The Alchemist: A Book Review

“The Alchemist” is the book we chose for a book club (we discussed it last week)

Photo credits: Bayan Abdul-Khalik – Alef Bookclub 

The Alchemist, by Paulo Choelho

Publish Date: 1988

Length: 180-200 pages

Average Rating (Goodreads): 3.8/5 stars

“The Alchemist” is about Santiago, a Spanish shepherd who had a dream about a treasure hidden near the Pyramids. He met the King of Salem who told him about the importance of chasing his “personal legend”.

He then began his long journey to Egypt. He spent a year in Algeria, then went on on with his journey. In the dessert, he witnessed fights between the clans, fell in love with Fatimah, and met the wise alchemist. When he finally reached the Pyramids, he discovered that that was just stop on his long journey to reach his treasure.

  • The book is full of words of wisdom and philosophical ideas and great concepts.I especially loved it because I’m used to reading novels but am trying to start reading philosophical and theoretical books, so this was a great combination.

  • It’s not the kind of book you can’t put down, but not a single page doesn’t contain a great life lessons.

“The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.”

  • I think the ending was perfect. Finding the treasure under the tree where he dreamed of it. And yes, Santiago found his treasure, but he did not stop there, his adventures did not stop there.
    “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

The book was inspiring and definitely a great read. I’m very encouraged to check out Coelho’s other books. I highly recommend it.




First Event of Alef Book club

Yesterday, we launched the first event of our new book club “Alef”.

Thirty people, from Rafid (my village) and the surrounding towns, attended. We discussed Ghassan Kanafani’s book “Um Saad” (أم سعد).

The event was definitely a great start for the club. The comments we got were all positive and very encouraging.

It was wonderful to meet all those people who read quite a lot.

I recently read about Najwa Sahmarani’s survey in Tripoli (north of Lebanon) in which when 550 students and young professionals were asked about the last time they have finished reading a book for pleasure, seventy percent answered with ‘I’ve never finished a book’ or ‘Before last year’.

This is extremely shocking but very true. At my school, you can practically count the few people that read books other than the school ones.

In Sahmarani’s survey, 44 percent said they’d read more if part of a reading club or literary community, had easier access to books.

Our hopes that “Alef” brings those who read together and encourages those who don’t.. (They don’t know what pleasures they’re missing)!

Check our Facebook page to keep up with our future activities and discussions.



Aaand bookmarks!

Photo courtesy: Abdell-Monhem Amiri

Are you a member of a book club? Have you read Kanafani’s Um Saad?


7 Books You Must Read


  1. Gone by Michael GrantGoneNewCoverA beautifully-written dystopian novel. Yes, it’s 558 pages, but the characters have intelligent, lovable, and realistic, relatable personalities.
    The events of the book are surprising, and it’s the kind of book that keeps you awake all night.
  2. Just One Wish by Janette Rallison4570667Annika would do anything to make her brother, who has cancer, happy. The teeny-weeny problem is that he wants a certain person to visit him. But Annika is ready to make that happen.
    The book made me both laugh and cry. Certainly a must-read.
  3. Uglies by Scott WesterfeldUglies_bookScott’s dystopian Uglies series is perfect. The characters develop greatly throughout the series. The book is definitely worth spending your time on. Oh, and gods of Egypt, every single chapter ends with a cliff-hanger!
  4. Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick9780439755207The book is about Steven, whose younger brother is battling Cancer. It is both funny and heartbreaking. You don’t put it down until you finish it. And the prequel, After Ever After, is even funnier and sadder.
  5. The Contest by Gordon Korman214684.Sch.Everst_Bk1_0.tifThe Contest is the first book of the enthralling Everest series. It narrates the journey of the youngest expedition to ever attempt to summit Everest. I’m aware that the cover isn’t “attractive,” but hey! don’t judge a book by its cover!
  6. Wonder by R.J. PalacioWonderWonder narrates the struggle of an 11-year-old boy with a facial deformity. The characters are realistic, funny, inspiring, and their geekiness is amazing (August is obsessed with Star Wars.)
    Plus, Rick Riordan loved the book, which means that it must be on your to-read list.
  7. The Giver by Lois LowryThe-Giver
    Jonas’s community is all about order. The government controls people so that they do not feel love, do not see the colors, and live the life that is chosen for them…
    A beautiful, life-changing dystopian novel.

    What are your ‘must-read’ books? Are any of the above books included? Share in the comments below!