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An excerpt from the Spanish edition of Aleph, the most personal novel to date from the internationally best-selling author Paulo Coelho.

Some books are read. Aleph is lived.
Published: Alfred A. Knopf on
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    Once again Coelho provides another modern day parable. The tale begins with a midlife crisis heading into adventure to renew his sense of self. As the journey starts it is filled with a plethora of aphorisms and platitudes that begin to exude the smell of cheddar. My advice is to push through this because what happens in the second half is the deep, inner work of learning how to forgive yourself. Here's some good one-liners: "Go and reconquer your kingdom, which has grown corrupted by routine.""To live is to experience things, not sit around pondering the meaning of life.""Travel is never a matter of money but of courage.""I remember the many occasions on which help has come from precisely those people whom I though had nothing to add to my life.""When faced by any loss, there's no point in trying to recover what has been; it's best to take advantage of the large space that opens up before us and fill it with something new.""Hell is when we look back during that fraction of a second [at the end of life] and know that we wasted an opportunity to dignify the miracle of life. Paradise is being able to say at that moment: I made some mistakes but I wasn't a coward. I lived my life and did what I had to do.""That is what marks out the warrior: the knowledge that willpower and courage are not the same things. Courage can attract fear and adulation, but willpower requires patience and commitment.""When a sense of dissatisfaction persists, that means it was placed there by God for one reason only: you need to change everything and move forward.""No life is complete without a touch of madness..."more
    I would've liked this book a lot better had it been a novel. Although I believe in spiritual journeys, I'm neither comfortable nor convinced about entering a "past life" to detect and remedy a fix for the present life.Hilal is such a bizarre character, and frankly, it's what makes her interesting. She's emotionally immature and insecure--perhaps quite normal for a 21-yr old, but she's also aggressive, insensitive, rude, and refuses to accept no for an answer. In a strange way though, I admire her ability to defy people and circumstances to pursue her goals (obsessions?).Paulo is downright honest about his thoughts, feelings, and fantasies throughout the journey, and elucidates them in a flow of words that leaves a lasting impression on the reader. The train makes an ideal setting for his life-transforming journey and serves as a perfect metaphor for life's journey.I know from my own personal journey of self-discovery that when the right people gather in the right place at the right time, the combined energies can set the stage for spiritual growth and renewal.On a side note, in Dec 2011 I rocked and rollicked across Australia on the Indian Pacific w/ author Steven Lewis. In Jan 2012 I shuddered across Russia on the Trans Siberian w/ Paulo Coelho. I'm all stirred up about the rickety possibilities February might bring -- Palace on Wheels??more
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    Reviews

    Once again Coelho provides another modern day parable. The tale begins with a midlife crisis heading into adventure to renew his sense of self. As the journey starts it is filled with a plethora of aphorisms and platitudes that begin to exude the smell of cheddar. My advice is to push through this because what happens in the second half is the deep, inner work of learning how to forgive yourself. Here's some good one-liners: "Go and reconquer your kingdom, which has grown corrupted by routine.""To live is to experience things, not sit around pondering the meaning of life.""Travel is never a matter of money but of courage.""I remember the many occasions on which help has come from precisely those people whom I though had nothing to add to my life.""When faced by any loss, there's no point in trying to recover what has been; it's best to take advantage of the large space that opens up before us and fill it with something new.""Hell is when we look back during that fraction of a second [at the end of life] and know that we wasted an opportunity to dignify the miracle of life. Paradise is being able to say at that moment: I made some mistakes but I wasn't a coward. I lived my life and did what I had to do.""That is what marks out the warrior: the knowledge that willpower and courage are not the same things. Courage can attract fear and adulation, but willpower requires patience and commitment.""When a sense of dissatisfaction persists, that means it was placed there by God for one reason only: you need to change everything and move forward.""No life is complete without a touch of madness..."more
    I would've liked this book a lot better had it been a novel. Although I believe in spiritual journeys, I'm neither comfortable nor convinced about entering a "past life" to detect and remedy a fix for the present life.Hilal is such a bizarre character, and frankly, it's what makes her interesting. She's emotionally immature and insecure--perhaps quite normal for a 21-yr old, but she's also aggressive, insensitive, rude, and refuses to accept no for an answer. In a strange way though, I admire her ability to defy people and circumstances to pursue her goals (obsessions?).Paulo is downright honest about his thoughts, feelings, and fantasies throughout the journey, and elucidates them in a flow of words that leaves a lasting impression on the reader. The train makes an ideal setting for his life-transforming journey and serves as a perfect metaphor for life's journey.I know from my own personal journey of self-discovery that when the right people gather in the right place at the right time, the combined energies can set the stage for spiritual growth and renewal.On a side note, in Dec 2011 I rocked and rollicked across Australia on the Indian Pacific w/ author Steven Lewis. In Jan 2012 I shuddered across Russia on the Trans Siberian w/ Paulo Coelho. I'm all stirred up about the rickety possibilities February might bring -- Palace on Wheels??more
     Normally I love what Paulo Coelho writes, but perhaps because the story he is telling mirrors my own in many ways, I found it to be disconcerting and angrier somehow than his usual material is. Much of what he discusses I can relate to and I also understand how the healing occurred in this case. The book tells the story of his trip across Russia and the two major characters that travel with him: Hilal, a girl/ woman who is convinced her healing lies with him and Yao, his Russian translator who is trapped in the sorrow of having lost his wife.more
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