Review of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

This review is short because I do not have a lot to say. I first learned about The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho when I was looking through Wikipedia’s list of best-selling books. The book piqued my curiosity because it was one of the few books with more than 50 million sales that I did not recall hearing about before.

The book itself was an entertaining read. Coelho really knows how to tell a gripping adventure story. In the end, though, I was disappointed by what seemed to be the main message of the book, namely that spiritual enlightenment—or, in the language of the book, the achievement of your “Personal Legend”—is a wonderful thing because it will let you fulfil your crassest fantasies: extraordinary material wealth, the defeat of your enemies through mental control over the forces of nature, and true love at first sight. That such a spiritually bankrupt message would attract over 50 million people is perhaps not surprising, but it is not particularly heartening either.

Posted November 2013

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