Best Paulo Coelho Books That Make You Question Life

Paulo Coelho is a Brazilian novelist, who is best known for his novel The Alchemist.

Ever since he was a teenager, he wanted to be a writer. But his parents wanted him to follow a traditional career path. Unwilling to conform, they sent him to the mental institution three times, thinking that it will save their son.

He was later released at age 20 after he agreed to enroll in law school and abandon his dream as a writer. However, that didn’t last long. He dropped out of school one year later and lived life as a hippie.

In his late thirties, he had a spiritual awakening while walking the Road of Santiago de Compostela in Spain and that changed his life. He started writing full-time and reconnected with his dream of being a writer.  

Influenced by his own experiences, his books have a common theme of urging the readers to follow their dreams and to listen to their hearts. Through his books, he invites readers to question their lives and wonder about their choices and actions.

Go through the list below and pick a book that attracts you.

Top 10 Best Paulo Coelho Books

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1. The Alchemist

“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

An international bestseller, this is the book that Paulo Coelho is best known for. It’s a spiritual fable about following your dreams. 

It tells the simple story of a shepherd boy, Santiago, seeking treasure. From his quest, he received wisdom far more valuable than the riches. He learned the important lessons of listening to the heart and trusting the signs in life. 

This book is allusive. The message in this book seems simple but it points to a deeper truth. Some people will get the insights, while others will not. If you believe in metaphysics and you are open to reading something mystical or new age, then you will like this book.

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2. Veronika Decides to Die

“People never learn anything by being told, they have to find out for themselves.”

What if suicide was not the ending but just the beginning?

This book is about a twenty-four years old lady, Veronika, who tries to die by taking a handful of sleeping pills. But instead of dying, she woke up at a mental hospital where she is told that she has only days to live.

Inspired by the author’s own personal experience of being sent to an asylum, this book questions the meaning of madness and celebrates individuals who do not fit into patterns society considers to be normal. 

Reading this book makes you rethink your life choices. Are you living it in a way that is really being true to who you are?

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3. Eleven Minutes

“Anyone who is in love is making love the whole time, even when they’re not. When two bodies meet, it is just the cup overflowing.”

This novel is about a young girl from a Brazilian village who lost faith in love after a few heartbroken encounters during childhood and became convinced that she will never find true love. 

Not wanting to get hurt again, she simply doesn’t fall in love. After several professions, she landed out becoming a professional prostitute. However, her despairing view of love is put to the test when she meets a handsome young painter, Ralf.

This book explores the sacred and secular elements of love and contrasts it with lust and the physical nature of relationships. If this topic interests you, you will like this book.

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4. Manuscript Found in Accra​

“And if I’m alone in bed, I will go to the window, look up at the sky, and feel certain that loneliness is a lie, because the Universe is there to keep me company.”

This is a historical fiction but not exactly a novel as it is written in a way that focuses more on ideas and philosophies of life than on the story.

The book starts off with an overview of the plot. An archaeologist discovered an ancient manuscript in Accra back in 1974 and later it was transcribed as this book. 

The manuscript depicts the discussion of the people living in Jerusalem back in 1099 just before their death, the Crusades. Through their discussion about various topics, you will find wise and insightful advice for your own life.

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5. The Pilgrimage

“We must never stop dreaming. Dreams provide nourishment for the soul, just as a meal does for the body.”

One of the earliest books the author has written. This book is about the author’s journey along the ancient road to Santiago in northern Spain. It is a path pilgrims have traveled since the Middle Ages.

This autobiography depicts the spiritual awakening the author had in Spain and the search for meaning to life. If you have trouble finding yourself in life, this book is for you.

However, the author’s experiences are so mystical that it makes you wonder whether you are reading fiction or nonfiction sometimes. You will need an open mind and suspend your belief to receive valuable insights in this book.

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6. Like the Flowing River

“Sometimes, we are so attached to our way of life that we turn down wonderful opportunities simply because we don’t know what to do with it.”

If you want something shorter to read or something you can pick up throughout the day to read, then this book is perfect for you.

This book is a compilation of tales, opinions, short stories, and ideas drawn from articles published by the author in various newspapers around the world. Some of the stories are from his own experience, while others are stories other people have told him.

Not only does it give you an intimate account and reflection of the author’s life but it also gives you great insights into your own life and helps you see the world in a different light.

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7. By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept

“But ultimately there is no good reason for our suffering, for in every love lies the seed of our growth. The more we love, the closer we come to a spiritual experience.”

This novel is a love story. However, it is not the sappy romantic kind of love story but one that is rather mystical and spiritual.

The story is about two young lovers who reunite after eleven years. Pilar has transformed into a strong and independent woman, while her childhood friend has grown into a handsome and charismatic spiritual leader.

When they meet again, their long-buried emotions of blame and resentment resurface and they have to learn to forgive to truly love. This is a great read for those who have lost, found, or still seeking love.

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8. The Fifth Mountain​

“There are moments when troubles enter our lives and we can do nothing to avoid them. But they are there for a reason. Only when we have overcome them will we understand why they were there.”

Inspired by the story from the Bible, the author writes his own version of Elijah’s story.

In the 9th century BC, all prophets who refused to worship the pagan god, Baal, were to be prosecuted. So Elijah, a prophet himself, fled to Zarephath, where he unexpectedly finds true love.

However, this was short-lived and he underwent a series of trials and tribulations where his faith was tested. Through this journey, he learned more about himself and realized everything that happens is for good.

If you feel hopeless, this book will help you see the rainbows after the storms.

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9. The Zahir

“When someone leaves, it’s because someone else is about to arrive.”

This book is about a self-indulgent, bestselling novelist who lives in Paris and his journey of finding himself. Unnamed, he is the narrator of this book.

One day, his wife of ten years, Esther, suddenly disappeared without leaving a note. This left him lost and confused. Was his wife kidnapped, murdered, or did she simply escape a marriage that left her unfulfilled?

In his search for his wife, he discovers something unexpected about himself and love. If he wants to reunite with his wife, he has to do it because he loves her, not because he is obsessed with her. If you are struggling with attachment or obsession, this book will help you see the deeper meaning of love.

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10. Hippie

“To learn about yourself, explore the world around you.”

Based on his own past experiences as a young hippie, the author tells the story of a young man from Brazil named Paulo who set off to find himself in Europe.

Along the way, he met Karla, a Dutch woman who has been waiting to find the ideal companion to Nepal. She convinced Paulo to join her in her journey and both of them embarked on a transformative journey and a love affair that awakens them on every level. 

This is an interesting book to read if you are from the hippie era or want to learn more about the hippie generation in the ’70s. Or if you are a fan of Paulo Coelho and want to find out more about his life, this book is for you too.

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Yong Kang

Yong Kang

Hey there, I’m Yong Kang, best known as Nerdy Creator. I’m an author of seven books. I write about spirituality, self-compassion, and mindfulness. I love reading books, especially non-fiction. The list above is a combination of what I have read and my research. Each year, I create a Top 10 list of my favorite books.