The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is a world-renowned, but controversial book. Critics either believe the book to be life-altering or a total dud. While I fall somewhere in the middle, the overarching themes of trusting yourself, believing in the journey, and knowing that answers can always be found by looking within are encouraging, especially when faced at crossroad.
The novel is fable-adjacent and the protagonist’s journey was reminiscent of the Little Prince, and although religion overpowered the narrative, here are a few of my favourite passages from the fable-adjacent novel:
“‘What’s the world’s greatest lie?’ the boy asked, completely surprised.
‘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.'” (p.20)
“The old man continued, ‘In the long run, what people think about shepherds and bakers becomes more important for them than their own Personal Legends.'” (p.24)
Reminds me of Glennon Doyle. Following society rather than what’s best for you, or what you truly want.
“For her, every day was the same, and when each day is the same as the next, it’s because people fail to recognize the food things that happen in their lives every day that the sun rises.”
“‘Because it’s the thought of Mecca that keeps me alive. That’s what helps me face these days that are all the same, these mute crystals on the shelves, and lunch and dinner at that same horrible cafe. I’m afraid that if my dream is realized, I’ll have no reason to go on living.
‘You dream about your sheep and the Pyramids, but you’re different from me, because you want to realize your dreams. I just want to dream about Mecca. I’ve already imagined a thousand times crossing the desert, arriving at the Plaza of the Sacred Stone, the seven times I walk around it before allowing myself to tuoch it. I’ve already imagined the people who would be at my side, and those in front of me, and the conversations and prayers we would share. But I’m afraid that it would all be a disappointment, so I prefer just to dream about it.’
That day, the merchant gave the boy permission to build the display. Not everyone can see his dreams come true in the same way.” (p.56)
“‘You have been a real blessing to me. Today, I understand something I didn’t see before: every blessing ignored becomes a curse. I don’t want anything else in life. But you are forcing me to look at wealth and at horizons I have never known. Now that I have seen them, and now that I see how immense my possibilities are, I’m going to feel worse than I did before you arrived. Because I know the things I should be able to accomplish, and I don’t want to do so.'” (p.60)
“He still had doubts about the decision he had made. But he was able to understand one thing: making a decision was only the beginning of things. When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision.” (p.70)
“‘Well, then, why should I listen to my heart?’
‘Because you will never again be able to keep it quiet. Even if you pretend not to have heard what it tells you, it will always be there inside you, repeating to you what you’re thinking about life and about the world.'” (p.132)