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4.2 out of 5 stars1,363
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 23 March 2006
I have read Coehlo's book several times and everytime I read I discover something new. He has a way of writing that, from one side wants me read it very fast so that I can see what is going to happen, and on the other hand I feel that I need to read it very slowly because it is so heavy with meaning.
I guess those who like books that challenge and encourage them will be greatly satisfied.
It may be described as a fable, but it is a metaphore about life and the way we live it.
I hope you will love as much as I do.
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on 18 March 2014
I found this book quite inspirational and it reminded me a little of The Shamanic Prophecy in its style and content. The message I took from this tale was to follow your true destiny and to have hope. We are all on different life journeys and I must say that it wasn't life-changing for me like other people have found it. That being said though I found it a simple and heart-warming tale of the power of dreams. Every one will take a different message from it so just enjoy it and make your own mind up. I wrote this review because I personally feel that a book in itself cannot fundamentally change one's life, but even if you take a small measure of comfort then that's no bad thing is it?
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on 3 March 2013
One of the best books I have ever read. Not only is it a fantastic story with great characters, it is also choc-a-block with perspective and inspirational thoughts.

If you're a little lost in life, feeling like you lack purpose or meaning, I believe this book is for you.

I'm also an athiest, but this book really made me feel a sort of spirituality unrelated to religion that felt very personal.
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Do Not Buy this book and expect it to change your life. It is a book! However, read the story with an open mind and be prepared to be uplifed and inspired. You interpret the book the way in which it works for you. There is a very strong but personal message inside for everyone of us if you are prepared to follow your dream.

Basically the book is about a shepherd boy who follows his dream to Egypt. What more can be said except, follow your own dream and be inspired.
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on 20 August 2003
I was bought this book by a friend when I was going through a brief 'bad patch', which should have been a warning in itself. While it passed the time for a few hours, there was nothing at all profound about it and indeed it's unlikely that something with such trite messages ('try harder - everything will be okay in the end' 'live for your dreams') so blatantly put is going to be much more effective than a mate giving you a slap on the back, buying you a pint and telling you to 'pull yourself together, it's all going to be all right'. For a far more profound, infinitely better written, and more subtle 'self improvement' book, read the uplifting 'Life of Pi', which is all the better for not being written or marketed as a self-help volume. This is literature-lite and philosophy-lite and Coelho comes across as the equivalent of a Harley Street quack. The cynicism of the whole marketing machine behind this author leaves a nasty taste.
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on 24 March 2016
I have reread The Alchemist many times, and each time I find something different, some great line or thought that I may have previously overlooked or that the simple act of rereading has unveiled, as though each read-through peeled away another layer of the author’s story.
I do not know that this is the genius of Paulo Coelho, I don’t know that this is the contrived cleverness of the story, perhaps it’s simply the happy coincidence of the alignment of all these things and I don’t care.
For me, The Alchemist is one of those timeless stories that instantly became a classic with its first publication. If you haven’t read this yet, approach it with respect and trust in the author to lead you and for the writing that carries you.
It’s quite possible to read this in one sitting – I did, one morning sitting under a giant London Plane in Gordon Square, Bloomsbury – as long as you don’t fight your instinct to accept that the author knows what he’s doing and allow him to take you an almost mystical journey through time and place, yet with a very authentic real feel. Indeed anyone who has travelled through southern Spain and North Africa will immediately feel transported.
The voice remained with me for many hours after I’d closed the book under that sprawling tree on that Sunday morning and even now, many years later, it whispers and tugs at me to revisit the story.
I highly recommend this book to those with an open heart and a trusting mind. Its reach is far beyond the initial reading.
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on 9 April 2002
A very uplifting book. The two messages that stood out for me were: 1. When you are following your true destiny then the universe will conspire to help you (even if the going gets tough and it appears impossible at the time).
2. The fear & worrying of something happening or going wrong is usually far worse and more paralysing than if it actually happened. (If indeed it ever does happen in the first place!)
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on 16 May 2016
I remember reading this book as a teenager and finding it magical and inspiring. I needed it for a recent Book Club. I was grateful to relive the experience.

