2022 Reading Review: “The Alchemist”

Do you know how hard it is for me to just write the word alchemist and not have it be preceded by fullmetal? Harder than it should be!

I rocked through The Alchemist in one night. I was having a rough day and just decided to take the evening off and get through the whole book. It worked out.

Unlike my first two reads this year (The Night Circus and Ariadne), The Alchemist isn’t fantasy. Or at least it’s not meant to be. I’m sure someone out there would argue that the scenarios are fantastical, but it’s meant to be more inspirational. So, it was the perfect read for a night where I wasn’t feeling quite myself.

Story

The Alchemist weaves a story about a boy in search of a treasure. What type of treasure, he does not know. But he’s dreamed about it. And a stranger confirms for him that there is such a treasure—and that he can find it if he follows the omens.

So, the boy sells his possessions and heads off towards Egypt and the pyramids, where he believes the treasure will be found. Along the way, he comes along a series of mishaps and conflicts that delay his progress in finding his treasure, and must determine how to overcome. All the while, following the signs and the omens that take him, not just to places never seen, but on an inward journey as well.

It’s a story of self-discovery and faith—faith in oneself, faith in the universe, and faith in the interconnectedness of the world around us. But it is all told through a single character’s journey to seek out a treasure and trust he will find it when he arrives

Characters

Our main character in this journey is Santiago, though he mostly goes by “the boy”. He’s the one on the journey, our protagonist whose footsteps we follow as he seeks his treasure at the pyramids of Egypt. He starts the story as a shepherd, dreaming of traveling and seeing the world beyond his home.

An old man who calls himself a King informs the boy that his dreams are not meaningless. He encourages the boy to follow the signs to his destiny.

And, of course, there is also an alchemist.

Writing

The writing is smooth and easy-to-follow. I found this book to be engaging. The prose was not challenging and flowed quite well—consider how quickly I read it! It also didn’t feel bulky. I thought I’d grow tired of reading person descriptions rather than names—”the boy”, “the alchemist”, “the old man”. But this was never an issue. In fact, it fit the story quite well. It allowed the reader to insert themselves in the story, which ultimately made it easier to connect.

Will You Like This?

Probably.

Oh, you want the questions that I usually pose here to see if you’ll connect to it? Fine…

Do you like inspirational literature?
Do you like books that make you think and question yourself?
How do you feel about books that encourage connection to yourself, others, and the world around you—while still telling a story?

Those are the big things I got out of The Alchemist. And I feel whether you are a person of faith or not, I think there’s a good message to the book. Because of that, I do think that anyone could read it and get something out of it.

And it’s already so well-known; I’m surprised it took me this long to get into it. But I’m happy I did. It’s also not that long. It is a recommend that is not going to take weeks out of your schedule.

Opinion (Spoilers)

If you’re not already familiar with The Alchemist, then you might not be aware of its message. The connectedness of the universe with the individual—the all with the one. It shares the idea that the universe is always attempting to communicate to us through a shared language between all things. And that if we want to seek our destiny, we have to be in tune with ourselves and with this language. Follow the omens and signs. Listen to your heart. Stop questioning everything.

And, honestly, isn’t that something a lot of us need to do more of? Are many of us not overthinkers in our daily lives?

Whether you are a spiritual person or not, I think there’s a lot to be gained from this book. And it’s definitely one I’ll keep on my shelf to re-read now and then.

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