Coelho's message--and, boy, is this a book with a message--is that each of us has his own Personal Legend, and that if we recognize that legend and pursue it sincerely, everything in the Universe (which is after all made up--wind, stone, trees--of the same stuff we are) will conspire to help us achieve it. Corollaries: 1) people who don't recognize their legends are never happy, 2) people who fail to realize their legends are afraid, and 3) people who refuse to pursue their legends, even when they know what they are, are both unhappy and afraid. (I admit I've left out a nuance or two here and there, but not many. There aren't more than three or four nuances in the book.)

    I fear that the result of taking such a message seriously will be to make the successful even more self-satisfied, the narcissistic more self-absorbed, and the affluent more self-congratulatory. At the same time, those who are unfortunate will blame themselves for their bad fortune, those who lack self-esteem will lose what little they have, and the poor will see--no, not God, as the beatitude says, but--the poor will see they have only themselves to blame.

    Perhaps I am being too harsh. I can see how a few individual young persons, hemmed in by parental expectations and seeking their own paths, may find enough hope and courage here to help them venture forth. But I am convinced the damage done by books like this--like

    ,

    , and anything ever written by the late Dr. Wayne Dyer (or, for that matter, anything he may ever choose to channel from beyond the grave)--is far greater than the little good they may achieve.

    If you like parables, don't read this book. Go read a book of Hasidic tales collected by Martin Buber, a book of Sufi stories collected by Idries Shah, or a book of parables and sayings by Anthony de Mello instead.

    Or then again, you could just try Jesus. Jesus is always good.

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