Scathing Book Reviews of The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho is a book I have yet to read but that seems to have attained quite a lot of popularity since it was first published in 1988 in Brazil, and in 1993 in the USA. I’ve seen it prominently placed at my local Borders Bookstore, usually next to a sign saying “25% off these Bestsellers”.

The American Public (of which I am one) are suckers for the well written self help book – the promise of reading a book to solve your problems is certainly a tempting one, and I think there are two thoughts ingrained in most Americans. First, that somehow, no matter how well we’re doing, we’re not doing quite well enough. Second, there is a solution for every problem.

Is “The Alchemist” any good? It seems to have that “Greatest Salesmen in the World” or “Acres of Diamonds” vibe about it, where you hear a story and gain “wisdom” in the process, but with a new age twist. These Scathing Book Reviews of The Alchemist indicate that the potion isn’t potent:

If you liked the Celestine Prophecy you’ll love The Alchemist. You can read it while you’re waiting for the mothership to return. Otherwise, take a pass and read something more intellectually engaging, like the tax code.


Just as I hated Jonathan Livingston Seagull when I was a teenager, I hate this book now! No, hate is too strong a word for this piece of insignificant and shallow tripe. In every generation along comes an over-hyped meditation which is nothing more than New Age, melange-religion twaddle. And this is the one for now. And it’s way over-priced.


If you need 160 pages of drivel of the inspirational fable type, this book is definitely for you.


The most mysterious part of this book is its popularity.


This I-Spy book of philosophy is nothing more than 10th rate, watered down Voltaire.


While reading it, I couldn’t shake the image of a church-basement bookclub discussion – but despite numerous direct and indirect spiritual and religious references, the message here is not one of love and brotherhood. Rather, it’s best stated as “get yours”.

…and perhaps most damning:

This is the literary equivalent of a Thomas Kinkade painting. Happy cottages with warm light pouring out of the window, etc. Unlike a Kinkaid painting though, this takes longer than one second to look at.

2 Responses

  1. hilarious. i too hated this book. here’s my scathing review:

  2. […] opinions: Scathing Book Reviews. (Apparently no one else on my blogging list bothered with this book.) 7 Comments so far Leave […]

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