Reviewed by Joanne L.

In Inspirations: Selections from Classic Literature, Paulo Coelho has compiled selections of the works of a marvelous array of writers including Nelson Mandela, George Orwell, Kahlil Gibran, Mary Shelley, Hans Christian Andersen, and Machiavelli.

Coelho showed brilliance in formatting the selections into the “four different substances, uncreated and imperishable: Earth, Water, Air, and Fire…” The writing selections and their connections to the elements are subtle and inspired. Coehlo also provided notes about the connections he makes between the selection and their ‘substance’.

During my reading, I found myself assessing the writings for my own assignment into fire, water, earth, or air. I am framing the world with the concept now, too….news, movies, television shows. The framing and reframing using the elements deepens my appreciation for and understanding of this complex world.

Coelho’s opening section was Water associated psychologically and in more esoteric practices with emotions, relationships, creativity, and imagination. One of his selections came from the prologue of Tales from the Thousand and One Nights. Shahrazad uses imaginitive inventions to prolong her life while spinning an on-going story for the king. I recognized in the story her use of creativity, invention, and emotions, concepts common in metaphors associated with water and with the flowing river of life.

In the Fire section of the book, Coehlo taps into a breadth of writings stretching from the Rig Veda (ancient Sanskrit hymns) to an excerpt from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Here he focuses upon fire energy as a destroyer, as heat, as passion with or passion towards. In a selection from Kahil Gibran’s The Prophet; “…He threshes you to make you naked. He sifts you to free you from your husks. He grinds you to whiteness. He kneads you until you are pliant; And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God’s sacred feast.” The language itself generates heat!

There is so much fine writing in the world; writing from today and yesterday, and writing from long ago and far away from me and my experiences. Coelho’s selections reminded me of some writings and introduced me to others. I found Inspirations both rich and evocative. So much so that I tapped into the synchronicity of reading this book near the year-end holidays, and bought four copies to give as gifts.

Rating: 5/5

Joanne is an organization development and human resources professional with a business background living in Ohio. She has lived in Europe, Africa (including her Peace Corps service in South Africa), and arround the United States. She loves to plays volleyball, read, write, and has a cat named Ender.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Penguin Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.