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Recently someone wrote me on my site asking what I liked about The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo, which I list on my Inspiration page as one of the books that influenced me significantly and helped lead me to become a writer. I wrote a direct response to that person, but now I want to share with the rest of my readers why I found that book to be so interesting. You’ll notice that my main focus was on the book’s themes and symbolism, rather than the writing style, prose, tense used, etc.

To me, this book was all about the allegory and the various lessons. So here it is, the list of reminders I took from The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo, and my comments as to why I found it to be such an extraordinary read.

Lesson One: The importance of staying positive and overcoming adversity – When Santiago loses all his money, he could have folded up and gone home. Instead he preserved. Lesson Two: The value of being truly committed to your work and pursuing perfection, even if your job is not something you truly love – It struck me as key to the story and Santiago’s development as a character that he took a job at the glass shop and became great at it. Not only was he willing to apply himself to something he didn’t love, he put his whole being into it, giving the job his complete dedication. Lesson Three: Never forget your dreams or feeling like it’s too late to pursue them – When Santiago leaves the glass shop to continue on his quest, it reminded me that many people get sucked into the daily grind of life and forget about the aspirations they once had.

I also remember appreciating the frequent reminders in the book that things are not always as they appear, and that the messenger of change can take many forms. The most eloquent part of the book for me, was discovering that Santiago’s treasure lay not in far away Egypt beneath the pyramid, but back where he started at the sycamore tree. Does that mean the entire journey was wasted? Not to me. The journey is what truly mattered. Santiago changed indelibly as a result of his quest. To me, that was the real treasure.

Bottom line – even if the book wasn’t beautifully written, I found of lot of value in it as an allegory. That is why I read it, and why I remember it so fondly.