February 2014 Book of the Month

“You must understand that love never keeps a man from pursuing his Personal Legend. If he abandons that pursuit it’s because it wasn’t true love … the love that speaks the Language of the World.”

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

If you read the online reviews of Coelho’s The Alchemist, you will find a few dismissive comments. People find it “simplistic”, “repetitive” and occasionally even “trite”. Personally, I think this is a sign of the enormity of its impact. Written in 1988 after a personal breakthrough moment, Coelho’s book holds a Guinness Book World Record for being translated into the most languages of any book by a living author. At its core, The Alchemist is a tender love story with a profound message. In addition, I would argue it is the forbearer to all the uplifting, motivational Instagram memes /tweets/FB posts you have ever seen. “Live in the moment.” “Follow your dreams.” “The treasure lies within.” In other words, Coelho’s book impacted popular culture in a staggering manner.

The Alchemist is essentially a fable. Its infectious charm captivates the reader on the first page and carries on through to the end. You can’t help but fall in love with the cast of characters: especially sweet Santiago whose character is an eternal testament to the transforming power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our heart.

Chelsea first read the The Alchemist freshman year as an assigned reading in my sociology class. Years later it remains a reference point for our Tuning the Student Mind efforts. Every time we feel frustrated, set back or at a standstill in our journey to bring meditation programs to college students, we gently remind each other that if we let it the whole of the universe will conspire to make our dreams come true.

Molly Beauregard