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  • Written by Paulo Coelho
  • Published in 1988
  • 188 pages
  • Rating: ❤️❤️❤️🖤🖤

Gotta say: this is one of those books that you need to read till the very end to fully appreciate it.

Same as ‘The Shack’ that I’ve read earlier this year, this book has been setup with the goal of conveying a message. It’s message > style. I’m not too big of fan of those stories. They dont really speak to me, cuz I constantly have the feeling that I’m being lectured. That the writer, instead of the protagonist, is talking to me. To me, that’s not what literature is about.

The life lessons that Coelho shared in the beginning of the book were not impressive to me. The premise of the book ‘you should listen to the good omens around you and chase your Personal Legend’ is being set very early on in the book. Yet, the biggest issue with people not following their heart in real life (leaving your comfort zone) is barely being discussed in the first part of the book. A magical king appears to the shepherd boy and the next day, he sells all of his sheep and starts his journey to Egypt.

I would have loved to see the protagonist struggle with fear and anxiety, like real people do.

That’s my biggest issue with this book (as far as you can call it an issue). That the story is too much of a ‘inspiring life lesson’ (and written with that very intention), instead of a description of actual human life. For me, a good story is a story that is able to show the deepest workings of the human mind, by describing the simplest little things that occur in an average human life. Or simply put into words: make it relatable.

The book that does that the best in my opinion is De Avonden by Gerard Reve (Catcher in the Rye is a nice example as well). De Avonden describes days in which nothing in particular seems to happen, but after you’ve read it it leaves you with a lot of topics to think about. It describes humans so extremely well. While a book like The Alchemist, presents all of the thoughts in a very structured way, so that when you finish the book, all you can say is: ‘yeah, cool.’

Because this book is focused at the philosophy, there is less focus on the characters. They seem rather flat and the struggles they face are overcome relatively easy. Some people have also remarked that it’s quite a sexist book, as there are no female characters that show evidence of a ‘Personal Legend’. The only woman that is being highlighted in the book is a girl that the protagonist falls in love with, who he than leaves behind, so that she has to ‘spend her days, hoping for his return’.

But in all honesty: the simple writing style, that didnt went into too much of the human functioning, was easier to accept in the second part of the book.

The cheesy life lessons now started to add up to a beautiful philosophy that is centered around the Personal Legends, respecting and connecting to nature, and having a positive active attitude towards living.

Towards the end of the book, I really loved it and I would say the book is a great work. Especially the philosophy that is being described resonated with me. And although it might not be my favorite storytelling style, it did suit the purpose of the story well.

I would rate it between three and four stars.

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