One of the best books written this century? No.

In the town where I work there’s this place where they save books from landfill or being pulped and give them away for free! It’s great.

I was in there the other week, browsing, when one of the volunteers came up to me and asked have you read this? He was holding up a copy of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.


I said that I had not read it and he told me that it was one of the best books written this century. I thanked him for the recommendation and took the book. He said I could come in and moan at him if I did not like it.

Unfortunately, the introduction to this book put me off it slightly because the author talks about how he studied alchemy (how to change lead into gold and find the elixir of life). He also mentions incursions into the murkier areas of magic, which sounds a bit worrying!

The science geek in me thought he must be crazy. The other part of me wanted to keep an open mind, but I had my reservations about the author.

I was not keen on the way it is written, I think part of that is probably because it has been translated which can make things sound a bit stiff. There were some parts I quite liked though.

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However, the overall moral of the story that a lot of the characters repeatedly said…

…was something I don’t really believe, because it makes it sound like if you don’t realise your dream then you did not want it enough for the universe to give you a hand.

I think if the author was meaning to present this as a pure fiction/fantasy I might have enjoyed it more. However I got the impression that he was trying to leave us with this moral because it was repeated SO.MANY.TIMES.

He also makes repeated reference to seeing the Soul of the World, and understanding the Language of the World. I don’t mind a book with a spiritual side but in this book it was so heavy-handed. I think it could have been done more subtly, which I would have enjoyed more.

It was an interesting read anyway. On Goodreads people either seem to love it or hate it. It is not very long so it’s not too much of a commitment if you don’t enjoy it.

I’d give it: 2/5


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