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What Books Are Like The Alchemist?
The Alchemist is Paulo Coelho’s most celebrated work as an author. The story centers around a young boy named Santiago, a shepherd who is discontent with his life. He has a premonition of finding a treasure that would take him on a journey – something that would give his life meaning.
This unique story has inspired and changed the lives of many people. There are many other books that have similarly helped people and inspired transformation. So, let's take a look at some enthralling books similar to The Alchemist.
Books Similar to The Alchemist
- Life of Pi by Yann Martel
- Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
- The Boy in Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
- A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
1. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Life of Pi is a magical reading experience, offering the gems of worldly and other-worldly knowledge to its readers. The cover page of the book expands our horizontal extension of imagination towards the limitless ocean.
Life of Pi is written by a Spanish-born Canadian author, Yann Martel. The author recalls his days in India. He found himself as an outcast in the strange kingdom of Gods. Traveling farther, he found sacred homes of different gods. He definitely felt godless and friendless wandering around the big city of Mumbai. He observed animals and the vast oceanic waves crashing on the shores of the city. An idea of this masterpiece had already penetrated the author's mind by then.
Life of Pi is a story of a boy and a royal Bengal tiger left alone in a lifeboat in the vastness of the Pacific ocean. It’s an odyssey no less interesting and life-threatening than the journeys of Ulysses. The story is narrated by a Tamil Indian boy, ‘Piscine Patel’, and sometimes the narrator is the author himself – who is interviewing Pi.
The account is the self-exploration of a little boy who believes in the demonstration of his thoughts and beliefs. The emotions are strongly driven in the narrative by unimaginable forces that will shape the boy's future. The book is a beautiful combination of history, theology, sociology, and anthropology – a masterpiece everyone should read at least once.
Divided into three parts, the enigmatic elements in the book transfuse us into a space between reality and illusion. The first part is a life of great ecstasy of a curious boy who is trying to figure out the wonders of the world. The second part is about the perilous journey in the sea with Richard Parker, the tiger. The third part is the ultimate surrender to God's better hands after strong survival.
The characters in the novel are like reveries of the people we see all around us, like strugglers, simpletons, believers, non-believers, and many more. The novel has sold more than ten million copies worldwide, receiving many noteworthy literary awards.
The book traces its construction from The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym by Edgar Allan Poe. It has also inspired a feature film by the same name, directed by Ang Lee. Those looking for a book like The Alchemist should not miss out on this gem.
2. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
Siddhartha is a spiritual novel by German author Hermann Hesse. The author is a Nobel laureate who wrote this book in German. This is the story of a man who leaves his abode in search of ultimate enlightenment. Much like the life of Gautama Buddha, Siddhartha is a young man who begins a journey of self-discovery.
This was the ninth novel by the German author, which was published in the United States in 1951. The book was well-received and turned out to be a great success in the upcoming years.
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The message of Eastern philosophy is beautifully transcribed in the writing of Hesse. The author collectively differentiates between western individualism and eastern awakening of living a worthy life. A book like this is the ultimate life-changer for millions of people. Since the author is influenced by Nihilist philosophers in Germany, he took a step toward understanding the meaning of life.
It's Siddhartha's story, a wealthy Brahmin whose intellectuality and handsome features attract everyone, yet he is not content with his life. He leaves his home with his friend for answers. Siddhartha, through his experience, decides that the life of asceticism is not his path to bliss. It’s more difficult to reach enlightenment through the ‘samsara’.
A household life where people face difficulties of attachment yet fulfill their duties is worthier than living a singularly individual life. Through a beautiful courtesan, Siddhartha learns the art of physical love. The novel was adapted into a motion picture in 1972 by American director Conrad Rooks. If you love this book, maybe give this movie a shot.
3. The Boy in Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
The Boy in Striped Pajamas is a 2006 holocaust novel following the story of a boy’s journey to explore the backwoods of his home. The times during the World War were tough and desolating for Germany. As active participants in the Second World War, Germans were confounded with strict codes.
The author is said to have miraculously conceived the complete story within two and a half days. He, however, worked for twenty long years to work through the depths of the story. Told from the perspective of the protagonist, Bruno, the book has disturbing episodes for children, and it brings back many memories of the past. The author expresses the fact that the child is blameless and cannot find anything wrong with the Jews. They are fed with the poisonous Nazi fundamentalists.
The story is filled with immense hatred, love, unfairness, and friendship. It finds momentum around the eight-year-old child Bruno who travels from Berlin to Auschwitz. Bruno is a curious child. He lives away from reality and tries to fit in the answers his elders have to offer. Once exploring the woods, he finds a similar aged little boy, seated across a partition of electric fences.
This meeting would lead to many adventures and lasting friendships. We can feel the tension and the cruel outrage of the Nazi soldiers. Many people have disliked the concept of this book and rejected it as a fable holocaust. There are many moments that are filled with genuine fun, adding a layer of humor to their friendship.
However, the ending is gruesome. It’s difficult to let go of such a conclusion. The book was ultimately made into a successful movie with the same name, directed by Mark Herman. Those looking for disarmingly poignant books like The Alchemist will love what The Boy in Stripped Pajamas brings to the table.
4. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Book Thief is a historical novel that turned out to be the best seller of 2005. Narrated by 'Death', The Book Thief is a story encircling a little girl called Liesel, who is traveling by a crowded train with her mother and brother. Unfortunately, the death of her brother leads them to his burial ground. There, she first notices a little book, which she picks up, amounting as the first act of theft. It's not an easy plot. The story keeps you interested through its ever-changing tipping points.
