Book Review: The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho

Everyone has read Paulo’s The Alchemist. If you haven’t then before I go into the Book Club Review, here is a brief synopsis of the novel:

The Alchemist:

The story is about a young Shepherd Boy (Santiago) and his pursuit of his dream. The book point’s out the authors belief that each one of us has a dream, and we get the clues time and time again to help us recognize them and pursue our dream. After listening to “the signs”, armed with an iron will, and his father’s wise words: “Travel the world until you see that our castle is the greatest, and our women the most beautiful”, Santiago sets off in search of a hidden treasure located near the Pyramids of Egypt.

As he progresses on his Journey, Santiago sees the greatness of the world and meets all sorts of people, from gypsies to kings. He gathers lessons from animals (his sheep), the Crystals in the market shop, the desert, and the Alchemist whom he meets on his journey – who is the most prominent of influences in the novel.

The strength of the novel lies in Santiago’s journey with the Alchemist through the desert. The Alchemist’s philosophy simply states:  “when you really want something to happen, the whole universe conspires so that your wish comes true”.

The novel has great reminders for everyone: Failure is the greatest obstacle to happiness; those who don’t have the courage to follow their “dreams” are doomed to a life of misery, emptiness and un-fulfillment;  The “treasure” lies where your heart belongs.

The Alchemist is also rich in symbolism such as reference to animals: Sheep who are blind and ignorant followers; Hawks who are out to grab what they can. The dreams and treasures refers to our goals and the journey to the Pyramids (far away amidst all the obstacles) represents the struggles we endure and our personal growth on our journey towards realizing these dreams and goals.

The Review:

Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the book. For some, like myself, it was a second read, but the story is always so refreshing.

Instead of doing a general review of the book, the facilitator approached it in a more interesting and intriguing way. Everyone was asked to state their Pyramids (Life long Goal) and what they thought their deserts (obstacles) were.

It was so enlightening to hear how ambitions the ladies in the group are about their future goals – politics, media, women’s rights, literacy, spirituality, etc. The discussions were so personal and intimate it was inspiring.

It was fascinating to note that while many women had their eyes on the future goals, they also were able to identify what hindered them from accomplishing these. They say that when you identify your obstacles,  you have already overcome them!

I felt a deep sense of pride being part of this club. I don’t know if I mentioned this earlier, but the women of the book club are not ordinary. They have just esteem career graphs, it’s almost elite. And to discover that we have aspiring politicians and media personalities among us, just increases my level of respect towards them.

So what is my pyramid and what is my desert??

I want to be famous  – for giving to the world! My time, my wealth, my self. But I need  lots and lots of money to do that!!!! LOL!!!

Our next book seems very captivating. Coming back to our roots, we have an African author’s selection – “On Black Sister’s Street – by Chika Unigwe”. I haven’t done the low down on it yet, but it should be good.

Looking forward to our next meet and our EPL movie get-together!

Till then, happy reading!!

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