Five things you can learn by reading “The Alchemist”

By Henon Ghirmay, a first year, full-time public relations student at Humber College.

Several weeks ago, I was recommended by a friend to read a book called “The Alchemist”. “This book must be that good!” I thought to myself as it had happened several times previously, and so I decided to read it. And boy I did the right thing!

Although this post is not meant to be a book review, I want to give you a very brief summary of what ‘The Alchemist’ is about, because it will help you understand the rest of my post.

The story follows a boy’s life, a shepherd, named Santiago and his gentle tale. Santiago dreams of the pyramids and is told by a Gypsy woman that if he were to go to Egypt he’d find a hidden treasure. Next Santiago meets a mysterious old man who seems able to read his mind. He tells Santiago about good and bad omens and says that it is the shepherd boy’s duty to pursue his Personal Legend. Although he resisted pursuing this adventure, at first, the omens were appearing everywhere, leading him to change his mind. He was happy leading his life as a shepherd; however, travelling the world was his true passion, so he decided to sell his flock and embark on this journey courageously.

On his journey he learns much about himself and the world. He overcomes incredible challenges and he meets and parts with an Englishman, the woman of his dreams, angry tribe leaders and finally the alchemist.

As Santiago learns more about himself and the Soul of the World, he comes closer and closer to realizing his destiny and how to get there and eventually he does, while it was right in front of him all the time. He needed to go through the entire journey of crossing the dessert and overcoming incredible difficulties to be able to see and find his treasure.

Everybody walks their own path

We all have a path we should follow on this earth, a purpose we have to fulfill. Your life is unique and nobody else in this world will experience exactly the same things, as you will. Nobody will perceive the world to be exactly the same in all aspects the way you perceive the world. While it is okay to look up to others, and learn from their success and their habits, it is not okay to compare yourself to them. You have to be content with the fact that you are you, and it is up to you to become the best possible version of yourself. Sometimes that path may be very clear and easy to follow, and sometimes it is like a jungle with no clear path. That is when you need to make the path, learn as much from it and grow.

Taking responsibility

The most difficult part of forging your own path is the fact that you have to take responsibility. You have to take action and risk failure. You risk making mistakes, wasting time, losing money and being laughed at. To take this kind of responsibility takes serious courage and determination, but in the end, that which does not kill you only makes you stronger.

Learning from your mistakes

The only way to learn is to do and make mistakes. Theory and observation can only teach you so much. Making mistakes is not a crime; it is not even a failure. It is what you need to do to get better. Ask any successful person and they will tell you they have made tens if not hundreds of mistakes when they were learning to do what they are now so good at. Just like Santiago, I have made many mistakes in my life so far, and I will continue to make many more in the future; I’m certain of it. Yet, I do not regret making these mistakes, because they have made me who I am today, and they are part of the path that I have to walk.

Following your dreams

This book gives you a “push” to learning to empower the dreamer in you and once you have clarity of what you want, not give up on those dreams. It teaches you how to be persistence, no matter the difficulty life propones you way. If you do so, you will succeed because a t the end of the day “it’s all written”.


Your destiny

I believe that when you live your life to the fullest, be the best person you can be, love generously and work hard, your destiny will reveal itself. My definition of destiny is that one thing that feels like you were put on this earth to do it or to complete it.

Life is full of surprises, both good and bad; that is what makes it interesting and fun! Whether you believe in destiny and fate or not, you have one life and it is yours to live and enjoy.

Remember, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.”

I loved this book and it is the best book I have read thus far, not because it thought me about things that I have never “seen” or heard, but only because of its ability to enhance my knowledge of those things, invoke what I already knew and the way to deal with personal feelings. ‘The Alchemist’ leaves a permanent mark on the soul.

One of the many famous people, who claim to have found success and was touched personally by this amazing tale, is singer-song writer and producer Pharrel Williams. He discussed during his interview on the “Oprah Winfrey Show” how the “The Alchemist” affected him and opened a new vision and left a mark on him.

