There are so many books out there, it is quite difficult to really pinpoint the best… I truly believe that some authors just hit home and we fall in love with their style and with their work. They somehow end up being a part of our “spiritual” family, or our genealogical tree of knowledge.
I can only suggest authors I’ve read and books that have helped me on my journey. They are the books that have guided me in becoming who I am and that are part of my human and spiritual growth.
Among the books I’ve read, many are psychological and have helped me better understand myself, correct or acknowledge unhealthy patterns and sometimes even break with self-sabotaging behaviour. Here are three books I believe everybody should read.
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First Book: “How to Befriend Your Shadow” by Jean Monbourquette
This book focuses mainly on this unloved side of ourselves. In fact, what Monbourquette calls the dark shadow is that side of us we often even try to deny or hide from others and from ourselves. It is our negative impulses, negative thoughts, etc.
I think the best way to illustrate the idea is by referring to a story in his book. Jean Monbourquette gives the example of an event that occurred in Gubbio, Italy at the time of Saint Francis of Assisi. The farmers from Gubbio were struggling with an evil wolf that kept eating their sheep and chickens. Some tried killing it and ended up being attacked by it, thus failing at their attempts. Exasperated, they finally called upon Saint Francis because he was known to speak to animals.
Upon arrival, Saint Francis went to the woods in search of the wolf. He was gone for days and the farmers were terrified at the possibility of his having been killed by the wolf. Suddenly, he came out of the wood and told the farmers that from now on, all they needed to do was to feed the wolf and that the wolf would not touch their animals.
This may sound absurd … but not paying attention to the dark shadow within us can result in destructive behaviour. Feeding the dark shadow, acknowledging its presence and deepening its comprehension can only bring peace.
Second Book: An Interrupted Life and Letters from Westerbork by Etty Hillesum
This second book might seem awkward and maybe even weird too many. Etty Hillesum, was the unfortunate victim of the Holocaust and was murdered when only 29 years old.
Obviously, her book reflects the reality of the concentration camp of Westerbrok, but it goes beyond the mere facts. It is actually the story of a soul who deepens her faith and beliefs in the midst of the worst experiences one can live. Her faith is not necessarily religious, it is rather centred on the belief of God’s being within us.
Her book was meant to be a personal journal. Following the advice of her analyst, she journaled her daily life. Through her writing , we can recognize the evolution of Nazism in those years and the measures being slowly implemented. Strangely enough, the stronger the measures, the stronger her interior freedom.
I’d say, this book must be read as life lesson. One of resilience in times of deep struggles. One of hope when everything around us seems to fall apart.
Third Book: The Daily Laws: 366 Meditations on Power, Seduction, Mastery, Strategy, and Human Nature by Robert Greene
OK! This might be the craziest book I’ve read in the last few years. Robert Green has to be one of the greatest writers there is out there. Not only does he dig deep into his own experience to give examples and get his ideas across, but he will definitely shake your beliefs.
Starting from his own experience, he digs deep into the great psychologists, philosophers, theologians and writers of all time, to bring out the elements that will support his ideas. Let’s just say that instead of starting from the belief that all humans are good, Robert Green prefers to be realistic and show the dark side of human nature. He then goes on by giving “tips and tricks” on survival in a world where unfortunately we need to be quick and a little Machiavellian!
You might think that I’m foolishly suggesting a book to help people becoming evil… but I think it is quite the opposite. I’m suggesting this book because I profoundly believe that good people will often be taken advantage of; they will often lose and will end up being pushed aside unjustly. Knowing and understanding how humans will often operate and think can only help you avoid mistakes that will make you lose all the time.
Just in light of the author’s own story, it is worth approaching his works. He’s been struggling as a writer. He lost many jobs and was left with little to no money until a publisher finally accepted to publish his first book as is! Until then, all publishers wanted him to change his style, quiet down the tone, etc. Well, now, guess what? He’s become one of the best sellers.
In other words, give it a try… let me know how grateful you are afterwards. This book is easy to read. It can be read as a regular book or as daily meditations which are short and easy to read.
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