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Life-changing books for fans of The Alchemist

By Kobo • April 03, 2023Recommended Reading

Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist is one of the world's most beloved books. Though there's nothing quite like it, these books come close.

Upon its original publication in 1988, The Alchemist has enjoyed one of the world's most devoted readerships. Translated into dozens of languages, the book continues to inspire and enchant readers of all kinds from all over the world. These readers share not only a love of Coelho's mystical storytelling style, but the bittersweet knowledge that they'll never again read the tale of Santiago the Andalusian shepherd boy for the first time. To help readers rediscover that feeling of wonder and expansive possibility, we've assembled this list of books that bring their own unique blends of magic and philosophy, fable and adventure, and wisdom and fun.

The Witch of Portobello by Paulo Coelho

Though The Alchemist is by far his best-known work, Paulo Coelho has written many other books that play on the same themes. The Witch of Portobello explores what it means to follow your dreams, how to stay true to yourself, and the meaning of courage. The story unfolds in a chorus of PoVs, a kind of collective remembrance of an enigmatic woman named Athena. As those who knew her share their stories, her life and its meaning slowly crystallize.

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The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

This collection of 26 poetic essays offers spiritual yet practical advice from a figure known only as The Prophet on such central-to-life subjects as love, marriage, beauty, life and death.

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The Little Prince  by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

For readers seeking heart-expanding feelings of magical possibility...

Like The Alchemist, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's beloved fable masks philosophical insights with its simple, charming story: a lone pilot lost in the desert is astonished to discover a small prince who begins asking him questions. Soon, the pilot realizes that maybe there's more to his visitor—and to the world he lives in—than he ever imagined.

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Meditations  by Marcus Aurelius

Many readers return to The Alchemist again and again because of its gentle but enduring advice on how to life a good life. For readers craving more philosophical musings on everyday topics, Marcus Aurelius's Meditations delivers its insights more straightforwardly than The Alchemist, but it's no less charming. His keen observations on love, work, self-reflection, wealth, relationships, spirituality, and more will inspire you to think deeply about how you might change your life.

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Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder

Another classic philosophical fable, Sophie's World begins when 14-year-old Sophie receives two strange letters. One of them asks her who she is, and the other, where the world comes from. Intrigued by this unusual mail, Sophie begins pondering these questions, and soon she's engaged in a robust correspondence with a mysterious philosopher about everything from Socrates to the small confusions of her own life. Part riddle, part coming-of-age story, and part philosophical text, this unusual young adult novel overflows with the same infectious curiosity that draws readers to The Alchemist.

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Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

Hesse’s beloved allegorical novel chronicles the story of a young man named Siddhartha as he explores many ways of life from asceticism and poverty to a life of material wealth and luxury, in his search for a life that ultimately offers peace, contentment, and meaning.

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The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

For readers seeking the emotional resonance of The Alchemist—but with a modern twist...

Somewhere in the universe there's a library of infinite books—one book for every life you might have lived—but didn't. When Nora, a woman on the edge of death, encounters this library, she's faced with the possibility of reliving a thousand different lives, each one branching off from a choice she didn't make. It's a whimsical and heartfelt novel about the choices we make, the choices we don't make, and the choices that really matter.

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Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

What is the purpose of life? What's really important? What does it mean to be human? What do we leave behind when we die? Booker Prize-winning novelist Kazuo Ishiguro explores many of these same questions in this story about an AI toy (sort of), Klara, who longs to be chosen as an Artificial Friend by a human. As Klara becomes more aware of herself and her surroundings, she realizes that life among humans is not going to be as simple as her makers led her to believe.

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If Cats Disappeared from the World by Genki Kawamura

A bittersweet and moving story for readers seeking gentle heartbreak. The narrator, who lives alone with Cabbage, his cat, has only a few months to live. One day the Devil arrives, offers him this deal: if he makes one thing disappear from the world, he can live for an extra day. The story then follows the narrator's anguish of attempting to untangle what matters and what doesn't.

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Maktub: An Inspirational Companion to The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Maktub, which means “it is written,” was the title of a column Coelho wrote for the Brazilian newspaper Folha de São Paulo. This book collects those writings—a mix of parables and stories—which bring readers for brief visits into the mind of the author of The Alchemist.

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