The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is one of those books that I was always told I had to read. During my last trip to the bookstore the book caught my eye and I decided it was finally time I gave it a shot, and overall I’m glad I did. I enjoyed Coelho’s writing style and the way he draws from religious and cultural references to give the story a mystique.
The book follows the story of a boy named Santiago working as a shepherd who meets a King among many others that send him on a journey to realize his “Personal Journey”. Along the way he learns many life lessons and about the importance of following his heart. He also learns how to make meaningful connections not only with people around him but with nature and the “soul of the world” itself. The emphasis put on making connections with people and truly making an effort to understand others and where they come from really spoke to me was extremely impactful to me.
Along the journey he meets a woman and falls in love. Sounds great right? Well this led to one of my biggest problems with the book which is that she immediately gets pushed aside and basically told to wait for our main character for as long as it takes, and she is just fine with it. The story carries misogynistic undertones and to me it seems like the author believes that the only thing women can do is just wait around for men until it is convenient for them.
Complaints aside I thought this was a good book and told a mostly positive message about following your heart and going after your dreams no matter what it takes. It is an inspiring story that teaches us to make meaningful connections with the world and with others and never stop chasing the things that drive us. We all have something greater that we can achieve and through willpower, a little luck, and a nudge from the Soul of the World we can all achieve our own Personal Legends.