Essential Reading for Spiritual Seekers

Most of us can identify certain teachers or mentors who have had
a profound impact on our lives. The same can be said for particular books that have shaped our view of the world. With that in mind, BustedHalo asks the question:

“What books have helped you on your spiritual journey?”

1) Augustine, The Confessions
No sense pussyfooting about it … this remains the template for the serious Catholic seeker, exposing the struggles of a quintessentially human soul
sometimes pompous, sometimes scrupulous, sometimes hiding behind irony or humor, but always searching. Everytime I’m tempted to think there’s something noble or original about my quest, I flip back through Augustine in order to remind myself that these fields have been plowed before.

2) Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain
Probably the classic novel of the 20th century, and the best description of the spiritual paralysis of modernity I have ever read. I always find myself identifying a bit with Hans Castorp, wishing I could spend just a bit more time on the mountain, unable to choose (or receive) a meaning for my life.The book reminds me of the dangers of too much introspection, too much disengagement, too much complimenting myself on how clever my reflections are when in reality I’m simply hiding from the choices that have to be made.

3) Herman Melville, Moby Dick
The classic exploration of the destructiveness of obsession, and since I tend to be fairly obsessive myself about my work, it’s helpful now and again to remind myself of how Ahab ended up. Plus, I love the way Melville paints the relationships among sailors, which does not seem terribly different in some cases from the dyanmics of life in religious community.