I was in Guildford for the day for the farmers market which usually takes place on the first Tuesday of the month, but unfortunately had been cancelled due to the foot and mouth outbreak at nearby Wanborough.
I took a late lunch at the White House pub by the river. In the summer a pleasant place to sit and relax outside. I got chatting to a very pleasant girl from Lithuania about books and BookCrossing.
She was reading a Lithuanian translation of The Zahir by the Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho.
The Alchemist I said, almost as much a question as a statement. Yes she said, and The Pilgrimage.
Why The Alchemist came to my mind I do not know. I thought I had seen it that day in a bookshop, but as I was to later learn, this was not so, nor was I familiar with either the author or his works. I was baffled.
We had an interesting chat about books, BookCrossing, writers Paulo Coelho, Paul Auster, Hermann Hesse and Carlos Castaneda, Brighton, Latin American music, Cuba including the brilliant performance by Simply Red in Cuba, AfroReggae, the film Favela Rising and the BeyondTV International Film Festival held in Swansea.
Following my newly found friend's excellent recommendation, I then went off in search of The Zahir in the Guildford bookshops before they closed. I could find neither The Zahir or The Alchemist, but did find the recently published The Witch of Portobello in hardback (too expensive) in one bookshop and in another bookshop Like the Flowing River (at a discounted prices), so I picked up the one remaining copy of Like the Flowing River.
Like the Flowing River is a collection of vignettes. Paulo Coello's thoughts and reflections on life and the meaning of life. I am reminded of the writings of Wendell Berry, which are reflections of the world around him.
This was to be my first book by Paulo Coelho. I have since obtained and read all his books.