Saturday, July 16, 2005

The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho

i was compelled to read this book as it has the very dubious distinction of being extremely popular and so widely read, and at the same time it has gotten the ire of my dear and brainy friend, rob.

i think what irritated rob was that the book gave the reader philosophical teachings in an indirect way. rob would rather have the book say it directly.

to be fair to writer paulo coelho, he was writing a fictional story and not a self-help book. in that regard, i think it was ok and maybe even ingenious of him to impart his lessons in an indirect manner.

the book talks about concepts such as the personal legend – something related to each person’s ultimate goal in life; the language of the world – which everyone has the capability to understand; and the soul of the world, something i won’t even fathom to understand.

the book seemed interesting and knowledgeable enough until more than half way through the book when the alchemist advised the main protagonist, santiago to talk to his heart so as to know what he truly wanted. seems logical enough except the heart literary talked back to him! during the next series of events, santiago also had talks with the wind as well as the sun! not long after, he even had a talk with the “hand that writes all” (who might be god himself). and suddenly i was lost.

maybe the conversation with the “hand that writes all” could be considered dramatic, but having the heart, the wind and the sun respond to santiago seemed out of place, even for a fictional work.

maybe this is the part that turned off rob. on the other hand, maybe he didn’t even reach this part (i never knew if rob finished the book). either way, i think i understand rob, him being more of a non-fiction/self-help type of a reader.

all in all, i think the book was ok. but i don’t consider it so special that it should acquire enormous worldwide fame.

rating: 3 of 5 stars * * *
a good enough read – just don’t believe in the hype.


Cris said...

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I like that the life lessons were NOT PREACHED but rather, they were SHOWN through the experiences of the main character. I find it so much stronger and has more impact than if you just tell people what to do, how to be, or what the right thing to do is, or what's the best path to take, etc. The lesson is less meaningful when directly preached rather than if it is shown through experience. That's why I think this book is so powerful.

roehl said...

which is probably why i like fiction better than non-fiction. fiction is never preachy.

rmacapobre said...

hmm somethine to read before the year ends .. ill try to look for it at the local bookstore .. meanwhile .. bon courage a tous!

rob said...

Alchemist - I quickly got impatient with it because I felt the book was unnecessarily long-winded. There is definitely a market for this kind of stuff since it works for some people. Personally I prefer the old fashioned way where you can read something quick and be done with it. There are books you read for entertainment purposes, and there are those you read for informational purposes.