Aleph by Paulo Coelho: Book Review

Aleph Book Cover

Title: Aleph
Author: Paulo Coelho
Pages: 320

In this autobiographical account of what Paulo calls at few places in the book as ‘Journey back to my Kingdom’, he writes about his experiences through his journey of personal discovery. This is one of the most personal novels written by Paulo.

‘Aleph,’ as described in the book is a place where time and space converge.

In this book, Paulo writes about the journey he undertook between March and July 2006.

Below is an excerpt from Paulo’s blog article about this journey, and which is the subject matter of this book:

Between March and July 2006, letting himself be guided by signs, he travelled to various continents – Europe, Africa and Asia – on a journey through time and space, through past and present, in search of himself.


The novel starts with Paulo talking to his Master about the dissatisfaction in Paulo’s life and the stagnation of his spiritual growth. As per the suggestion from his Master, Paulo sets off onto a journey starting from Africa, and then to Europe and Asia via the Trans-Siberian Railway. Most of the novel or rather the book describes about the author’s experiences during the train journey he took with his publishers and a girl whom he meets in the journey.

The girl who insists that she will join the journey with him – as Paulo soon will find out that – is Hilal whom he loved five hundred years ago in a different incarnation. What follows is a very personal account where the author talks about the relationship with Hilal in the previous incarnation. Hilal in this life is a gifted violinist. Hilal is not the actual name of the real world character, but a changed name in the novel for privacy reasons.

Initially, Hilal’s joining the journey is not appreciated by the publishers, but eventually they understand that Paulo will be accompanied by her in the entire trip. Paulo will experience The Aleph for the first time in the train looking into the eyes of Hilal and discovers the details about the past life. The relation between the author and Hilal is expalined in detail.

Another important character in the book is Yao, the translator for Paulo in the journey. There are many interesting conversations between Yao and the author.

Paulo also talks in length about love and forgiveness.

Paulo describes about a technique he uses to know about his past lives. Though the technique seems to be very easy, and Paulo learned this while reading a book on the same subject, he warns us about not using it without really knowing what we are attempting at.

If you do not believe in reincarnation and related theories, then reading this book is not a good option for you.

If you have never read Paulo Coelho before, I would say you start with his other books, either The Alchemist or The Zahir will be a good starter.

I read Pualo Coelho not for his teachings, but for the beauty of few sentences that leave a lasting impression on me. Even though the novels are translated into English, the magic of his words in few places is overwhelming. My favorite book by Paulo is The Zahir. I have read this book two times.

Personally for me, The Zahir is really good when compared to The Aleph. But both are very different in the story-line and the subject matter too.

If you believe in reincarnation and related theories, you will enjoy reading this book.

Aleph is a really good read if you are a fan of Paulo Coelho’s previous books.

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28 Comments

  1. Posted September 11, 2011 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    I have read the The Alchemist . its just great. I will try to read Zahir and Aleph

    Nice review

  2. kps rao
    Posted September 11, 2011 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    nice narration

  3. Posted September 12, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    Nice! :) I wouldnt read it though.
    I would read Zahir first

  4. Mohamed Abo Deeb
    Posted October 1, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    I read the Alchemist and I finished almost 80% of Zahir, both of them are very amazing and very touchingly.

    really Paulo you are amazing, thanks a lot for these feelings and words.

    Mohamed

  5. Posted October 7, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    I read Aleph. Amazing. It took me to a different world altogether.

  6. anshul jain
    Posted October 10, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    I have read the The Alchemist.it was amazing experience. i try to read zahir and and Aleph. and at the last good review…

  7. zafar azeem
    Posted October 12, 2011 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

    The author is successful in evoking ideas and feelings by triggering emotional responses and mental pictures.The characters communicate through images and symbols.Aleph is a metaphor for comprehending reality,now refers to mindfulness, and love refers to the power of faith having confidence and trust for transforming and healing,which leads one to freedom and liberation.The message is more personal and meanings are dependent on one”s perception,imagination and feelings.All the fictional characters are in harmony.
    The theme of the novel is elevation,to obtain a greater power;the power to be happy right in the present moment,free from addiction,fear,despair,discrimination,anger and ignorance.The author questions if you are rich and powerful but unhappy,then what is the point of being powerful and rich..For that he advises that we should live with awareness,with the ability to truly see the world around us,as our life is often like a runaway train.He emphasizes that by cultivating our spiritual or true power and bringing mindfulness to our daily interaction,we can completely change the quality of our work and life around us.He believes that mindfulness is being fully present in the here and now,being in touch with what is going on inside us and around us.He insists on being compassionate without which one can not be happy,no matter how rich one is, as one becomes isolated and trapped within one”s own world,unable to relate to people or understand them.
    He draws our attention to be more mindful to look deeply,only then one can see pain and suffering in the world and can recognize the deep desire to relieve it.By recognizing all this one can be more satisfying and happy.

  8. Posted October 13, 2011 at 10:59 pm | Permalink
    • sinagbituin
      Posted August 14, 2012 at 6:10 am | Permalink

      i read it, good review :D

  9. Posted October 17, 2011 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    Read Pilgrimage, Eleven Minutes, The Alchemist and have just started with Aleph. Its very thoughtful and divine as usually.

