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This is one of my all-time favorite books. I come back to it at least once a year when I am feeling depressed or unmotivated and it never fails to sweep me back up into a positive attitude.
When I first picked it up at the behest of a friend, I thought it was a fantasy novel. My friend and I have very similar taste in reading material and the Fantasy genre was an area in which we frequently swapped recommendations. The title was a dead giveaway, right? Wrong!
Well, not completely wrong, there are some fantastical elements to the story (mysticism, alchemy, etc.) but they are not the focal point of the book. No, this book reads more like a folktale or fable with just a pinch of magic to spice things up. At first, I was confused and a little disappointed, but I couldn’t put it down and I am so, so glad that I kept going because it was just what I needed in my life.
The Alchemist, in truth, is about following your destiny (or your “personal legend” as they say in the book). Which seems grandiose, but could really be anything from finding treasure to completing a life-fulfilling goal. Starting in Spain from the perspective of a young shepherd, you follow his story as he discovers his personal legend and travels North Africa to visit the Pyramids of Egypt and find his treasure. Along the way, the boy encounters many obstacles that could make him lose faith in his goal or stop him from continuing his journey, but with persistence and some wisdom from those he meets, he ultimately achieves his personal legend.
This book is a gentle reminder that even if things are hard, if you really care about achieving your goal then you need to persist and keep working toward it even when things get tough. Your experiences set you up to be the person you need to become to achieve your destiny.