The best books for seeing what isn’t there (or is it?)

Who am I?

A while ago I lived with the extraordinary spiritual Findhorn community in Scotland and that experience opened my eyes to the mysteries that we are and that surround us. Subsequently, I became a professional travel guide writer and as I visited churches and megaliths, it gradually occurred to me that the ancients may have recorded information useful to us if only we could work out how to interpret it. Twenty years ago I settled in France, a country densely packed with extraordinary places. Here, I have been able to deepen my understanding of the universal, greater reality of which we are part.  


I wrote...

A Guide to Mystical France: Secrets, Mysteries, Sacred Sites

By Nick Inman,

Book cover of A Guide to Mystical France: Secrets, Mysteries, Sacred Sites

What is my book about?

There’s another reality. Our ancestors knew that. It inspired them to paint on cave walls and build megaliths and cathedrals. Our over-literal age treats these mystical traces on the landscape as superstitious objects without meaning. It reduces them to tourist sights. But what if we accept such places as they are intended: as doorways and signposts into other realms? What might we learn if we can gain access? France is particularly rich in mystical sights and this book introduces the reader to a world of secrets and lost knowledge. It suggests a new, deeper way to travel. Open your inner eyes and you can begin to see what the cave painters, church builders, Templars, Cathars, and alchemists are trying to tell us.

The books I picked & why

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The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are

By Alan Watts,

Book cover of The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are

Why this book?

The late great Alan Watts was the master of reminding us not to take reality – or ourselves – at face value. His prose manages to be simple and profound at the same time and he always has his feet on the earth. I could recommend any of his books but this is the one with which I began. No one else can ever tell me who or what I am. My experience of the world is always subjective, whatever science says; and the best way to see accurately is to get to know myself.

The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are

By Alan Watts,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Book as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Book On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are explores an unrecognised but mighty taboo - our tacit conspiracy to ignore who, or what, we really are. Alan Watts, key thinker of Western Zen Buddhism, explains how to reconsider our relationship with the world.

We are in urgent need of a sense of our own existence, which is in accord with the physical facts and which overcomes our feeling of alienation from the universe. In The Book On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are, Alan Watts asks what causes the illusion of the self as a separate ego…


Romanesque

By Rolf Toman,

Book cover of Romanesque

Why this book?

If you want to be pleasingly perplexed for the rest of your life, start looking closely at Romanesque sculpture from the middle ages (preceding the more famous Gothic style). This doorstopper of a book covering all of Romanesque art and architecture is one place to begin. It’s a collection of essays by experts in the field but even if you don't read the text you can just enjoy the lavish photos that point to the most interesting churches to visit in Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Britain, Scandinavia, and central Europe. There is also an excellent pictorial feature explaining the basics of Romanesque building and decoration. 

Romanesque

By Rolf Toman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Romanesque as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Romanesque was the first period in medieval art to include all of Europe. It began around 1000 and did not end with the Staufen late Romanesque in Germany and Italy until about the middle of the thirteenth century. The borrowing of particular elements from Roman architecture, including the round arch, which is considered the hallmark of the Romanesque, led to the coining of the term "Romanesque.'? The majority of the works of architecture, sculpture and painting discussed in this volume can be properly understood only in the context of a Christian view of the world, and Christian way of…


Mysterious Britain: Ancient Secrets of the United Kingdom and Ireland

By Janet Bord, Colin Bord,

Book cover of Mysterious Britain: Ancient Secrets of the United Kingdom and Ireland

Why this book?

One of the inspirations for Mystical France was this classic published in the 1970s, a guide to the earth mysteries and traditions of the British Isles by two photographers fascinated by standing stones, UFOs, and ley lines. It’s a matter-of-fact assembly of all the strange things they could find. The images are in black and white but this only adds to the aura of the places described. The text mainly consists of extended captions making it easy to pick up and flick through without having to commit to reading hefty chapters. As in the best-illustrated books, the words explain the pictures and the pictures explain the words with nothing superfluous.

Mysterious Britain: Ancient Secrets of the United Kingdom and Ireland

By Janet Bord, Colin Bord,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mysterious Britain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Creased spine and page edges tanned, corner of cover creased. Shipped from the U.K. All orders received before 3pm sent that weekday.


The Illustrated Signs & Symbols Sourcebook

By Adele Nozedar,

Book cover of The Illustrated Signs & Symbols Sourcebook

Why this book?

Every mystery hunter needs a guide to symbols and this profusely illustrated book is the best I have found so far. Symbols, by definition, point directly to the non-obvious aspects of a greater reality. In religious buildings they are a way to escape the material and approach the numinous, which is beyond the scope of words. Sometimes the meaning of a symbol is clear but in other cases the explanation has been forgotten and you need suggestions as how to interpret it. This is where this book comes in.  

The Illustrated Signs & Symbols Sourcebook

By Adele Nozedar,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Illustrated Signs & Symbols Sourcebook as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The book is in excellent condition.


The Earth Spirit: Its Ways, Shrines and Mysteries

By John Michell,

Book cover of The Earth Spirit: Its Ways, Shrines and Mysteries

Why this book?

John Michell needs to be mentioned somewhere on my list for his pioneering work into seeing the earth as a living creature with which human beings interact. This is part of a legendary series of illustrated books, Art and the Imagination, which gives serious treatment to subjects that are too often treated in a less rigorous way. Each has an expert introduction and extended picture captions. Other titles cover astrology, alchemy, the Holy Grail, Tao, Zen, the mythical spiral, and sacred geoometry.

The Earth Spirit: Its Ways, Shrines and Mysteries

By John Michell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Earth Spirit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Discusses how various ancient cultures worshipped the Earth and shows wells, sacred rocks, standing stones, and symbolic earthworks.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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