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The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream [Paperback]

Paulo Coelho
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (837 customer reviews)
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Book Description

8 Mar 2012

A global phenomenon, The Alchemist has been read and loved by over 62 million readers, topping bestseller lists in 74 countries worldwide. Now this magical fable is beautifully repackaged in an edition that lovers of Paulo Coelho will want to treasure forever.

Every few decades a book is published that changes the lives of its readers forever. This is such a book – a beautiful parable about learning to listen to your heart, read the omens strewn along life’s path and, above all, follow your dreams.

Santiago, a young shepherd living in the hills of Andalucia, feels that there is more to life than his humble home and his flock. One day he finds the courage to follow his dreams into distant lands, each step galvanised by the knowledge that he is following the right path: his own. The people he meets along the way, the things he sees and the wisdom he learns are life-changing.

With Paulo Coelho’s visionary blend of spirituality, magical realism and folklore, The Alchemist is a story with the power to inspire nations and change people’s lives.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; New edition (Reissue) edition (8 Mar 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0722532938
  • ISBN-13: 978-0722532935
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.6 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (837 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 354 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Paulo Coelho was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1947. He has become one of the most widely read and loved authors in the world. Especially renowned for The Alchemist and Eleven Minutes, he has sold more than 100 million books worldwide and his work has been translated into 67 languages. The recipient of numerous prestigious international awards, amongst them the Crystal Award by the World Economic Forum and France's Legion d'Honneur, Paulo Coelho was inducted into the Brazilian Academy of Letters in 2002. He writes a weekly column syndicated throughout the world.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Like the one-time bestseller Jonathan Livingston Seagull, The Alchemist presents a simple fable, based on simple truths and places it in a highly unique situation. And though we may sense a bestselling formula, it is certainly not a new one: even the ancient tribal storytellers knew that this is the most successful method of entertaining an audience while slipping in a lesson or two. Brazilian storyteller Paulo Coehlo introduces Santiago, an Andalucian shepherd boy who one night dreams of a distant treasure in the Egyptian pyramids. And so he's off: leaving Spain to literally follow his dream.

Along the way he meets many spiritual messengers, who come in unassuming forms such as a camel driver and a well-read Englishman. In one of the Englishman's books, Santiago first learns about the alchemists--men who 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." Of course he does eventually meet an alchemist, and the ensuing student-teacher relationship clarifies much of the boy's misguided agenda, while also emboldening him to stay true to his dreams. "My heart is afraid that it will have to suffer," the boy confides to the alchemist one night as they look up at a moonless night.

"Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself," the alchemist replies. "And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second's encounter with God and with eternity."


‘His books have had a life-enhancing impact on millions of people.’ THE TIMES

‘One of the few to deserve the term Publishing Phenomenon.’ INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY

‘Coelho’s writing is beautifully poetic but his message is what counts… he gives me hope and puts a smile on my face.’ DAILY EXPRESS

‘I love The Alchemist.’ OPRAH WINFREY

‘The Alchemist is a beautiful book about magic, dreams and the treasures we seek elsewhere and then find on our doorstep.’ MADONNA

"I feel like the luckiest man on the planet. It's a dream come true for me," to be able to direct and star and bring Coelho's book to the screen." LAURENCE FISHBURNE on the upcoming film adaptation of The Alchemist

"One of my favourite books is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, and I just believe that…I can create whatever I want to create. If I can put my head on it right, study it, learn the patterns…I feel very strongly that we are who we choose to be." WILL SMITH

"When I'm on the set with young actors and sometimes you meet people in life who you feel they are a little confused and they want to be re-centered, there are two books that I always recommend. One of them is Siddhartha, and the other is The Alchemist. RUSSELL CROWE

