If you ever do a search for the most recommended travel books or stories that inspired people, then chances are that The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho will come up. For the readers that enjoy it, however, its short length means that they are almost instantly searching for more books like The Alchemist.
If you’re not familiar with the story, it follows the life of a young shepherd named Santiago from Southern Spain who has a dream that is interpreted as meaning that great treasure awaits him at the pyramids in Egypt.
He then sets off on a journey through northern Africa to find the treasure. Coelho’s writing style is known for its strong philosophical elements and people who enjoy the story tend to be drawn to it either for that reason or for the travelling aspects of the book. It is also written in the style of a fable which makes it unique to many other books in the genre.
So if you’ve recently finished Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, and are on the hunt for similar inspirational books, here are some recommendations that will hopefully lead you to your next read!
11 Books Similar to The Alchemist
The Pilgrimage, by Paulo Coelho
While Paulo Coelho has written many books over the years, it’s hard to go past The Pilgrimage.
It follows the true story of how Coelho walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain as part of an initiation process to a Catholic sect.
Like many books that are written about people undertaking long walks, the story is a mix of the travel aspects and the physical and mental challenges that come with it along with the process of self-discovery and life-changing moments that occurs when you undertake such a challenge.
The Pilgrimage also has a large focus on meditation, self-help and spiritual-religious teachings that can either appeal or be a deterrent for readers. Regardless, it is a good choice if you want to read more of Coelho’s works and enjoyed The Alchemist.
Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts
Chances are that if you first read The Alchemist because you found it on a list of travel book recommendations, then if you keep scrolling you will likely also see Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts included on the same list.
It is one of the most popular books to read for travellers in India, however, is a fantastic read even if you have never been and don’t plan to travel to the subcontinent.
It follows the story of Lin, a convicted felon from Australia who flees to India after escaping from jail. The story is a collection of his experiences as a foreigner in India and showcases what life is like through his interactions with several characters from all walks of life.
Shantaram is a fictional story that is based on some real-life experiences of Roberts. It is a great option if you’re looking for books similar to The Alchemist as it expertly combines an intriguing travel story with a number of philosophical writings and teachings.
Already read this book? Check out our list of more books like Shantaram!
The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, by Robin Sharma
The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma, is another story that combines travel with philosophical teachings though in a much more direct manner compared to Paulo Coelho’s work.
It tells the story of Julian who was a high-profile lawyer who, after having a heart attack, decides to leave his career and search for more meaning in his life.
The story is told through the eyes of Julians’ former colleague John whom Julian approaches after coming back from travelling and living with monks in the Himalayas.
The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari is based on Sharma’s real-life experiences of leaving his career as a lawyer and is a great choice if you’re looking for more books that combine some interesting travel anecdotes with more practical self-help teachings.
The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
While The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini is not explicitly a travel story nor does it contain philosophical teachings, the writing style shares a lot of similarities with Paulo Coehlo making it a great choice if you’re looking for something similar to The Alchemist.
The Kite Runner begins by telling the story of two Afghan boys, Amir and Hassan, who are friends but from different ethnic tribes growing up in the 1970s.
Following an incident, their relationship begins to deteriorate and the Soviet invasion in 1979 causes Amir’s family to leave the country and eventually immigrate to the USA. A couple of decades later, events cause Amir to be drawn back to his former life in Afghanistan.
Readers will undoubtedly enjoy Hosseini’s writing style if they’re fans of The Alchemist and the story is undoubtedly a gripping read that provides insight into the history of Afghanistan and the challenges that immigrants had to adjust to life in the USA.
Already read this book? Check out our list of more books to read like Kite Runner!
Life of Pi, by Yann Martel
Winner of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction following its release, Life of Pi by Yann Martel is an excellent choice for readers looking for similar books to read.
It tells the story of a young boy named Pi, whose father owns a zoo in India. His father decides to immigrate to Canada and they board a ship with the animals from the zoo onboard that shipwrecks before arriving.
Pi manages to survive by getting on a small lifeboat but finds himself sharing the boat with some of the animals that his father was transporting. The story then follows Pi’s experiences on the lifeboat and how he strives to survive.
