Round Rock New Neighbors is a social organization of women welcoming women in the Round Rock area since 1978. Both "new" and "old" neighbors are welcome. For more information: [Barnes & Noble requires that RRNN's book club be open to the public, so you do not need to be an RRNN member to attend book club, and both men and women are welcome and do attend. ]

Literary Events

The Friends of the Georgetown Public Library’s Hill Country Authors Series events will be listed here. Next event:

Nov 1, 2017 2:00 PM in the Georgetown Public Library.

Highlight and right click on this "link" to see everything you need to know to attend.
The Nobel Prize in Literature was given to author Kazuo Ishiguro.
Amazon is planning a video series based on stories by Philip K. Dick. Date of release is not yet announced.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Alchemist Turns to Gold in Our Hands

Glossary for better understanding our discussion of The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho:

Alchemy - Medieval science of changing base metal (lead) into gold.

Aphorism - A terse saying embodying a general truth (dare I say "pithy?").

Melchizadek - The king in The Alchemist, is mentioned in the Bible, in Genesis, as the righteous king of Salem, who blessed Abraham.

Methusaleh, who some of us (me) got mixed up with Melchizadek - Also in the Bible, listed as Noah's grandfather and the oldest person whose age is mentioned, at 969 years.

Mirage - A place in the desert that looks like an oasis but is not one, sometimes a mixture of heat waves and a very thirsty brain.

Oasis - A place in the desert where there is water: sometimes a lot of water and trees, sometimes just a little spring. I think this is correct, but a quick Google of the term turned up only the musical group "Oasis," the restaurant, and some lovely photos in the time I allotted.

Pithy - Meaningful and concise (perhaps like an aphorism). Like The Alchemist, by Paolo Coelho.

The Alchemist was fun to read and fun to discuss! What did we learn? What were we supposed to learn? We tended to try to offered pithy aphorisms to capture the meaning of the story. Some of the ideas mentioned in our discussion:
Follow your dreams.
A path toward a goal may take you elsewhere.
If you travel far and wide looking for fulfillment, your path may lead back to where you started.
In our life journeys, some of us may continue toward a goal, some may stop along the way, and some may go back around to their beginning.
If we have a goal, we need not fear achieving it, as there will probably be something else around the corner. This is a sticky question in the book. There is the question as to whether one can prolong one's life by procrastinating on one's goal, and this brings up other questions.
One should try to get the most possible from life and be content.
Sometimes something can be gained simply by asking, rather than by taking it forcefully or expending great effort to get it.
We're all alchemists, trying to make something better out of what we already are.
Gold can be made from common local materials. Just as lead can be made into gold via alchemy, a person can transform their life to great value from humble beginnings or even humble ends.

I became interested in what I believe was Pam's question about the significance of the book Santiago was reading at the beginning of the story. The King said this was a popular book but irritating in that it suggested that people believe that fate controls us, and that this is a lie that thwarts people from achieving their dreams. From what I could find, the boy never finished that book. Books were mentioned when the boy met the Englishman, but these were books about alchemy, a group of many books that were all trying to explain the words that could fit on one emerald. Then later, the Alchemist had books at his home. I didn't see anything further about the original book the boy was reading. Did you?

Personal sharing at the discussion, always among the most interesting parts of our meetings, included Marla's telling us that she has 9-10 copies of The Alchemist, in English and Spanish. Marla said she enjoyed reading the book better in Spanish but that she felt the meaning was the same. Marla has collected her copies of The Alchemist over some years and has enjoyed noticing different feelings and thoughts rereading the book at different junctures of her life.

Two years ago, Patty visited Egypt. She and her husband went on a special trip across the desert by car, accompanied by 2 guards, to look at the oldest Pyramid, which is far from the standard popular Pyramids that most tourists visit. Patty was awed by the Sahara.

Rutger's brother is a tour guide on the Sahara. See Rutger about signing up for a 2-week tour today! Can you imagine?

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