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay novel but not a great spiritual read 25 Jun 2009
By M_rose
I had high expectations for this novel having heard good things about it. I understood it to be a symbolic story of finding yourself, your true nature. It's mentioned sometimes in relation to the Law of Attraction [LoA] or other spiritual circles. However I was fairly disappointed with it.
The story was enjoyable enough with the twist that only two characters are ever named yet this doesn't hinder the story at all. The boy, who begins the book as a shepherd, does find what he's been looking for. The trusting in faith and intuition that endears it to some of the LoA crowd is a key theme of the book.
However unlike most LoA books there is a very narrow interpretation of "faith". Although one of the characters asks the people travelling with him to swear by the God they believe in that they will follow his orders - acknowledging that other faiths exist - the author is only concerned with a monotheistic spirituality. God, He, Allah. No gender neutral universe, no mention of even the possibility of the divine feminine.
In fact there is only one significant female character in the entire book, and while she is strong and courageous, she's mostly just there as a romantic interest for the boy.
I also took objection to the book's assertion that books are useless (according to my reading of the themes), and I have no respect for a book that tells me books are useless. I understand that action is required as well as reading when you're learning from a book but that books hold no value is not a virtue I'm going to buy into.
The book also asserts that "Tradition" is always good and to be followed. I can see the point in respecting some traditions but I can think of some rather nasty cultural norms that have been stamped out or deserve to be.
Not a bad novel but not a great work of literature or of genuine un-blinkered spiritual seeking.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational and very well-written! 19 Jun 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Having felt a little lost and somewhat gloomy recently I came across an inspirational and thought-provoking book called The Shamanic Prophecy: The past will set you free. I had heard that The Alchemist was another book with a powerful message to convey, and I certainly wasn't disappointed. Although, I don't think that any book has the power to transform your life, I found the message to be comforting and life-affirming, just when I felt in the need for a `pick-me-up'!
Small, but powerful, The Alchemist is a great tonic for those days when life just becomes too much and when all you want to do is pull up the drawbridge and shut out the world
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Alchemist Paulo Coelho 27 Feb 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
At a time in my life where I have had so many life changing things happen, not all my choice, I had naturally felt low and out of spirits and hope, and an endless fear of not knowing what to expect with my future, The Alchemist has given me hope once again to not be afraid and to believe in the power of dreams. I found this to be exactly what I needed, at a time I needed it the most.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable read. 7 May 2012
By SallyJ
I didn't expect this book to change my life but I really enjoyed sharing Santiago's journey.
If you like a magical read then this is one for you.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful Book 30 Dec 2005
By A Customer
I think there is one reason why this book has failed to live up to certain people's expectations. If you get too caught up with the hype about something, you higher your expectations to a ridiculous level and as a result you fail to enjoy it. The Alchemist is a beautiful book because it has a simple moral, and if everyone read it at face value and appreciated what it says, you might find yourselves becoming better people as a result. I know so many people who have read and loved this book and for each person, it meant something different.
Coehlo does not write his books for a good yarn, they are not about gripping, action-packed storylines with little meaning. For that, read Dan Brown. But the messages in his books are why they are so well-loved.
This was not my personal favourite. Veronika Decides To Die was more thought-provoking, and By The River Piedra I Sat Down And Wept was written for me. But my message to everyone is, forget what you have heard. Read the book and make up your own mind, instead of drawing on what everyone else says about it.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars what a book! 22 Nov 2012
By J. Wray
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I loved this book read it in one go even took it to bed on the afternoon to complete it now for snowy afternoons coming ready...I loved it I usually read the end of a book naughty yes but I do it...glad I didn't in this case so be warned anyone who does this don't spoil the story...enjoy!
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45 of 53 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars All is not gold that glitters 24 Jun 2004
By Is
First of all: I don't want to offend any of the people who have found a positive message in The Alchemist - just provide a perhaps slightly less enthusiastic comment for those who haven't yet read the book.
Initially, I was charmed by the fairy-tale style of this book - but the more I read on, the less I liked it. A simplistic style can work really well to convey wisdom - just look at "The Little Prince" by St Exupery - but then the philosophy backing the style up needs to be spot-on. I don't know why, but for me Coelho's message echoed a little bit too much of a self-help book. It was a little bit too smug, I suppose.
This book definitely has to be read as an "ideas book" rather than a "character book". None of the characters are real, complex, multi-faceted human beings, and I don't think the author intended them to be. Rather, they serve as symbols to explain the author's world-view, a little bit like "Candide" by Voltaire. The main character, the treasure-hunting shepherd, symbolises the quest for meaning in life, and the voyage we are all on. His beloved Fatima, on the other hand, shows how our quest can be tangled up in another human being, rather than any of our own achievements. (Is it a coincidence that the female character is fulfilled through her feelings for a man, whereas the male character shapes his own destiny? I don't think it is, and I have to admit that riled me a little bit.)
Coelho is taking on a huge task, trying to present us with a philosophy in a fairy-tale, and it's perhaps unfair to criticise him when he fails. I don't regret reading this book, but I can't say it captures the mad, whirling, ambiguous world as well as many other novels I have read (Elliot's "Middlemarch" or Philip Pullman's "Northern Light spring to mind).
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