The Alchemist

The honors program at my school hosts a book club-ish thing once a semester. They give everyone who participates a free book, a free meal, and the opportunity to meet others who WANT to talk about the book! This semester, I chose The Alchemist*. I had heard a lot about it, and it seemed interesting – finding yourself? That’s exactly what I need to read about!

The real reason I went
The real reason I went 😉

It ended up being an easy read (thank goodness, I had so much else on my plate!), and I enjoyed it. Here are some more thoughts:


Most interesting points from book club:
1. Elitist – Some people are surviving day-to-day; they don’t have time to think about what they want to do. Also, Santiago has no one dependent on him.
2. Prologue – the meaning is that everything can only see themselves through others
3. The “dream” story – Luke 7…dreams don’t have to mean what you interpret them to mean – the twist!
4. Only Fatima’s name was used more than once (I think)
5. Things just fell together for Santiago – People or omens to guide him all the way through.

My thoughts:
1. Hearing other people talk about how this book “changed their lives” – this seemed more like a fable, not a guiding truth. A complaint I had about the book was that it was presented as absolute truth. For instance, the introduction set up the rest of the story – if you didn’t believe in the message of the story, then you probably had turned away from your “personal legend” and couldn’t hear your heart anymore, or you were afraid. The classic either you believe, or you’re wrong.
I did like the fact that Coelho acknowledged that there were different ways to think/see the message (boy looks to nature, Englishman looks to alchemy for answers). And I think the message was uplifting and nice, but it was like a basic physics problem – in a vacuum. And I also can’t help but think that it might have been based in a “if I did it, so can you” thinking bias (There has to be a better name for that…).
2. Interesting the mixture of religions – Islam, Christianity, and Jewish…all things are one
3. Really loved the translation…I haven’t read it in the original language (I don’t know that my spanish could stand up to the test anyways!), but I loved the language of the book. I don’t know if the translation was absolutely true to the original work. Or if the fact that it was translated made the language come out that way…but it was one of my favorite parts! Really reminiscent of Howl’s Moving Castle (my absolute FAVORITE)

So Personal Legends – What’s yours?
I think mine is to go (go where? I don’t know) and help and love people in any way that I can.


*Be forewarned: This is a link to Goodreads, and there are some scathing reviews on here. Mostly complaining about how the morals are so obvious. But goodness, the vitriol! To that, I offer 2 things: 1) Curse of Knowledge – a thinking bias and 2) I don’t understand the passion with which people hate things. You didn’t like the book? Just say so. I didn’t like The Last Unicorn by Beagle. It tried too hard in my opinion. But I’m not going to say froth at the mouth with hatred.


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