  10. Frances
    Posted October 18, 2011 at 2:35 am | Permalink

    Coelho is absolutely amazing. Reading his books has altered my perception on life, and most of all, spirituality. I have read all of his books, and I am currently reading Aleph. Just reading the first few pages of Aleph has touched my heart and soul in such an immense way. Coelho is a truly talented and gifted writer. I always dreamed of meeting Coelho at Starbucks and talk about the wonders and complexity of life. Hmmm maybe one day I will meet him.

  11. Samrat
    Posted October 21, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    Please read Veronica Decides To Die….paolo is awesome in narrating a story and provide some lessions at the end of his writting….

  12. Kirti
    Posted October 21, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    Paulo Coelho is just an amazing writer. His choice of words can spell bound anyone who z d lover of good writing. I have certainly been a very big fan of his writing since the time I read The Alchemist and then Like A Flowing River and then Veronica Decides To Die, The Winner Stands Alone and so on. I have although missed Reading Eleven Minutes and The Valkyries but I am Sure those are equally good as others.

    I have been waiting eagerly for the Global Launch of Aleph in English and am really happy that it is available now. I would like to thank Mr. Paulo Coelho for enriching the taste of reading… Hope I get the book soon…

  13. keith o connell
    Posted November 8, 2011 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    I have had the pleasure now of reading most publications Mr Coelho has written. I am on my spiritual path knowingly now for over ten years and his books have been a huge part of the process. Thank you for books and guidance when needed and I hope there are many more to come.
    PEACE TO ALL!!!

  14. swetha
    Posted November 20, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Love reading Paulo’s writings….My favourites are Like the Flowing River,Brida,Alchemist,….to say love all,Deperate to read Aleph,will do it immediately and get lost in the new world…wowwwwwwwwwwwww

  15. bala rao
    Posted March 4, 2012 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    friends….for people who want to know who really they are THE WITCH OF PORTOBELLO is a really good one to start with……and even THE ZAHIR a good option for beautiful sentences of paulo ceolho

  16. JOMY THOMAS
    Posted March 16, 2012 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    I have read Paulo’s The Alchemist, By the River Piedra I Sat down and Wept, The Fifth Mountain, The Witch of Portibello and just skimmed through The 11 minitues and started to read The Alaph. Alaph in syriac means ‘one’. This review gives me a good beginning.

  17. Vinayaga
    Posted April 7, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    I just read the aleph. Very moving story.
    But can anyone tell me why the author felt he could have stopped the execution? By just saying no

  18. Dipshikha
    Posted April 9, 2012 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    i’d actually started with the zahir and the alchemist and i wasnt able to put the books down untill i finished reading and even then i felt really bad , for knowing that the novel finished!! i read many other books too, like by the river piedra i sat and wept , veronika decides to die and many others that made me believe Paulo Coelho IS a great writer who can get deep down to the readers hearts and provoke the feelings,, that emanates from deep within. i not only love the books but all thearti les tooooo!!!!

  19. Anubha A. Singh
    Posted April 14, 2012 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    ‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho is the best book by the author, and i hope that the Aleph would be as good as it sounds in the review.

  20. jitendra
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    i m reading aleph ,,really ther is the beauty of some sentences ,
    i have alredy read ”the alchemist ” and ” eleven minutes”…
    it was really great it is giving me a very perfect way to live my dreams

  21. geetu
    Posted May 22, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    i really liked ALEPH

  22. rusoti lodh
    Posted June 1, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    read Paula Coelho’s Alchemist, Eleven Minutes and Aleph theyare awesome book.. Takes us to a different world altogether..

  23. lourdes
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    I have read most of his books, from Alchemist, Zahir, Veronica Decides to Die, Flowing River, by the Piedra River I wept, The Devil and Miss Prim etc…. only this book “Aleph” do i find it disturbing….although I am aware of the “spiritual experience both he and Halil are undergoing… but …. nonetheless… can anyone convince me that they have not engaged in sex?

  24. thirumala
    Posted June 15, 2012 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    I have read alchemist, pilgrimage, winner stands alone, veronica decides to die. I consider alchemist and pilgrimage as really wonderful works of paulo coelho.

  25. Erriel
    Posted June 21, 2012 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    I did not encounter any of the books of Paulo Coelho but because of these review, I decided to look and have at least one of his novel. Thank you for the review… very well said.

  26. Rubie Mira- Cabanlit
    Posted July 9, 2012 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    i am really addicted with PC’s books!..i have already read “THE ALCHEMIST (for 3 times), “THE FIFTH MOUNTAIN”, “WARRIOR OF LIGHT”, “ZAHIR”and “THE PILGRIMAGE”….all were really great!…a Life-affirming stories!..thanks Paulo Coelho, for all the inspiration by your books!…i am running out of stocked with “ALEPH”, wish i could have one, soon!!!

  27. moudhy monica
    Posted July 29, 2012 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    I have read THE DEVIL AND MISS PRYM, BY THE RIVER PIEDRA I SAT DOWN AND WEPT, THE FIFTH MOUNTAIN, VERONICA DECIDES TO DIE, THE ALCHEMIST, ZAHIR & THE PILGRIMAGE.
    Those books are AMAZIIIIIING !!!!!!!
    Everyone should read it.

One Trackback

  1. By Literally Correct » Aleph on June 20, 2012 at 10:16 pm

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