The Love of Books - Part Two
Continuing on from my first post on influential or impactful books I have read, especially in my younger days I must first describe my circumstances as a child. We were extremely poor growing up in what was considered a low class neighborhood. This is not irrelevant, as these circumstances drove me to books.
I wanted to escape the ‘ghetto’ and make something of my life. To do so I believed it was necessary to be cultured (remember I was only 13 years old, no TV, no mother and no mentor) …and in my mind cultured meant knowing a little about a lot
We had a great library in our area and every Saturday morning I would go take out two three books. I would go to the non-fiction aisle, close my eyes and walk down the aisle running my fingers along the books and stop and take one. I would only look at what it was about once I had checked the book out and was heading home. It was my own personal conviction that whatever the subject; I needed to finish reading it in the week.
I read some lulu subjects …. And one of the most impressionable was Carl Jung’s Psychological Types. It was the first time I had stumbled on the concept of introversion and extraversion… I was barely 14 years old.
"This work sprang originally from my need to define the ways in which my outlook differed from Freud's and Adler's. In attempting to answer this question, I came across the problem of types; for it is one's psychological type which from the outset determines and limits a person's judgment.
The next book that I recall making a huge impression on me was really hard to avoid…. Dog eared copies of the book were doing the rounds in almost all grades at school. Anyone my age will already have guessed what book that was ……. of course it was Xaviera Hollander’s The Happy Hooker
"I would like to say that I am proud of the empire I have had. I am sorry the exciting moments of making people happy may be over, thanks to outmoded laws and dishonest maneuvers, but I guess there will always be now opportunities for an ambitious, active Dutch girl to be happy and give pleasure to others."
Not much needs to be said about what kind of impact this book had
I had in the meantime not forgotten about the spiritual side and had been doing a lot of reading mainly around natural phenomena and the paranormal,. I was seriously impressed by Joan Grant and all the lives she could recall having lived, one of those lives being an Egyptian priestess. So reincarnation became a ‘thing’ for a while and I devoured books on the subject.
A book that really made an impact and shaped my thinking about religion was a very thick, very serious book called The Religions of Man authored by Huston-Smith. It is a book I really need to get my hands on again and urge anybody who is not deeply religious to give it a go. It does not promote one over the other, it does not disparage or ridicule or play one against the other. It does give one a clearer understanding of each religious practice.
Here is a unique study of all the world's great religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Islam, Judaism and Christianity. This book is neither a history or a critique. Instead it explains, simply and sympathetically, the basic tenants of each religion and the reasons why it attracts millions of devout followers. As the author explains in the first chapter, "This is a book about religion that exists . . . . not as a dull habit but as an acute fever. It is about religion alive.
I was going on 16 at the time and my brain was like a sponge.
The last book I want to mention in part two is one that I really enjoyed and there is a story attached to it. It was a thin paperback written by Guy Lyon Playfair called The Flying Cow
When The Flying Cow was first published in 1975, it revealed a world of psychic wonders in Brazil hitherto barely explored by outsiders. Author Guy Lyon Playfair had spent two years as a member of the Brazilian Institute for Psychobiophysical Research (IBPP), the first group of its kind to investigate and document the wide range of inexplicable phenomena – from poltergeists and psychic surgeons to trance artists and children who recall previous lives.
The story, I had read the book and was mulling some of the content when there was a knock on the door. Jehovah Witnesses !! I was debating with them about religion (I had already read Religions of Man… and as a knowall teenager I believed I had all the answers). When I mentioned ‘The Flying Cow’ and some of its contents, specifically how he describes the natural phenomena which could account for the walls of Jericho crumbling under the vibrations caused by the many trumpets they asked to see the book.
Idiot I was I gave it to them and they promised faithfully on the bible they would bring it back. Never saw them or the book again.
Thanks for stopping by ... and if you plan to share your reading experiences please let me know by reply so I can keep an eye out for it.