Why Every 20-Something Should Check 'The Alchemist' Off Their Reading List

First, let's get the basic facts out of the way: "The Alchemist," written by Paulo Coelho, came from rather unpromising beginnings in Brazil, but it is now an international bestseller.

"The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho, $14, Amazon

It's been 25 years since its debut, and the novel has now been translated into 56 different languages (that's a Guinness World Record, by the way). It's safe to say it has a pretty damn good reputation.

And now, to give you just a bit of perspective, the novel tells a story about a young Andalusian shepherd named Santiago, who leaves his sheep and his former life behind to pursue a journey to the Egyptian Pyramids. A supposed treasure awaits him there, according to his recurring prophetic dreams.

Now, why should you care? I mean, everyone seems to love "50 Shades of Grey" too, but that doesn't necessarily mean it is an amazing piece of literature, does it?

What is it about "The Alchemist" that's attracted so many readers worldwide? And why should you, Generation-Y in particular, be reading it? During his travels, Santiago learns a great deal about himself, about life and, most importantly, about the universe. The book preaches a very simple, existential philosophy:

When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.

Warning: The story isn't entirely that simple. If it were, I'd be sitting in my villa in Tuscany, stuffing my face with pasta and red wine.

The logic behind this philosophy is born from what is called “the law of attraction,” which states that putting positive energy into the universe brings positive things to you and your existence as a human being. And, of course, vice versa: negative attracts negative.

Energy? The universe? Hopefully, I'm not losing you. All this really means is that if you lead your life as a kind, thoughtful, optimistic person, you will see good things come your way, consistently.

Part of this also includes pursuing what Coelho refers to as your “personal legend.” That's whatever your passion is in life, whether it be playing music, writing, cooking, photography, chemistry or whatever you deem your purpose to be.

So, what's the point of all this? Why am I imploring my fellow 20-somethings to educate themselves about the law of attraction and the power of the universe?

Well, I want you to read the book because it truly is an amazing novel, but I can promise you there is so much more to it than that.

For one thing, I can't help but notice that my generation is often lacking in something to believe in. Research corroborates my sentiments: A third of young adults are not affiliated with a religion.

Now, I'm not exactly trying to equate the law of attraction to traditional religion. This kind of faith asks nothing more of you than to live your life both with your own personal purpose, and as a generally positive human being.

There is no need to pray to a higher power. (Although, you can write to the universe if you'd like!) If you think it and truly believe it, you can make it happen.

Not really convinced? Understandable. These principles are certainly eccentric, though if you ask me, no more so than traditional religion.

Ask yourself: What do you have to lose by entertaining these beliefs? At its very core, this way of life is asking you to be optimistic, which has been proven to make you more successful.

At the end of the day, it is your state of mind, your universe... take control of it.


"The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho, $14, Amazon

Photo Courtesy: The Alchemist