review copy provided by Alfred A. Knopf via TLC Book Tours
There is nothing wrong with anxiety? Although we cannot control God’s time, it is part of the human condition to want to receive the thing we are waiting for as quickly as possible. Or to drive away whatever is causing our fear. . . . Anxiety was born in the very same moment as mankind. And since we will never be able to master it, we will have to learn to live with it—just as we have learned to live with storms.
July 14, 1099. Jerusalem awaits the invasion of the crusaders who have surrounded the city’s gates. There, inside the ancient city’s walls, men and women of every age and every faith have gathered to hear the wise words of a mysterious man known only as the Copt. He has summoned the townspeople to address their fears with truth:
“Tomorrow, harmony will become discord. Joy will be replaced by grief. Peace will give way to war. . . . None of us can know what tomorrow will hold, because each day has its good and its bad moments. So, when you ask your questions, forget about the troops outside and the fear inside. Our task is not to leave a record of what happened on this date for those who will inherit the Earth; history will take care of that. Therefore, we will speak about our daily lives, about the difficulties we have had to face.”
The people begin with questions about defeat, struggle, and the nature of their enemies; they contemplate the will to change and the virtues of loyalty and solitude; and they ultimately turn to questions of beauty, love, wisdom, sex, elegance, and what the future holds. “What is success?” poses the Copt. “It is being able to go to bed each night with your soul at peace.”
Now, these many centuries later, the wise man’s answers are a record of the human values that have endured throughout time. And, in Paulo Coelho’s hands, The Manuscript Found in Accra reveals that who we are, what we fear, and what we hope for the future come from the knowledge and belief that can be found within us, and not from the adversity that surrounds us.
To begin my response to Manuscript Found in Accra, I'd like to state that I absolutely loved Coelho's The Alchemist - it is one of my favorite books. So, naturally, I was excited for the opportunity to read his latest book, Manuscript Found in Accra. First, this book was not at all what I was expecting. Second, sometimes, what you aren't expecting is exactly what you need.
Manuscript Found in Accra is a unique little book. It's fairly short, easily read and understood. However, I can't help but feel that it isn't really meant to be read all at once. For me, this is a book that should be read in short reading sessions, a chapter at a time. Then, the reader should ponder what he or she has just read. This is exactly what I wanted to do, but due to my blog review scheduling, I wasn't able to - I had to read it straight through.
One of the things about Manuscript that I loved was that it is made clear from the start that the people of Jerusalem lived peacefully together at the time of the manuscript. The Jews, Christians and Muslims all knew each other, were friends and were facing the enemy outside their city walls together. The Copt - a wise Greek man (who I can't help but picture as Paulo Coelho himself) gathers the people together and they ask him questions and he answers with the wisdom that represents the soul of Jerusalem. The wisdom seems to include not just Christian texts, but also Eastern ideas and presumably Jewish and Muslim ideas as well; and no distinction is made about where the ideas and philosophies come from. I loved this. I easily recognized lines and ideas from the Bible, but some of the concepts reminded me of Buddhist texts I've read as well. One of my favorite lines:
"We do not agree about dates or about the best way to worship God, but in every other respect we live together in peace."
I felt that the philosophy represented in this book tried to draw from wisdom across the world and had little to do with the actual religion it might come from. Wisdom is wisdom. This book is classified as fiction, and has a back story to how it was found and the situation in which it was written, but it really is more of a philosophy book - or a brief summary of philosophical ideas. I really liked this book. I will keep it on my desk and read from it and then contemplate and be happy. I am pretty certain I will also be nudged into researching where some of the philosophies presented in the book originated. In my opinion, being prompted to further research is always a good thing.
If you like short, easily grasped philosophical books, then you will love Manuscript Found in Accra. I think most people would enjoy reading it because the ideas are so accessible and the concept is pretty intriguing. I will be recommending this one.
One last quote:
"Solitude is not the absence of company, but the moment when our soul is free to speak to us and help us decide what to do with our life."
About Paulo Coelho
One of the most influential writers of our time, Paulo Coelho is the author of many international best sellers, including The Alchemist, Aleph,Eleven Minutes and The Pilgrimage. Translated into 74 languages, his books have sold more than 140 million copies in more than 170 countries. He is a member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters, and in 2007, he was named a United Nations Messenger of Peace.
Paulo Coelho’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:
Monday, March 18th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Monday, March 25th: Book Club Classics
Tuesday, March 26th: Mom in Love with Fiction
Thursday, April 4th: Well Read Wife
Friday, April 5th: Dwell in Possibility
Monday, April 8th: Fiction Addict
Thursday, April 11th: Shall Write
Monday, April 15th: A Philosopher’s Blog
Tuesday, April 16th: Lavish Bookshelf
Thursday, April 18th: Broken Teepee
Monday, April 22nd: A Book Geek
Wednesday, April 24th: The Way Forward
Monday, April 29th: Book Snob
Wednesday, May 1st: Reading Between the Lines
Thursday, May 2nd: West Metro Mommy
Monday, May 6th: Aspire2
Thursday, May 9th: Luxury Reading
I received this book from the author or publisher for a fair and honest review. I was not compensated for this review.