When a book has been on the NY Times Paperback Trade Fiction Best Seller List for 60 weeks, it must be saying something to a lot of people. I decided to see what it would say to me. The book is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.
On the surface it is the story of a shepherd boy who journeys from Andalusia, Spain to the pyramids of Egypt in search of treasure. The plot is pushed along by dreams, magic, omens, talking deserts and winds, and romance. There is some religion for everyone: references to the Koran, the Gospel of St. Luke, Joseph from the Old Testament and, of course, alchemy.
It isn't clear until the end whether the treasure will be monetary or spiritual. The journey is framed in terms of a search for one's Personal Legend and the Principle of Favorability. When you set out to accomplish what you have always wanted, there are forces in the universe that will conspire to make it happen.
There is a little bit too much talk in the book of the Soul of the Universe for my taste but it's a short read with some worthwhile motivational messages that need repeating (for me) from time to time.
"It's the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting."
"What's the world's greatest lie?...It's this: that at a certain point in our lives we lose control of what's happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That's the world's greatest lie."
This book has been a publishing phenomenon. Since it first appeared in 1988, it has been translated into 61 languages, 65 million copies in 150 countries. It has to be the message not the medium.
While reading this book I was reminded of another adult fairy tale that I'll read and talk about next week.
Read Paulo Coelho's blog