The Alchemist

Author:  Paulo Coelho

Published By: HarperOne

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

            On my last trip to Barnes & Noble, I was determined to pick up a few classics that I never had the opportunity to read.  I decided to check out the summer bargains table and there it was, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.  I couldn’t believe my luck.  This book is on every teenager’s summer reading list and I had never had the opportunity to read it.  I couldn’t wait to get home and become absorbed in the pages of my new book.

            The Alchemist centers around Santiago, a shepherd en route to Andalusia with a flock of sheep whose wool he plans to sell to the local merchants.  Along the way, he is troubled by a recurring dream.  Stopping in Tarifa, he decides to have the dream interpreted and learns that he must go to the Pyramids in Egypt to find his treasure.  Uncertain at first, he realizes that he will never realize his “Personal Legend” if he doesn’t at least make an attempt to find this treasure.

            As he sets out on his journey, Santiago could never imagine all of the events and people he will come across along the way that will have a profound effect on his life.  As he sets out on his journey to find his treasure, he comes across something even more valuable - enlightenment.

            As I read The Alchemist, I was struck by how much it read like a legend or folk tale.  I’ve always enjoyed reading mythology or folklore and this made the novel more appealing to me.  Legends such as this one are designed to explain the mysteries of life…to teach the next generation about the world and its intricacies.  This “legend” seeks to enlighten the reader, asking him/her to seek out the spiritual place inside of the his/herself.  It is through our comfort in our own spirituality that we can find peace with ourselves and with our surroundings.

            Paulo Coelho’s writing is charming and his descriptiveness completely immerses the reader in the tale.  One can see with their mind’s eye the entire story play out as if it were a movie playing inside their head.  The journey of Santiago is intriguing and the reader will thoroughly enjoy the moments of enlightenment the character undergoes throughout the novel.

            The HarperOne edition of The Alchemist that I purchased was chock full of extras.  It featured an introduction by the author, a summary of the novel, a question and answer session with Paulo Coelho, the author’s biography, a map of Santiago’s journey.  All of the extras served to make the journey of The Alchemist complete and so, I definitely recommend purchasing this version over all others.

            The Alchemist was a quick, enjoyable read that will help the reader explore their own spirituality that may actually cause some moments of enlightenment for the reader as they join Santiago on his quest.  The Alchemist was definitely a book worth reading for both entertainment and self-enlightenment purposes.


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