As book lovers, it is impossible for us not to have read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho despite what some people believe about the author.
If you are not on the same page as us, many consider Coelho’s work to be a poor plot and teachings. Although they are complete and different, some argue he is quite a bland author you shouldn’t invest your time in.
However, if this was true, would people continue reading his work after all this time? And would The Alchemist be the success it was and continues to be?
We doubt it.
We understand you can’t like everyone, and even when we have our own complaints about this book, in particular, it doesn’t mean it is bad, as many people claim.
Now, we are more interested in knowing the details behind the book and the author and help you decide whether it is worth your time if you haven’t read it yet. If you have, we are confident the additional details and information about it will make you love it more or hate it a little less, depending on your instance.
Paulo Coelho’s Life: Behind the Author
Before we embark on the book itself, we need to go over the author who decided to create this very well-known piece.
Paulo Coelho is a Brazilian born on August 24, 1947, in Rio de Janeiro.
His childhood wasn’t easy despite knowing he wanted to be a writer as he grew up. Still, due to the discouragement of his parents, who were devout Catholic, he was unable to start since they didn’t see a future in that profession, especially in Brazil.
As a rebellious teenager, when he was 17, his parents sent him to a mental facility. Coelho managed to escape at least three times before he was released four years later.
Many people thought Coelho had resentment for his parents. However, he has mentioned several times that he has forgiven them since he understood it wasn’t that they wanted to hurt him but that they didn’t know how to help him during his phase.
According to the future novelist, they did it to save him instead of destroying him and his dreams.
After being released from the facility, he enrolled at law school for one year, but he decided to travel the globe even after his parents insisted on joining the law school and continue his career.
He started living the nomadic hippie lifestyle of the time and traveled through North Africa, South America, Europe, and Mexico.
During this time, he composed song lyrics for Brazilian musicians who were protesting against the military regime. For his political activism, he was twice imprisoned and tortured in prison.
Coehlo’s life was full of many professions, and after a long journey through all of them, the then 39 years old man visited Spain in 1986 to change his life’s direction.
Coelho walked over 500 miles on the Road to Santiago de Compostela. This is a pilgrimage site for Catholics.
He was inspired by the walk and the spiritual awakening that he had along the way to write the Pilgrimage, an autobiographical account about the trek in his native Portuguese. He gave up his other jobs to devote himself fully to writing after this experience.
But When Did He Write The Alchemist?
According to what we mentioned before a many people claims, anyone would believe The Pilgrimage was Coelho’s first book.
However, Hell Archives was his first published one, but it failed to impact, and the public often forgets it except for real fans.
After this first book, he contributed in 1986 to write the Practical Manual of Vampirism, which he later considered a very bad piece of work.
But when he went through his spiritual awakening and wrote The Pilgrimage. As a result, Paulo’s success just continued coming.
After this one was published in 1987, he started to write his next book: The Alchemist, in only two weeks due to the spurt of creativity he had at the time.
When it was published soon after Coehlo completed it, The Alchemist didn’t attract much attention to the point of his editor considering withdrawing it from shelves and moving on with his next work.
However, a French-language translation allowed it to hit the bestseller lists in France in the early 1990s.
Thanks to this milestone, many other translations followed, and the book became a global phenomenon.
Since then, Coelho has written books at a rate of about one every two years.
His fans describe his books as inspiring and life-changing.
On the other hand, critics dismiss his writing as New Age-driven, encouraging a vague spirituality without rigor.
Coelho is a confident writer who dismisses the self-help label. “I am not a self-help writer; I am a self-problem writer”—Coelho dismisses his naysayers’ critiques.
“When I write a book, I write a book for myself; the reaction is up to the reader,” he says. “It’s not my business whether people like or dislike it.”
When it comes to his personal life, Coelho has been married to Christina Oiticica since 1980. The couple spends half of the year together in Rio de Janeiro and half in a French country house in the Pyrenees Mountains.
