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The Alchemist
The Alchemist
Author: Paulo Coelho, Alan R. Clarke (Translator)
An Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried in the Pyramids. Along the way he meets a Gypsy woman, a man who calls himself king, and an alchemist, all of whom point Santiago in the direction of his quest. No one knows what the treasure is, or if Santiago will ...  more »
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ISBN-13: 9780061122415
ISBN-10: 0061122416
Publication Date: 5/1/2006
Pages: 208
Edition: Reissue
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.

3.6 stars, based on 766 ratings
Publisher: HarperSanFrancisco
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio Cassette
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

BaileysBooks avatar reviewed The Alchemist on + 491 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 29
I had such high expectations for this book. In the end, I was very disappointed. The story was very simple, very predictable, and came across like a children's story attempting to play dress-up as a deep, spiritual, inspirational epic.

Fortunately, this book was short (less than 200 pages) so I didn't feel like I wasted too much of my time. If you are looking for a simple little tale and aren't looking to get much out of it (or you're 12 years old) then perhaps this would be worth a look. But if you want more out of this book than that, perhaps you should skip it and look for something else.
reviewed The Alchemist on + 13 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 17
I was told that this book would change my life, but I was sorely disappointed. It's a fable that reminds me of a children's story in its simplicity, but seems too fuzzy and predictable to be enjoyable. I also wanted something more concrete than its vague hints at spirituality. A disappointing read, but as it comes in at under 200 pages at least it didn't waste much of my time.
reviewed The Alchemist on + 26 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 15
I tend to stay away from the "it" books. You know what I mean--those books that every bookclub is reading, the ones that non-readers rave about (possibly because it's the only book they read all year), the ones on the bestseller lists for years and years. Yeah, those books. Several have proved me wrong (Water for Elephants, the Harry Potter series, The Kite Runner), but overall, those books that appeal to the masses typically do not appeal to me. This is no exception to that rule. If you are one of those non-readers I mentioned above, this book is perfect for you. It's easy to follow, has a cute little moral, and talks about God a lot. None of those aforementioned characteristics are bad on its own; but together they tend to be a nightmare. While this wasn't exactly a nightmare, it just simply wasn't for me and definitely does not live up to the hype. I did like the message, but it's not exactly realistic for me...or pretty much anyone. Discover your Personal Legend at all costs or your life will never mean anything. Listen to your heart. Blah blah blah. This is the kind of book that makes people feel intellectual. It made me feel dumber.
reviewed The Alchemist on + 82 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 11
A magical mysterious story of a travel loving shepard seeking his true destiny and meeting many people who will shape the rest of his life along the way.

We all complicate life and after reading the Alchemist it is easy to see how it does not need to be that way. Each one of us have to realize that we are on our own personal journey and have we approach it is up to us. We can complicated it and make it difficult only if we are not ready to pursuit it or we can accept the truth for what it is and enjoy the journey.
ATraveler avatar reviewed The Alchemist on + 193 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 8
A well written easy read. Reminisent of the Little Prince. Interesting flow of events showing that life is always teaching through trial and tribulations and that maintaining your faith in your dreams should always be a priority. Happiness comes to those who look for it.
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abbykt avatar reviewed The Alchemist on + 113 more book reviews
This book was interesting. It read like a fable to me and was very short so I did not feel like I really got to know the boy. In some ways, I felt that he understood his treasure all along but he was misled by others, telling him that he would regret not searching for the treasure. It took his search though, for him to see what his treasure was. I felt that as the reader, I knew all along.
reviewed The Alchemist on + 43 more book reviews
An amazing book! A wonderful story of a boy growing up and discovering himself and his purpose in the world. A beautiful tale of self-discovery.
terez93 avatar reviewed The Alchemist on + 273 more book reviews
Almost as soon as I began reading, the famous Haruki Marukami quote came to mind: âWhatever it is you're seeking won't come in the form you're expecting.â That's true for both the characters in the novel, but it's also true for the novel itself.

Many state here that this much-praised novel is simplistic, and poorly written (which can sometimes be a difficulty with translations), but that's simply not so: it's brilliantly written in that regard. The beauty is in its seeming simplicity, but it is replete with powerful yet subtle messages which have almost universal application. In the same way as the character, the book demands that the reader do a fair bit of the work, in deriving meaning from some quite abstract text. In other words, you have to read between the lines, as it doesn't spell it out for you, but that allows each individual to interject their own personal journey into the story.

On the surface, The Alchemist tells the story of an Andalusian shepherd boy, who experiences a dream, or vision, which prompts him to contemplate selling his flock and leaving his relatively secure life, the only existence he has ever known, to travel across the sea and the vast, unknown desert, to see the Pyramids of Giza. Santiago encounters many people on his journey, which The Divine intends for him to meet, while in search of his own Personal Legend. As in our own lives, those we encounter, seemingly by chance, but perhaps not, affect us, and direct us down a particular path.

The message here is, each person is traveling their own path - curiously, however, most don't know, or acknowledge, that they're on a journey, and that their decisions affect the outcome, as well as the personal journeys of those whom they encounter. Perhaps that's a message to those on that particular life course, a journey of discovery: as the text states, most people have given up, and settle for a life of relative safety, comfort, and ultimately, complacency, until death takes them, and their energies again return to the Universal whole, the Voice of the World.

