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The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho



The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho’s masterpiece tells the mystical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure. His quest will lead him to riches far different—and far more satisfying—than he ever imagined. Santiago’s journey teaches us about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, of recognizing opportunity and learning to read the omens strewn along life’s path, and, most importantly, to follow our dreams. (HarperCollin)

 


Book Club Ideas for The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

For inspiration for a Moroccan themed book club party, we decided to go to Moroccan Bites Tagine Cuisine in San Antonio, Texas.

Moroccan Bites

Decorations

This restaurant created the perfect atmosphere.  Here are some pictures we took of the Moroccan decorations in the restaurant:

Moroccan LanternsMoroccan Star

Moroccan Decor

A white and black stone can be used to represent Urim and Thummim.  These were given to Santiago by the king who removed them from his breastplate.  The black signifies ‘yes’ and the white ‘no’.

Urim and Thummim, The Alchemist


Book Club Menu for The Alchemist

This Moroccan menu is based on the delicious dishes we ate at Moroccan Bites Tagine Cuisine.  Our waitress was the daughter of the cook, who moved from Morocco to San Antonio in 2006.   She enlightened us about the customs in Morocco.
A washing basin is brought to the table before the meal is served.  Water is poured over your hands and a towel is provided to dry them.  Then you are ready to scoop the food with a piece of bread or the thumb and first two fingers of the right hand.

Moroccan Wash Basin

Our hummus was served with whole chickpeas like a soup.  I found a tasty Hasa Al Hummus (Moroccan Chickpea Soup Recipe) at GoToHealth.com.

Moroccan-Hummus


Lamb Shank Tagine

Tagine

Tagines are North African signature slow cooked stews known for their blend of warm and sweet flavors.  They get their name from the distinctive clay pots in which they are braised at low temperatures.   The conical shape of these pots traps condensation allowing the dish to retain its moisture and flavor.

Our Lamb Shank Tagine from Moroccan Bites was braised in typical spices and onions with almonds, sesame seeds, and prunes glazed in rosewater, cinnamon and sugar.  Absolutely mouthwatering  – the meat just fell off the bone.

Lamb Tagine

Moroccan Tagine


Chicken Pastilla

The Chicken Pastilla from Moroccan Bites is made from seasoned shredded chicken mixed with eggs and almonds, and tucked inside a flaky phyllo dough dusted with confectioners’ sugar and cinnamon.   The mix of the sweet and savory flavors were heavenly.

Here is a fabulous Chicken Pastilla recipe I found at Zen Can Cook.  Pastilla is traditionally made with squab or pigeon meat.

Moroccan Pastilla


Moroccan Bread

This Moroccan Bread recipe is found at LandsandFlavors.com.

Kesra

Chebakia is a fried Moroccan cookie folded into flower shapes, dipped in honey and sprinkled with sesame seeds. Baklava, layers of phyllo dough filled with chopped nuts, comes in various shapes.

Baklava and Lanterns

Mint Tea

Moroccan Tea


Book Club Resources

Reviews

  • “A remarkable tale about the most magical of all journeys: the quest to fulfill one’s destiny.”  –  Anthony Robbins, author of Awaken the Giant WithinReviews”The Alchemist” is an exciting novel that bursts with optimism; it is the kind of novel that tells you that everything is possible as long as you really want it to happen. That may sound like an oversimplified version of new-age philosophy and mysticism, but as Coelho states “simple things are the most valuable and only wise people appreciate them”.  – Nabou.com
  • The Alchemist is one of those “esoteric” feeling books that makes you feel like life is vivid again”.  – Happy Publishing
  • “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”. –  Publisher’s Weekly

Discussion

(Discussion Questions from Publisher)
1. At the start of his journey, when Santiago asks a gypsy woman to interpret his dream about a treasure in the Egyptian pyramids, she asks for one tenth of the treasure in return. When Santiago asks the old man to show him the path to the treasure, the old man requests one tenth of his flock as “payment.” Both payments represent a different price we have to pay to fulfill a dream; however, only one will yield a true result. Which payment represents false hope? Can you think of examples from your own life when you had to give up something to meet a goal and found the price too high?

