Reading for me was like eating, but that was about 5 years ago until I went to university and my focus changed. This year I decided to get back into reading and it was only right I began with “The Alchemist” Reading this book was the beginning of the end of my procrastination to getting back into reading and after completing it, I decided to write this review.
About the author
Paulo Coelho is a lyricist and author from Brazil whose writings have inspired and intrigued the minds of many around the world. The 30th edition of the book starts with a note from Paulo which tells his inspiring story of how the Alchemist was a failure when it first launched after selling just two copies in six months. It took a second publisher for the Alchemist to finally make the break. This story is a living testimony of the story told in the book and this review summarises what I have learnt from this story.
About the book
The Alchemist is a relatively short book with just about 160 pages and average reading time of 5 to 6 hours. The main theme of the Alchemist is about finding one’s destiny, purpose or treasure in life. As the saying goes: “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”. Taken from the Bible in the book of Matthew chapter six.
If you are reading this review, you must have heard a lot about this book and must be wondering what makes it special and different from many other books about finding your destiny? Well, there are very simple lessons in the book, and something that stands out in the entirety of the book is the link Paulo draws with spirituality, religion and real-life experience.
The words from the book tend to jump out at you and you realise that life, after all, is not as complicated as we make it.
The book details the story of a Shepherd boy from Spain called Santiago who keeps having a recurring dream about treasures across the desert lying in the Pyramids of Egypt. The journey he takes in search of this treasure will only lead him to one place, does he find the treasure when he gets to the Pyramids or would he get distracted in his journey?
During Santiago’s journey, he meets an “old King” who presents “Omens” to him and this comes up at key stages in his journey, usually at points where he is about to give up on his quest. This can be representative of messages we get from God as we journey through life in search of our destinies.
Santiago meets different people and faces many challenges along his journey that teaches him the act of making sacrifices. He sells his sheep and uses the money to travel across the desert. However, he quickly regrets this decision when he faces a new challenge and plans to buy back his sheep. We can apply this to our lives. Sometimes we think that if only we had stayed where we were, we never would have ended up in whatever situation we find ourselves. However, we always look back on those moments, thankful that we went through them. Those moments teach us to handle the pressure life throws at us. This allows us to use our experience to help and encourage others who may be in similar situations.
Santiago finally makes it to the Pyramids after a long challenging journey across the desert. This did not discourage him rather; he appreciated the lessons he learnt on his way to Egypt and was thankful that he was able to see the Pyramids. In this review, the book suggests he most likely would not have seen them if he had not set off in search of the treasures. This looked like a wasted journey. However, after a lot of wahala during his journey, the experiences he gained and lessons he learnt, was more beneficial than the thought of a wasted journey.
Lessons learnt from the book
- Know what you want
Whether that is in decision making, your career, or anything you’re chasing after, the first step is knowing exactly what you want. This will allow you to make clear decisions on what steps to take.
- Persistence and Diligence
The quote from the book is self-explanatory. “It’s only those who are persistent, and willing to study things deeply, who achieve the Master Work”. You will become a master of whatever you dedicate your time to.
- Start where you are – it’s never too late to start
Another quote that explains this from the book is: “Now I’m beginning what I could have started ten years ago. But I’m happy at least that I didn’t wait twenty years.”
- You live based on what is in your heart
This is similar to a bible scripture. “The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of the evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.” – Luke 6 verse 45. To do good, we must work on our hearts, that is where all things we do flow from.
- Don’t give up
Paulo says: “One dies of thirst just when the palm trees have appeared on the horizon”. Most times it gets harder when you are about to get your breakthrough. This is usually when many give up. So just push, maybe your breakthrough is in the next step or action that you take. “One step at a time, one day at a time until you get there.”
- Not everyone would believe in your dreams
“When you possess great treasures within you and try to tell others of them, seldom are you believed”. This shows that not many people will believe in our dreams. However, push through every barrier and you will definitely achieve those dreams.
- You are just as important as the most “important” person you know
Another quote I liked: “No matter what he does, every person on earth plays a central role in the history of the world. And normally he doesn’t know it”. This teaches you that you are not insignificant or useless. We are all part of the big puzzle that makes up the world.
- Read the book
Yes, that is a valuable lesson. This book review is an example. Read the book, start that venture, start now whatever your book is. There is never a time like now, if not now, when will you start? You’ll never get to the top of the mountain if you don’t take the first step. That is if you’re not flying; but even then, you need to take a step to get in the helicopter.
Overall, the Alchemist simplifies life and takes you into a journey in your mind. It is a simple and excellent read. I would recommend it. You can also read about it on Wikipedia: The Alchemist