LOTS has been written about The Alchemist, so I wont! For more detailed reviews please see here and here. My feeling was that this book was inspiring, although others seem to either love it or loathe it, so it depends on what side of the fence you sit!
The Alchemist follows the plot of most films/books- the main character goes on a journey, learns lessons and comes back home. In this case, the main character is a young shepherd boy who goes on an adventure to Egypt to impress the woman he loves and in doing so, meets people with very different perspectives on life, before returning to his home town. A childhood story in an adult book.
What I liked about the book is the simple wisdom Coelho imparts such as;
“Because I don't live in either my past or my future. I'm interested only in the present. If you can concentrate always on the present, you'll be a happy man. You'll see that there is life in the desert, that there are stars in the heavens, and that tribesmen fight because they are part of the human race. Life will be a party for you, a grand festival, because life is the moment we're living right now.”
“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
“The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.”
“The simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them.”
“You will never be able to escape from your heart. So it's better to listen to what it has to say.”
In fact, the book is chock full of sentences that make you stop and think. Coelho has written many other books, for example Brida or By the River Piedra I lay down and wept, but in my view The Alchemist is the simplest and the best.