2. Paulo Coelho once said that alchemy is all about pursuing our spiritual quest in the physical world as it was given to us. It is the art of transmuting the reality into something sacred, of mixing the sacred and the profane. With this in mind, can you define your Personal Legend? At what time in your life were you first able to act on it? What was your “beginner’s luck”? Did anything prevent you from following it to conclusion? Having read The Alchemist, do you know what inner resources you need to continue the journey?

3. One of the first major diversions from Santiago’s journey was the theft of his money in Tangiers, which forced him into taking a menial job with the crystal merchant. There, Santiago learned many lessons on everything from the art of business to the art of patience. Of all these, which lessons were the most crucial to the pursuit of his Personal Legend?

4. When he talked about the pilgrimage to Mecca, the crystal merchant argued that having a dream is more important than fulfilling it, which is what Santiago was trying to do. Do you agree with Santiago’s rationale or crystal merchant’s?

5. The Englishman, whom Santiago meets when he joins the caravan to the Egyptian pyramids, is searching for “a universal language, understood by everybody.” What is that language? According to the Englishman, what are the parallels between reading and alchemy? How does the Englishman’s search for the alchemist compares to Santiago’s search for a treasure? How did the Englishman and Santiago feel about each other?
Continue Reading Discussion Questions

6. The alchemist tells Santiago “you don’t have to understand the desert: all you have to do is contemplate a simple grain of sand, and you will see in it all the marvels of creation.” With this in mind, why do you think the alchemist chose to befriend Santiago, though he knew that the Englishman was the one looking for him? What is the meaning of two dead hawks and the falcon in the oasis? At one point the alchemist explains to Santiago the secret of successfully turning metal into gold. How does this process compare to finding a Personal Legend?

7. Why did Santiago have to go through the dangers of tribal wars on the outskirts of the oasis in order to reach the pyramids? At the very end of the journey, why did the alchemist leave Santiago alone to complete it?

8.Earlier in the story, the alchemist told Santiago “when you possess great treasures within you, and try to tell others of them, seldom are you believed.” At the end of the story, how did this simple lesson save Santiago’s life? How did it lead him back to the treasure he was looking for?

The Author

Paulo Coelho was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1947.

In 1996, Coelho founded the Paulo Coelho Institute, which provides aid to children and elderly people with financial problems.  In September 2007, Coelho was named a Messenger of Peace to the United Nations.

  • Member of the Board of the Shimon Peres Center for Peace
  • UNESCO special counsellor for “Intercultural Dialogues and Spiritual Convergences”
  • Board Member of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship
  • Member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters
  • Member of INI International Advisory Council – HARVARD INTERNATIONAL NEGOTIATION INITIATIVE
  • Member of the Board, Doha Center of Media Freedom
  • Advisory Board Member, Maybach Foundation

On May 9, 2006, Paulo Coehlo was awarded the “The Honorable Award of the President of the Republic”  by the President of Bulgaria, Georgi Parvanov.

For other books by Paulo Coelho, click here.

I read this book during the time we were planning this website.  It was perfect.   There were some quotes that literally took my breath away and gave me the motivation to continue to wake up at 4 am so I could work on the site before the kids woke up.   One of the main themes of the book is that despite cynicism and fear you must continue to work toward your dreams…something I needed to keep reminding myself when I wanted to quit.  This is one of those books that I will reread every year or two.

Morocco

Snake Charmers in Morocco 1992

Some of the amazing life lessons to take from The Alchemist:

  • The secret of life is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.
  • When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.
  • No matter what he does, every person on Earth plays a central role in the history of the world.
  • Work on improving the present and the future will be better.
  • When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.
  • One is loved because one is loved.  No reason is needed for loving.



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Author:   Category: book club party ideas  Tags: , ,  


Feel free to add your ideas, comments or book review below.

  1. This is an inspirational read…I like to reread it every year and always pick up a new lesson.

    Comment by RobinA2

  2. Impressve!

    Comment by Sinni

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