Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Alchemist

The Alchemist
Author: Paulo Coelho
Unabridged Audio Version [Time: 4:16:33]
HarperAudio, 2001 (originally published in 1986)

Three nonfiction books in a row . . . you might think I've turned over a new leaf. Actually, I've just been on the road a lot lately, and nothing passes the time like a good audiobook when you're driving. This is my second book by Brazilian author Coelho (I reviewed The Witch of Portobello in August 2008), whose works have been translated into numerous languages and sold more copies than you can imagine. But The Alchemist is probably the most well-known, and I totally get why.

The story begins with the introduction of a Spanish shepherd known throughout the book as The Boy. The Boy has a recurring dream about finding treasure near the pyramids in Egypt. Encouraged to follow his dreams by a gypsy woman and a mysterious man who claims to be the King of Salem, The Boy sets out on his journey. First, he goes to Morocco, where he encounters a thief, a crystal merchant, and an Englishman. As he ventures further, he meets other interesting characters, including a woman of the desert who might just be the love of his life . . . and an alchemist.

The simple yet deep allegorical tale of The Boy's quest for his "personal legend" reminds us of some simple truths, the main one (for me) being that we must always follow our dreams. If we don't, we'll always regret it.

I highly recommend the audiobook. A plus for me is that it was read by English actor Jeremy Irons. I could probably listen to him all day.