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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: HarperSanFrancisco; 1st edition (March 18, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062502174
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062502179
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3,513 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,883 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Like the one-time bestseller Jonathan Livingston Seagull, The Alchemist presents a simple fable, based on simple truths and places it in a highly unique situation. And though we may sniff a bestselling formula, it is certainly not a new one: even the ancient tribal storytellers knew that this is the most successful method of entertaining an audience while slipping in a lesson or two. Brazilian storyteller Paulo Coehlo introduces Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who one night dreams of a distant treasure in the Egyptian pyramids. And so he's off: leaving Spain to literally follow his dream.

Along the way he meets many spiritual messengers, who come in unassuming forms such as a camel driver and a well-read Englishman. In one of the Englishman's books, Santiago first learns about the alchemists--men who believed that if a metal were heated for many years, it would free itself of all its individual properties, and what was left would be the "Soul of the World." Of course he does eventually meet an alchemist, and the ensuing student-teacher relationship clarifies much of the boy's misguided agenda, while also emboldening him to stay true to his dreams. "My heart is afraid that it will have to suffer," the boy confides to the alchemist one night as they look up at a moonless night.

"Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself," the alchemist replies. "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." --Gail Hudson

From Publishers Weekly

This inspirational fable by Brazilian author and translator Coelho has been a runaway bestseller throughout Latin America and seems poised to achieve the same prominence here. The charming tale of Santiago, a shepherd boy, who dreams of seeing the world, is compelling in its own right, but gains resonance through the many lessons Santiago learns during his adventures. He journeys from Spain to Morocco in search of worldly success, and eventually to Egypt, where a fateful encounter with an alchemist brings him at last to self-understanding and spiritual enlightenment. The story has the comic charm, dramatic tension and psychological intensity of a fairy tale, but it's full of specific wisdom as well, about becoming self-empowered, overcoming depression, and believing in dreams. The cumulative effect is like hearing a wonderful bedtime story from an inspirational psychiatrist. Comparisons to The Little Prince are appropriate; this is a sweetly exotic tale for young and old alike. 50,000 first printing; $50,000 ad/promo.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

The Brazilian author PAULO COELHO is considered one of the most influential authors of our times. His books have sold more than 150 million copies worldwide, have been released in 170 countries and been translated into 80 languages.

Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1947, he soon discovered his vocation for writing. He worked as a director, theater actor, songwriter and journalist. His collaboration with Brazilian composer and singer Raúl Seixas gave some of the greatest classic rock songs in Brazil. In 1986, a special meeting led him to make the pilgrimage to Saint James Compostela (in Spain). The Road to Santiago was not only a common pilgrimage but a turning point in his existence. A year later, he wrote 'The Pilgrimage', an autobiographical novel that is considered the beginning of his career.

In the following year, COELHO published 'The Alchemist'. Slow initial sales convinced his first publisher to drop the novel, but it went on to become one of the best selling Brazilian books of all time.

Other titles include 'Brida' (1990), 'The Valkyries' (1992), 'By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept' (1994), the collection of his best columns published in the Brazilian newspaper Folha de S. Paulo entitle 'Maktub' (1994), the compilation of texts 'Phrases' (1995), 'The Fifth Mountain' (1996), 'Manual of a Warrior of Light' (1997), 'Veronika decides to die' (1998), 'The Devil and Miss Prym' (2000), the compilation of traditional tales in 'Stories for parents, children and grandchildren' (2001), 'Eleven Minutes' (2003), 'The Zahir' (2005), 'Like the Flowing River' (2006), 'The Witch of Portobello' (2006), 'The Winner Stands Alone' (2008), 'Aleph' (2010) and 'Manuscript found in Accra' (2012).

He has received numerous prestigious international awards. He is member of the Academy of Letters of Brazil since 2002 and Messenger of Peace by the United Nations since 2007. In 2009 he received the Guinness World Record for the most translated author for the same book (The Alchemist).

The man behind the author likes to write and practices Kyudo - a meditative archery. He loves reading, walking, football and computers. In that sense, he has always maintained a close contact with his readers but now, and thanks to the new media, he has established an incredible feedback with them. Paulo was the second most influential celebrity on Twitter in 2010 according to Forbes and he is the writer with the highest number of followers in the social media.

