Mami Reads: Aleph


Let me just say that I struggled with whether or not to review this book here.  Not because I didn’t love it. But because the themes within it touch me personally and when that happens I usually can’t find the words to really explain my experience.  So forgive me in advance if it does not make sense to you.

I have a crush on Coelho.  I love the voice with which he writes which I believe is his own.  I enjoy his writing immensely and think he is an amazing writer.  If you haven’t read him I suggest you do.  You can find several of his books in my bookstore (courtesy of Amazon).

Merriam Webster’s defines aleph as: The first letter of the Hebrew alphabet.  Jorge Luis Borges defined it as a point in space that contains all other points.  And this is how Coelho defines it as well.

Where do I begin?  This story was obviously written from a very personal perspective. If you’ve read anything by Coelho then you know that delving into spirituality is his thing. It’s how he interprets the world and how he relates to it. I don’t think it’s a secret that my favorite book to be stuck on a deserted island with (besides the bible) is The Alchemist, Paulo’s most successful New York Times bestseller to date.  It is my favorite among the possibly thousands of books I have read because, depending on where you are at in your life, the book will speak a different language to you.  It is a simple story with profound, life-changing messages.  I encourage everyone to read it and I try to keep a handful of copies in my arsenal to hand out as I feel necessary.

But, back to Aleph.  The protagonist in the novel is named Paulo (no relation 😉 ).  He is experiencing a crisis in which he is feeling as if he isn’t growing spiritually.  His mentor, the mysterious J., tells him he must go on a journey to find himself once more and so, he does.  At a book signing he finds himself saying yes to all of the offers to visit various countries finally booking a 15-day Transiberian train ride across 7 time zones and a myriad of physical encounters of a spiritual nature.

The book engages you immediately because you want to know 1. what is the aleph and 2. what is Paulo going to get out of this? When he encounters the hard-headed Hilal, a young woman who shows up at his hotel the day prior to him embarking on his journey, it gets interesting.  She tells him she is there to help him through is journey.  The others in his group think she is mad.

To me, Hilal represents that spirit within all of us. The one that urges us forward to meet our destiny and will not back down.  The one that does not doubt or let others opinions, fears or hesitations rule her. It is one of the many things that I love about the book.  The one thing I have learned from reading many, many books is the fact that your current mindset will pull what it needs out of whatever you are reading. I absorbed the spirituality and messages out of this book like a paper towel sucks up spilled milk on a counter.

Many won’t get the surrealism that they will encounter in the book.  For me, it answered a lot of questions of personal experiences.  I won’t share here as, I don’t wish you to think I’m losing my mind. But, I can say that I feel I have had my own experience with an aleph.

This book is ultimately about life.  The way we encounter it. The way we choose to face it.  And the way that we are all connected regardless of your beliefs.  Or at least, that’s what I think.

Have you read the book? If you haven’t be sure to stop by my bookstore and click on the Books category to purchase your copy.  If you have read it, what did you think?

Links you might be interested in:
Coelho speaking of Aleph on his blog
Coelho’s Twitter page (PS: once, he actually replied to one of my Twitter mentions and I almost DIED!)
Coelho’s FB page

Paulo (courtesy of his blog)


Sili is the owner and Chief Executive Mami of Organizada Planner  and My Mamihood. She was selected as one of Latina Magazine's top Blogger to Know and Latina Magazine's top 10 Mommy bloggers. Mothering a 6-year old little girl and figuring out why the clean laundry won't automatigically insert itself where it belongs round out her current passions. Sili is deeply committed to changing the world and coaching you right along toward your purpose. She is viciously awesome. Sili raises armies and builds empires. She also bakes cookies and thangs.


  1. Janaki Nagaraj Says: November 6, 2011 at 12:11 am

    I just finished reading this book…like you, I too like his books. The Alchemist and the Zahir have left their impressions on me. And so did Aleph. Though I was a bit disappointed with the ending, I liked the other parts. His writings do touch some deepest part of ourselves and leaves a lasting impression.

  2. I LOVE Paulo Coelho! I have read The Alchemist, Eleven Minutes and Veronika Decides to Die. Suchh a talented writer. I hope to be able to catch a book signing.

    • He’s awesome! The Alchemist is my favorite all time book. I drooled for hours when he replied to one of my Tweets. I don’t care, I’m a total groupie. I have both of the books you mention and plan on definitely reading them (because as you know, I don’t already have enough books to read in 2012 😉 ).


      • I hear you!! I do the same! I get so many books on my kindle and bookshelf; and I try to read as much and as often as possible. Sometimes I get a bit overzealous! You’ll love those two books!!
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        • I believe I have most of his collection though I’m missing The Witch of Portobello. I love that cover. But have enough books that I haven’t read as it is…lol

          The issues of a book lover, I guess, eh? I posted the books I wanted to read this year. Have you seen it? Would love to know if you’ve read any of those.

  3. Just looked at the list…
    I LOVED On Beauty… I just couldn’t put it down!
    The Girl.. Trilogy: I could read those in a sitting if I could get away from the kids long enough.. BUT at times they are a but “out there” leaving you saying “WTF?”. However, if you don’t mind that kind of stuff then you will DEFINITELY enjoy.
    Memorias de Mis Putas Tristes: Is waiting to be read on my bookshelf! I’ll get there eventually! Being Colombian-American, I have made it a point to read as much Garcia Marquez as I can. Have you read Cien Anos de Soledad and Amor en los Tiempos de Colera? Awesome reads!
    Another favorite author of mine is Isabel Allende.. Read all of her books

    I definitely want to read Vargas Llosa.. What do you recommend starting with?

    Sorry didnt mean to hijack your post!! 🙂
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    • Hijack away! I’m glad I found a kindred spirit! Thanks for the advice. If I could just sit and read for a weekend…well, all would be right with the world! 😉

      El amor en los tiempos del colera is my favoritest book in Spanish! Cien años de soledad? Not so much. But perhaps it was because I was 15 when I read it. Have thought about picking it back up to see if I feel differently about it now. We shall see. Isabel Allende is great. Love some young adult books she did years back. The Vargas Llosa book I have on the list will be my first. I hear it is fantastic. I’d say start with that one and go from there. OH! And you should definitely take a look at Carlos Ruiz Zafon. He wrote The Shadow of the Wind. Great read! #bibliomaniac

  4. This is great!! I can never talk to anyone about books! I usually choose my books by regions.. Weird I know … For example one month I may only read books set in Asia, then Africa, South America, Middle East, etc. Then I may choose by world event like Spanish civil war. Nerdy I know.. The way I see it is that if I can’t travel the world then I can do it with books! 🙂

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