The Alchemist

I am a self-professed bookworm and I like reading books that make me think.

So I read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho a little while ago. I’d heard about the book and how it was about finding your true path in life. While that sounds a little cheesy to me, I read the book anyway mostly because it was just after I had finished school and was looking for a job; perfect timing, I thought. (Although wouldn’t the best time be to read it before or during post-secondary school? Because then you would get the full benefit of the story’s lesson. Hindsight is always 20/20 I guess…).

Anyway, so I read the book. First let me give you my review and then I’ll dig a little deeper.

The Alchemist was a book that I found easy to read, but that had a deep message. I found that the simple language worked for the story because as a reader with this plot you’re already supposed to be thinking deeply and engaging self-reflection about the main character’s quest and his journey to follow his path in life. If the language used a lot of “big words” I think that the central message of the story would have been convoluted.

Overall, it was an interesting read and very thought-provoking. I read it at a time in my life where I was searching for what exactly it was that I wanted to do with my life. While this book should not be taken as a “how-to” or guide to finding what will be your guiding purpose in life, it was an interesting read and made me want to develop a career and a life that would be personally fulfilling.

And while I did enjoy this book, most of the time while I was reading it I had a nagging, skeptical voice in the back of my head about the whole message of the story. The main character was suddenly met by a king who presented him with an opportunity to follow his dreams. While I understand that this story can’t be taken literally, what is that saying about how I’m supposed to find my true path in life? How do I even know I have a path in life? Or even just ONE path?

There are many things I still want to do with my life. I am starting to realize exactly what I want in a career and a direction, but I’m not totally sure how to get it. I’m pretty sure a random king won’t appear before me with a direction for my life that I suddenly realize I’ve always wanted (although a girl can dream). 

Listen, I know this is a fictional story and that I can’t reasonably expect to have all my life’s problems answered by a shepherd’s quest for treasure in the desert. I know I’m taking out some of my frustration on this story. It is a good story and it made me think more about my own situation and what I want out of life. What more can I ask for from a book? I’ve read a few books that have given me a lot less, that’s for sure.

Have you read a book that made you think about your own situation in life or one that made you realize something about yourself? Or have you read The Alchemist and have a similar or differing viewpoint?

Let me know because I would love to hear how other people are getting through life and finding purpose. Especially if it was through a book’s influence. Spoken like a true bookworm, if I do say so myself. 

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