Helen's Reviews > The Alchemist

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
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Jan 15, 12

bookshelves: favs, fiction, theology-philosophy
Read in January, 2001

I love this book, it was recommended by a friend and I had it finished in a few hours. I think it's beauty (and downfall perhaps to some) is it's simplicity. We are overrun by complex, new-fangled, mind-bending literary tricks these days. The ideas in this story aren't particularly new, the story is basic - boy goes on quest (there's only ?seven stories?) - a common enough yarn. I think a lot of people's problem with this book is the expectation that it is a metaphor for something bigger, and is larger than the sum of it's parts. If you've suffered the hype, it might be a disappointment. I thankfully came to the book just with "this is a great book, borrow it!"

I've read it a few times and each time it offered something different. One time I read it, I found it frustrating and annoying as the protagonist seemed stupid and dull-witted (I'd forgotten he wasn't an adult and hadn't read the story before lol). Other times it poured philosophical gems. Paulo Coelho's books have that gift; simply written, with a simple message or just a nice meandering story. Perhaps the pretention that has followed this book has been added by the reader not the author. Should a story about a Spanish shepherd boy have all the answers? It's just a pretty story, which can hold meaning if you want it to - you can take from The Alchemist as much or a little as you wish. I personally couldn't put it down, and loved ever fast-turning page of it. Read it, with an open mind, and decide for yourself.
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