Readers' Corner

Best Books by Paulo Coelho You Need To Read

Paulo Coelho is a prolific Brazilian author who has published many books throughout his career. Books by Paulo Coelho have inspired millions of people. Paulo Coelho’s life remains the primary source of inspiration for his books. He has flirted with death, escaped madness, dallied with drugs, withstood torture, experimented with magic and alchemy, studied philosophy and religion, read voraciously, lost and recovered his faith and experienced the pain and pleasure of love.

In his twenties, Coelho dropped out of law school to travel around South America; he later became a journalist. After a life-changing pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, he decided to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a writer. Throughout his career, Coelho has been praised for his ability to combine spirituality and personal growth with entertaining storytelling. In addition to his writing, Coelho is known for his active involvement in the digital world, using social media to connect with his fans and promote his books. He has also been recognized for his humanitarian work, including supporting refugees and promoting peace.

His novel The Alchemist has sold more than 65 million copies and has been cited as an inspiration by people as diverse as Malala Yousafzai and Pharrell Williams. Books by Paulo Coelho have sold more than 175 million copies worldwide. He is the writer with the most followers on social media and is the most translated living author in the world. He has won 115 international prizes and awards, has been a member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters since 2002 and in 2007 was named a United Nations Messenger of Peace. Here is a list of the books by Paulo Coelho.

The Alchemist
First published: 1988

This is a story about a young man, Santiago, a shepherd, who has dreams that sends him on a journey, to find a treasure. Santiago meets many people and has many challenges in his travels. He continuously develops and learns from these experiences.

Santiago’s parents had wanted him to be a priest; however, while studying in school he realized that this was not what he wanted. His father then gave him money to buy a flock of sheep, since Santiago thought being a shepherd was what he wanted. This gave him the opportunity to travel around and meet other people and see other towns. While traveling with his sheep he had the same dream twice. Santiago’s dreams led him to a fortune teller which began his travels to foreign lands.

The book had adventure, fantasy, inspiration, and spirituality. I think cultural background may have a significant impact on one’s interpretation and understanding of this story. The Alchemist is one of the best books by Paulo Coelho.


Eleven Minutes
First Published: 2003

In comparison to my experiences with his other pieces. I can confidently say that this Paulo Coelho work tests the reader in a unique and dangerous way.

Every books by Paulo Coelho teach valuable lessons for adults through the interesting happenings of his protagonists. This story does the same. However, the lesson taught borders on relationship counseling and sexual education. It was just as compelling and effective as it was uncomfortable. Uncomfortable in the sense that the information being learned as one reads each chapter is not theirs to have. He accomplishes this through the less than innovative approach of journal or diary entries, but nonetheless, it is striking how moving it is to read the sexual and romantic discoveries of a conventional young lady.


First Published: 1990

Brida canvases a beautiful story about an Irish girl, her quest, relationships, love, magic and knowledge about it. Brida is a tale of love, passion, mystery, and spirituality from a master storyteller. Paulo Coelho wrote Brida right after The Alchemist, and it launched his career as an international novelist.

After having read several of Paulo Coelho books, Brida is my favorite by far. Combining elements of magical realism with character development and prose that somehow feels more non-fiction than fiction, Brida is the story of a young woman slowly coming to the realization that she is a witch through the study of the Tradition of the Sun and the Tradition of the Moon. She finds her way with the guidance of two teachers, a magus who teachers her to trust in the goodness of the world, and a witch who teaches her to dance to the music of the world.


By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept
First Published: 1994

By the River Piedra I sat Down and Wept (Portuguese: Na margem do rio Piedra eu sentei e chorei) is the first part in Paulo Coelho’s trilogy “On the Seventh Day”. The other two parts are Veronika Decides to Die and The Devil and Miss Prym. Their subject is a week in the life of someone ordinary to whom something extraordinary happens.

The story focuses on Pilar, an independent young woman, who is frustrated with the grind of university life and looking for greater meaning. Pilar’s life takes a turn when she meets up with a childhood sweetheart, who is now a spiritual teacher and a rumoured healer and miracle worker, and sets off with him on a journey through the French Pyrenees. Her companion now has to make a choice between his calling and his love for Pilar.


