The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho I thought was a delightful read and am not surprised that it has a following and sold 150 million copies world wide. . It combined myth, parable, magic, wisdom and dreams in one small package that was simply written and easy to read but philosophically as deep as you wanted to go.
In the prologue the alchemist finds a book about Narcissus that tells the tale as we know it but continued on to explain that the lake had cried so much on the death of Narcissus that it had turned the lake Narcissus used to admire himself in from fresh water to salt water. The Lake was asked if Narcissus was beautiful and after a short silence said in reply: “I weep for Narcissus but I never noticed that he was beautiful. I weep because, each time he knelt beside my banks, I could see, in the depths of his eyes, my own beauty reflected.”
Via this novel, In the shepherd boy’s life we see our own lives reflected.
We follow the life of a boy. On the first line we learn that his name is Santiago. Never again is the name used instead the narrator refers to him as the boy. This technique I feel further allows us to put our own lives in the story. The boy is a simple shepherd herder. He is a herder with education, choosing to herd as this is the only way he can travel. The boy has a dream and the rest of the tale is spent in search of this dream. He visits a gypsy who tells him that the treasure is to be found at the pyramids. He meets a king who advises him to sell his sheep to raise the funds to travel to Egypt.
His trip to the pyramids sees him meet an alchemist and he learns about personal legends, to follow omens (signs), and listen to his heart. He discovers love and the universal language. He learns of the treasure within. I put this in the same plane as C.S.Lewis’s Til We Have Faces and is a book I can see myself rereading further down the track.
Would I recommend it? Stupid question. It is clear that I would recommend this to all readers, children and adult alike, as the life lessons set out in here are ones that no matter your age they are worth reminding ourselves of.
“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”