I have a passion for non-fiction spiritual writers who are individualists. They bring in new thoughts, different perspective, and they are often soul-baring, allowing access for a paltry sum to their decades of consideration and experience. Our response to individualists is often quite divided, as we grapple with ideas and understandings that are not our own.
It is so amazing to me when a book creates a moment of awakening, of sudden clarity, after which we see reality in a different way.
As a book reader/reviewer/nerd I have read thousands of books that may be deemed ”spiritual”, and have no allegiance to any type of particular label, group, organization, or religious-spiritual affiliation.
Five Favorite Individualist Books
5. Prometheus Rising by Robert Anton Wilson
I first read this book as a teenager, and it opened something within me. It allowed for me to understand culture in a different way, to see how tribalism still affects the modern world, and offers a solid map regarding how we navigate this world from different perspectives. I had tried to read some of Timothy Leary’s work but found it didn’t resonate with me. The discussion of Leary’s Eight Circuits of the Brain model made sense to me through Wilson’s words. I recently re-read this book a few years ago. It was still eye-opening, and I can see why my adolescent self enjoyed it so much. Wilson was a brash writer, and his charisma and ideas are still quite evident in his books.
4. A Natural History of the Senses by Diane Ackerman
This is not a book that is meant to be read straight through; it is to be savored, bit by bit. This book was by my bedside for years, and I would often pick it up, flip to a random paragraph, and be soothed by the imagery offered.
Ackerman is an excellent writer and this description of the senses and their history reminds me of why I love the world and how beautiful it is and how beautiful we as humans are. We are meant to be sensory beings, and this book reveals the depth and pure ecstasy of our senses.
3. The Mermaid and the Minatour by Dorothy Dinnerstein
There will likely be a limited audience for a book that is a feminist psychoanalytic exploration of sexual dynamics. Arguably a book with a central thesis that men should be involved just as much as women with childcare is very out of date considering modern relationships and couplings.
However, the way that she writes is truth. Sometimes this is a painful truth, and this book will definitely provoke a reaction for those ready for it. It can sometimes be a bit repetitive, but it is worth reading for anyone ready to take a deep-dive into considering gender and gender arrangements.
2. Apocalyptic Witchcraft by Peter Grey
I thought I would include a modern book on this list, as I have a fondness for older works.
The passion of thought in this book was much appreciated, as it showed me that the essential wildness of the witch has not disappeared or become de-fanged (or secularized) in the modern world. The essential, ecstatic communion with nature, non-linear and mythopoetic understanding of reality, and the clear embodied experience of the author comes through. The figure of the witch as wildness, and how modern culture has deconstructed and re-shaped the identity of the witch is quite illuminating.
This is a book that made me want a much longer book, expounding on the ideas presented in a clearer and more comprehensive way, especially as we are in an era where discussion regarding nature, technology, and our relationship to one another is so necessary. But the ideas are exciting enough to make reading this work worth it.
1. Avalanche by W. Brugh Joy
The subtitle of this book is Heretical Reflections on the Dark and the Light. It is a worthy subtitle. This is a book on the shadow that demonstrates such intellectual curiosity and spiritual understanding that I still find myself only able to read sections at a time. Each time I have read it a different section stands out to me. It is incredibly rare that I read books twice. I have read this book at least five times.
I enjoyed W. Brugh Joy’s first book, which was much more popular and much more introductory. Avalanche is several leaps forward in consciousness from that book, revealing an individual who was willing to continually look within at the darkest aspects of himself and humanity. The last time I read this book I was struck by the description of the ”simple self” and how much it resonated with me.