Book Review: Of Love and Other Demons, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Before I even began, I knew that this would be one of the most difficult book reviews to write. Partly because this book is well-revered and partly because I realize that the theme of the book can be directly linked to the book-reading experience. I wouldn’t claim to have such influence, but judging something with incomplete knowledge is also something I refrain from doing. Which is why this time, I read some book summaries online, and researched a bit about the origins of this book before I sat down to write this review. It was important because so many times I try to get a ‘feel’ of the book online before beginning to read it, so that I don’t feel disappointed by the book later. This feeling might seem weird to a lot of people but I believe the distinction between experimenting with genres and wasting time is always a smart choice.

This above introduction almost works like a disclaimer. Of Love and Other Demons, is neither difficult or too complex to warrant such treatment. But it was unlike any other book that I had ever read, which proves two things – One, I am brave enough to try out new styles of writing, and two, that I cannot wait to read more of the same. I was not instantly converted to a Garcia Marquez fan as some people are. It took me a while after having read the book, to understand the myths, beliefs, and underlying symbolism depicted in the almost century-old Columbia.

It is the story of a young girl with very long hair, Sierva Maria, living in Columbia who is bitten by a dog on her twelfth birthday when she goes to the market. Even though her wounds heal properly, her father (the Marquis) and the local bishop believe that she might be possessed by the devil. Continue reading “Book Review: Of Love and Other Demons, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez”

Book Review: The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo

As the eighth book in my reading order, The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo made for an interesting three days. While I primarily read it on my train ride to work, it was incredibly light to carry and a breezy read. The story was simple to follow, and it didn’t have many characters or storylines to confuse the reader. Which is funny because the protagonist in the book says the exact same thing, that if he ever wrote a book, he would a few characters so the book wouldn’t be hard to read.

The prevailing expression related to this book is that it is a modern fable. And I didn’t know what that meant. What could an older person fable consist of? What would it talk about that they don’t already know? How would it be any different from the millions of self-help books that they have tried to read? ‘Modern Fable’ can be constituted as the general description for the book because now I agree with it.

It is the story of a young Spanish boy, Santiago who sees a recurring dream of a treasure under the Egyptian pyramids. So he sets forth from his life of shepherding to try and obtain that treasure. He meets an Old King on the way who gives Santiago two magic beans for his path ahead. Santiago also meets the love of his life on the way to the pyramids and learns alchemy. He takes up small, diverse jobs to earn enough money to reach Egypt and then the pyramids. Meeting all sorts of people on his journey, learning from their experiences and developing his own deep thoughts and conclusions.

An Alchemist would be someone who creates an object through a seemingly magical process. The most common example would be to create gold from any metal you hold and that’s what draws a lot of people to the art of alchemy. While what we learn through the book is that the story of Santiago is just the backbone of the flesh of human existence, and a metaphor for explaining our purpose in life.

The book is filled with thought-provoking questions, little reminders that life is short and we must march towards our goal all the time. Or at least work in the direction of our goal. Paulo Coelho incorporates the old wisdom into different scenes and includes the burning questions as thoughts that Santiago would have. Also, he addresses them heads on in a way that you could pick up clues as to how that applies to YOU. Which is a very big deal because millions have read this book and resonate with the ideas that it proposes.

It is as much difficult to explain in words how the book is, as it is to explain the meaning of life. But I can tell you this much that you will not regret reading this book. It is easy to read, interesting and will be on your mind all the time.

My Rating: 4 out of 5

Complexity Rating: 3 out of 5

General Pace of the book: 3 out of 5

Life Recommendations: Immense!

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