Books / Reading / Thinking / January 28, 2013

Read Books That Search Your Soul

photo credit: Marco Bellucci via photopin cc

Everyone has questions about all sorts of things – identity, sexuality, gourmet cooking, business start up  parenting, communication, golf, or a nearly infinite list of subjects. One of the most natural places to find answers is in the pages of a book. We peruse them and devour then looking for bits of insight and information to improve our understanding. And numerous books do a fine job of answering our questions clearly.

But there is type of book, a much rarer creation, that does something more. Often the questions we ask of a book are all we know, but there are questions we did not even know were in us. These are uncertainties and emptiness in the soul, that nagging, unidentified sense of unease about . . . something. A common book answers recognized questions, but this singular variety of books brings to light those questions buried so deep in us we could not name or articulate them. And once the questions are drawn to the surface the book goes on to provide answers.

And it is just this type of book we should search for since they are treasures. We must not settle for books that merely answer questions we know to ask, for then we are our own teachers. We must hunt for books that teach us truths about ourselves we did not know, and did not know we should know. Reading the obvious sort of book is fine for certain questions  – How? Who? When? Where? But only certain books can explain “Why?” or “Who am I?” These are soul questions and need soul answers.

The intersection with such a book is a miraculous thing, for if we meet them at the wrong time and in the wrong place they are full of ordinary words and normal truths. But when we stumble unexpectedly into one it is when the blinders come off and we see soul answers to soul questions. And it is alwaysunexpected. There is no predicting which book will move us. No friend’s recommendation or reviewer’s enthusiasm can arrange this miraculous meeting. It merely surprises.

The only way to meet such a book is to keep reading. Move from one book to the next. Read four at once. Stop one and start another. Refuse to be satisfied by the ordinary unless it ends quickly. And as you move from book to book such a soul-answering title will find you, hold you, and help you. 

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