Alejandro’s Much Ado About Books


This week in the Literature Post because the world has its eyes on Brazil thanks to the World Cup that is taking place right now, and going to its Semi-Finals stage, I wanted to dedicate the Post to the author Paulo Coelho, who is undoubtedly the most famous Brazilian writer, and has become one of the most prolific and read of all Latin American writers and also one of the authors most translated into other languages ​​there. His bibliography is quite vast and easily reaches 30 books, so in this post, I will try to comment on 9 of his most famous novels, but certainly several famous books will be out. As always, if you find the information of interest, I invite you to do your own research about other book who you may wish to read by that author. Paulo Coelho before devoting full time as a writer made ​​a pilgrimage to Santiago of Compostella in 1986 (later documented in a book), after a couple of “false starts” on writing, Coelho published his famous novel “The Alchemist” that it was a failure in its first edition, but fortunately, changing of publishing house and with the publication of his second novel “Brida”, this one was able to “tow” the interest in reading “The Alchemist” making it not only a best-seller in Brazil but beyond the borders reaching sales of 65 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling books ever, and translated into 80 different languages ​​including wining a Guinness World Record for most translated book written by an author still alive. One difference from other authors who are often not very open to interact with their fans, in the case of Paulo Coelho is very active on the Internet where he interacts with his fans through his blog on WordPress, and the pages of MySpace, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr.

“The Alquimist”

This novel was originally published in 1988, failing on its first edition to make sales, but thanks to that Coelho decided to change of publishing house, once published his second novel “Brida”, this one “tow” to “The Alchemist” making it not only a best-seller in Brazil but beyond the borders reaching sales of 65 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling books ever, and translated into 80 different languages ​​including wining a Guinness World Record for most translated book written by an author still alive.

This story is about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried in the Pyramids. Along the way he meets a Gypsy woman, a man who calls himself king, and an alchemist, all of whom point Santiago in the direction of his quest. No one knows what the treasure is, or if Santiago will be able to surmount the obstacles along the way.

“Veronika decides to die”

This novel was published in 1998 and it became the second most popular book by Paulo Coelho.

Twenty-four-year-old Veronika seems to have everything she could wish for: youth and beauty, plenty of attractive boyfriends, a fulfilling job, and a loving family. Yet something is lacking in her life. Inside her is a void so deep that nothing could possibly ever fill it. So, on the morning of November 11, 1997, Veronika decides to die. She takes a handful of sleeping pills expecting never to wake up.

Naturally Veronika is stunned when she does wake up at Villete, a local mental hospital, where the staff informs her that she has, in fact, partially succeeded in achieving her goal. While the overdose didn’t kill Veronika immediately, the medication has damaged her heart so severely that she has only days to live.

The story follows Veronika through the intense week of self-discovery that ensues. To her surprise, Veronika finds herself drawn to the confinement of Villete and its patients, who, each in his or her individual way, reflect the heart of human experience.

“Eleven Minutes”

This novel was originally published in 2002.

Eleven Minutes is the story of Maria, a young girl from a Brazilian village, whose first innocent brushes with love leave her heartbroken. At a tender age, she becomes convinced that she will never find true love, instead believing that “love is a terrible thing that will make you suffer. . . .” A chance meeting in Rio takes her to Geneva, where she dreams of finding fame and fortune. Maria’s despairing view of love is put to the test when she meets a handsome young painter. In this odyssey of self-discovery, Maria has to choose between pursuing a path of darkness — sexual pleasure for its own sake — or risking everything to find her own “inner light” and the possibility of sacred sex, sex in the context of love.

“By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept”

This novel was published in 1988.

Rarely does adolescent love reach its full potential, but what happens when two young lovers reunite after eleven years? Time has transformed Pilar into a strong and independent woman, while her devoted childhood friend has grown into a handsome and charismatic spiritual leader. She has learned well how to bury her feelings . . . and he has turned to religion as a refuge from his raging inner conflicts.

Now they are together once again, embarking on a journey fraught with difficulties, as long-buried demons of blame and resentment resurface after more than a decade. But in a small village in the French Pyrenees, by the waters of the River Piedra, a most special relationship will be reexamined in the dazzling light of some of life’s biggest questions.

816720“The Witch of Portobello”

This novel was published in 2006.

How do we find the courage to always be true to ourselves—even if we are unsure of whom we are?

That is the central question of The Witch of Portobello. It is the story of a mysterious woman named Athena, told by the many who knew her well—or hardly at all.

“The Zahir”

This novel was published in 2005.

The narrator of The Zahir is a bestselling novelist who lives in Paris and enjoys all the privileges money and celebrity bring. His wife of ten years, Esther, is a war correspondent who has disappeared along with a friend, Mikhail, who may or may not be her lover.

Was Esther kidnapped, murdered, or did she simply escape a marriage that left her unfulfilled? The narrator doesn’t have any answers, but he has plenty of questions of his own. Then one day Mikhail finds the narrator and promises to reunite him with his wife. In his attempt to recapture a lost love, the narrator discovers something unexpected about himself.


This novel published in 1990 is maybe his most important book, not from the point of view of sales or popularity, but thanks to the well reception of this book, it was posible that his first novel “The Alquimist” which failed initially in sales, it was known and with these two successes, his career soared.

This is the story of Brida, a young Irish girl, and her quest for knowledge. She has long been interested in various aspects of magic but is searching for something more. Her search leads her to people of great wisdom, who begin to teach Brida about the spiritual world. She meets a wise man who dwells in a forest, who teaches her about overcoming her fears and trusting in the goodness of the world; and a woman who teaches her how to dance to the music of the world, and how to pray to the moon. As Brida seeks her destiny, she struggles to find a balance between her relationships and her desire to become a witch.

“The Devil and Miss Prym”

This novel was published in 2000.

A community devoured by greed, cowardice and fear. A man persecuted by the ghosts of his painful past. A young woman searching for happiness. In one eventful week, each of them will face questions of life, death and power. Each of them will have to choose their own path. Will they choose good or evil?

The remote village of Viscos is the setting for this extraordinary struggle. A stranger arrives, carrying with him a backpack which contains a notebook and eleven bars of pure gold. He comes searching for an answer that torments him:

Are human beings, in essence, good or evil?

In welcoming this mysterious foreigner, the whole village becomes an accomplice to hid sophisticated plot which will forever mark their lives.

“The Pilgrimage”

It is known also as “The Journal of a Wizard” or “The Pilgrimage of Compostella”, this novel is a work of fiction but base don the real experiences of Paulo Coelho while he did a pilgrimage journey to Santiago of Compostella, also adding fantastic elements that they are usual in all his literary Works. This book recounts the spectacular trials of Paulo Coelho and his mysterious mentor, Petrus, as they journey across Spain in search of a miraculous sword.




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