Veronika Decides to Die
First published: 1998

Again, Paulo Coelho made a touch about the reality of life, but this time he was using mad people as the main characters. Paulo Coelho made a good job here of describing the mindset that would lead someone to suicide, and in setting the stage for Veronika’s rebirth in the later parts of the book. His style is a kind of eavesdropping, full of lyrical whisperings and confessional asides. But understanding Coelho requires understanding the rest of the story.

Veronika Decides to Die is about a young Slovenian woman, Veronika, who attempts suicide, fails, is institutionalized, and is informed that her attempted suicide damaged her heart and she has only five days to live. In the hospital she has to come to grips with what it means to be dying, but also what it means to be insane.

The book deals with the effect of Veronika’s death sentence diagnosis on her as well as on other patients with whom she interacts. The first patient Veronika comes in contact with is a depressive named Zedka who offers Veronika advice and insight. Then there is Maria, a woman who withdrew from her professional and family life to be institutionalized because she was having inexplicable panic attacks.

Finally, there is Eduardo, a schizophrenic who is virtually non-functional when he meets Veronika, but who ends up in a relationship with the young woman nonetheless. These patients come to realize that they are hiding out at the hospital. They stay in the hospital because they are free to defy norms without judgment. When Veronika decides she doesn’t want to die hiding out, it has a profound impact on the others.


The Devil and Miss Prym
First Published: 2000

The Devil and Miss Prym is a novel by Paulo Coelho, first published in Brazil in 2000. For almost fifteen years, old Berta had spent every day sitting outside, watching over the little village of Viscos and talking with her deceased husband. She is waiting for the devil to come, as her husband predicted.

One day a stranger with a tragic past arrives with the intention of staying one week in the village and he buries 11 bars of gold in the woods. On the way back he meets the young barmaid Chantal Prym, who is bored of the idyllic scenery and slow pace of life. Regularly she seduces tourists in the hope that one of them will prove to be her escape route. The stranger shows her the buried treasure and promises that it will belong to the villagers if they agree to kill someone.

A battle follows within the young woman follows between her angel and her devil. After some days, she decides to tell the villagers what the stranger has proposed, trusting that they will refuse. The people’s reaction, however, plants the seed of doubt inside Chantal. Now she fears for her own life. As an act of desperation, she plans to abandon Viscos with one of the stranger’s bars. Destiny sends a rogue wolf, which threatens Chantal’s life, but she escapes with the stranger. Meanwhile the villagers assemble to choose their victim.

The scapegoat they choose is Berta, since she is already old and serves no purpose in the village. Before the villagers shoot a sedated Berta, Chantal convinces them that under no circumstances is murder justified. In the end the stranger receives the answers to his questions through a brief conversation between St. Savin and the Arab Leader Abah.


The Witch of Portobello
First Published: 2006

The Witch of Portobello by Paulo Coelho is not a straight biographical book or the opinion of the writer on its main protagonists. Its what the other people transcribe the writer about the women, the Witch of Portobello.

The Witch of Portobello is one such book with words that impact and inspire. A very unusually written story, conveyed not from the protagonist’s point of view but from the perspective of the people she has met and become acquainted with in life. The main purpose of books by Paulo Coelho is not always about the plot but the message they want to convey.

This book is unique because it tells the story of a main character who’s already dead, and the entire novel is told only through the accounts of the people who knew The Witch of Portobello.

Sherine Khalil who later renames herself as “Athena” is a young woman gifted with the knowledge of the “Divine” and helps people find their calling. Though her spiritual works are noble, this puts a strain on her personal relationships with her mother, her husband and becomes a catalyst in her defection with the Church.


The Zahir
First Published: 2005

All of Paulo Coelho books tend to feature some sort of spiritual quest. There is also a aspect of Sufism in books by Paulo Coelho which make them more eminent.

The unnamed narrator of this story is a writer whose wife, Esther, a war correspondent, leaves him suddenly without any information or trace of leaving. When she disappears, he is disturbed by the mystery of what has happened. Has she been killed, kidnapped, or left him for another love.

