The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Book Details

Pages: 169
Publisher: HarperOne
Published: 1998
Language: Portuguese (interpreted to English by Alan R Clarke)
ISBN: 978 0 06 250217 9

Book Review

I both heard of this book and this author some time ago when I read the Top 100 list that Angus and Robertson put out (for non-Australians this is a big book chain). I never really prioritised reading it. Then last Christmas by lovely boyfriend took me to Kinokuniya Books (another big book chain) opposite the Queen Victoria Building and I purchased it as an impulse purchase because there was a pile of them right near the register.

I am so glad that I did, this is a very special book that I would recommend to everyone.

It is a simple story of a young Shepherd boy who decides to follow his dream, or Personal Legend as it is referred to in the book. On his journey to discover his Personal Legend, he has many adventures and set backs, meets many people and learns many special things - all in the process of pursuing his destiny.

The message of this story is simple - it is not the outcome that matters, but how we get there and what we learn along the way. This book teaches us that it is always important to follow our hopes and dreams and to live our lives to the full so that we have no regret.

The key to life is to see it's beauty, to live in the present and feel truly connected to the world around you. It is my doing this that we will fulfil our own Personal Legend. The shepherd boy learns that we are all connected to each other and to the natural world, that one grain of sand contains the story of the universe. I think that this is a beautiful way of thinking about the world.

I know that this doesn't sound much like a book review, but The Alchemist is no ordinary book. It is a reflection on life, and reading it for me was a good reminder to reflect on my own life and to make sure that I am not so focused on my goals that I am forgetting to live in the present and enjoy the journey. I do think that I am very guilty of this.

What I loved most about this book was how simple it is. You might have seen me use the world simple a number of times. The language used is simple, the way in which the story is told is simple and the message it delivers it simple. The simple way in which is written works so well to reinforce the simple message. Sometimes in this modern say life can seem so complex, with difficult decisions and challenging paths to take, but this reminds us that if we can change our attitude to life and destiny, life can be a lot more simple than we perhaps expect.

In a simple way, the author reminds us to take life as it comes, follow our dreams, enjoy the journey and experience the joy in life.


What kind of read is this?
As you may have gathered, simple but special, thought provoking and unique.

Do I recommend it?
Very strongly. I think that everyone can learn something from this book.

Do I recommend that you buy it?
Yes I do. It is such a beautiful book that I am sure there will come points in my life when I need to be reminded about enjoying myself and reflecting on my Personal Legend that I am very glad I have this on my book shelf. I think the same could be said of most people.

Star Rating

7 / 8

Brilliant, couldn't put it down. Recommend that you buy it.


  1. I like your summary questions at the end. Sometimes when I get really jazzed about a book I forget the obvious stuff. Those questions jog the memory and get right to the heart of it.

  2. i'm really pleased for you that you found this book! i recieved it as a gift on my thirteenth birthday (a hundred years ago it feels like!) and it changed me for the better - what a great gift to give to a new teen struggling to make sense of the world and her place in it. i wish everyone could read this book, it started my Paulo Coehlo addiction :-)

  3. My sister keeps begging me to read this but i think your review has done it thx!!

  4. I have wanted to read this for ages, I am going to have to get a copy! Great review!

  5. I also liked the summary bit at the end.. I've been trying to experiment with the best way to make reviews as engaging and informative as possible- it really is quite tricky to get time poor readers to read long reviews so I think this works really well.
    Hopefully mine will be as successful!

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  6. About a billion people have recommended this to me. I think I should probably get on reading it! :)

  7. Wholeheartedly agree with your review - a simple but powerful message - it's a must read!

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