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Book Review: The Alchemist
By: Sowmya Nath


Book Review: The Alchemist 

Paulo Coelho’s philosophy in this book is “When you want something, the whole universe conspires for you to achieve it.” From this theory stems the plot of the story. An Andalusian shepherd boy Santiago has a dream about a treasure buried near the Pyramids in Egypt. And so begins Santiago’s journey from the plains of Andalusia to the deserts of Egypt where the treasure is buried.
 
The boy sets out, taking the cue from a gypsy woman, meets a man who calls himself King who tells him to look for signs and follow his heart, trades his sheep for a passage on a ship that will take him across the sea, a mean who swindles him out of his money, an Arabian merchant who employs him and teaches him a new trade, and many others. Along the way, he learns new skills to get to his destination, in a new land. (It’s just new, not strange,” he decides in the book.).Some people help, and others hurt, but he perseveres and keeps devising ways that would help him reach the pyramids. When he finally gets there, the outcome is as much a surprise to readers as it is to Santiago.
 
Behind this story that takes readers from the rustic sights and sounds of Spain to the arid sands of Egypt, is a spiritual journey of every man and woman. Santiago’s dream of finding treasure is every man’s dream to fulfill his or her desires and goals. But the lesson to all the readers is that regardless of what that dream may be, the important thing is to have a dream, and also the courage and conviction to fulfill it, the strength to withstand hardships, sacrifice and failure along the way, and the humility to accept success when it eventually comes. The message throughout the book is to follow your heart because it always leads us in the right direction, and to look for signs that would lead you to your goal. The book is touching, moving and deeply inspiring as the simple shepherd starts with nothing but his sheep and a dream, without knowing whether or not to pursue it or how to make it a reality.
 
But Coelho tells us Santiago, in the process of realizing his dream, came farther than most people (and definitely went farther than his father, who never left Andalusia). This, he teaches us, is a remarkable and noble achievement.
 
A very simple story, and yet so poignant and deeply touching, the story extols the importance of dreaming big, and having the dedication and tenacity to achieve them. And what is most inspiring about its candor is how it makes achieving our dreams seem so easy. Throughout the book, Santiago faces dangers and challenges, yet he is never afraid and he never despairs, because whatever happens, his situation is never that bad and he always survives. He always rises up in pursuit of his treasure, and in the end succeeds.  
 
Although first published in 1988, the book has kept gathering followers steadily. It has sold more than 65 million copies in 150 countries and has been translated into 61 languages.


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Book Review: The Alchemist
By: Sowmya Nath
   
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