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Book Club Meeting: The Alchemist, Finding Your Personal Legend

After reading just the prologue of The Alchemist, you know immediately that this is a book packed full of wisdom. The writing may come across as simple, but sometimes you don’t need a lot of words to get something meaningful across – and that is just what this book does.  I found myself underlining passage after passage, each holding some little grain of wisdom that I wanted to tuck away and remember.  At the start of the book we meet Santiago, a young shepherd who chose his profession, despite being able to read, because he wanted to travel. Santiago also loves his flock and leading a simple life, but is troubled by a recurring dream that he eventually embarks on a journey to uncover the meaning of.

There are many inspirational quotes from the first few parts of the book, but the one that stands out to me the most is the idea that one must be free to move and develop without remaining tied down by material possessions.  This comes from a conversation Santiago has with the King of Salem, Melchizedek, who talks to him about finding his Personal Legend – what he has always wanted to accomplish – and not letting his flock or material possessions stand in his way. I relate very strongly to this. I have recurring dreams, that started in childhood, in which I am trying to grab as many of my possessions as possible because I have to leave my house for some reason or another (remember “The Burning House”?).  Material things can weigh you down and become a burden. As Bob Dylan and so many others have said, “When you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose.” Here are some quotes I love from the first three sections of The Alchemist – please leave your thoughts and feedback on the book so far in the comments below!

Click on images for sources; lead image source.       


“We are told from childhood onward that everything we want to do is impossible. We grow up with this idea, and as the years accumulate, so too do the layers of prejudice, fear and guilt. There comes a time when our personal calling is so deeply buried in our soul as to be invisible. But it’s still there.”

kozue oshima

“One’s Personal Legend is what you have always wanted to accomplish. Everyone, when they are young, knows what their Personal Legend is. At that point in their lives, everything is clear and everything is possible. They are not afraid to dream, and to yearn for everything they would like to see happen to them in their lives. But, as time passes, a mysterious force begins to convince them that it will be impossible for them to realize their Personal Legend… whoever you are, or whatever it is that you do, when you really want something, it’s because that desire originated in the soul of the universe. It’s your mission on earth.”

kevin russ

“The boy felt jealous of the freedom of the wind, and saw that he could have the same freedom. There was nothing to hold him back except himself.”


“What’s the world’s greatest lie? It’s this: that at a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate.”

What passage stands out the most to you from the first three sections? How are you liking the book so far?


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Hemingway -September 18, 2012, 8:45AM

I’m so happy you’ve brought back the Book Club! I discovered “Jitterbug Perfume” because of your recommendation, and it’s become one of my favorite books. Thank you for that!

“The Alchemist” is another favorite, and I’m going to take out my own copy and re-read it (for the dozenth time at least!) A wonderful, very meaningful selection.

Hannah -September 18, 2012, 9:10AM

“The Alchemist” is a majestically beautiful book. It says with you long after you’ve read the last line.
Thanks for bringing the book club back! I love it.

fp julia -September 18, 2012, 10:16AM

Hemingway – so glad you liked Jitterbug Perfume! That’s one of my favorites too :) Check out Skinny Legs And All, also by Tom Robbins – it rules.

Leisa -September 18, 2012, 10:26AM

I can’t recall the actual section it’s in, because I’ve read this book so many times, but here is a favorite:

“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.”

Paulo Coelho has so many good books. I also loved By The River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept. Soooo good.

Alexandria -September 18, 2012, 2:21PM

I love this book. It seriously changes you view of happiness and destination.

Sarah McCauley -September 18, 2012, 4:58PM

One of my favorite passages from the beginning of this book is:

“What’s the world’s greatest lie?” the boy asked, completely surprised.
“It’s this: that at a certain point in our live, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That’s the world’s greatest lie.”

This particularly speaks to me right now in my life. I have recently graduated with a promising degree from a premium art college and have had a hard time finding work. There are some days that I feel like I have lost control or that I must succumb to the hands of “fate”, but I must remember that I am n control of my life and I must clearly define where I want to go, who I want to be, and how I will get there. “… whoever you are, or whatever it is that you do, when you really want something, it’s because that desire originated in the soul of the universe. It’s your mission on Earth.”

I have read this book numerous times and each time brings on new meaning. If you love Paulo Coelho as much as I do, I suggest reading “The Witch of Portobello”, it is such a beautiful and whimsical book.

Katie -September 18, 2012, 5:08PM

Santiago wanted to know what a mysterious force was and so the King of Salem explained,
“It’s a force that appears to be negitive, but actually shows you how to realize your Personal Legend. It prepares your spirit and your will, because there is one great truth on this planet: whoever you are, or whatever it is that you do, when you really want something, its because that desire originated in the soul of the universe. It’s your mission on earth.”

This book is truly amazing and i can take so much from it. This is such an inspiring book and i recommend it for a relaxing saturday.

middle finger rings -September 25, 2012, 11:56PM

Documented this book, so many times I’ve seen it but I have not tested read. Now that I knew and saw this site because I read much flange beautiful verses written here? Then the beauty of the story also said it ..

Jennifer -September 28, 2012, 11:24AM

I know I’m a little late to the game — I’ve been reading the book on my breaks at work. I, too, keep underlining passages that speak directly to me. I’m glad you chose this book, as it means so much to me at this point in time in my life.

One of my favorite lines happens when the King of Salem tells Santiago the story of the baker; how the baker once wanted to travel and be a shepherd, but bakers are more important than shepherds. “In the long run, what people think about shepherds and bakers becomes more important for them than their own Personal Legends.”– This spoke to me because I just recently graduated in August with my master’s degree and am unable to find full-time employment in the areas of my interests despite my attempts. The shame and embarrassment attached to working a PT retail job sometimes gets to me, although this retail job can be a gateway to my dream job. Needless to say, that section helped me realize that other’s opinions of my perceived successes should be the least of my concerns.

PIPPA -September 13, 2015, 5:49AM

may I use the amethyst for a digital collage?
Herzlich P.

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