I always feel weird when I don’t like a book that so many other people rave about. Sometimes it makes me question my judgement.
However, in the case of Paulo Coelho’s dreadful book The Alchemist, I feel perfectly confident in questioning the judgement of everyone else instead.
In A Circle of Quiet, Madeleine L’Engle quotes George Tyrrell’s observation that:
“If [man’s] craving for the mysterious, the wonderful, the supernatural, be not fed on true religion, it will feed itself on the garbage of any superstition that is offered to it.”
This is the only explanation I can fathom to understand why The Alchemist became an international best seller. To be brief, it is poorly written, derivative, silly, and the author’s attempt at theme and moral are used like blunt instruments to beat the reader about the head. The only reason I continued reading it is that it was the only book I had available while we were away from the house during a showing. I looked around for alternatives (anything would have been preferable: annual shareholder reports, lists of potentially carcinogenic sunscreen ingredients, the backs of Kleenex boxes…) but was stuck.
I can’t recommend The Alchemist on any level, for anyone. However, I’m interested to know if any of you read it, and if you disagree with my reaction. Or, if you do agree, why do you think so many other people liked the book?
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