A book that has an interesting and instructive story line but is written poorly has me struggling through the pages, arguing internally with myself about whether to just put the book down or give the author a break and look past the simplistic language or, worse yet, a chronic overuse of adjectives.
I mean, why use five or six different words to describe a backdrop or character when one really good one will do? Could the author not find just the right word and hope that if he uses several I’ll know what he’s trying to convey? Does he think I’m dense and need more than one reference to understand? Does he think it makes him sound smarter? This is the dialog that rattles around in my head. It’s not kind and it makes me feel bad about myself.
I’ve gone so far as to calculate how many good books I can read if I live to be 85. I figure if I read one book a week and live another 25 years that’s 1 X 52 X 25 = 1,300 books. If I am really busy and can only average one book every 2 weeks, the number drops to 650.
So, you can trust me when I say that The Alchemist is a great book that is well worth the time it will take you to read it. In fact, it will likely become one of your favorite books of all time.
It’s a classic that many of you may already have discovered. If you haven’t, put it on your “Must Read” list today. For those of you who have already enjoyed it, you’ll read it again now that I’ve reminded you of it. Right? It’s that good.
Originally published in Portuguese in 1988, The Alchemist was written by Paulo Coelho and has been translated into 56 languages since it was first published. It has sold more than 20 million copies worldwide.
The Alchemist tells the story of a young shepherd boy named Santiago who, with encouragement from his parents, set out to study theology with the end-goal of joining the priesthood.
But as Coelho describes in the book “ever since he had been a child, he had wanted to know the world, and this was much more important to him than knowing God and learning about man’s sins.” So Santiago left seminary and set out on a journey to find his true purpose.
As the story proceeds, Santiago’s path is strewn with opportunity and challenge. His travels lead him to both the foolish and the wise; the latter providing him with increased clarity and resolve. As he proceeds, he learns that finding ones purpose requires persistence and surrender of many comforts and transient pleasures. Each new experience leads him closer to his ultimate goal where, finally, he discovers his purpose.
Through the book’s storyline, Coelho illustrates how God has for each of us a specific purpose. Those who are obedient and persistent will discover their purpose.
The book strikes a chord with anyone who has doubted that there is a purposeful life intended for them; that somehow they have missed their call and there’s no circling back to find it.
This book points to the truth shared in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (NIV)
The Alchemist (and Ephesians 2:10) reminds us that we are the sole obstructionists of God’s call on our lives. God has prepared a path for each of us and continues to sweep it clean as we walk along it. The path may be narrow and it may not always be smoothly paved. It may lead to places we can’t yet see. But He is there and our call remains –even as we veer to the left and the right picking blueberries and getting sidetracked by wonderful shiny objects.
And it reminds us that God puts us in the paths of others to help them find their own calling.