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The Way She Reads

My thoughts on everything I read; good, bad and indifferent.
Manuscript Found in Accra - Paulo Coelho I received my copy from HarperCollins through Nudge

The year is 1099 (or 4859 or 492, depending on which faith you belong to) and Jerusalem, a place where three Faiths live peacefully side by side, is about to be invaded by crusaders. A man from Athens, known as the Copt, talks to the citizens of Jerusalem. He isn’t a Jew, Christian or Muslim and

“..believes only in the present moment and what he calls Moira –the unknown god,The Divine Energy, responsible for a single law, which, if ever broken, will bring about the end of the world.”

In the tradition of ancient Greece the Copt will answer questions about everyday life so that through the preservation of his words the soul of Jerusalem may be also be preserved. Every chapter starts with a simple question, as posed by one of those listening. The beauty of those questions is that they are as relevant today as they may have been in 1099 or at any other time in the future or in the past. They are the sort of questions we all ask ourselves; some regularly others infrequently or only once. Questions about fear, true enemies, defeat and struggle lead on to inquiries about the will to change, and the virtues of loyalty and solitude. Finally the questions that remain are those about beauty, sex, elegance, love, wisdom and what the future holds. And if you take your time reading the answers you will find that these are also simple; definitely profound but not complicated. Nothing much is required of us except that we live our best life and do so from a place of love. Which, of course, is nowhere near as simple as it sounds.

For example, the following is what the Copt has to say in answer to the question: what is success?:

“It is being able to go to bed each night with your soul at peace.”

When night has fallen and the invasion is imminent the Copt tells those who listened to him to go out into the world and share that which they have heard, because:

“Do not think that I am come to spread peace upon the Earth. No, from this night on, we will travel the world bearing an invisible sword, so that we can fight the demons of intolerance and lack of understanding.”

Manuscript found in Accra is exactly what you expect it to be: deep, inspirational, spiritual and thought-provoking. Paulo Coelho is very good at what he set out to do when he first released The Alchemist; he sought to bring inspiration and insight to many and twenty-five years later that is exactly what he is still doing. And as with every single one of Coelho’s previous works, this isn’t the sort of book you read once, place on a shelf and never look at again. This book contains information that you will find yourself revisiting time and again. There may be times when you only re-read one particular section of the book because it is relevant to your life at that particular time. While at other times you may feel the need to re-read the whole book because you need to make sense of the world as a whole. Although a lot of the wisdom and sentiments in this book are things we have read and heard before it doesn’t hurt to be reminded of them. On the other hand, not everything in this book appears familiar. There are also chapters, like the one on elegance, that explain the spirituality in places where I have never thought to look for it:

“Elegance is not an out quality, but a part of the soul that is visible to others.”

This is a book to read slowly, allowing the words to sink in. A book to keep in an accessible place so that you can pick it up whenever you need some spiritual encouragement to get you through the day. Don’t let the ease with which this book can be read mislead you. It would be very easy to just fly through the book over the course of an afternoon, and you would probably enjoy the read as well. But, unless you take the time to savour the words and think about them, you are going to miss a lot.