Matt’s Reviews: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

book Cover: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

  • Publisher:          HarperAudio
  •   Release Date:  March 2001
  •   Format:            Audio CD
  •   Length:            4 disks
  •   Language:       English
  •   ISBN:               0694524441
  •   ISBN13:           9780694524440
  •   Author:             Paulo Coelho
  •   Read by:          Jeremy Irons

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is a somewhat fantastical story of a boy from Spain who is dissatisfied with the proposed life as a priest that his family prefers.  Instead, he wants to travel and has purchased sheep so he can wander with them as a shepherd around the countryside and experience new places and new things.  On these travels, he has a recurring dream of finding treasure near the pyramids in Egypt.  After meeting up with a gypsy fortune teller and a supernatural king, he decides to pursue his treasure across the straight of Gibraltar to Northern Africa.  There  he finds he still must cross the Sahara desert. 

This is fairly simple book about following your internal compass, following your dreams, or as Coelho puts it, your ‘personal legend’.  It points out that most people never follow through on their personal legend.  They let life get in the way and may accept a comfortable life or an acceptable life and never take the risks needed to complete that legend.  

The king and others along the boy’s journeys give him help and hindrances in meeting his goal.  They also tell him that the universe will assist someone who continues to follow that personal legend.  It will provide omens to follow and other ways to allow the person to continue to move ahead.  It will also provide enticing reasons to stop short and to take other paths, but if a person continues to believe and focus, eventually they will fulfill their personal legend. 

This book is part fable and part self-help book.  It has several messages about life and how to move forward.  Everyone starts out with a ‘personal legend’, but many lose sight of this along the way.  The universe will assist those who truly follow that personal legend and find ways to assist them, if they do not give up.  Sometimes the bad things that seem to take you off the road, are the very things you need to move in the right direction in the long run.  Sometimes the great things you find need to be left behind to get where you ultimately belong.   If you look for them, there will be ‘omens’ that point you in the right direction or give you some lesson that you need to learn. 

As a book of lessons, The Alchemist is pretty good.  You will likely find something or other inspiring in the tale, but I have to admit that I found the camel driver’s lesson of living ‘now’ more valuable than many of the lessons of the king and the alchemist.  As a story, it is a fine fable and it is short enough that it is worth your time to read.  There is a fine little twist in the ending, but I found it a little disappointing.  In a book about finding truths, I would have expected a little more valuable ‘treasure’.


Plastivore by Matt Truxaw

Book Cover: Plastivore by Matt Truxaw





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