THE ALCHEMIST Paulo Coelho, Harper One, p182. Celebrating its 30th year in print, with over 150 million copies sold, made popular in the early ’90s by everyone from Oprah to Bill Clinton, it felt like I was the last American to read this allegorical novella. At long last, I have, and I am glad I did. Written with tight, Hemingway-like prose, Coelho weaves the shallow allegory of an Andalusian shepherd boy searching for his purpose. Following the unoriginal but universal outline of A Hero’s Journey, the book’s subject, Santiago, travels from Spain to Morocco, then on through tribal warfare to the Egyptian pyramids. Along the way, life's magic, reality, and hardships are thrust in his path; he traverses their lessons with the patience of a Stoic, learns to accept Fate, and finds love. If you have never read it, or it has been several decades, this is a beautiful escape into a reminder of permanent lessons. Yes, it isn’t deep, but it is bright and refreshing. WARRIOR OF THE LIGHT | Paulo Coelho, Harper One p132. Billed as an “inspirational companion” to the Alchemist, the Warrior is a series of one-page aphorisms written in vague, near-meaningless Unitarianism. If you’re prone to finding meaning in energy crystals, this is for you. For the rest of us, it’s a bizarre, worthless complication of word salad.