Paulo Coelho: Writing in a Global Language

Paulo Coelho Oprah Winfrey

 The Brazilian Book – The Alchemist – is the longest title on the New York Times Best Seller list.

By: Anne Jonnes 

If someone recommend you a book about a shepherd boy who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried in The Great Pyramids; would you read it?

Well, what if that book were also recommended by Oprah Winfrey, Pharrell Williams, Madonna, Will Smith, the former U.S President Bill Clinton and Julia Roberts?

Oh, now I got your attention.

Bill Clinton reading Paulo Coelho

In 1988, the Brazilian author – Paulo Coelho – published ‘The Alchemist’. He had written this profound spiritual novel in just two weeks and strongly believed it was destined to be a success. There was only one problem: It didn’t sell. That could have easily been the end of his writing career, but Coelho wasn’t ready to give up.

“When you want something, the whole universe conspires to help you,'” Coelho wrote. He is probably right. Certainly, the world is “conspiring” in his favor.

His flop book eventually turned into international best-seller, setting the Guinness World Record for the most translated book by a living author. Today ‘The Alchemist’ has sold 65 million copies and has featured on The New York Times bestseller list for over 315 weeks. The book has been translated into 80 different languages.

If you are not familiar with Paulo Coelho´s words of wisdom, now is the perfect time to get to know his work. You may stop by at Chipotle Grill and get a Paulo Coelho ´s essay “to go”. The fast-casual burrito chain promotes the “Cultivating Thought”; a project in which famous authors write essays featured on Chipotle paper cups and bags.

Paulo Coelho Chipotle bag

Paulo Coelho, who has sold more than 165 million copies of his books in over 170 countries, wrote to “Cultivating Thought” a wonderfully simple story, which illustrates how important a simple change in perspective can be. READ IT HERE

People around the world claim that the spiritual novel The Alchemist changed their lives. Recently, the American singer, Pharrell Williams, emotionally revealed during an Oprah Winfrey´s interview that the book became his personal bible. “The Alchemist confirmed what I always thought in my heart and felt in my mind,” said Williams.

Check out Paulo Coelho´s first-ever interview on American television. The Brazilian author tells Oprah Winfrey how to turn a flop into a Guinness World Record.  It’s difficult to explain why. I think you can have 10,000 explanations for failure, but no good explanation for success,” Coelho said.



9 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. I read this book to find out what all the fuss was about. What followed was sour disappointment.
    Storyline: No more sophisticated than those shortened bible stories for five-year olds.
    Style: I have read microwave oven instructions with more literary flair.
    Characterization: Flat, lifeless “characters”, distinguishable only through phrases like “the boy”, “the girl”, or “the Englishman”.
    Tone: Preachy and patronizing to the point of being irritating.
    Message: “Follow your dreams”. How deep, and original

  2. Victoria Alexander · Edit

    I read The Alchemist many years ago and it had a profound effect on how I viewed my life. The story is timeless and tells the story of a young boy, Santiago, on his way to find the riches and treasures of the world. But, beyond that, the book acts as a metaphor for turning your life around. Only you have the power to change your progression in life. I read this book as a kid, and it helped inspire to own my own business and do what I wanted to do despite other’s opinions of me. It was certainly transformative for me then and it continues to be transformative to this day. I love the fact that this story has remained a timeless classic and one that I will be glad to show my grandchildren someday.

  3. Last spring I read “Illusions,” by Richard Bach. When I read the reviews online, one guy mentioned he thought “The Alchemist” was superior to the story of “Illusions.” I finally got around to “Alchemist” and I must say I was quite disappointed.
    First off, yes I realize it’s considered a fable, but the writing style is far too simplistic. I don’t know if it’s the translation, but it reads like a book an elementary schooler would read for a report. Annoying points: there are page after page of adolescent terms like “Master Work” and “Personal Legend” and “Language of the Universe”, repetitious redundancies of quotes, just in case you haven’t been paying attention, and very little masking of points. Coelho must not trust the reader to pick things up because he screams them at you.

  4. The Alchemist – 10th Anniversary Edition is a book that has still to this day had the power to change a lot of peoples life with the lessons that it provides to the readers. It was not until I took this book and began to truly read it that I discovered that I was not really living my life. The whole world was in front of me and I was not looking at it and seeing all that was presented to me. The Alchemist – 10th Anniversary Edition turned my way of thinking around and made me see life for what it really held in just a few grains of sand.

  5. There is a quote I’ve made since finishing the Alchemist; There are some books you will read, then there are stories that you can experience.

    The Alchemist is definitely a story to experience

  6. 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.

  7. Timing is everything. If I’d read ‘The Alchemist’ four years ago, I’m sure I would have loved it. It deals in big, bold pronouncements of ‘follow your dreams’ et cetera et cetera, and it certainly makes you think about your own life and the pursuit of your own “Personal Legend” if you will. But maybe I’m older and more cynical now, or maybe it’s not cynicism so much as just seeing a reality that isn’t so mystical and black and white as Paulo Coelho’s, but in any event, I just wasn’t buying what ‘The Alchemist’ was selling.

  8. I really disliked this book. I dislike it in the way that I dislike a great deal of modern self help books. Their basic message is that if you want something to happen, you need to want it as hard as you can, without caring about anything else, not allowing yourself to doubt it, or let criticisms will get in the way then it will happen.

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