Books set in Africa, Coelho-Paulo, Fantasy, Feel-Good, Fiction, Social Commentary, what if

#536 The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

#536 The Alchemist by Paulo CoelhoThe Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist is a book that people have been talking about for years and they just keep talking about it. After reading it I can see why.

In this book a young man wanders around with his sheep. He wanted to be a shepherd so he could travel. One night he had a dream. He dreamed of the pyramids of Egypt. He met a king who called himself Melchizedek. This king told the shepherd that he must travel to the pyramids to fulfill his personal legend. The young man did not know what a personal legend was. The king told him that he should listen to omens. He gave the young man a black stone and a white stone; these he called the Urim and Thummim. He told the young man to use the stones to aid in figuring out omens.

The young man sold his sheep and went somewhere he had never been. There he was robbed, but soon found a job working at a crystal shop. The owner at the prompting of the young man was soon doing wonderfully, but the young man had to leave. Before he did, he had a very important conversation with the owner before he left. The owner told the boy that he liked thinking about things he could do and not doing them. He and the young man were not the same.

The young man traveled on. Over the desert.He went to an Oasis with an Englishman. The Englishman was looking for an alchemist. He wanted to know how to turn lead into gold. The boy was simply looking for a treasure at the pyramids, both seemed far-fetched in their own way. Both the Englishman and the young man met the alchemist. The alchemist taught the boy many things, but did not teach him how to make gold. This was not part of his personal legend. The young man traveled on seemingly through many dangers to finally realize what he had been wanting to realize.

What I liked

I get why people like this book. It’s empowering. It’s about taking the risks you know that you should take to lead you forward in life. It’s about not being stagnant. It’s a quest story most of all. The young man and his tale sound like something out of a fairy tale. This book is so much like a fairy tale. The young man faces challenges and learns important facts of life, as any good fairy tale character should. In the end this book isn’t only instructive, it’s entertaining to read.

This book was a bit of a reminder to me. If I want to accomplish certain things and feel certain ways in life, there are things I have to move away from. There are things I have to leave behind. There are going to be points in life that are painful, but in the end we grow from those points and from leaving those things behind.

What the shopkeeper said about himself is not how I am or want to be. He was happy with just thinking about doing things rather than going out and doing them. That’s a sad, sad life. Well, at least in my opinion it’s a sad, sad life. There are really and truly things you should hold your life back for, but most of the things we let ourselves hold our lives back for aren’t that important in the long run. We just waste time. We just waste our lives.

What I didn’t like

Why would anyone ever be that person who just thought about doing things and never did them? Why would it be desirable? It’s desirable because it’s comfortable. People get used to living a certain way and they never want to change ever. That’s not me and that annoys me. Why waste your life doing the same thing day after day after day after day after day after day? Go out and do the things you feel you should accomplish in life. The things you feel you should do may change as your life progresses. Being a pop star probably isn’t what you’re going to end up doing with your life and in the end it was never that important anyway, but there are plenty of other things you’ll feel the need to accomplish. Why hold yourself back because of stupid things?

The reason this guy in this shopkeeper in this story upsets me so much is that I recognize people very close to me who are like this man. They never want to move forward with life. They just want the same thing day after day after day. There is more to life than seeing the same thing everyday. We are meant to do things with our lives.


This was a great book. It may not be exactly everything everyone says it is, but it’s pretty good.

Weigh In

Are you the doer or the wisher? Do you want this to change?

Do you think the young man in this story continued to do incredible things?


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