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on September 27, 2011
Reading Paulo's book is such a magical experience. This book will truly open doors to self-discovery that you didn't know existed. Many people around the world can relate with how Paulo felt at the beginning of this book: successful but unhappy, trapped in routine and the vice of solitude, disconnected from inspiration and the Divine.

From this starting point, Paulo takes a life-changing journey across the trans-Siberian railway and discovers a magic that can only be described the moment you finish reading this wonderful book. The "aleph" is a moment in which all time and space is condensed into singularity, what some would call presence, and everyone must learn to find this magical space - ALEPH holds the key to that doorway.

ALEPH is one of my favorite books of all time. Some quotes:

"Go and reconquer your kingdom, which has grown corrupted by routine."

"To live is to experience things, not sit around pondering the meaning of life."

"Travel is never a matter of money but of courage."

"I remember the many occasions on which help has come from precisely those people whom I though had nothing to add to my life."

"When faced by any loss, there's no point in trying to recover what has been; it's best to take advantage of the large space that opens up before us and fill it with something new."

"Hell is when we look back during that fraction of a second [at the end of life] and know that we wasted an opportunity to dignify the miracle of life. Paradise is being able to say at that moment: I made some mistakes but I wasn't a coward. I lived my life and did what I had to do."

"That is what marks out the warrior: the knowledge that willpower and courage are not the same things. Courage can attract fear and adulation, but willpower requires patience and commitment."

"When a sense of dissatisfaction persists, that means it was placed there by God for one reason only: you need to change everything and move forward."

"No life is complete without a touch of madness..."

One of Paulo's other books, The Alchemist (which has sold over 65 million copies worldwide), changed my life. With ALEPH, he has done it again.

ALEPH is already #1 around the world and deservedly so. Paulo writes with honesty, insight, and that which matters most: love.

-- Review by Brendon Burchard, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller, "The Millionaire Messenger" and "Life's Golden Ticket."
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on October 24, 2011
I loved the Alchemist and recommend it to everyone who is interested in spiritual and personal development. But I have to confess, I finished reading Aleph shaking my head in confusion. Maybe, I'm just not enlightened enough to be reading this book.

I believe our past influences our future. I believe in "signs" and fate. I believe in self-discovery. This book though was way beyond my grasp - way over my head.

On the positive side: Paulo Coelho is an excellent writer and knows how to weave a beautiful story. His writing allows us to picture exactly what he is describing it - the buildings, the cold wind, the swaying train.

The bottom line for me: I just couldn't get into this book.
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on September 27, 2011
During this incredible journey, Coelho, like in The Alchemist,
discovers that it sometimes is necessary to travel far in order
to understand what is near. Friendship, love, faith and loss
are never far away.
Coelho reminds us that we all travel in our dreams.
I truly recomend reading Aleph to everyone!
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on September 29, 2011
Paulo Coelho is most famous for his über-bestseller "The Alchemist," which has been translated into dozens of languages and has sold over 65 million copies--and for good reason. The inspirational allegory about a young boy finding the Philosopher's Stone and his " Personal Legend" is a favorite book of many including this reviewer.

So I was very excited to read Coelho's autobiographical, newly released "Aleph." With a title like "Aleph," a word used in the Jewish tradition of Kabbalah and the title of a mystical short story by another Latin American writer, Jorge Luis Borges, I wondered if Coelho's new book would be allegorical too and steeped in mysticism.

Instead, it is a very down-to-earth and insightful recounting of Coelho's own quest for meaning, the mystical in his own life, and the fulfillment of his Personal Legend. It is surprising that a man who could write a book that brought inspiration to so many was himself in such need of insight.

It begins at his home in the hamlet of Saint Martin in the French Pyrenees, in the midst of a midlife, spiritual crisis. His life is deluged with routine, what St. John of the Cross referred to as the "dark night of the soul." His teacher suggests that he go on a journey to reconnect with himself and the present, and "reconquer his Kingdom," just as Homer's Odysseus did thousands of years before.

Read the rest of my review published here: [...]
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on September 27, 2011
Coelho beautifully describes the experiences he had traveling by train with his publishers and a girl named Hilal, which is not her real name, who insists on joining them.
Magic!
This book is made of magic, of hands that know to write the tale of a heart that is on a journey to find itself.
Of a heart that knows how to lead the feet to where it once walked and where it must go.
I must say that having read so many of his other books, Aleph exposed me to something I was so afraid of admitting.

That in a life of a spititual seeker, the trials and tribulations faced by their spouses are monumental and unavoidable.
I want to thank Paulo for Aleph. I want him to know that I'm starting to consider more about finding my own kingdom.