The book has a historical significance since it also describes the tragic consequences of the Second World War. Germany was affected the worst by the killings of communists and Jews, most of whom happened to be innocent of any crime. The characters of the novel have their specific back stories, and it's gripping to get to know them. Liesel is sent away to live with her foster parents, Hans and Rosa Hubermann. Hans is very welcoming and tries to empathize with the child’s sadness. Soon, Liesel befriends a boy with lemon hair called Rudy at school.
The author further introduces a boy called Max, who is a Jew and is hidden in the Hubermanns’ basement. Liesel and Max’s unforgettable friendship breaks our heart and beautifies the importance of words in a human being’s life. Liesel has a great passion for reading and learning, which paves the way ahead. Death tragically states, 'It is because of people like Liesel that I am haunted by humans.’
Give it a read to see the hauntingly beautiful story unfold.
5. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
Orient (countries of East Asia) has always been full of wonders and serenity of unmatched brotherhood. These beautiful places are sometimes destroyed by human interventions, which cause havoc and disturbances due to wars.
These wars mostly kill the simplicity of the people and they often go forgotten. Millions of fellow human beings are mutilated through wars. Later, the government leads to the formation of strict rules by the Islamic fundamentalists. Khaled Hosseini, an Afghan-born American author, decided to write about the evils of Afghanistan. He tries to provide them assistance with humanitarian needs to bring about a solution for the crisis, focusing especially on women and children.
The author’s heart cries for the land that he has long left behind, but he also finds consolation through the characters he has built around him. The story takes place on the outskirts of a city called Herat. Miriam is an illegitimate child, weaved off from her misfortune when she decides to win the affections of her father, which leads to his estranged mother’s suicide.
She is taken in by her father and married off to an elderly man named Rasheed, who is 30 years older than her. Her happiness lingered through her child, which she miscarries, destroying their marital relationship. Rasheed soon takes another wife named Laila, and she too is married off to Rasheed under some complicated circumstances. Although Laila and Miriam have a rocky start, Miriam gradually shares a new side of hers, which is full of compassion and maternity. The book raises the issue of education and identity. Many people who are willing to follow their hearts fail to do so due to the bizarre norms of religious hypocrisy.
Both these women represent true friendship, self-sacrifice, belongingness, true commitment, and humanity. They define the collective spirit of the women of Kabul who are brutally suppressed.
6. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Written by Harper Lee and published in the 1960s, To Kill a Mockingbird is a sensational classic from America and is still read worldwide. The book develops a message that is forever etched in society. The author looks back to her childhood days and finds her plot and setting already available. Still, she has worked upon it, weaving her episodic plots one after the other very neatly. This is indeed a piece of literature the readers can always carry with them. Surprisingly, the other books written by Harper Lee could not do great as they were written after a long stretch of time.
The story of To Kill a Mockingbird is centered around racism, injustice, self-discovery, and loss of innocence. Set in the fictional town of Alabama, it shows the lives of two children named Scout and Jem and their widowed father, Atticus. The siblings are always up to some mischief, and their fun is limited to their fearful neighbor, Boo Radley. He is a man whose disreputable personality has led the children to form a skewed image without actually seeing him for real.
Atticus is said to be the most respected father figure produced by literature. His teachings are full of wisdom and empathy. The action finds its pace when a black man named Tom Robinson enters the story. He has been accused of raping a white girl, and Atticus has to prosecute in favor of the black man.
Harper Lee has an original, organic way of storytelling. We can visualize almost everything that's been written. The book can also be called a courtroom drama. Some of the best strategic statements have been presented by Atticus about the American Dream and the promise of equality. The story was heavily noticed by the directors of Hollywood, and it turned out to be an inspiring film.
If you love books like The Alchemist, this book shall serve you well.
7. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Their Eyes Were Watching God is a powerful novel by African American novelist, Zora Neale Hurston. She was one of the moving figures of the Harlem Renaissance and contributed novels, plays, short stories, and an award-winning autobiography. Yet her work was not appreciated much and was met with resistance from the critics.
This is a powerful tale about a woman’s self-realization and empowerment. The story is parallel to the author's struggling life. Therefore, it’s important to critically analyze the work and her life, which was uncommonly interesting. She was rightly called ‘A Genius of the South’ by Alice Walker. In America, immigrants were directly and indirectly related to political issues. Her work reclaimed the sensory wave of the fact that ‘personal is political.' This book was written in seven weeks under the personal pressure of a fellowship.
It is a story of Janie’s emancipation, of doing whatever she wanted to for the thirst for a better life and love. Janie May Crawford is a black girl who along with her mother was raped and her puberty leads to a hasty marriage. Janie’s decision to look for her happiness through different runaway marriages is mind-boggling. She explores her way into the world through a picaresque quest. Through her voice, she makes the readers look and reflect on their lives.
Did I miss out on any other books like The Alchemist? Let me know in the comments section.
Sherry Haynes on October 27, 2019:
Nice list. I have read The Alchemist and two others from the list. I must say A Thousand Splendid Suns is the best of the books I have read in years. I would have expected this book to top the list if it were a "top 7 books like The Alchemist" list.
Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on April 20, 2019:
A nice article. Very interesting. Thanks.
Angeles from Spain on April 19, 2019:
I was told about The Alchemist, not long ago and .. I have to read it! Thanks for the sharing this info!