In the past years Paulo Coelho has expanded his presence in the internet with his daily blogs in Wordpress (http://paulocoelhoblog.com), Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Paulo-Coelho/11777366210), Twitter (https://twitter.com/paulocoelho) & Instagram (http://instagram.com/alkmist), among others. He is equally present in media sharing sites such as Youtube (http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=paulabraconnot) and Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/photos/paulo_coelho/sets) , offering on a regular basis not only texts but also videos and pictures to his readers.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
5 star
2,238
4 star
547
3 star
291
2 star
188
1 star
249
See all 3,513 customer reviews
Amazing story, very simple and easy to read.
Bruce Jay Wallace
The book was a quick read in terms of time, but it felt like I was Santiago trying to get through the desert because it was just so tedious.
nono
This book will change the way you look at your life and the people in it.
This is me.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1,175 of 1,223 people found the following review helpful By Kenny O. on March 1, 2003
Format: Paperback
Yes, much of what negative reviewers of this book have to say is true: the writing is blunt and simple, the characters lack depth and complexity, it is quite male-focused in its subject matter and language, it has a bunch of quasi-religious mumbo-jumbo, and so on. This book should not be put on the list of great literature for the ages. There are doubtless many novels that cover subject matter from this book far more artfully. As I read the book, I was aware of its hokeyness and lack of redeeming literary qualities. I am, in fact, usually the first person to criticize books that read like this.
And yet, I have to say - and I feel a bit sheepish about this - that I found it meaningful, even profound at times. How can I say this, given my criticisms? First of all, unlike many reviewers, I did not approach this book with great expectations. No one told me that this was Shakespeare or Tolstoy; I had never even heard of it until it was recommended to me recently. And by the end of page 2, I had adjusted my expectations further. This clearly was not going to be winning the Booker prize.
But I found the book moving in its simple way. The characters deliver their statements without subtlety, but subtlety is more a literary virtue than a philosophical one. In fact, I essentially came to view this work as a life philosophy expressed as a fable, so I didn't particularly mind that its messages were not buried far beneath the surface.
Are those messages novel? No, but what of it? Novelists have been recycling themes for centuries, becuase many themes are of enduring interest and relevance. The point is, the messages are worthwhile and deserving of consideration.
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299 of 323 people found the following review helpful By Robert Anderson on March 12, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I checked this book out from the library, but I'm going to buy a copy and re-read it at regular intervals.

I read it over the course of one day, thought "nice fable" & began reading another book as soon as I finished this one. But I found that the lessons contained in this simple story of a shepherd boy seeking treasure, won't be dismissed so easily. They must have taken up residence in my subconscious and kicked up some dust, because my mind keeps returning to the lessons of the story to find new and more subtle insights having formed.

These are lessons that we all know in our hearts, but that we forget as we get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of our material lives. Lessons about listening to our hearts and following our dreams. Lessons about living in the moment, the transient nature of possessions and the illusion that we can even "possess" something to begin with. Lessons about freeing ourselves from fear and about understanding our lives as part of the energy of the Universe and understanding that everything will work out the way it was intended to. Lessons about trusting in signs, knowing that our lives have a grand purpose and that the forces of the Universe will conspire to help us fulfill that purpose. And the lesson that all of the fortunes and misfortunes we encounter in life are part of our spiritual education, and that it's not the earthly "treasure" we seek that's important but the lessons learned while in pursuit of it.

If you like to ponder the meaning of life, then let your mind and spirit mull over the lessons in this book. It's a quick and enjoyable read that will provide some new insights, or remind you of some old one's that you've forgotten.
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284 of 322 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Joseph VINE VOICE on June 21, 2006
Format: Paperback
More parable than novel, "The Alchemist" uses the story of young shepherd Santiago's search for his Personal Legend as an allegory for everyman's struggle to break from the comfortable confines of conformity and pursue his life dreams. Along the way, of course, our young everyman is beset by all manner of setbacks, testing his resolve and forcing him to become attuned to the Soul of the World in order to survive. By paying attention to the details in the world around him, which serve as omens guiding him towards his goal, young Santiago becomes an alchemist in his own right, spinning unfavorable circumstances into riches.

Aside from the ubiquitous theme about the power of perseverance, my favorite part of the book was its glorification of simplicity. Like the pared-down manner in which the story is presented, Santiago's rare ability to get in touch with the Soul of the World comes not from the procedures described in arcane tomes pursued by traditional alchemists, but rather from a simple honesty and observance of the workings of the world. While the lack of character or plot complexity precludes this minimalist work from being considered a great novel, it will be a satisfying read for those seeking inspiration of the purest sort.

-Kevin Joseph, author of "The Champion Maker"
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95 of 106 people found the following review helpful By Anthony T. Riggio on October 26, 2012
Format: Paperback
October 26, 2012
A review of the Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

This review is written by Anthony T. Riggio. After reading the above book, given to me by my youngest sister, as a gift, during a recent visit, I promised her I would read it. My sister, who suffers from a mental illness, said the book had impacted her and thought it a spiritual work. Mental illness is certainly a stigma in our society but I have come to see it as a blessing by God to allow my sister to see things in an unvarnished way. She has lost everything and lives a most simple life in a therapeutic family care environment. She lives there because neither of her siblings are ill prepared to handle things when the chemical unbalance occurs, which it inevitably happens at the unscheduled moments.

Even in her limited world, she has been able to see the spiritual where most of us cannot. That she spent the full publisher's price infuriated me but then I stopped to think about the genuineness of her generosity and love she has for her older brother, I decided to graciously accept her gift.
The Alchemist is a simple story which some might refer to as a fable. It is however the story of a boy, Santiago, who search for the meaning of a dream which hopes to lead him to a treasure. It is the story of one finding his/her Personal Legend (roughly destiny and/or meaning for life).

The book emphasizes the reason for each living in the now as opposed to one's past or future. This is often a difficult task but a profound spiritual experience when fully accomplished because in that now moment we experience ourselves and get a glimpse of God. This book however is not a religious book because as the author advised religion provides the discipline for the community experience in its devotion to God.
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