The Alchemist (Book number 12) needs no introduction because it is a much celebrated book. I heard of it from friends often and I know of several who name this book as their most favorite of all time. Interestingly, before picking up the book, I saw some recent reviews that did not praise it as much. This fired up my curiosity real good and after reading it, I must admit I did not see the heavens open up but I liked the story enough.
The Alchemist is about Santiago, a shepherd boy, chasing after his dream. It is as much as an external adventure as it is of the inside. The boy is chasing after a treasure and in the process transforms himself to be one with the world.
There are many things to be learned from The Alchemist about life, love, dreams, achievements, and hardships but the common ground is making a choice, taking a chance, and embracing changes to fulfill your destiny.
I guess this is a different view of destiny because often people think of it as something that happens to you no matter what if it is written, but The Alchemist shows that you have to stir the wheel to realize it.
But the parts that I liked best are not really the ones that talked about realizing dreams and becoming one with the world but the parts around that like the relationship of Santiago with his sheep. I enjoyed the wisdom and appreciation he has for them. I also liked the bit with the camel driver who always strives to live in the present. I think that is the only way to be free; worry can really drive people mad so best to avoid it. “Eat when it is time to eat. And move along when it’s time to move along.” The last bit was with Fatima, the dessert woman Santiago falls in love with. Her character brilliantly depicted “love without ownership“. If there is something most lacking in the world today, I say that is it. The 200 year old alchemist supported that by saying,
If what one finds is made of pure matter, it will never spoil. And one can always come back.
Some of the reviews I read say that they hated The Alchemist because everything is so obvious, but I think the beauty of the book lies in its ability to highlight “the most simple things in life that are the most extraordinary” that we tend to forget easily anyway. However, I agree with the reviewers when they said that the book can be cheesy and preachy at times. I found this most when Santiago was travelling with the 200 year old Alchemist and on the climax of the story when Santiago was trying to turn into the wind talking to the elements.
But in all, I say the characters in The Alchemist are strongly made and I connected with them. They are believable and the story reminds you of things that you know but have already forgotten. I liked it enough but it is not as blinding as I imagined.
On the photo: The updated edition of The Alchemist with an introduction from the author, interviews, and reader’s guide, given to me by My Man (thank you, babe :))