"And when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to acheive it."
The alchemist is a book about, amongst many other things, listening to your heart and following your dreams. The story takes several twists, but in the grand scheme of things the book itself is a representation of the circle of life. And once you've read it, you will see why the saying 'its not the end results that matter, but the journey' holds true.
Although the book was first published in 1988, the story itself is set in a period much earlier in the history of spain and the middle-east. The book starts off with our young hero, Santagio, a poor shephard boy sleeping the night in a run down barn with his sheep, in Andalusia, southern Spain.
A recurring dream about gold and treasure takes the boy to a local gypsy who intrepretes the dream at the cost of a small share of the treasure, should the boy find it. There is a strong sense of belief in omens and 'the language of the universe' - the ability for all things to communicate via signs, symbols and timely actions. This intrepetation takes the boy on a journey to the Egyptian pyramids, along which he meets many new and interesting people, some of which are helpful on his quest - and a few who turn out to have a shady disposition.
Towards the end of the book, the boy meeets the alchemist who teaches him the final lessons Santiago needs on his journey to find his own destiny. The boy's understanding of the universe around him and the ability to speak the language of the universe and to communicate to the soul of the world, really brings home the message, that when the boy really desires his treasure, all the forces of the universe conspire to help him achieve it. I shant spoil the ending for you, as things do not always have a happy ending with Paulo Cohelo's writing.
This can easily be described as my favourite book and with good reason too, the book reads almost like an inspirational parable or a self help book. There were some recent speculation about the book being turned into a film, but I find it hard to see how any amount of direction can best such a masterpiece in the transition from the written word to on screen visuals.
I give this book a 5/5, it is definitely worth a read.