Reading Book Reviews as Spiritual Practice

On July 20th the Wall Street Journal published a review of The Beginning of Infinity by David Deutsch. The review was written by John Horgan who is the director of the Center for Science Writings at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken. Mr. Horgan also reviewed The Shallows for the Journal, but more on that at another time.  What grabbed me in this review was a passage in the fifth paragraph:

[Deutsch] rejects end-points of all kinds, whether a “theory of everything” that answers every scientific riddle, a work of art so exquisite that it cannot be surpassed or even the Buddhist version of Enlightenment, a state of unsurpassable spiritual grace.

happy new year 2018 quotes
I was in the midst of a love affair with Eckhart Tolle’s Power of Now when I read those lines. Like so many Buddhist thinkers before him, Tolle believes that a state of unsurpassable spiritual grace is attainable. Reading those lines brought me back to the Beatitudes of Jesus and the Our Father which project a world where spiritual grace is a journey, not a destination.

I devour book reviews because I am a slow reader and do not have time to read everything that I would like to read. I have trouble finishing the books that I start because, in the words of the YA writer, Kristen Anderson, there is always one “shinier” just over there.

Still, apart from giving us summaries of some of the great books hitting store shelves, the reviews themselves can often enlighten. And I am constantly amazed by the erudition of the reviewers–especially those in the Journal. Reading the daily review in the Journal is part of my daily routine. Do you have a review site or page that you frequent?

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