Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

I picked up this book after reading the following in the Jan/Feb 2008 issue of Pink Magazine:

When asked what book IKEA North American President Pernille Spiers-Lopez would recommend to the 750 woman attending the latest Pink conference, she suggested not a business title but The Alchemist. It is an allegorical novel about a shepherd who leaves the world he knows for the great unknown in search of a promised treasure - and his own personal legend.Giving readers a New Year’s wish, Pink's editor Cynthia Good offers – that 2008 serves up a new opportunity to take chances, to transcend barriers and mistakes, and, as Coelho writes, to “remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure.”

Always looking for inspiration to keep me on the path towards living my best life, I couldn't ignore a recommendation like this; I had to read this book. Unfortunately, although I enjoyed the fable, the book did not live up to my expectations. For me the tale was too simplistic to be inspiring, I did not find it to be amazing or life changing. I read this book earlier in the year, but I as did Florinda, I found it to be a difficult book to review. I would rate it 2.5/5.

What I did find inspiring, however, was Coelho’s biography written inside the back cover. Paul was born in Brazil in 1947 the son of an engineer and a home worker. He dreamed of an artistic career which was frowned upon by his middle-class household. In the austere surroundings of a strict Jesuit school, Paulo discovered his true vocation to be a writer. Paulo’s parents however had different plans for him. When their attempts to suppress his devotion to literature failed, they took it as a sign of mental illness. When Paulo was 17, his father had him committed to a mental institution twice, where he endured electroconvulsive “therapy.” His parents brought him back there once more after he became involved with a theater group and started to work as a journalist.

Now that is inspiring! Talk about having to face adversity; imagine being committed to a mental institution for following your dreams. And I thought I had it rough when at 17 my father refused to support my decision to go to college.

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