ALEPH is Coelho's best book ever. ... the book exudes purity, simplicity and sincerity
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on March 14, 2012
Disappointed. Aleph is a meandering, self-indulgent novel about Paulo Cohelo's spiritual quest for forgiveness. Translation: He travels across Russia by train signing books for throngs of adoring fans and reporters, drinking vodka, and lusting after a 21-year old girl (who, conveniently enough, is madly in love with him). This book is so pretentious. Cohelo tries to make every little event into some symbolic, cosmic encounter of monumental significance, and most of it just doesn't make any sense. He's under the delusion that the young girl is from a past life, when in reality, see he's just a pervy, 60-something married guy who wants to bone an insecure 21-year old while his doting wife waits at home for him (Thankfully, he does Not have sex with the young girl - about the only self-restraint Cohelo exercised in this book).

The tone of the entire book is pretentious, self-important and misogynistic. It seems he wrote this book for himself, as a manifesto to stroke his own ego, because no one can relate to his ramblings. He gets restless and jet-sets around the world, then decides to hop aboard the Trans-Siberian railway - only to spend the rest of the book complaining about what an awful ordeal it is. Cry me a river, Cohelo. Most people would give their arm to do a once in a lifetime trip like that, yet we're supposed to feel sorry for this mega-successful millionaire just because he feels stuck in his "spiritual quest?" Ugh. Give me a break. This book made me want to puke. Cohelo is so wrapped up in his imaginary little fantasy world, he's obviously lost touch with the problems and concerns of most ordinary people.

Aleph lacks the cohesion of his other novels. It also lacks the depth. It's not nearly as compelling either. If you liked the Alchemist, you'll be sorely disappointed by this book. This novel stinks.
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Beginning from the first word, Aleph is seeped in thought-provoking insight. It's the type of book that allows the reader to delve deeper and deeper into the pages without becoming tedious or boring.

For example, just the title alone...Aleph is the first letter of the Jewish alphabet. As such, it means "one" or "first" or "without end" (depending upon the use and who you are asking for a definition). As you can see, the title alone is able to generate a fire-storm of concepts and it is from here the author begins his journey. As you might expect, the journey is highly personal and yet universal in meaning. Rather than allow the reader insight into his own thoughts, Coelho invites the reader to dive deep into the very fabric of the soul in order to discover his/her own reflections on life itself.

Bottom line - get it. The journey is waiting!
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on July 12, 2012
This book was so boring and totally irrelevant. It's a bout a men in his midlife crises, who writes about his sexual fantasies to have sex with a 21 year old. Really? Wow! You are not the only one and yes you wrote great books and now you think you get away with this? Nothing in that story touched me, teaches me something or made me curious about anything. What was it about? Past lives? Yes and so what? I really don't recommend this book, go out in nature and play, that is way more enlightening.
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on October 26, 2011
First off, I hate giving negative reviews. Because I do realize that it is hard to write a book, and the author puts a lot into writing it.

Which is why I have added the 2nd star. I just could not get absorbed by this book Aleph. I understood much of it, though not all, that I will admit. But it's all about the author wanting to ask forgiveness from a woman in a prior life, apparently 500+ years ago. He makes a long, trans-Siberian train journey thru the length of the book, travelling along with a young girl in her early 20s who is the reincarnate of the woman whose forgiveness the author is seeking. However, the author is a happily married man in his late 50s, and so in this lifetime, the two of them are not suitable for each other.

An interesting setup. But that is about how far I will go in complimenting this book, and will not give out any more than I already have.

I have enormous regard for Paulo Coelho, because he is an awesome author who knows how to write. The Alchemist kicked butt, but Aleph ? meh !!!
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on September 27, 2011
Although an international acclaimed author, Paulo faces a spiritual crisis. He tells his Tradition guide J. that he believes his journeys are over as he can no longer grow. J. suggests he get out on a rejuvenation tour to meet people that will lead him to the Aleph where time is a constant sameness and force him away from dwelling on his previous lives. Reluctantly at first he visits six countries which energize Paulo for the first time in awhile.

Two months into his pilgrimage, Paulo is scheduled to ride the Trans-Siberian railway between Moscow to Vladivostok; making stops on his book tour of Russia. At his hotel in Moscow, Hilel the violinist introduces herself to him before leaving. The next day at his book singing, she is back. Paulo denies knowing who she is but both know he is lying. During the Inquisition in previous lives, they shared the Aleph, but he cowardly betrayed her. He believes his actions towards her are why he cannot grow anymore. As they reconnect, each knows they need to forgive before they can bravely embrace their love and move closer to happiness in and out of the mystical Aleph.

Aleph is not an easy read as the protagonist, the woman he loves in their different lives and his guide tends to use metaphoric transcendentalist talk. The key cast is fully developed in the present arc and so are the glimpses into their past lives especially the inquisition incident. Those readers who appreciate something radically different will enjoy the journeys of Paulo and Hilel to try to cleanse their past if they want a happy future; but in 2006 Russia history seems on the verge of repeating what happened five centuries ago.

Harriet Klausner
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