Life of Pi was made into an award-winning film by Ang Lee in 2012 and is a great choice for fans of The Alchemist as it explores many similar themes as well as having strong philosophical elements in Martel’s writing style.
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Into the Wild, by Jon Krakauer
If you’re after another tale about a man that is compelled to go on a journey and leave his former life behind then Jon Krakauer’s Into The Wild is a must-read.
It follows the true story of Christopher McCandless, a college graduate in the US who, after finishing school, decides to give his life savings to charity and travel across the country. With the eventual aim to get to Alaska and live off the land, the book follows McCandless’ adventures and the people he meets on the road.
Krakauer’s writing focuses not only on the protagonist but also on the impact that his travelling had on his family.
Made into a motion picture in 2007 that was directed by Sean Penn, Into the Wild is a fantastic choice if you love this genre.
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Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert M. Pirsig
If you’re looking for books akin to The Alchemist because you want a book that combines a travel story with long philosophical interludes then Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig fits the bill perfectly.
Written as a fictional autobiography, it tells the story of how Pirsig took a motorcycle trip with his son one summer.
While retelling the story of their trip, Pirsig interjects with details about how they fixed their motorcycle on their journey which warps into long philosophical discussions about a range of life’s big topics.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance undoubtedly has a stronger focus on philosophy than the travel aspects compared to other books on this list which makes it a fantastic choice if that is what you most enjoyed when reading The Alchemist.
Wild, by Cheryl Strayed
If you prefer your next read to have a greater focus on travel and the trials and tribulations of undertaking a long walk, then Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed is an excellent choice.
It is the true story of how Strayed decides to walk the Pacific Crest Trail solo after a period of drug abuse that followed the death of her mother.
Wild is wonderfully written as it flashes between what life is like on the trail and the physical and mental challenges of taking a long walk and her previous life before beginning the walk which ultimately led to her following this path.
While not as strong on the philosophy as some of the other books on this list, there is still elements of spirituality in Strayed’s journey along with it simply being a fantastic and inspiring travel story. It was also made into a film in 2014 starring Reese Witherspoon.
Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse
Going back to books with a large philosophical element, Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse is a classic novel in this space that will likely appeal to readers.
First written in 1922, it tells the story of a wealthy Indian who gives up his material possessions in a quest for spiritual enlightenment and knowledge. He meets many different people on his journey that teach him unique lessons leading to his own personal growth.
Siddhartha is another short read that touches on many of the same themes as The Alchemist making it a great choice for your next read after Coelho’s classic.
The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
If you enjoyed The Alchemist because of its fable-like elements and allegorical themes, then you can’t go wrong with adding The Little Prince to your reading list.
It follows the story of the narrator who after crashing his plane in the Sahara Desert meets the Little Prince who comes to Earth and shares the stories of his travels across the universe.
Each encounter that the Little Prince has on each planet is with a narrow-minded adult that teaches him about different aspects of human nature.
Originally published in 1943, it is still poignant today and a great choice for readers. Considered to be one of the greatest works of modern French literature, if you’re a fan of Coelho’s philosophical novel, you are sure to love the lessons to be learned in The Little Prince, as well.
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One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
As one of the best-selling Spanish language books of all time, One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez is another great option for those that enjoyed all the philosophical goodness of The Alchemist.
It tells the story of seven generations of the Buendia family and their life in a town in Colombia. It examines the major life events of family members in a cerebral magical realism style that allows the engaging prose to explore themes such as elitism, the fluidity of time and, of course, solitude.
Oft-considered to be Marquez’s magnum opus, One Hundred Years of Solitude touches on the same philosophical and allegorical themes found in Coelho’s novel and is sure to open your mind to a unique literary style.
The Alchemist is undoubtedly a favourite for many lovers of travel and philosophical books. If you’re after more books to read, these recommendations are definitely just a few of the many life-changing books that share similarities with it.
Are you looking for inspiring books like The Alchemist? Do you have recommendations that didn’t make this list? Let us know in the comments below!