Adventures in Reading


Revisted: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

I first read The Alchemist as a teenager and disliked it and now having read it again (with inhibitions) in my twenties and still dislike it. A minimalistic story (without the pleasure of reading other minimalist authors) outlining a boy’s quest from Spain to the Pyramids and back again. Mixed in with alchemy, universal languages, souls, omens, and above all else fate – the overriding theme is to follow your dreams, etc. Nearly every noun is a symbol of something else and the overall idea of the book put me in mind of Tuesdays With Morrie or The Secret; that is, a single idea story loosely veiled behind the suggestion of a story. If you’re looking for something less metaphysical/religious to read or simply another book with (some) similar qualities I suggest The Higher Power of Lucky.

There is just something about books like The Alchemist, Tuesdays With Morrie, The Secret, and most recently The Last Lecture that make me want to gag. With Coelho though it is somewhat different and for whatever reason I want to like him, but I just don’t. It’s an allegorical tale and really lacks any complexity. And perhaps it’s this lack of complexity wrapped in with the length (though a short book) that makes me want to not bother or care.

Other opinions: Scathing Book Reviews. (Apparently no one else on my blogging list bothered with this book.)

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11 Comments

I know, right? And I keep trying to like Coelho, because I feel like it’s the artsy thing to do, but I only ever actually enjoyed reading The Devil and Miss Prym. Even though there’s HEAVY moralizing, it’s part of a STORY, one with CHARACTERS and MOTIVATIONS, so it’s fine. Great, even.

As for the rest………bleurgh.

Comment by raych

He makes me want to gag, too. And I’ve read 4 of his books – people kept insisting, saying “try this one, it will change your mind”. It never did. I hated them all.

Comment by Nymeth

I have actually enjoyed all of the books i’ve read by him (four or so). Maybe I’m weird?

Comment by Mys Ebrel

Raych: “Artsy” is an apt description. Perhaps I’ll have to give Coelho another go with The Devil & Miss Prym?

Nymeth: Wow, four books and that bad? If I’m lucky I might make it through one more.

Mys Ebrel: Which books have you read, and no I don’t think you’re weird (at least not in any bad way ;)). But can you express why you like him? Or what attracts you to Coelho’s books?

Comment by bookchronicle

Hahaha…glad I’m not the only one that didn’t get The Alchemist. I’m really wary about reading any more of his works. I didn’t even go near The Secret when that came out.

Comment by Amanda

well I loved the book. Maybe you guys aren’t spiritual enough to understand it. :)

Comment by bianca

bianca: Spirituality has little to do with flat out terrible writing. Unless it’s a person’s over abundance of “spirituality” that will turn any piece of poo into something “wonderful.”

Comment by bookchronicle

The objective of writing is to communicate effectively , something G.Bernard.shaw said and Paulo Coelho can communicate human emotions and complexities effectively with artistic grace and humility. It appears most people,if ever they dislike him is probably because of the abundance of spirituality in his writings.Me being an atheist,love his works. I wonder if ever, the same people would tolerate Khalil Gibran, it’s ‘poo’ after all right.

Comment by sarah

I understand the gag reflex. I just read it for my book club. Not a favorite.

Comment by rebeccareid

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I can’t understand why people did not enjoy this..i thought it was a great novel with a great perspective about life.

Comment by CNW




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