A colleague suggested I read Alchemist – by Paulo Coelho.  I ran it by an old friend. She told me these exact words:  “Don’t even think about it. You will regret it.” I said OK and diligently pulled it off the list at the library. 

Two weeks ago, daughter whined and cribbed on how she desperately needed a book to read. An emergency trip to the library was in order. We went in with hopes of picking random books and giving it a worthy shot. New authors had to be given due attention before forming an opinion we decided. 

As luck would have it, the county library started a new venture, where they would (randomly) pick a bunch o books and place them strategically at the entrance in an inviting presentable fashion. It’s a great marketing strategy to snap up the bored, random, listless, lazy reader or in some cases reader by compulsion. How do I know? Coz I got suckered into picking up two books from the assortment. While I went around the pile, so did many others, and left quite excited at their choices. 

The arrangement reminded me of Pondy Bazaar’s pavement kadais right across the humungo Rathna stores. There’s this kahuna sitting chock full of priced valuable quality goods, and then just as we are entering the crowded place, our eyes get diverted to those shiny stacked up stuff on the tables and the prices dirt-cheap. You make a quick calculation in your mind. Okay, so it’s cheaper by a whole 10, and it costs 20. Let’s say we use it 20 times and it then goes bad, we’d have paid a buck a usage. Not bad at all. We succumb. 

Sometimes the product lasts a buck a usage. Sometimes it crashes on you after the 2nd usage. The luck of the draw as they say. 

Paulo Coelho’s Brida is just that. I tried very hard to push myself further into the pages, and make sense of the magic, the bookstores, the eccentricity, the eyes and the characters that talk to themselves. After 23 pages, I officially gave up. I tried reading it cuddled in bed, biking at the gym, while waiting for the daal to cook, while carpooling the kids to activities and even while sitting outside the son’s 30 minute viola class. The font was large too, not the usual paperback style.

YET, I just couldn’t read the lines and move on!! 

Seriously speaking, I am quite strict with my time. A movie or a book has just the first 15 minutes to engross me. Any longer it takes, am gone. Time’s up. 

I checked with the daughter as she insisted she’d read it. She came back and yelled at me one morning “Mom, next time, please may I choose the books when we check them out at the library?” 

Me: “Excuse me? I didn’t pick that up for you!” 

Daughter: “Yes, I am doing you a favor. I shall pick all books, and you read what I choose. Sorry, but really, look what you picked?! Better luck next time if you don’t want to read my choice.” 

Me: !?

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19 replies on “brida”
  1. says: Priya

    Its the same with me when it comes to books. The first few chapters will decide if I want to read it, some time the first para too. Not the best strategy, but still 🙂 I’ve the Alchemist on my bedside table for 2-3 months now, waiting for its time. Many frnds recommended it, but it somehow did not capture my attention…so its still waiting 🙂

  2. some told u to forget about the Alchemist? Forget that and read the book PRONTO. Fab doesnt even begin to describe it…especially if are into stuff like following dreams and making them come true!

  3. says: Delana

    I read The Alchemist. It wasn’t that bad, but it is a bit slow. My recommendation is The Eight (Katherine Neville) for rads and The Giver (Lois Lowry) for the daughter.

    Yes, I am LANA 😛

  4. says: metlin

    Honestly, you are not missing much by not reading it. It’s full of fluff, and has very little substance. I wasted a good few hours of my life reading that nonsense.

    I’d recommend the classics (e.g. The Prince) – they tend to be a lot more interesting, and a lot more insightful.

  5. says: rads

    bookworm: haha, sure thing 🙂

    gds: uh-uh! Okay, since it’s a gift and you already have it, try reading it. You may like it too! 🙂

    metlin: Thank you for the recos. The ‘Peace poem’ was good! :))

    Lana: Ah, it IS you! 😛
    Sure thing, will add it on the queue 🙂

    La Vida: Pronto by Elmore?

    Priya: LOL. One day eh? 🙂

  6. says: Ashwin

    The Alchemist sucks big time. Looked like a 8-13 yr old reading material. Read some 60 pages and returend back to library. Reading it will give you only nightmare not dreams. 😛

    Have you read ‘The Fraction of the Whole’ (Man Booker ’08 shortlisted)? Though slow, it’s well written and kinda badass. I liked it.

  7. says: terri

    I usually feel like an idiot when critics rave about books and I don’t even get through the first few pages. But I stuck it out with The Alchemist and read it through the end, thinking I’ll find the brilliance somewhere before the last page.

    No such luck, although the book would make a great movie with its desert setting.

    It takes you 15 minutes to decide? You’re very generous. I make first impressions in a snap.

  8. says: rads

    terri: I totally feel the same way! Thinking I was seriously a misfit amongst all the readers out there..
    hehe, 15 minutes is on average of course 😉

    Ashwin: Shall tag that in. Thanks for the reco 🙂

    Adithya: We should compile a bad book list? 🙂

  9. The only Coehlo book I really liked was “By the river Pedra I sat and wept” – Brida was a huge hardcover mistake. Alchemist was alright I guess. Eleven Minutes was touching. But sigh – huge mistake was buying Brida on Amazon.

  10. I liked Alchemist. It wasn’t that bad. But I haven’t read Coelho after that. I’ll take your advise and keep away from Brida.
    The worst books I’ve read so far would be ‘Honor Among Thieves’ by Jeffrey Archer and ‘Deception Point’ by Dan Brown. Worshtu! You know wat they say in Telugu ‘pustakaniki tala toka teleedu’. These books fall into that category.

  11. says: gauri

    You know, it is indeed one of the books that should be read when its time comes. I got that book when it was just out about 9 years ago – to read on the plane. And I couldn’t get past the g*damned 2 pages. After that every time I got a chance, I tried picking it up and putting it down. Finally got around to reading it 4 months ago 🙂 And I wasn’t sorry.

    But at times this first-two-pages block decides if you simply can’t stand someone – I can’t take Richard Bach and Arundhati Roy. I didn’t even try after the first attempt.


  12. I cannot understand why Coelho is being pushed around by a lot of people. He is over-rated, and his books are bloody boring and has no redeeming quality to it. If you want to try South American literature, stick with Garcia-Marquez, Neruda, and the likes.

    ROFL @ daughter’s line. 🙂

  13. says: metlin

    If you’re in the mood for a bit of dark, melancholic reading, you should try One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. Wonderful, wonderful writing.

  14. says: rads

    metlin: O yes, I’ve been recommended him before as well. Have him on my list. Thanks 🙂

    MuteO: Neruda is brilliant 🙂

    gauri: you may have a point. I suppose the reader’s frame of mind and openness plays a role in opinion. 🙂

  15. says: Deepti

    First time 2 ur space…n i must tell u…U r a splendid writer 🙂

    Well..I read many Coelho’s works…Alchemist…Eleven minutes…Witch of portobello…Zahir…etc…I was hoping 2 read Brida for a long time now….Da only key aspect 2 njoi his wrks is da state of mind ur in wen u get 2 read da buk…I agree its true for almost all da books…but sumhw I felt it holds so exactly perfect for Coelho…

    Of all his wrks…Alchemist was kinda ok…I read it almost 4-5 yrs bak(@ da start of ma career..n all his stuff abt dreams were actually good :))..Eleven minutes suckd big time…Zahir…i never understood Y i ever chose 2 read it…n well…my fav till date remains 2 b Witch of portobello..I read it in distress only 2 find da buk rejuvenating…! 🙂

    Keep reading n keep posting.. 🙂

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