This week, I read the following books. Neither is on my “Top 100” list above; but they sounded good:
Anthem (Ayn Rand, 1938). I loved this story – or, should I say, this warning. It is the telling of the perils of, and triumph over, a collectivist society. If you are thinking, “What? I don’t get it,” I’ll ask if you have read Lois Lowry’s The Giver. It is blatantly obvious that Lois Lowry either flat-out copied Ayn Rand’s story, and made small changes to the plot, or else… actually there is no other possibility. Truly! It is beyond obvious – they are too similar for it to be chance. A quick read; only 100 pages or so.
The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho, 1988). This is a parable about doing what you feel will fulfill your life and not succumbing to the fear that you will fail. After reading the first half of the story, I was thinking that I was going to add it to my “favorite novels” list. Having completed the story, I really enjoyed it, and would read it again, but it is not a favorite.
This story is actually about simple truths and though they are veiled in this parable, they’re pretty simple to figure out. Santiago is on a quest, looking for the treasure that will make him happy. As the story progresses, he encounters many of “the right person at the right time” who are omens. They all have insightful and wise things to say, and these words serve to guide him toward discovering his Personal Legend, his life dreams. As I was reading this story, I didn’t really need to think about the lessons Coelho is trying to impart toward the reader – it really is a simple story to understand, and a quick read. Don’t worry: It doesn’t read like a self-help book, it reads like a young adult story, I think. Some insights from the story:
- “I couldn’t have found God in the seminary, he thought, as he looked at the sunrise.”
- “Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.”
- “One is loved because one is loved. No reason is needed for loving.”
- “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
- “When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.”
Throughout the entire story, wise people guide Santiago with these words. Every single page is full of insight; maybe it’s a little overkill, but the story flows. My favorite line, spoken by the Alchemist:
“Everything that happens once can never happen again. But everything that happens twice will surely happen a third time.”
I think that is brilliant! And I recommend both of these works.
Currently reading: Chopin’s The Awakening and Hemingway’s The Snows of Kilimanjaro.