Posted by: Mish | January 21, 2009

The Alchemist

Paulo Coehlo’s The Alchemist is a simple story about about following one’s dreams. An Andalusian shepherd boy travels to find the treasure he dreamed of. During his journey to the Egyptian pyramids, Santiago meets various guides. From an Englishman, he learns about alchemists- those who believed that metal could become free of individual properties, leaving behind “the Soul of the World”.  The story merely sets the backdrop for the themes of self-understanding, enlightenment, empowerment, and believing in and following dreams.

The thought of hearing or reading aloud The Alchemist did come to mind. In the way of tribal storytelling, Coehlo teaches while entertaining. Due to the simple and repetitive writing, reading it can be meditative or annoying- depending on one’s tastes. It can also be considered elementary reading, but like The Little Prince it can be enjoyed by all ages.

After reading it based on a friend’s recommendation, I can say that The Alchemist wasn’t great. I liked it well enough, but there are better inspirational reads, like Celestine Prophecy or Tao Te Ching.


  • Treasure is uncovered by the force of flowing water, and it is buried by the same currents.
  • When each day is the same as the next, it’s because people fail to recognize the good things that happen in their lives every day that the sun rises.
  • When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision.
  • The fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself.
  • One is loved because one is loved. No reason is needed for loving.


  1. I like The Alchemist but I didn’t think it was as wonderful as everyone said it would be. I was more inspired by Richard Bach’s Story of the Reluctance Messiah.

  2. Yea, I’m kind of amazed it’s been so popular for 20 years. I’m glad I got a taste of all the hype and that it was a pretty quick taste.

    I’m adding Reluctant Messiah and Jonathan Livingston Seagull to the I’ll-Get-to-it-List.

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