If you have not read The Alchemist yet, I really suggest that you do because it is an amazing book. Make sure to check out the reviews for yourself and … enjoy the journey!

3 thoughts on “Five things you can learn by reading “The Alchemist”

  1. HenonGee April 13, 2015 / 3:24 am

    On my way to Mexico I was just looking for a magazine to read on my flight and I came across this novel, I remembered watching a clip online when Pharrel Williams spoke about The Alchemist and how it had a profound effect on his life so I grabbed it. I found myself not wanting to put it down throughout my vacation. This novel tells us to leave our boring, everyday lives, risk everything we have, and pursue our “personal legends.” It emphasizes and clarifies the fact that most people in this world want to be told that all their dreams and desires are to come true sooner or later, but Coelho states that in order for them to actually come true we have to struggle and strive to make our fantasies a reality.
    But that’s why we can never overlook the importance of the journey and what can be illuminated along the way.
    I’m very happy that you loved the book; I knew you would because it inspired me in many ways, reminding me to follow my dreams and taking them to the very end.

    For those of you who have read it, what did The Alchemist teach you?
    One of my favorite single passages in The Alchemist is this one:
    “Every search begins with beginner’s luck. And every search ends with the victor’s being severely tested.”
    Conclusion: So we all should pay attention to what we are good at and enjoy naturally. It is, most likely, a clear path towards what we are naturally passionate about.
    By Maryan Shire | Full-time Humber College -Advance Diploma Public Relation|DamageControl7Media


  2. fatoomaali April 13, 2015 / 2:30 pm

    I totally agree with the five things that you can learn from reading ‘The Alchemist’. I was recommended to read this book a few times. I even purchased it, and it just sat in my room collecting dust for years before I opened it up. Reading has always been therapeutic for me, but I was in no particular rush to start The Alchemist for some reason. It wasn’t until I was going through a difficult time in my life, and needed a distraction that I decided to see what this book was all about. Surprisingly, I found myself relating to the main character (Santiago) in more ways than one. There were so many life lessons intertwined throughout the Santiago’s journey. I was inspired by his story, and the obstacles that he overcame. The term ‘maktub’ that is used throughout this book is an Arabic term ( that suggests our lives have been predetermined, for us. Although we all have ideas, goals, and agendas, the plan that has been written for us is said to be much greater than the plan that we have for ourselves. The idea that Santiago was content before he discovered that there was so much more to life is a reminder that we should never be complacent. In addition to the five things you’ve mentioned, here are five daily reminders from Santiago’s story:
    1.Be patient 2. Be kind 3. Be honest 4. Be yourself 5. Never give up.

    When was the last time you read a book that changed your life? If Santiago was a professor at Humber College (, what do you think he would teach?

    Fatooma Ali is a Toronto-based college student in the Public Relations Advanced Diploma program at Humber College.


  3. Gavin April 13, 2015 / 4:22 pm

    Great post Henon. I have heard great things about this book and it has always been on my list of must-reads. Your review confirms my assumptions about the book, it seems to have a philosophical aspect where you can apply your own life to what is happening to the main character. I really enjoy novels that make you evaluate your own life journey and can be adapted to real life situations. We all need to be motivated once and a while and this book seems to provide the reader with an incentive to push themselves in a positive direction. Another book that I feel would have the same effect as The Alchemist is Art of War. Similar to The Alchemist, the Art of War provides a philosophical approach to every day life and allows the reader to take what they read in the book and apply it to their own lives. I think books like these are critical to individuals trying to grow and better themselves, it allows for the mind to think differently and approach situations with a different approach. Books like these should be taught in schools at an early age to help develop critical thinking and allow for young children to explore different thought process to help better their future. Your review has pushed me to make this my first summer read, thanks for sharing.

    Here is a link with information on the book i mentioned, The Art of War

    Gavin Halford is a public relations student at Humber College


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