Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Reading Corner: The Alchemist

After a long while, I finished reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I bought it last time I was waiting for Elouise and Ryan to fetch me at Alabang and I have nothing to do. I was choosing between Kiko Machine and this book and guess who won?

This book was originally written in Portuguese since the author was Brazilian. I Googled some facts about it and discovered that it holds the Guinness record for most translated book by a living author.

I was lured into buying it when I first read the prologue part. It tells about Narcissus' story after he died of his vanity. I was surprised that there was a continuation of this story. Here it goes for those who are interested too.
The Alchemist picked up a book that someone in the caravan had brought. Leafing through the pages, he found a story about Narcissus.
The alchemist knew the legend of Narcissus, a youth who knelt daily beside a lake to contemplate his own beauty. He was so fascinated by himself that, one morning, he fell into the lake and drowned. At the spot where he fell, a flower was born, was called the Narcissus.
But this was not how the author of the book ended the story.
He said that when Narcissus died, the goddesses of the forest appeared and found the lake, which had been fresh water, transformed into a lake of salty tears.
"Why do you weep?" the goddesses asked.
"I weep for Narcissus," the lake replied.
"Ah, it is no surprise that you weep for Narcissus," they said, "for though we always pursued him in the forest, you alone could contemplate his beauty close at hand."
"But...was Narcissus beautiful?" the lake asked.
"Who better than you to know that?" the goddesses said in wonder. "After all, it was by your banks that he knelt each day to contemplate himself!"
The lake was silent for sometime. Finally, it said:
"I weep for Narcissus, but I have never noticed that Narcissus was beautiful. I weep because, each time he knelt beside my banks, I could see, in the depths of his eyes, my own beauty reflected."
"What a lovely story," the alchemist thought.

It moved me in a way that is why I wanted to read this book right then and there. And I wasn't disappointed for every page is a work of art. As the story unfold, new realizations came to me. I really loved it. Here is a short summary of the story so for those who don't want some spoiler, skip this part.

**spoiler alert! spoiler alert**

The story is about Santiago (I learned his name only at the end and I don't know why o_O) a shepherd that was a former seminarian but he chose to be a shepherd because he thought that it was the only way he could go into different places.

He had a recurring dream about the pyramids so he consulted a gypsy to interpret it. The gypsy told him to go see the pyramids to get his treasure. As he was contemplating on it, he met an old king who is very wise. He told the boy about many things and that he must pursue his dreams. As the boy decided to go to the pyramids, he bade goodbye to his sheep. He traveled to the pyramids but as he got to the first town on his journey, he was tricked and robbed. He then went to a crystal maker to ask for food in exchange for labor. Soon he was working there and the crystal maker's business is earning. He left this and went to find his Personal Legend once again. He traveled the dessert and met an Englishman who is looking for the alchemist. On this journey, he learned the language of the desert. He communicated with it through the language of the world.

They soon rested at an oasis and since there was war, they stayed there for a long while. There is where he met Fatima, a woman of the dessert. He fell in love with her and was torn if he should continue to pursue his Personal Legend or stay with Fatima. Fatima let him go because she wanted him to achieve his dream. She promised she will wait.

The boy met the alchemist and it convinced him to go to the pyramids. He also taught him the ways of an alchemist without being aware of it. On their journey,they were captured by a tribe and there, the alchemist said that the boy will turn himself to the wind. The boy didn't know how to do it but in the end, with the help of his knowledge of the language of the world, he turned himself to wind and they were freed.

He got to the pyramids but he didn't find his treasure there but on the monastery where the alchemist left him with the gold he produced from the sorcerer's stone. He got his treasure and in the end, he will go back to Fatima.


This is a nice story of bravery, finding and believing oneself and of love. It will inspire you and will change your life in a way. You should read this for this is a very nice read. It will teach you lessons in life and most importantly, to follow your dreams.

There are a lot of quotes in this book and I am planning to list them down when I get the time. However this is one quote that they keep on repeating in the whole novel and I will leave you with this one. I hope it will inspire you.

"When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it."
 This book is one of my favorites now. Next time you drop by a book store, grab a copy of this and see how it will impact your life. Go and follow your own Personal Legend.

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