THE ALCHEMIST by Paulo Coelho
This is the first fiction book I’m reviewing, and I cannot stress enough what a delight this story was for me. It tells the story of a shepherd boy whose fortune is told by a gypsy woman, setting him on a path to find a treasure hidden near the great pyramids of Egypt. Along the way, he meets various people that teach him deep mysteries, eventually leading him to mastery of alchemical arts.
I picked this book because of my own interest in alchemy, but it is a very easy read and not very long at all. The audio version is also read by Jeremy Irons, in case that’s a selling point for you. Many in my circle of friends have mentioned this book, but I had no idea how fun it actually would be! At times, it is not clear if fantastic elements are at work, and in the end, I suppose it could be looked at many ways.
The lesson that this shepherd boy learns is stated clearly: “When you really want something to happen, the whole universe will conspire so that your wish comes true.” This is a very hopeful book, brimming with a sense of adventure and curiosity. One even might get the feeling that if some shepherd boy could figure this out, why can’t I?
The moral of the story concerns the fulfillment of one’s dream. At many points in the story, the boy has more than enough to live a good life, yet seems drawn toward something more. The way in which the boy allows himself to be tested and to grow is truly inspiring, and it gives this story a universal and timeless feel. It is such a wonderful little read.