Coelho established the Paulo Coelho Institute in 1996. This institute provides support for children and the elderly.
Is It Really Worth Reading? The Alchemist’s Plot
It is only natural to take the time to read the plot of a book before deciding to binge it or not.
In our case, we sometimes go for it, and that’s it, waiting to be surprised, whether in a bad or pleasant way.
However, when we decided to read The Alchemist, we have to admit we went for the plot first and some reviews based on people who truly knew about books and not the general critics you can find on the Internet today.
However, we are not taking down what other readers have to say, but it is true some are biased for their dislike of the author and take the time to bring books down with reviews.
So, in order to give you some help, we will include the plot that can help a lot.
The book follows Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who consults a Gypsy fortune-teller to learn the meaning of a repetitive dream. The woman interprets it as a prophecy, and she tells the boy that he will find treasure at the Egyptian Pyramids.
As a result, Santiago sets off to find an old king called Melchizedek. He tells Santiago to sell his sheep in order to go to Egypt to fulfill his “Personal Legend.”
A man claims that he can take Santiago to Egypt, but he robs him of the money he made from his flock, which is why Santiago is forced to work as a crystal trader to make enough money to reach the pyramids.
The boy meets an Englishman on the road who is in search of an alchemist. He continues his journey with his new companion, and during his journey, Santiago falls in love with Fatima, an Arabian girl, when they reach an oasis. He proposes to her marriage, but she only accepts to marry him once he completes his journey.
When continuing, he meets a wise alchemist who helps him discover his true self. They embark on a journey through territory filled with warring tribes.
The entire book takes us through our protagonist’s journey and whether he could not find the treasure he was looking for.
But more importantly, the story is set to teach so many lessons that you will be enchanted with the storyline and entire masterpiece as long as you can appreciate the writing style and structure.
According to Coelho, it is meant to tell you how the whole universe conspires in helping you when something is meant to be for you, but also that you need to work hard for it and wait for the right moment and go through the right path to achieve the essential wisdom and be ready.
Do you want to know whether our protagonist achieved the life’s path he wanted and found the worldly treasure? You can follow this simple story yet amazing and read it in a few hours or days.
Who knows? Maybe you can even add it to your book club for some analysis.
Copies & Earnings: How Much Did Coelho Make?
Unlike what many would believe, The Alchemist is one of the best-selling books of all time, ranking #15 in 2021.
It isn’t a secret for anyone that Don Quixote takes the first place by a lot (500 million copies), and if you aren’t that well-informed about it, you can have a look at our special review of this masterpiece.
However, Coelho’s second published book and the most popular to this date isn’t short compared to others like Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill and The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, which sold 70 and 80 million copies, respectively.
That being said, The Alchemist has sold about 65 million copies, and although there aren’t specific details about how much Paulo earned with it, it isn’t hard to know it has been millions.
Considering a book, when first released, tends to cost between $9 to $22, the earnings can go over $40 million to this date, and we know we are falling short considering that he has been awarded other prizes.
The book was so popular that it remained on the New York Times bestseller list for over 400 consecutive weeks, making it one of the very few books to achieve this milestone.
With it, he also broke two Guinness World Records as the most translations for a single title and most translated author.
Also, now we a new movie announced, The Alchemist is set to make into a movie courtesy of Will Smith, which considers it one of his favorite books and is planning to make it a reality with the help of Raj Singh and Kevin Frakes.
5 Things You Should Know About The Alchemist
- The Alchemist can be downloaded for free following the decision of the author himself to open a site called “Pirate Coelho.”
- The previous move of making the book free skyrocketed his sales for other novels and The Alchemist itself.
- Coelho is unable to explain the book’s appeal fully.
- He personally worked with a local translator for each new market the book was going to be published to add a “local flavor” and attract more readers.
- The Alchemist was published by a second Brazilian publisher before it became successful.
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