7. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (1988) 167 p.

the glorious nation of spain

I like the story itself. It’s a simple, beautiful tale, related with the air of a grandfatherly figure sitting by a campfire.

The moral… not so much. While it’s dubbed “uplifting” and “inspiring,” the lessons it preaches give it the air of a self-help book masquerading as a novel. Capitalised buzz-words like “Personal Legend” and “Soul of the World” don’t help, and the book’s assertion that…

When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.

…was virtually identical to the load of crap that was peddled a couple of years ago by some very shrewd entrepreneurs to gullible Oprah-watching idiots (and, most likely, will continue to be peddled until the sun goes dead).

So I don’t buy Coelho’s moral, even though he obviously genuinely believes what he writes. And in his favour, he does stipulate that the universe will only grant your desires if you have the courage to pursue them. I don’t know. Maybe it has more meaning in the original Portugese. In any case, it’s quite easy to sort the wheat from the chaff and read the story itself without taking in any of the naive “life-changing” clap-trap, and even on that merit alone it’s still a great book.

Books: 7/50
Pages: 2518

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