The Alchemist refers to both the character, the person who has learned the secret of turning physical elements into gold, but it also refers to Santiago, who, through his travels and experiences, learns the secret of transformation, not of lead into gold, but the mundane, into the extraordinary. We can all be an alchemist in that regard: learning the secret of transformation, through study and personal experiences spent in the world, in encountering others, and by learning from our mistakes as well as our triumphs. Santiago, as well as the readers, also learn, at the end of this particular phase of his journey, that things often come full circle, but that we don't or can't appreciate them until we have traveled beyond the confines of the comfortable and familiar. Not until we have traveled the path and learned to listen to the Voice of the World, as well as our inner voice, do we become aware that the treasure that we week often lies right beneath our feet. As with so many other stories: the true value and goal is the journey itself, not the destination.

I won't go so far as to say that it's a life-changing book (maybe life-affirming!), but this beautifully composed, esoteric, cathartic and inspiring work is a definite must-read. What is alchemy, after all: this modern fable tells us that it is simply the process of transforming one element into another. It also assures us that although the path may be difficult, anyone can do that with their life, too, as an act of sheer will and faith. The book is valuable for that reason alone: introspection is its own reward.
------------------NOTABLE PASSAGES---------------

"The famous alchemists... were men who had dedicated their entire lives to the purification of metals in their laboratories; they believed that, if a metal were heated for many years, it would free itself of all its individual properties and what was left would be the Soul of the World. This Soul of the World allowed them to understand anything on the face of the earth, because it was the language with which all things communicated."

"They spent so much time close to the fire that gradually they gave up the vanities of the world. They discovered that the purification of the metals had led to a purification of themselves."

The most mundane tasks, when undertaken with positivity and the expectation of goodness, can lead to one's purification and becoming one with the Soul of the World, an understanding of all things, by mastering the one. "The boy thought about the crystal merchant. He had said that it was a good thing for the boy to clean the crystal pieces, so that he could free himself from negative thoughts. The boy was becoming more and more convinced that alchemy could be learned in one's daily life." Even a small piece of this refined material can transform the most common and mundane elements into the rare - pure gold. That's true of the elements of life, as well. That's the point of the book, really: transform one's mundane existence into the expectation of treasure, by refining mundane things, with the proper mentality. Very zen.

"Everyone has his or her own way of learning things... His way isn't the same as mine, nor mine as his. But we're both in search of our Personal Legends, and I respect him for that."
reviewed The Alchemist on
wonderful book. I highly recommend this to anyone at a crossroads in life, it reminds you of what is important and to alwyas follow your dreams
tyrtlegirl avatar reviewed The Alchemist on
Very inspirational.
reviewed The Alchemist on
Although this is Will Smith's favorite book (a person I admire a lot) I found this book to be vapid, dreary, and offering nothing in the way of insights. It shares a lot in sentiment with "The Secret" so I feel readers who enjoyed that may enjoy this book as well, as it appeals to the human conceit that life magically always gives you what you want (unless you live in Africa- for some reason it only works in materially abundant western democracies with plentiful opportunities.) A rather prosaic story wrapped in the pretense of spiritual profundity, The Alchemist offered no value except one good quote, "A man's eyes reflect the strength of his soul." The rest was quasi-spiritual blather about 'The language of the world' and 'omens' which kept rubbing up sharply against its borrowed biblical references to Jesus. Altogether an un-insightful mess. Readers would be far better off to dig into something offering real value for personal transformation, such as "The Self Talk Solution."
reviewed The Alchemist on
This is a excellent book to read. It is so good that I'm reading it a second time. It's a book about life and having a goal and the people, places, and things around us that help us get to our goals. This book really makes you think. It is a keeper and you can always go back to reflect on it
confuzzledbooks avatar reviewed The Alchemist on + 482 more book reviews
The Alchemists main protagonist is a young man who starts out as a shepherd. The young man is only known to the reader as The Boy, he is never given a name. The boy wonders about a dream he has had twice in a row. He sees a gypsy to read his future and then meets a strangely dressed person claiming to be a King. He is encouraged by both to search for the treasure that is in his dreams.

There were many things in The Alchemist that come up that I am able to relate with in life. The Alchemist, although fiction, is written with much wisdom, and mysticism. The Alchemist is such a good book that the whole time I was reading it I kept thinking After I am done I will read it again because there is just so much in the book to grasp and understand. I have not read it a second time but it is a book I plan to keep and read again maybe once a year.

I truly find nothing wrong with the book. There is maybe things I disliked about the story like the surprising ending. Still does not ruin the greatness this book shows.

The Alchemist is a tale for those still looking for themselves and their lifes treasure.
reviewed The Alchemist on
Fairly decent book but the ending was abrupt
MSW2b avatar reviewed The Alchemist on
Loved the book and found it inspiring. Will definitely read it again!
reviewed The Alchemist on
I've heard a few times that is book was so great, life-changing, motivational, etc. but I was not impressed. The story is about a boy's journey through the desert and while there are several messages related to following your heart's desire, I found the story to be a little dull and odd with references "Master Work", "Soul of God", "Soul of the World" and universal language. At least it's a quick read.
reviewed The Alchemist on + 13 more book reviews
By far THE best book I've ever read. It is the first gift my husband (then boyfriend) ever gave me. It truly helped open my heart.


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