Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Antidote to The Alchemist: 22 Books That ACTUALLY Encourage the Examined Life

Paulo Coelho’s atrocious mess of a pseudo-novel is making the rounds and wrongheadedly mislabeled as a “deep examination of the self” yet again. Just hearing this assertion makes me bristle. His poor substitute for a self-examination is not only trite; I would go so far as to consider Coelho’s book misleading and somewhat dangerous, since its materialistic ending could lead one to entirely the wrong conclusion about the point he was supposedly trying to make in the first place. But I don’t expect much more from a writer who can’t write a realistic dialogue, let alone characters, to save his life.

In short, it’s candy for people who come to the book looking for a hearty meal. It may be fun (for...someone, I suppose?), but it’s not going to give you any sustenance (and may give you diabetes).


Wait, what was I saying? Oh, yeah. Substance.

Save yourself some time and a dented wall. Because, trust me, if you have any self-awareness at all, the end of this book will make you throw it across the room (if you make it that far). If you want to read his book to become more self-aware (and more universally aware, for that matter), you might consider giving some other books a try.

Which books? Well, I’m glad you asked. I’ve assembled a “scratch the surface” sort of list to get you started. There are benchmark books, such as Plato’s Republic and other religious and philosophical source material that are also valuable, but I’ve left those more hefty books off the list in favor of books that might serve as a launching point in more accessible language and with an approach that could hopefully be an easier way to start. Once you get compelled by one or two of these, continue digging! Suspect anyone who claims to have all the answers, but keep searching anyway. The scenery on the journey is totally worth it.