You should read The Alchemist

Considering my love for writing and my love for reading is like considering the chicken and the egg. It’s impossible to say which came first. Although my mother was a book pusher from the beginning, I don’t ever remember disliking reading. Certain books, perhaps, but not reading.

Unfortunately, over the past year, I’ve been picking a lot of bad books. A LOT. I did swear off all books for several months, and read only magazines, in order to cleanse myself from two particularly awful books in a row. But I’m back to reading, and always looking for recommendations. I’d recently turned to scouring my friends’ choices, and reviews, on Goodreads. That led me to How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran (the first two chapters are a little rough, but blend with the rest once you’ve gotten further into it, and worth the confusion) and, most recently, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

The Alchemist cover

Santiago, a young shepherd, meets a mystical king who encourages Santiago to follow a strange dream he’s had. Santiago, referred to only as “the boy” after the first page, thoroughly considers and then decides to take the king’s advice. He sets out on an adventure to follow the dream, which is his Personal Legend. The story is a parable, written simply but eloquently. The boy remains thoughtful throughout the book and, while reading, you’ll find yourself becoming introspective and inquisitive in a very similar way to the boy.

Hesitantly, I will say that the book is inspiring. I hesitate because books that are touted as inspirational often have a sort of stigma attached, like they’re the written version of a motivational speaker. Coelho’s book is not that in the slightest. Personally, I found it inspiring because it caused self-reflection on my life’s course thus far, and where I’m heading, but without any pressure. Admittedly, directly after finishing the book, at 2am, I found myself unable to sleep for hours, wondering if I’d missed my own Personal Legend… but I’m a worrier like that. After some more time, I realized that it actually gave me a sort of peace about the path my life has taken and a confidence in what I’m doing today.

The Alchemist quote

This all sounds very deep, and it certainly can be if you let it. But it’s a lovely, well-written story even if you don’t end up examining your own life. I highly recommend The Alchemist and would love to hear from anyone who has already read it, and how (if) it moved you.

Also, I would like to thank my dear friend, Susan, for recommending the book to me. I am truly grateful that she did.

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