Aug 20, 2009

The Alchemist redux

After reading on Charlotte's blog that she was considering reading the Alchemist, I decided that I wanted to read it again. So I did. The end.

Wait, I wanted to talk more about it. When I first read it, the book was one of the most inspiring and life changing books I've ever read of the non-LDS genre (scriptures included). It is a beautiful yet simple fable on following your dreams. I've noticed that it's affected my writing even still, with its simple prose and profound truths. (More the simple prose, and less profound truths, but still).

However, on second reading it wasn't nearly as good as it was the first time I read it, and I'm still not sure why. Either the big surprises and climaxes in the book aren't as revelatory (revelating? revelationarytingning?) when you know what's coming, or it could be that I'm just not the same person I was 8 years ago, when I was preparing to go on a mission and had my world before me.

But when I finished, I was still glad I read it, though a bit depressed that it didn't mean as much to me the second time as it did the first. This is because, to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, "A book that isn't good enough to read twice shouldn't have been read once." Which always annoyed me because how was I supposed to know unless I read the darn thing!

I was planning on suggesting reading "The Alchemist" for my book club book, if we ever start up again, but now I don't think so. Still, a wonderful, gem of a book and has my full recommendation, just don't expect too much if you read it twice. :)


Anonymous said...

I recently re-read the Alchemist and I semi-agree with your assessment. While it didn't have quite the same impact as my initial reading of it, I was still entertained and left feeling inspired.

I think it's the type of book that means different things to you at different times in your life.

I also recommend the Audio version of this book, read by Jeremy Irons. Very enjoyable.

Cheryl said...

I'll have to read it. Tyler is listening to it for the 3rd (i think) time right now and he really likes it. Which is funny. Because I've never heard of it, but now that you and Tyler are on the next rounds of reading it, I should probably read it.

Charlo said...

Well, it wasn't the most amazingly written book, it was simply refreshingly positive, and something meaningful.

ohhhh, dear Oscar Wilde. a witty one he is.

Shelly said...

I think I was too cynical to appreciate this book when I read it. Things just seemed to work out perfectly for the protagonist and it bugged me. Maybe a second reading would do me good, but I probably won't do it for a while.