EVERYONE Has Read This but Me - The Catch-Up Book Club discussion

The Alchemist
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MODERN CLASSICS/POPULAR READS > The Alchemist — *SPOILERS*

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message 1: by Joanna Loves Reading (last edited Aug 03, 2018 04:50AM) (new)

Joanna Loves Reading (joannalovesreading) | 1109 comments This discussion is for the August ‘18 Modern Classic/Popular Group Read

The book selected is The Alchemist

*Spoilers Allowed*


Joanna Loves Reading (joannalovesreading) | 1109 comments The voting is still on-going so the book selection may change. I got off by a day and announced this the winner and created threads prematurely, fyi. So I just left it in as a placeholder. Same goes for the other thread.


Renee (elenarenee) lol I understand now thanks for the explanation. Also thank hyou for your time


Joanna Loves Reading (joannalovesreading) | 1109 comments Ok, the final result didn't change and The Alchemist is still the selection.


Brady Yes!!! I literally just finished this one!! Excited to discuss it now as my experience was.....interesting.


Renee (elenarenee) this was one of my wall banger books. Thus I will not be rereading. I will be watching the discussion to see if my opinion can be swayed. Sometimes its just where I am in life that makes me hate a book.

I have a feeling it may be the type of book. I will read along with the discussion and see.


Kerri | 701 comments Renee I am in the same spot as you!! I hated this book, I thought it was sentimental and trite and the only good point of it was that it is so short, but I know so many people who just Loved it so maybe I was in a bad place/mood while reading it. Who knows! I am interested in seeing what the everyone thinks, why you like it or don’t, what hits you or what makes you cringe. Maybe like Renee I will be convinced to reconsider my opinion. :)


Renee (elenarenee) I agree Keri. The reason I will follow the discussion is to see if It will show me what I missed. I think the word trite sums up my feelings.

I put it in the class of books like the Shack and Johnathan Livington Sea gull. It could be its just not my thing but I wonder if there is something I missed.

Kerri wrote: "Renee I am in the same spot as you!! I hated this book, I thought it was sentimental and trite and the only good point of it was that it is so short, but I know so many people who just Loved it so ..."


Debbie (readbydeb) | 49 comments I actually read this recently for the first time. I thought I would love this book when I first started. I loved the writing, found the simple yet poignant wording charming, and kept having to stop to write down quotes.

As I kept reading, I started getting annoyed with just how surprisingly slow and repetitive this book is, despite its shortness. I personally tried to view this as just a story rather than a fable or an allegorical tale revealing how the universe works/how to live your life (even though it obviously is). I'm glad I did this, because I honestly would have gotten frustrated with the book much sooner otherwise.

Overall, I found it to be just ok. I didn't hate it, I didn't feel like it was a waste of time, and I still enjoy many quotes from it, but it wasn't a life-changing read that I'll reread frequently (if at all).


message 10: by NancyJ (new) - added it

NancyJ (nancyjjj) When someone was describing the book to me I was thinking that the ideas sound like the Secret or the Law of Attraction.


Erin-Elizabeth I thought this post would be full of people gushing over the metaphorical wonder of it and I’m kinda surprised it’s not! I’m glad though, because I just thought this was the most self conscious, pointless story I’ve ever read. I kept waiting for the moment that I really connected with it but it just never came. Cannot understand the hype at all.


message 12: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark Dillon | 3 comments I loved this book and although I prefer to read books I haven't read before I will take this as an exception, happily.

If I remember rightly the joy of this book comes from the final third.


message 13: by lethe (last edited Aug 05, 2018 07:03AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

lethe | 89 comments I feel a little bad for writing this after Mark's comment, but I loathed this book.

So much trite pseudo-wisdom spewed forth by an author who clearly thinks himself a guru.

I imagine I might have liked this as a teen, but when I read it at 47, the window of opportunity had most firmly been shut.


message 14: by lethe (new) - rated it 1 star

lethe | 89 comments NancyJ wrote: "When someone was describing the book to me I was thinking that the ideas sound like the Secret or the Law of Attraction."

I haven't read those, but based on what I've heard about them, I think you're right.


message 15: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark Dillon | 3 comments lethe - don't feel bad. If we all liked the same thing life would be pretty boring and sites like this would not be needed. Thanks for sharing your views, of the book


message 16: by lethe (new) - rated it 1 star

lethe | 89 comments Mark wrote: "lethe - don't feel bad. If we all liked the same thing life would be pretty boring and sites like this would not be needed. Thanks for sharing your views, of the book"

Thank you, Mark, for being so generous :)


message 17: by Kerri (new) - rated it 1 star

Kerri | 701 comments I haven’t read The Secret but a friend showed me the movie which I am guessing is the book in a different media.

