Paulo Coelho de Souza is a novelist and songwriter beloved all over the world. Coelho has led a very interesting life. Born in Brazil and raised in a religious family, he rebelled as a teenager expressing a desire to be a writer, and his parents committed him to a mental institution until he was 20. He enrolled in law school to appease his parents but dropped out after a year, and ran off to live a nomadic hippie life traveling the world.
After returning to Brazil he worked as a songwriter, actor, theater director, and journalist before finally starting to write, publishing his first book in 1982. Coelho has written at least one novel every two years, most of them fictional, but three of them are autobiographical: The Pilgrimage, Hippie, and The Valkyries and Aleph.
His works have sold in the hundreds of millions and have been published all over the world. Paulo Coelho top books have been translated into eighty-one languages. He’s an esteemed and influential contemporary author.
Coelho has been married to artist Christina Oiticica since 1980 and they live in Geneva, Switzerland. He posts regularly on his blog, and has millions of fans and followers on social media. In 2014 he created the virtual Paulo Coelho Foundation and uploaded thousands of his writings, photos, and press clippings. The physical foundation is based in Geneva.
Coelho is a best-selling writer who writes about personal happiness and self-fulfillment. He is a famous Brazilian author but is known the world over. He has been described as a globalized author, writing in parable style. You should read some of the following Paulo Coelho top books that have not only made him world-famous, but have been enjoyed by generations of readers.
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Of all Paulo Coelho top books, The Alchemist is Coelho’s first wildly successful book. In it, Spanish shepherd boy Santiago recounts his travels through the Andalusian mountains in Egypt. It’s a tale of self-discovery that has sold millions of copies worldwide. It’s a mystical tale of Santiago’s journey in search of treasure in which he finds greater treasure in wisdom. The story’s main point is listen to your heart and follow your dreams.
The setting for the suspense novel The Winner Stands Alone is the Cannes Film Festival. Telling a tale of riches and celebrity and luxury at any cost, Coelho again echoes one of his main themes of listening to your heart.
He describes his main characters as striving for worldly achievements and possessions at the cost of sacrificing their true heart’s desires. He questions the price of success defined in terms of money, power, and fame, but the true price is betraying your heart for superficial and fleeting worldly success.
The Devil and Miss Prym is a parable about the balance of good and evil. Coelho tells a tale of a peaceful mountain village likened to the Garden of Eden and thrown into temptation of the Fruit of Knowledge as gold bullion brought by a traveler. Miss Prym is the attractive young barmaid Chantal Prym who is the traveler’s mediator in the story. This book is a short read that poses questions about good and evil, God and the devil, temptation and the basic nature of human beings.
Eleven Minutes is a story questioning the balance between sex and love, telling a tale of a young Brazilian fabric store clerk who falls into prostitution after a job offer when she’s on vacation. Lured by a job offer as a cabaret dancer in Geneva, she has no real understanding of sex and love. She has to figure out sex in the context of love, which has been a foreign concept to her since childhood. This is another parable that explores some basic human feelings and experiences and makes readers think about their own feelings about love and sex.
Brida is the story of a young Irish woman who is interested in magic. It tells the tale of her journey in search of her purpose, and who she meets along the way. It is described as an enchanting story of magic, spirituality, mystery, and longing on the way to life’s purpose.
The Pilgrimage is one of Coelho’s autobiographical works, telling of his journey across Spain to Santiago on the road of San Tiago. It’s a journey he is sent on as he tries to join a religious order, during which he comes to an understanding of the nature of truth and life.
In By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept, Coelho likens spiritual experience to the practical experience of love, mystifying love and all its confusing aspects. This is the story of a young woman who runs into an adolescent boyfriend, who is seeking like her to follow his dreams. She is a strong-willed young woman, and he is a spiritual leader, but they are both very conflicted. They decide to go to a small village in the mountains by the River Piedra to try to find their truths.
In The Zahir, Coelho explores the concepts of freedom and solitude through the story of a famous writer who loses his wife. When she mysteriously disappears, he leaves on a journey across the world, across geographical terrains, in search of meaning for his life. Coelho’s familiar themes of pilgrimage for self-knowledge, love, and spirituality are all in this novel.
This is another autobiographical novel, telling the story of a young man coming of age in the 1960’s. The story closely mirrors Coelho’s experiences living a free and nomadic life after leaving law school and his homeland to travel and figure out life. Of all Paulo Coelho top books, this one has been described as most lacking depth, but it’s interesting as it pertains to Coelho’s life experiences and development as a writer.
This parable tells the story of a master archer who is a carpenter. The archer mentors a young boy in his village through metaphors of archery, telling him about taking aim even in difficult situations not just stable conditions, not being afraid to try, and trying to do your best. The metaphors using archery for life lessons are simple and homespun and follow Coelho’s unique and endearing story-telling style.
In this autobiographical tale, Coelho discusses feelings of dissatisfaction despite worldly successes. He explores themes of clairvoyance, time travel, and Divine Energy and tells of being in the Aleph (a fictional place where the past and present exist together) with Hilal, a woman he wronged in a past life. The mystical and fantastical unite in this story of the author’s inner conflicts and search for meaning.
This work of Coelho’s is set in Jerusalem in the year 1099. It’s the story of the sayings and advice of a sage, the Copt, who addresses the questions and fears of a group sheltering from French invasion. The Copt advises those in the crowd about simple human fears and questions such as fear of being alone, fear of failure, and worries about beauty and status, with insight and wisdom.
Coelho’s novel The Spy is about Margaretha Zelle, historically known as Mata Hari, the Dutch exotic dancer who was executed in 1917 as a spy but was likely innocent, told through letters to her lawyer. Coelho paints Zelle as a courageous, fearless strong woman who accepts her fate. He has been praised for portraying the difficulty of a woman living independently in that era.
Read Coelho’s books, novels, and compilations for the insight, spiritual and mystical questions and answers he provides, and his unique world view on the human condition. Coelho’s style uses parable, with historical and biblical themes and settings, and keeps a common thread of the existential questions haunting humanity through the ages.
Some of the main points in his works:
Everyone is here for a purpose.
Don’t let fear keep you from your dreams.
When you change, so does the world.
Good and bad experiences come with lessons.
You don’t need a reason to love.
Love changes everything.
Elegance is good taste and amiability, not superficiality of fashion and wealth.
Don’t feel you need to explain yourself.
Your real treasure is what you feel in your heart.