Monday, June 2, 2008

The Alchemist

This book was about a sheperd in Spain who goes to Egypt to find a treasure that he dreamed about. I have to confess, I didn't love the book. I think there are a few reasons why, but I'm not sure which one to list first. A minor reason is probably that there seemed to be a lot of hype surrounding this book. Whenever this is the case, I get leary. I think this book may have been a big deal about 10 years ago or so, as I read something about how Bill Clinton was spotted reading it and that Julia Roberts *loved* it. It sold like a bazillion copies world wide. I was reading it at lunch last week, sitting by myself at a cafe and some guy saw me and said "That book is amazing!" as he walked by.

I think it might boil down to the fact that I wasn't in the right mood for this book. I have a feeling it hits home for a lot of people who are lonely, seeking direction, or hunting for buried treasure. But for me? Eh. It felt a lot like reading a Native American story or an old timey fable. Neither of which do I normally go out of my way to read. You never learn anyone's name in the book. Characters are known simply as "the Englishman" or "the sheperd" or "the alchemist". At one point the shepard has conversations with the sun and wind. And the wind and sun have a lot to say. He sees signs in the way the ravens fly. He talks a lot of about omens, and Personal Legends, and the soul of the world. The whole subtext felt vaguely religious to me, and it seemed as if I should be taking great lessons from the story.

In a nutshell, here are the lessons I feel he was trying to teach: Follow your dreams, listen to your heart, value love, what you are looking for may be right under your nose but in order to find it you may first need to travel to Egypt, turn yourself into the wind after a heated discussion with the sun, and learn that everything you need to know lives within a grain of sand. I don't know. Am I the only one feeling a little dirty-hippied out? Maybe if I liked reading books like the Tao of Pooh or Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance this book would have appealed to me more. Instead, it just reminded me that it's time I got back to my roots and read a trashy, girly novel, preferably starring a British, 30-something woman that works in PR.

I leave for LA this Friday for a 4 day weekend - any recommendations for a good vacation read? I'm hoping to hit up Half Price Books tonight on my way home from work.

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