Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Alchemist

I interrupt my recent barrage of non-fiction save-the-world-one-vegetable-at-a-time book reviews in favor of this one that, frankly, seems deceptively easy but is in my own humble opinion, fantastic. The teacher in me is glorying in the depth and the message. The reader in my loves that it was a quick and at times humorous read. And so I introduce The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo. But, you know me, I do have a penchant for Latino/a writers (kind of).

My two favorite reasons why everyone should read this book:

1. "It's the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting"
2. "...people need not fear the unknown if they are capable of achieving what they need and want"

I have #2 on my board at school this week and a kid randomly commented to me today that he really likes it. A 17-year old hormonal, self-absorbed teenager noticed it and thought about it and determined that it is...good. Hallelujah.

The whole book is basically an extended proverb, or, rather, a series of related proverbs. So, yeah, it is a bit preachy and completely obvious what the author's intent is, but still, the message is important and gains momentum through being repeated throughout.

Everyone has their own personal journey. It's your choice whether you fulfill yours because it is your choice whether you abide by the omens that are around us every day and it is your choice whether you act on what you see. In the end, the treasure if yours if you are faithful to your quest. I really like it.

I first wanted to read this book after a senior I had four years ago read it for a project in my World Lit. class and it sounded really intriguing, but it's been on my mental bookshelf ever since, until now. Now, I shall praise it to the rafters and encourage all who inquire that yes, they should read it!!

It was also fun to read right now because I read it primarily at school during a class that I affectionately refer to as my 2nd prep period. The class is an elective where kids come to my room and ... read. Pretty much all day. Every day. Read. No teaching required on my part, which means that if I'm caught up (or caught up enough), then I pull out a book and luxuriate in the freedom to read at work for 47 minutes of my day. And on this schedule, I zipped through it in about a week. While I had it on my desk, one of my honors students (a junior) noticed it and struck up a conversation with me about it because she has also read it though years ago. So it was fun when she'd ask me every day "Where are you at now?" And then she tried to bite her tongue and not give anything away other than "I hate the ending, oh I can't stand that ending! The ending is...uggghhhh!" For the record--I liked the ending. I thought that it was basically the only way for it to end, the perfect ending if you will. I especially like that it was so completely unexpected for me. After all of my years of avaricious reading for both fun and school, I feel like if a book can hoodwink me, then it deserves props. It's like movies, too; who doesn't enjoy a good twist at the end?

Next up I have an Elie Wiesel book (fiction). I "started" it two nights ago while I was at Med One trying not to cry because of the horrible horrible pain in my right ear. But it is too figurative and intentionally vague at the beginning, so I only made it 8 pages and have no idea what happened. I'll have to start this one over again. Maybe tonight while I undergo my ear therapy. (Oh the pain, please let it go away! I go on the record to say that Monday afternoon/night was way worse than my entire labor with Abby. And it's still hanging around like the worst muscle strain ever. I mean to sound pitiful here. Please please pity me. I don't want to be the only one.) So we'll see...Elie Wiesel or something else? Don't know yet, but, oh, the possibilities!

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