As I was reading the The Alchemist, the word "pseudo" kept running through my mind. Pseudophilosophy, pseudoreligion, pseudospirituality, ... you get the idea. I don't necessarily mean this in a negative way (note the title of this section in my Web page).
The book chronicles the story of a young boy, Santiago, who is on a quest to find his Personal Legend. Coehlo neatly outlines, even in the foreword, the obstacles that stand in the way of people's dreams (namely attachments of different kinds---I wonder where he got that idea from). And it's light, fluffy and an easy read which makes the book highly accessible and I presume is the reason for its popularity. However, like with many hopeful, positive stories, the successes come too easily I thought. Most people struggle for years to take every step in following their dreams and all the obstacles Santiago achieves are conquered rather easily. There is never a sense of risk or courage and it seems preordained that no matter what Santiago does, he will achieve his goal. This is part of Coehlo's message but it goes against the why there was a sixth day of creation argument he puts forth. This argument, however, is the best part of the book and worth reading if only for this reason.
Coehlo also presents the idea of achieving one's dreams more as a goal rather than a process requiring maintenance. I also liked his statement about making movies out of his books, that the story should be filled out a reader's imagination. Worth reading over the toilet seat.