I guess the aspect I found most moving of the book is Santiago's journey as an allegory of life in general: hopes, ambitions, successes and failures. Noteworthy wisdoms are cleverly blended into the story through the dialogue the characters have with one another.

I find the story reminiscent of ancient sufi lore. I would not be surprised if the author drew from those sources.
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on 10 January 2008
Every so often a book comes along that is championed by millions who read it as profound, life changing and inspirational. For the current generation that book appears to be The Alchemist. 'A Simple fable about the importance of following your dreams'. Who could fail to find something worthwhile in such a blend of magical realism, spirituality and beauty? Well, me for one.

Put simply this is one of the most abject books I have ever read. Anyone who takes a positive, life affirming message from Coelho's prose has completely misunderstood the message it unintentionally broadcasts. Despite what the author and Richard and Judy would have you believe, what The Alchemist does espouse is a barely updated version of Leibnitzian Optimism which occasionally blunders over the line into full blown Fatalism. The very same philosophical position in fact that was so mercilessly torn apart and held up to the light of reason and absurdity by Voltaire over 200 years ago. Rather than a positive message, the book is overwhelmingly negative for anyone who believes in free will or our own ability to make our own choices. As Voltaire realised, the problem with Optimism/Fatalism (above and beyond its complete refusal to accept that bad things happen unless it was for 'a higher reason' or 'the greater good' or 'part of God's plan) is that when you work it all the way through to its logical conclusion you are forced to accept that free will can not exist and that we are all merely pawns in a larger game over which we have no control. How people manage to extract a positive message from being told that happiness is to be found in blindly following a destiny that is laid out before you is utterly beyond me. The one and only character in the book worthy of any sympathy or empathy is the owner of the crystal shop who, although he never gets the chance to realise his own destiny at least fails to do so because he has not accepted his destiny, has not followed the path set out for him. He may not obtain the happiness of the protaganist, but at least he can emerge from the book with his head held high and say 'I did it my way'. The further I continued into this book the angrier and angrier I found myself getting. Coelho and his marketing machine have conned the world into believing he has written an uplifting inspiring masterpiece which (just like its protagonist) seemingly cherishes material gain and publicity over whatever message he is supposed to be delivering. The reality is that he has created a world devoid of hope for the independence of thought and development of humanity. Yes, the prose retains a certain childlike innocence and beauty, certain sentences flow easily off the tongue and his use of language, while simple is evocative, descriptive and emotive. This does nothing however to hide the overwhelming pessimism and lack of freedom espoused within.

As has been said a hundred times before; philosophy-lite (and even that is being very generous), trite and completely unworthy of the praise lavished upon it. This book is a hotch potch mess of cliches about how 'life will work out in the end' and you'll get rich (which is apparently even better than and should be prioritised over falling in love and learning to communicate with the elements and nature itself.) Rarely do I find myself actually becoming angry at a book or author, but this is cynicism and milking of a cash cow in the extreme, packaged up as a book that will help humanity. I found the whole thing shallow and sickening.
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on 22 May 2008
This book offers its readers the kind of pseudo-spirituality that appeals to fairly well heeled westerners.

Try telling the starving millions in the Third World that "when a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person realise their dream". Try telling them (and those in oppressive regimes where you can get tortured for reading the wrong book, or expressing the wrong opinion) that "most people see the world as a threatening place, and, because they do, the world turns out, indeed, to be a threatening place." Try telling the families dying of starvation that "no matter what he does, every person on earth plays a central role in the history of the world."

This shallow nonsense is fine for the thirty somethings sitting over their Starbucks coffee during their lunch break who feel that There Is Something Missing from their life. Oh, wow, the universe really is proceeding as it should. I'm important, although I don't know it. Maybe I should listen to the Language of the World (whatever the heck that's supposed to mean) and buy a few more self-help books, thus helping those smiling self-help writers make an even larger annual profit.

There's nothing special or valuable in this book. Even the punchline has been lifted from older stories. It had sold over a million and a half copies, which is sad or funny, depending on how you look at it.

I don't recommend that you make it a million and a half plus one.
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