Mami Reads: Aleph

Let me just say that I struggled with whether or not to review this book here.  Not because I didn't love it. But because the themes within it touch me personally and when that happens I usually can't find the words to really explain my experience.  So forgive me in advance if it does not make sense to you. I have a crush on Coelho.  I love the voice with which he writes which I believe is his own.  I enjoy his writing immensely and think he is an amazing writer.  If you haven't read him I suggest you do.  You can find several of his books in my bookstore (courtesy of Amazon).

Merriam Webster's defines aleph as: The first letter of the Hebrew alphabet.  Jorge Luis Borges defined it as a point in space that contains all other points.  And this is how Coelho defines it as well.

Where do I begin?  This story was obviously written from a very personal perspective. If you've read anything by Coelho then you know that delving into spirituality is his thing. It's how he interprets the world and how he relates to it. I don't think it's a secret that my favorite book to be stuck on a deserted island with (besides the bible) is The Alchemist, Paulo's most successful New York Times bestseller to date.  It is my favorite among the possibly thousands of books I have read because, depending on where you are at in your life, the book will speak a different language to you.  It is a simple story with profound, life-changing messages.  I encourage everyone to read it and I try to keep a handful of copies in my arsenal to hand out as I feel necessary.

But, back to Aleph.  The protagonist in the novel is named Paulo (no relation ;-) ).  He is experiencing a crisis in which he is feeling as if he isn't growing spiritually.  His mentor, the mysterious J., tells him he must go on a journey to find himself once more and so, he does.  At a book signing he finds himself saying yes to all of the offers to visit various countries finally booking a 15-day Transiberian train ride across 7 time zones and a myriad of physical encounters of a spiritual nature.

The book engages you immediately because you want to know 1. what is the aleph and 2. what is Paulo going to get out of this? When he encounters the hard-headed Hilal, a young woman who shows up at his hotel the day prior to him embarking on his journey, it gets interesting.  She tells him she is there to help him through is journey.  The others in his group think she is mad.

To me, Hilal represents that spirit within all of us. The one that urges us forward to meet our destiny and will not back down.  The one that does not doubt or let others opinions, fears or hesitations rule her. It is one of the many things that I love about the book.  The one thing I have learned from reading many, many books is the fact that your current mindset will pull what it needs out of whatever you are reading. I absorbed the spirituality and messages out of this book like a paper towel sucks up spilled milk on a counter.

Many won't get the surrealism that they will encounter in the book.  For me, it answered a lot of questions of personal experiences.  I won't share here as, I don't wish you to think I'm losing my mind. But, I can say that I feel I have had my own experience with an aleph.

This book is ultimately about life.  The way we encounter it. The way we choose to face it.  And the way that we are all connected regardless of your beliefs.  Or at least, that's what I think.

Have you read the book? If you haven't be sure to stop by my bookstore and click on the Books category to purchase your copy.  If you have read it, what did you think?

Links you might be interested in: Coelho speaking of Aleph on his blog Coelho's Twitter page (PS: once, he actually replied to one of my Twitter mentions and I almost DIED!) Coelho's FB page