The Alchemist ~ Paulo Coelho

Over the past few months, I've come across mention of the story, The Alchemist, on many other blogs. So, the other day I passed the secondhand bookstore and decided to pop in and enquire about the book. I didn’t think that they would have a copy and was surprised when the lady on duty said that they had a copy for sale. I picked it up for 25 rands – a real bargain!

It’s a very simple yet powerful story, in the form of a fable, about an Andalusian shepherd boy who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert, in search of a treasure buried in the pyramids.

I’d like to share some snippets from the story.

These are excerpts which resonated with me, for a variety of reasons… Obviously the reader would understand and appreciate them better, in the context of the story itself…

Excerpt 1

It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting, he thought…

Excerpt 2

When someone sees the same people everyday, as had happened with him at the seminary, they wind up becoming a part of that person’s life. And then they want the person to change. If someone isn’t what others want them to be, the others become angry. Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.

Excerpt 3

People say strange things, the boy thought. Sometimes it’s better to be with the sheep, who don’t say anything. And better still to be alone with one’s books. They tell their incredible stories at the time when you want to hear them. But when you’re talking to people, they say some things that are so strange that you don’t know how to continue the conversation.

Excerpt 4

When I had my sheep, I was happy, and I made those around me happy. People saw me coming and welcomed me, he thought. But now I’m sad and alone. I’m going to become bitter and distrustful of people because one person betrayed me. I’m going to hate those who have found their treasure because I never found mine. And I’m going to hold on to what little I have, because I’m too insignificant to conquer the world.

Excerpt 5

I’m already used to the way things are. Before you came, I was thinking about how much time I had wasted in the same place, while my friends had moved on, and either went bankrupt or did better than they had before. It made me very depressed. Now, I can see that it hasn’t been too bad. The shop is exactly the size I always wanted it to be. I don’t want to change anything, because I don’t know how to deal with change. I’m used to the way I am.

Excerpt 6

…there was a language in the world that everyone understood, a language the boy had used throughout the time that he was trying to improve things at the shop. It was the language of enthusiasm, of things accomplished with love and purpose, and as part of a search for something believed in and desired.

Excerpt 7

Meanwhile, the boy thought about his treasure. The closer he got to the realisation of his dream, the more difficult things became. It seemed as if what the old king had called “beginner’s luck” were no longer functioning. In his pursuit of the dream, he was being constantly subjected to tests of his persistence and courage. So he could not be hasty or impatient. If he pushed forward impulsively, he would fail to see the signs left by God along his path.

Have you read this story or any others by the author? Any thoughts/opinions you'd like to share on the above excerpts?


  1. Elise Fallson on May 29, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    I read  L'Alchimiste in french years ago, but it was a difficult read for me. My french at the time was not very good and a lot of the message was lost in my poor reading skills. You've made me want to pick up the book and try again after all these years… (: 

    • Sherry Ellis on May 29, 2012 at 7:22 pm

      I have never read anything by this author.  I like your excerpts, though, particularly number two.  It's sad that people want you to conform to their way of doing things.  What's wrong with individuality? 

      • michelle on May 29, 2012 at 8:34 pm

        The excerpts definitely provide food for thought…  🙂

    • michelle on May 29, 2012 at 8:32 pm

      It's really a wonderful read and has a universal appeal…  with great insights…

  2. Jocelyn Rish on May 29, 2012 at 9:51 pm

    I haven't read it, although I have heard people talking about it.  I really love excerpt #1 because some days my dreams are the only thing that keep me writing.

    • michelle on May 30, 2012 at 10:37 am

      Ah, don't despair… keep on writing! Remember, there are lots of writers who feel the same way…

  3. Claudia Del Balso on May 30, 2012 at 1:30 am

    I read this book back in 1999 and I loved it. It's a fast read, yet so full of wisdom (a beautiful message hidden in its pages). Excerpts 1-5 resonate with me.

    • michelle on May 30, 2012 at 10:40 am

      I agree! As I progressed through the story, a new insight revealed itself on every second page… and the story is sheer genius in its simplicity!

  4. Carolyn Brown on May 30, 2012 at 9:30 am

    Sounds interesting Michelle. Thanks for sharing.

  5. michelle on May 30, 2012 at 10:43 am

    It's interesting…  fascinating… all that and more! 🙂

  6. Nick Wilford on May 30, 2012 at 11:02 am

    I have this on my shelf! It was passed on to my wife by a friend. I'll need to get to it, I really like the excerpts. I have read The Zahir by the same author. It was OK, but I've heard this is the classic you have to read.

  7. michelle on May 30, 2012 at 11:23 am

    This is THE classic… you'll understand when you get to it! I'm going to try and get a hold of some of Coelho's other stories…

  8. The Golden Eagle on May 30, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    I've noticed this book on other blogs, too, and it's on my TBR list.
    Interesting excerpts!

    • michelle on May 31, 2012 at 7:35 am

      Lots of bloggers have already read it or added it to the TBR pile…

  9. Julie on May 31, 2012 at 5:42 am

    I'm sure some of my family members would prefer the company of sheep over me.  Great excerpts Michelle!

  10. michelle on May 31, 2012 at 7:37 am

    LOL Julie… I'm sure it's not that bad! 🙂

  11. Tracy Brown on May 31, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    Thank you for reminding me about this book!
    I'm putting it back into my "to read" pile. (The excerpts spurred me on!) 🙂

  12. michelle on May 31, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    These excepts are just a little teaser… there are wonderful nuggets of wisdom scattered throughout the story! 🙂

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