It was horrible. It was basically the concept “if you want something, work for it” but made all mystical and magical and secret workings of the universe. The Secret is that if you think about something you want enough, it will come to you! The Universe Magic will grant it to you! Yeah. That is the big ol’ “secret”. Never mind that maybe 20 other people may be wanting and wishing for that same particular necklace in the window, THEY probably don’t have The Secret so it is almost guaranteed to be yours! Your thoughts will draw it to you eventually!

I was not impressed.


message 18: by Renee (new) - rated it 1 star

Renee (elenarenee) Oh I forgot about the secret. Someone gave it to me when I first became ill. I think they thought it would help. It just bored me. I think books like the alchemist, the secret and the shack are just not my thing


Jenna | 47 comments i just reread this last month for one of my bookgroups.
i liked it.
very spiritual.
lots of symbolism which i didn't catch onto at first until we did our discussion. lots of biblical stuff. the number 3 is prevalent.
#3 is signifigant in alot of cultures.
i read it as a story as i find i enjoy symbolic books better that way. if i have to constantly think about what this means then i lose track.
i'd rather come up w/that as i'm thinking about the book later on.
i've read some of cohelo's other stuff. i think this is one of his better ones.


Brady So, I just finished this one and did it as an audiobook. BAD IDEA. So my thought is that this book requires a certain mindset. For me, going through an audiobook is a very passive process. This book requires active reading....almost studying...with and intention to reap philosophical meaning. This book requires work: Decoding symbolism, possibly reading into syntax, characterization minutiae, all that good stuff.

I didn't love the book but that is because I did it as an audiobook and didn't get the full development of philosophy. I definitely want to try it again someday and actually dive into it...and then see if I like it more.


message 21: by Pye (new) - rated it 3 stars

Pye (helenduvall) | 30 comments I think this book may require more insight than I am capable of. Or maybe I wasn't in the mood for philosophical musings. Anyway, I just didn't care for the book.


Malin | 6 comments I'm conflicted in how I feel about this book. I was really drawn to the spirituality of it, and the message that we should all follow our hearts.
I wanted to fully embrace it, but there is something in how this book is written that I just can't stand. I felt like the author handed you the answer to a lot of questions in the text instead of letting the reader read it themselves between the lines. And like lethe phrased it "so much trite pseudo-wisdom spewed forth by an author who clearly thinks himself a guru." I think a book with the same kind of story and core message could have been written much smoother. And all I saw was the authors ego.
Maybe that's me reading the book and being unable to see past that. But I also believe that if it was truly a good book the story would have been able to speak to me either way, no matter what mood I'm in.


message 23: by Jess (new) - rated it 1 star

Jess Penhallow | 91 comments I hated this book and it was made worse by the Foreward in the edition I read which was some of the smuggest, most self-congratulatory crap I have ever read!


Mishica | 19 comments I read this book few months ago. At first, i could not appreciate the reason why i disliked it, but now reading all the posts here i could relate my reason of disliking. It is hyped so much that lot of people (including me) pick it for the mere reason that so many others have read it. I felt like going round and round and then coming back to the same place again.


Zeljka | 332 comments There`s an anegdote about "The Alchemist"…
Back when I read this book, around 15-20 years ago, when in my country footballers and models were very popular, especially if they were the couple- and one year, before summer, every tabloide had interviews with footballers and models asking "stupid" questions like – where are you going for your holidays, what is your favourite book, or what was the last book you have read or what books do you plan to read while on beach, and no matter what was the question, that summer the answers were usually the same –"The Alchemist"!
I mean, what does it say to you about the book if it`s footballers` and models` favourite ;-))
So now, 15 or so years after, when we (me, my friends..) ask someone who rarely reads "what was the last book you`ve read?" the internal joke is to tell "The Alchemist" because everyone has read it, and even if you haven`t it was so popular that everyone has heard about it…

Back then when I`ve read it I liked it, because it told me I can be/have everything I want, and never to give up …- I liked it when I was 20+ :-).
Now I`m not so sure anymore, now it sounds preachy- so I don`t plan to reread it soon.
In Mr Coelho`s defense I can say that I liked his other books better i.e. "The Witch of Portobello"…
Someone mentioned "The Shack " in that preachy context but I quite liked "The Shack" I think it could comfort people that had that kind of tragedy in their life…


message 26: by Renee (new) - rated it 1 star

Renee (elenarenee) I have lost 4 children. Most were problems with pregnancy d/t an undiagnosed auto immune disorder. One died because of my abusive ex. I was given this book when they finally figured out the reason for all my early births and miscarriages. I found no comfort in this book. Some things can't be niced away.

