"Sometimes it's better to be with the sheep, who don't say anything. And better still to be alone with one's books. They tell their incredible stories at the time when you want to hear them. But when you're talking to people, they say some things that are so strange that you don't know how to continue the conversation."

The Alchemist is the Guinness Book record holder for a maximum number of translations of a book in different languages. This is also the book which made Paulo Coelho famous for the mysticism in his stories. According to Coelho, this book was written only in two weeks and the idea of this story was 'written in his heart.' Originally in Portuguese, The Alchemist promotes optimism and encourages one to follow his dream. It also says that one should not worry about the road not yet traveled. Instead, he should follow his heart, take the road untraveled and face the consequences.
 'The Alchemist' by Paulo Coelho
The story revolves around a young boy Santiago who leaves his home in Spain to go to pyramids in Egypt in search of a hidden treasure that he had seen in a dream. He sells his sheep to travel to Egypt. During his quest, he is robbed, works for a local merchant and joins a caravan in Sahara desert. There he meets an English traveler who tells him about a two-hundred-year-old alchemist on an oasis. Because of his dreams, he foresees the coming events and that leads to oasis being saved from an imminent attack. The word spreads and he is called by the alchemist to meet. The alchemist gives him the gold and sends him off to the pyramid. There Santiago is beaten by two men, one of these men tells him that he had seen a similar dream of a hidden treasure beneath a church where Santiago had his original dream.
The story encourages risk taking as depicted by the Santiago's travel to unknown lands, inspired only by a dream. He is robbed and is beaten in his journey but he never abandons his journey. Also while working for the merchant, he encourages the merchant to take risks and this makes both of them rich. He parts with the merchant taking his share of the money. Coelho emphasizes on listening to one's heart. As he says, "The boy and his heart had become friends, and neither was capable now of betraying the other." Indeed when presented with many options with none of the options markedly better than the other we should listen to what our heart says because that way we will have fewer chances of repenting later.
The most famous quote of this book, "when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it", also says to follow one’s dream. In the start, when one is not sure about the outcome of his journey, then these lines by Coelho should inspire him. "Everyone has his or her own way of learning things. His way isn't the same as mine, nor mine as his. But we're both in search of our destinies, and I respect him for that." It was meant to say that one’s journey is not like the journey of any other person. The victory or loss of someone should not manipulate others.
While emphasizing dreams and futuristic outlook, Coelho also cautions about that. He says, “The secret is here in the present. If you pay attention to the present, you can improve upon it. And, if you improve on the present, what comes later will also be better." In the story, Santiago finds his treasure at his home although he traveled to Egypt for that. Santiago always lived in the present, never repenting for the unfortunate events during his journey and always working to make his present useful to take the leap into his dreams from there. Had he not worked at the merchant’s shop after being robbed or not continued his journey after his marriage proposal was rejected by Fatima, he would not have found his treasure.
Although the overall message of optimism runs through the message, sometimes it becomes unrealistic. Continuing with the notion that whatever you want, you will get it if you want it badly, Coelho builds the whole narrative. But this notion is incomplete in the sense that it shows only one-half of the picture. It never makes you realize the real challenges of the journey and preparedness. Prepared to follow your dream is one thing and prepared to follow the consequences is an altogether different thing. Even then this book should be read once and it has some nice quotes spread throughout the book.
"We are afraid of losing what we have, whether it's our life or possessions and property. But this fear evaporates when we understand that our life stories and the history of the world were written by the same hand."

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