The narrator starts his struggle to find the reason of Esther’s disappearance and eventually he realizes that she is the one who fills his life with meaning.


The Fifth Mountain
First Published: 1996

Inspired by the story from the bible, the book follows the story of Elijah, a prophet who fled after deflecting orders from his hometown, Israel. Princess Jezebel, who just married King Ahab of Israel, ordered the death of all the prophets refusing to worship the pagan God Baal.

Paulo Coelho has beautifully crafted the tale of Prophet Elijah, instilling his own wisdom and philosophy through every word and paragraph. This book is definitely filled with much of Paulo Coelho’s best philosophy, as he beautifully describes the relationship between God and his people through his philosophical interpretation. The heart of the story lies in Elijah’s faith in God, which he loses and later rediscovers.

Elijah realises that, like every other living being, God watches and guides all of us through the right part, even if we feel like we have been wronged. His journey teaches him plenty about the world, the people, and God’s plan for him. He not only transforms into a hermit, but also a wise leader. A leader who is built by circumstance and who is destined to lead the people to the right path.


The Winner Stands Alone
First Published: 1996

The Winner Stands Alone is such a phenomenal novel about everything in life. Though, it focuses on the world of the Superclass; but each of the other classes is a lower level of the Superclass.

Exhilarating and titillating, “The Winner Stands Alone” achieves so much in just a few hundred pages. It successfully describes the way mankind has come to think and the never-ending desire for power. Paulo Coelho delves into the many aspects of the life of an ordinary teenage vendor to a member of the “superclass” involved with the mafia.

The Winner Stands Alone follows a number of characters through twenty-four hours at the Cannes Film Festival. Igor is a powerful Russian entrepreneur who goes to the festival to get back his wife, Ewa, who left him. He is trying to catch her attention by destroying worlds. We follow a variety of characters: Igor, a notorious film distributor; an aspiring actress, model on the rise, and an unknown film director. Igor believes that his mission is one that must be carried out at any cost.


Like the Flowing River
First Published: 2000

Like the Flowing River is definitely one of best Paulo Coelho books. It contained his thoughts and reflections on different things—from the story of the pencil to a piece of bread that fell wrong side up. I’m amused at how he sees the universe. How he comes up with various realizations out of the simplest things that happen in his life.

Like the Flowing River is a gleaning of accounts of his experiences, stories he had been told, and thoughts he had while traveling from one country to another. It would put you in Paulo Coelho’s shoes from the time he was just a boy dreaming to be a writer, to the time he actually became one of the most widely read writers in the world, and the experiences he had between these points in time. It will bring you inside his mind and allow you to read his reflections on living and dying, destiny and choice, and love lost and found.


Warrior of the Light
First Published: 1997

Paulo Coelho is an author that you can’t help but love. All the Paulo Coelho books reflect his philosophical and deep thinking within the plot of the story. This book is different because there is no story or main character; instead, this book is a manual for living positively, like the main character Santiago from “The Alchemist.”

This manual is a way for people to live positively and can be used as a guide to incorporate alchemy into everyday life. Warrior of the Light also opens your eyes to reflecting on your life and your life goals in ways that you may not have thought of before. I personally found myself marking up the text and really benefiting from all the different ideas that were represented on each page.


The Pilgrimage
First Published: 1987

The Pilgrimage is a 1987 novel by Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho. It is a recollection of Paulo’s experiences as he made his way across northern Spain on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.

The novel serves as part adventure story, part guide to self-discovery. The story begins in 1986 when Coelho undertakes his initiation into the order Regnus Agnus Mundi (RAM), which he subsequently fails. He is then told that he must embark on a pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago to find the sword that is the symbol of his acceptance into the ranks of RAM.

He must do this to gain insight into the simplicity of life. The journey transforms him as he learns to understand the nature of truth through the simplicity of life. He begins his journey with a guide, also a member of RAM, who goes by the alias Petrus.

During the journey, Petrus shows him meditation exercises, introduces him to some of the more down-to-earth elements of Western mystical thought and philosophy, and teaches him about love and its forms: agape, philia and eros.


