One of the most transformative novels ever written is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. This book was originally published in Portuguese in 1988, but has since been translated into numerous other languages, making it a bestseller across the globe.
The novel chronicles the story of a shepherd boy named Santiago, who receives a prophecy from a fortune teller regarding a dream that he has had in the abandoned church he calls home. The fortune teller explains to him that he will seek great treasure at the Great Pyramids in Egypt. Santiago begins his journey across the continent to reach Egypt, when he meets King Salem. King Salem introduces one of the most pivotal ideas in the novel, which is the concept of “Personal Legend.” According to King Salem, your Personal Legend is the goal you are always destined to want to accomplish. Santiago’s “Personal Legend” is to reach the Egyptian pyramids and uncover their great treasure. As he travels through Africa, Santiago is robbed of the little money he has for his journey, so he finds a job as a merchant to earn enough money to continue. During this time, Santiago also falls in love with a girl named Fatima, who he eventually proposes to. However, she only promises to marry him after he has achieved his “personal legend.” This later teaches the resilience of true love and the importance of sacrifice in achieving one’s “Personal Legend.”
Santiago finds another travel companion in an alchemist, who helps him achieve unity with the “soul of the world” and reach a deeper level of self-discovery and awareness. The two finally reach the pyramids, where Santiago digs for treasure to no avail. That night, Santiago is robbed yet again, but discovers that the treasure he was searching for actually resides in the church where he had the initial dream.
Santiago’s trials and tribulations teach the reader to treasure the path to success. While the destination may be the achievement of a goal, true growth and learning come from the journey. Additionally, this novel shows the importance of personal aspiration and goals through the concept of “Personal Legend.” In order to achieve one’s goals or “Personal Legend,” one must sacrifice complacency and familiarity in favor of risk and determination. The lessons taught through the pages of The Alchemist are powerful and revolutionary in sparking a mental, emotional, and spiritual transformation. Because of this, The Alchemist is a crucial read in achieving personal growth and is highly recommended.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available for download from Overdrive.