I found the shack to be insulting to my grief. It didn't help that I was given the book at one of my lowest times. I think my friend meant well. But it was just not a good choice.


message 27: by lethe (new) - rated it 1 star

lethe | 89 comments I am so sorry to hear that, Renee.


Brady So I am going to throw this out there because of conversations I have had with friends and I think I have seen a trend at least with them. This may not be true but something I am finding interesting...

The friends of mine who read this book and loved it are very religious people. The ones who didn't like it, tended to not be super strong in any religion or spirituality.

I could be super wrong but I wonder if this may have something to do with it. I am not intending on calling anyone out or starting controversy but just something I have noticed in my friend circle so I thought I would share.


message 29: by Marcos (new)

Marcos Kopschitz | 1768 comments Brady wrote: "So I am going to throw this out there because of conversations I have had with friends and I think I have seen a trend at least with them. This may not be true but something I am finding interestin..."

It may be so. I've watched TV interviews that mention, or in which he mentions it himself, that the author has been in a long spiritual quest himself, trying a lot of experiences before finally settling with the catholic religion.

So, at least it makes sense that his works would appeal to religious people like you describe and not so much to others.


message 30: by Nell (last edited Aug 09, 2018 07:17AM) (new) - added it

Nell | 435 comments Here is a link to discussion questions in case anyone is interested:

https://www.readinggroupguides.com/re...


Jenna | 47 comments Brady wrote: "So I am going to throw this out there because of conversations I have had with friends and I think I have seen a trend at least with them. This may not be true but something I am finding interestin..."

Yes I can see ur point @ that. I’m not religious but I am somewhat spiritual and I liked the book. But coming from a background of not a lot of religious education growing up, I missed a lot of the biblical references in the book b/c I didn’t know them. People in my bkgrp who did liked the book so u may have a point. I think with books like these it just depends what u personally get out of it. I can see not liking this. I think it just depends on what books u read. I’ve read other similar things that I didn’t like. What my group all collectively agreed on was they liked that it was short. And for the most part a quick read, also a good one to listen to on audio.


message 32: by Marcos (new)

Marcos Kopschitz | 1768 comments As most of the comments are not all that in favour of the book, I'll share one I made some time ago in another discussion in the group.

Paulo Coelho is a Brazilian author and, as everybody knows, a worldwide bestselling phenomenon. I might be happy to see a Brazilian author there, as well as chosen as a BOTM here, but that is not the case.

About the first ten reviews of this book in GR are very negative on the book, and I'm on that side. We Brazilians had this discussion first, as the man became a success here before going international. Like in other places, people either love his books or really don't like them. I even bought and tried to read some of them, but wasn't at all attracted and decided not to go on. DNF.

I have read comments according to which the book has even been improved, in other languages, by good translators. But I'm not sure about this. Anyway, I'm not a fan of his. What I think is more along lethe's line. :-)

Just sharing a point of view. Big sales do not necessarily mean quality.


message 33: by lethe (new) - rated it 1 star

lethe | 89 comments Marcos wrote: "What I think is more along lethe's line. :-)"

\o/ :-)


Charley Girl (charleygirl9) | 88 comments I just started it. I'm really liking it. I suspect by the comments it gets worse?


Trisha | 430 comments I agree with many of the comments here, especially Debbie in message 9. The book seemed interesting at first (though almost like a story written for children) then became just ok. Perhaps a little self-satisfied, as if the author was conscious of being clever by writing the story? By the end I found it mildly irritating & suspect that if the book had been longer I might not have bothered to finish it.
Sorry, Marcos. I guess you know most about this author. As he is Brazilian, I wondered why he chose (mostly) Spain & Egypt as his settings - was it for religious reasons, or in the hope of appealing to a wider audience?


Charley Girl (charleygirl9) | 88 comments Marcos wrote: "Brady wrote: "So I am going to throw this out there because of conversations I have had with friends and I think I have seen a trend at least with them. This may not be true but something I am find..."

I'm really enjoying the book. I'm half way through. I thought about your comment about religion. I'm not religious but I can see why you came to that conclusion. It looks like I'm in the minority. LOL


Jenna | 47 comments Charley Girl wrote: "Marcos wrote: "Brady wrote: "So I am going to throw this out there because of conversations I have had with friends and I think I have seen a trend at least with them. This may not be true but some..."
i agree w/you. same here for me.


Susan | 442 comments I'm really conflicted about this book, I gave myself a day to figure out what to rate it & I decided 3.5 stars- I rounded down to 3, although I usually round up. I figured if I ever decide to read it again, I may like it better and round up, but for now I'm good.

