Happy Friday, dear reader. Have a seat. Let me tell you a story… I never meant to pick up The Alchemist. I’d never heard of it and, when my father handed it to me, it looked so thin and unassuming that I wasn’t much intrigued. I can’t be sure how old I was at the time… I must have been in 5th or 6th grade. I gauge that based on the fact that my homework load would have been at its lightest, and that this time would have coincided with the pre-internet, pre-Netflix distraction age when I voraciously read every book I could get my hands on.
The reason The Alchemist sticks out in my mind is that it is the only book my dad has ever recommended to me. Well, he also gave me Who Moved My Cheese, but I think that was because he had read it for work and knew I’d read just about anything… Anyway, it was somehow odd to receive a book I hadn’t specifically asked for, or picked out at a book fair. I just remember my dad handing it to me and I asked (stupidly), “what’s this?”. I don’t remember him telling me what the story was about, he just seemed to think I’d like it. And I did.
It was, and is, a quick read, but there’s a lot of depth in the story. Enough, in fact, that I can admit that the overarching themes in the story flew right over my head. But now – as an adult who did a double major in literature – I can look back at the seemingly simple story and understand that it wasn’t just a young man’s adventure, it was his journey to find out who he is and discover his destiny. AND this book has an incredible recurring message that I happen to believe in all its cheesiness… “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.” It’s basically “nothing is impossible” and “believe in yourself” and “be your own hero” all wrapped in one. Believe in it and make shit happen.
The story follows a shepherd boy named Santiago, who seeks the help of a fortune teller in interpreting his recurring dream. The dream sets him on course to Egypt, believing he will find treasure in the pyramids. Along the way he meets a king, an Englishman, his true love, and (duh) an alchemist. Each character shapes who he is as a person and sends him further along in his quest with greater knowledge and strength than before. It’s really a lovely little tale. Sparsely written, and beautifully so.
So now the question is: what to drink with this little gem? Well, something elegant and surprisingly complex. Try a light red wine with floral notes and a hint of blackberry. The Bruno Nebbiolo D’Alba 2013 would be an excellent fit.