Manuscript Found in Accra
First Published: 2012

The action of Manuscript Found in Accra is placed in 1099 in Jerusalem while the city awaits the invasion of the crusaders. Inside the city’s walls, men and women gathered to hear the wise words of a mysterious Greek man– known as the Copt. The people begin with questions about their fears, true enemies, defeat and struggle; they contemplate the will to change, and the virtues of loyalty and solitude; and ultimately turn to questions of beauty, and elegance, love.


First Published: 2012

The First edition of Adultery was released on April 10, 2014. A woman in her thirties begins to question her seemingly perfect life: she is married to a rich and loving husband, has well-behaved children and a successful newspaper career. Her apathy changes when she interviews a former boyfriend, now a successful politician. They begin a sadomasochistic affair that she finds very exciting. But she must now conquer that impossible love and learn to face the everyday.


First Published: 1994

A collection of Paulo thoughts, views and philosophy about life and other short legendary and folklore stories about wisdom; life, love, will, courage, faith, happiness and attitude.

Quick staccato anecdotes and micro fables make this work a comfortable travel read. Like a disembodied head the reader follows the wanderer witnessing a multitude of unconnected yet somewhat related stories and often they are accompanied by morals. There are some not-so-obvious similarities between the oriental and the occidental philosophies and they have been subtly highlighted here, giving the reader something to do while they hop from one tale to the next.


The Valkyries
First Published: 1988

In the Author’s Note at the back of this book Paulo Coelho said: “Anyone who has read The Valkyries, will know that this book is very different from The Pilgrimage, The Alchemist and Brida”.

The Valkyries sets off in Brazil when Paulo’s Master, J., gives him (yet another) a task: “to break the curse” by speaking with his angels. One week later, he and his wife Christina are on the road to the starkly beautiful yet dangerous Mojave Desert to seek “contacts,” people that will help and guide him on a forty day quest to look for the Valkyries, leather clad warrior women who cruise around the desert on motorcycle that will show Paulo, and Christina as well, how to converse with their angels.


The Spy
First Published: 2016

Paulo Coelho, the international bestselling author, pens a gripping and part fictional tale on the life of a legendary dancer cum falsely accused as a spy, Mata Hari in his new novel, The Spy that opens with the execution of this exotic and talented dancer by the French, but then the author spins a riveting autobiographical account of the dancer’s life through a fictional letter penned by the dancer herself addressing to her lawyer. She is an epitome of grace, individuality, extravagant lifestyle, exquisite and unique fashion style, independence and her erotic dance moves in the early 20th century in Paris.


First Published: 2018

Hippie is the autobiography by Paulo Coelho, written in third person. This is a story about people that travel the world, wear funny clothes and flowers in their hairs, and believe in peace, love and freedom. I have read many books by Paulo Coelho and all of them share something in common – the path of finding yourself.

Paulo embarks on a journey from Bolivia to Peru, Chile and Argentina and then to Amsterdam, where he meets Karla, a young girl looking for a travel companion to Nepal. They take the Magic Bus across Europe and Asia to Katmandu. We learn about their relationship and the other travelers on the trip. With no formal plans for the future, what today we might see as a lack of responsibility, the idea of free love and the benefit of simplicity of travel, Paulo communicates his experiences that enriched his life and helped him on his search for meaning.


The Archer
First Published: 2020

The Archer by Paulo Coelho is not a novel. It’s more a collection of pithy and often inciteful advice and universal truths, sandwiched between a fictional prologue and epilogue.

The story is about a man named Tetsuya, who was once a famous archer, a man who comes to challenge him, and a boy who witnesses the challenge. After the challenge, the boy asks Tetsuya to teach him the ways of the bow, and how he too can become a master. The book comprises Tetsuya’s advice and wisdom for the boy—wisdom that extends beyond archery and can be applied to the lives of all who read it, advice that we can each integrate into our own crafts and passions. We can all be masters if we only try.

The simplicity of this book is deceiving. Paulo Coelho’s latest book, The Archer, is rich with layers of wisdom, metaphorically through the vocation, passion, and equipment of an archer. The bow is life, the arrow the intention, and the target in the distance. The stance, posture, and how to hold the bow and arrow are all meaningful.

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