While there were some things in the book that I liked, I felt it kind of alternated between being vague/confusing and preachy. The ending with all that about the boy turning himself into the wind made it seem, to me, even more impossible to apply any of it. The harping on "omens" seemed a little overly mystical too vs. just being aware of how things converge in your life.

I also didn't care for the audiobook I listened to- I think Jeremy Irons is a great actor, but he adopted a nagging, bossy tone for the voices of the king and the alchemist that annoyed me. I wonder if I would have liked it better if I'd read it rather than listened. So I would agree that while I didn't hate it, it certainly doesn't live up to the hype.


Susan | 442 comments Brady wrote: "So I am going to throw this out there because of conversations I have had with friends and I think I have seen a trend at least with them. This may not be true but something I am finding interestin..."
This is interesting & I think someone would have to be at least open to the supernatural & unexplainable in life to be interested in this book. Some people who are irreligious are & some aren't. For what it's worth, I'm a person of faith & this book certainly didn't make my top 10. Maybe because the only clear takeaway I got from it was the importance of seeking your personal legend, which is fine but by the end I didn't feel it had taken me anywhere. Just my .02!


message 40: by Joy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Joy Shak | 2 comments ***SPOILERS***Kerri wrote: "Renee I am in the same spot as you!! I hated this book, I thought it was sentimental and trite and the only good point of it was that it is so short, but I know so many people who just Loved it so ..."
I felt the same. Recently read it due to the fact that it was so popular. I thought it was very predictable. Once the journey began I told myself, "he's going to end up right back where he started. " Other than that, it was a decent read, but nothing earth shattering.


message 41: by Honore (new) - added it

Honore | 175 comments Aw man, I stick to the classic reads in this group, but reading these comments is entertaining. I'm also really glad I didn't try this one. I tried 100 pages of the Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and gave up. The new classics category reads are seeming rough.


message 42: by Q (new) - rated it 3 stars

Q | 1 comments I read this a while back because of the hype. I was really hoping I'd like it but I didn't. I listened to it on audio and was glad I did bacause I dont think I would have made it through this otherwise.


Stefania (hermionetargaryen) Rarely in my life I have read books that are as bad as this. The religious symbolism in The Alchemist is cheap and quite nauseating after a while. Very bad message, with which I cannot agree at all.

I guess I had been too lucky to (at least partially) enjoy every book I read this year. I am looking forward to the BOTMs for September though, I need a good read to recover from this!


Charley Girl (charleygirl9) | 88 comments Well I finished it and, yup, I'm in the minority. I liked it.

@Honore, I read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and was annoyed too but kept going to end up delighted with the story.


Susan | 442 comments Charley Girl wrote: "Well I finished it and, yup, I'm in the minority. I liked it.

@Honore, I read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and was annoyed too but kept going to end up delighted with the story."


Charley, there were things about it that I liked, but so much that I found frustrating.... this might be the kind of book I would like better if I read rather than listened. Definitely some quotable / thought provoking quotes too.


Sarina (inquisitiveowl) | 431 comments I enjoyed the act of reading this book more than I actually enjoyed the story. It was mind-numbing in a good way. It made for a good relaxing read before bed.


Sarina (inquisitiveowl) | 431 comments Charley Girl wrote: "I just started it. I'm really liking it. I suspect by the comments it gets worse?"

For me I thought the first quarter of the book was good, but then the book started feeling like it existed solely to try to teach everyone a lesson. It felt like a meditation, or a parable with multiple messages.


message 48: by Roaa (new) - rated it 2 stars

Roaa (roaaexe) I'm tempted to read all of your spoilery comments, i started it today and i'm still quarter of the way through but i just wanted to ask if anyone else is getting a life of pi vibe? or is that just me?


Shelley | 55 comments Brady wrote: "So, I just finished this one and did it as an audiobook. BAD IDEA. So my thought is that this book requires a certain mindset. For me, going through an audiobook is a very passive process. This boo..."

I listened to the audio book as well. I'm glad I saw your post first. I agree that this is a book that could be studied, and you can't do that very well while driving to and from work! So, I decided before even starting that I would just listen to it for the story. It was a good approach.


message 50: by Shelley (last edited Aug 20, 2018 05:18PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Shelley | 55 comments Brady wrote: "So I am going to throw this out there because of conversations I have had with friends and I think I have seen a trend at least with them. This may not be true but something I am finding interestin..."

Interesting. I've been on the fence about the religious overtones. There are certainly references to Christianity, some obvious, some not-so-much. But, I suspect there are other influences (maybe Islam). Overall, it had a "New Age" feel to me, but that might not be right, either.


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