Must Read | Paulo Coelho



About five or six years ago one of my dear friends gifted me with a copy of Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. She said it was a “must read” and that it might change my life. It took me a couple years to finally get around to reading it – but when I finally cracked the spine, it delivered. The Alchemist is a story about a boy searching for treasure. Like any good hero’s journey the boy finds magic, connection, meaning, and the real treasure along the way … As does the reader. The funny thing is is that I didn’t pick up The Alchemist until I was really ready to receive the moral of the story.

I’m typically a fan of non-fiction (let’s get real: self-help) books that will provide me with key takeaways aiding me in both business success and spiritual enlightenment (and now sage parenting advice, of course). But Paulo Coelho manages to craft words together that vibrate at a higher frequency that transcends trendy self-help. His work is timeless and universal to the human experience. And I believe reading his books will make all of us better people.

So just after landing on “warrior” as my word and intention for 2014 I stumbled upon Coelho’s Warrior of the Light: A Manual on my Kindle. I downloaded and devoured it – highlighting almost every word (which kind of defeats the point of highlighting, eh?). I knew I would need a hard copy of this one for daily reference.

Here are some of my favorite passages from the book:

“He is capable of seeing what is beautiful because he carries beauty within himself, for the world is a mirror and gives back to each man the reflection of his own face.” Wow, what a reminder to be accountable for how you show up in the world. This is what karma truly looks like.

“The great victory, which appears so simple today, was the result of a series of small victories that went unnoticed.” A lesson in gratitude – I think this is especially important to remember as a creative entrepreneur.

“In order to have faith in his own path, he does not need to prove that someone else’s path is wrong.” It’s easy to feel challenged when someone else’s business, religion, relationships, world-view isn’t aligned with your own – it can make you feel like you’re going about it all wrong and put you on the defense. What a great reminder that not everyone experiences the world the same – and that that’s okay.

“That is why they are Warriors of the Light. Because they make mistakes, because the ask themselves questions, because they are looking for a reason they are sure to find it.” Amen.

Pretty powerful stuff, if you ask me. I’ve decided that to be accountable to my “warrior” resolution it would be cool to open this book each day in 2014 and reflect on how the passage I land on could inspire or be applicable to my life. I want to truly use it as a manual to carry out my intentions for this year.

What game-changing books are inspiring you lately? 

  1. Much like you friend’s recommendation, many of my friends & acquaintances over the years have recommended Ann Lamott to me (especially her book about the creative process of writing”Bird by Bird” – which I have yet to read). This past year was a particularly stressful one for me, thankfully I finally picked up her newish book “Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers” after watching her interviewed online about this book on Oprah’s show “Super Soul Sunday” (highly recommended also). I bought my own copy and have it by my bed.

    Since then I have been soaking up anything I can read by Ann Lamott + listening to her many youtube interviews / book chats on repeat. She gives me strength & courage, she makes me laugh, she is delightful and very funny and best of all she reminds me to be nice to me. I LOVE her !

  2. oops … it’s Anne with an “e” Lamott. Anything by Anne Lamott;-)

  3. I started reading Paulo Coelho when I was about 12 years old. He was already very popular in Brazil before he “conquered” the world. So I have some of his books in Portuguese, some in English.

    He’s absolutely fascinating, inspiring and a must read! There is a lot of mysticism on his books, so I can’t say it is for everyone. But as mysticism is just part of my life… 🙂

  4. Hi Kathleen (& sweet baby Fox) I guess my first long comment about Anne Lamott’s book “Help, Thanks, Wow -the 3 Essential Prayer’s” didn’t fly. Since reading this book last year I’ve bought a copy of my own to keep bedside. I saw her interviewed on Oprah’s “Super Soul Sunday” show online – and I’ve since soaked up all the Anne Lamott I can get my hands on + there are many fantastic book chat/interviews with Anne on youtube (I listen to them on repeat while I work/draw/collage). She’s so encouraging, real, comforting, absolutely delightful & hilarious. Anything by Anne Lamott!

  5. Tricia

    Thanks for the recommendation, Kathleen. This sounds like what I’ve been looking for: something soul-stirring and enthralling.

  6. torrie

    have you seen @emmajholmes instagram feed? she has been hand-lettering quotes from warrior of light for quite some time and i hadn’t really paid attention or known what she was referring to until i’d just read your post. now i’m interested in the book as i, too, was changed by the alchemist. thanks for sharing!

    • That’s amazing! I’m following her now. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Liz

    I literally downloaded the Alchemist to my Kindle like 2 days ago because I’ve always heard it was a must-read. Can’t wait to start!

  8. The Alchemist has been recommended to me numerous times throughout the years, and I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve picked it up in the bookstore (usually on one of those “Reader Favorite” tables) and placed it back down. Your post has finally convinced me to read it! And those excerpts from Warrior of the Light are wonderful – looks like I’ll be buying both books as the same time.

  9. Julie

    Kathleen! That happened to me recently too – not getting around to something until I’m really ready for a message. My mom (she’s like you with the self help books :)) gave me “The Vortex” (basically the law of attraction as it pertains to relationships) about three years ago for christmas. I know you talk a lot in coaching about the law of attraction – and I had a very basic understanding of the concept, but was always a little resistant to fully accept it. For some reason, anytime my mom gives me an article or book – I kind of automatically get skeptical – it must be some residual rebellion or something. Having woo-woo parents kind of makes you rebel by wanting to be more mainstream. Anyway, I finally read this book after I just picked it up while looking fora board game one Sunday afternoon. I read the whole thing in a couple hours and it totally changed my life. Everyone should read this book! Even if you don’t buy into the woo-woo of it all (you’ll know what I mean when you read it) – it’s the message that matters. This comment is way longer than I intended – but oh well :).

  10. Jess

    As soon as I saw this post it reminded me that I must revisit The Alchemist. I haven’t read it since I was 17, I remember loving it but I think I would probably take away something different now. I was originally gifted the book by my boyfriend at the time who was Brazilian and chose it because he was confident the message would be just right as he had read it in Portuguese. Thanks for reminding me of it.

  11. This has nothing to do with anything you’ve posted, but I love this blog and I think you will too:

    It’s like the Sartorialist but for older women and it makes me dream about the amazing old lady I’m going to grow into. I think it’s had a major impact on how I view myself and how I think about aging. Anyway, sometimes when I read it I think, “I bet Kathleen would dig this.” So there you go!

  12. Ok. Paulo Coehlo changed my life when I was 20. That was 18 years ago. I spent the following year diving deep into shamanism, specifically women shamans. It lit my life up! Love this…

    Game changers for me right now: Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek. Maxed Out changed my whole cellular body in regards to the way I look at the way we care for moms in the US, specifically working moms. And…I HEART Kelly Oxford. So, Everything’s Perfect When You’re a Liar…Brilliant. Just brilliant.

    I could keep going, but I won’t.

  13. Pamela

    I love Paulo Coelho. I have given The Alchemist many times as gifts. Right now I am loving Marianne Williamson’s, A Return to Love. So many ah ha moments for me. There is only love or fear…I choose LOVE!

  14. Paula

    Brida, also by Coelho, is quite good. I think you would enjoy it.

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