The two books by Markus Zusak and Paulo Coelho tells the stories of two characters, Liesel Meminger and Santiago, each in their own respective stories. In The Alchemist, Santiago’s story is a much lighter tale with an overall optimistic and adventurous air. He journeys from Spain all the way to Egypt and back before his adventure ends. Zusak’s The Book Thief, sharply contrasts Coelho’s story with the much darker and dangerous world of Nazi Germany.
In The Alchemist, Coelho begins Santiago’s journey with an overview of Santiago’s life as he lives the “joys of carefree wandering[s]” as a shepherd. (Coelho 7) Zusak, however, starts his book out with these words: “Here is a small fact. You are going to die.” (Zusak 3) This observation at the
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The book guides Liesel throughout her life as she learns to read and steal more books. Liesel’s decision to steal her first book led to her of reading one which inevitably led her to write one herself. It was the act of writing a book in her basement that saved her life when the bombs were dropped over Himmel Street. Urim and Thummim help Santiago at critical times when it seems that he has forgotten why he journeyed in the first place. In Santiago’s case, the act of journeying leads to an incredible amount of self-discovery, wisdom and wealth. Had any of them not decided to step out of their comfort zone, many things may have been changed in their lives. Liesel and Santiago both follow their own Personal Legends. A Personal Legend is the one goal in a person’s life that will eventually lead to their happiness. “When you want something, all the universe conspires to help you achieve it.” (Coelho 62) Santiago’s personal legend was realized with many people helping him along the way. The Crystal Merchant taught him how to make a living and paid him enough so that he could save up money to travel across the desert. While traveling, the Englishman first got Santiago interested in alchemy and eventually, he seeks out the alchemist. With the alchemist, he learns important skills and lessons in life and is also given instructions on how to realize his personal legend of finding the treasure.