Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Alchemist

Hostess: Karin
Book Selection: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Food: Berries with cream served in teacups, cheese tortellini with red sauce, hummus and pita, goat cheese and water crackers, breadsticks, veggies and dip
Best Wine of the Night: Espiral Vinoh Verde, a white blend from Portugal. Around $4.00 at Trader Joes.
Month: March

The first time I read this book, I tried to like it but didn't really. It went over my head, I had no idea what was happening, and I didn't quite care either. This time reading it for book club, I paid attention to the book and what the author was saying, and I enjoyed it so much better this time. I also think that my frame of mind during this reading made a difference as well; it was a good time in my life to read a positive, uplifting book. Not that my life is in shambles, quite the opposite really, but I think with the coming of spring out of a cold long winter this was a perfect book.

The book, very simply put, is all about discovering your personal legend,and the journey toward achieving that legend. That is the essence and very bare bones of this novel. My favorite line in the book, and the one that is at the heart of the book, is " When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it." I am trying to make that my personal mantra, it is such a powerfully positive way to look at the world. And if along the way things happen that seem to prevent from ever reaching your goal, Coelho encourages you to stop and think about what is happening. There is a reason behind the roadblock.

Karin mentioned the crystal merchant - he preferred dreaming the dream to realizing the dream. Dreaming gave him happiness, and he was content to continue dreaming, rather than risk disappointment, to him his dreams were as fragile, beautiful, and breakable as the crystal that he sold. Karin and I could see his point, to some extent. Sometimes it is nice just to dream, without feeling you have to pursue it. But I would believe those must be daydreams, not part of your personal quest. On another note, I loved the descriptions of the mint tea being served in a crystal glass - it sounds so refreshing, I am going to have to try it this summer.

At the end of the book, Santiago is beaten by refugees looking for treasure. Through bloody and swollen lips, Santiago tells his tormentors of his dream of treasure. As his assailants are leaving, the leader of the band of refugees pauses to tell the boy to give up dreaming, because he had a recurrent dream of his own, about treasure - and inadvertently reveals to Santiago the location of where his, the boy's, treasure, is. The leader goes on to say he would never be such a fool to cross a desert because of a dream. His dream was basically the same dream as Santiago's. Chrissy raised the question that perhaps since the refugee leader passed up the dream, the dream was transferred to Santiago, that the dream would live on in someone until it was fulfilled.

We all loved this book, and interestingly, we all want to read other books written by Coelho, but we all named different ones. I wonder if that means something? Our online member wants to read The Pilgrimage, Alyssa wants to read Veronika Decides to Die, I want to read Brida. But if you are looking for an optimistic, positive book, try this one. It is a fable for adults who need to be reminded to follow their hearts.

For those of you who want to read along with us and drink a glass of wine, next month's book is The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane. Please feel free to read and comment on all our book selections!