The best books to inspire and/or facilitate your personal mystical quest

Joe Stillman Author Of The Man Who Came and Went
By Joe Stillman

Who am I?

Back in New York, while struggling to be a screenwriter, I was spiritually questing. My friends and I read “books that change lives”. New age books, self-help, mystical, spiritual. We meditated with crystals. We dabbled in tofu. And our lives did change. Some moved to Santa Fe. Some took up Reiki. I found my way to LA to write for TV and film. Throughout my time there, I was working on my own story to tell, like the ones I had loved in New York. That story eventually morphed into The Man Who Came and Went. For me and my friends at least, these books really did change lives.


I wrote...

The Man Who Came and Went

By Joe Stillman,

Book cover of The Man Who Came and Went

What is my book about?

Fifteen-year-old Belutha Mariah, our storyteller, is the oldest of three kids from three different fathers. Her life’s goal is to keep her dysfunctional mom, Maybell, from procreating yet again and leave the coffin-sized town of Hadley, Arizona the second she graduates high school. Along comes the new grill cook at Maybell’s Diner, Bill Bill, a mysterious drifter with the ability to mind-read orders. The curious and desperate pour into this desert town to eat at Maybell's.

Some believe Bill knows the secrets of the universe. Belutha figures he’s probably nuts. But his cooking transforms the lives of locals and visitors, and Belutha finds her angry heart opening, as Bill shows her the porous boundary between this life and what comes after.

The books I picked & why

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A Wind in the Door

By Madeleine L'Engle,

Book cover of A Wind in the Door

Why this book?

Of Madeleine L’Engle’s books, A Wrinkle in Time gets all the attention. But as often happens, praise sometimes misses something great. Her follow-up to Wrinkle in that same series, A Wind in the Door, is extraordinary. In one particular way, Wind gets at a truth; that the scale of big to small, human to mitochondria, mitochondria to galaxy, is actually not as distancing as it seems. No matter what size, everything has an essential part to play. There is also a theme to the book that, then and now, I find particularly poignant; the value of putting down roots and deepening into your life. As sometimes happens with YA books, Wind offers something really valuable for adults. Plus it’s short, which is pretty cool.


The Further Education of Oversoul Seven

By Jane Roberts,

Book cover of The Further Education of Oversoul Seven

Why this book?

This is a work of fiction written by Jane Roberts, famous as the writer of the Seth books. Through the novel form, Roberts gets across a plausible way to look at life, the fluid nature of time and some possible meaning and purpose to be found in reincarnation. It’s also pretty entertaining. Yay novels! There are three books in the Oversoul series. This, the second, is my favorite. 


The Crystal Cave

By Mary Stewart,

Book cover of The Crystal Cave

Why this book?

Here are two facts that don’t seem to go together. 1: I am a grown man. 2: I am recommending a novel about Merlin. On an outer level, this is a story about the making of an iconic character; how Merlin became Merlin. But on an inner level, it’s about a boy discovering his inner connectedness to the world around him, with its many subtle messages. There was a time when humans looked for and found signs in nature. That may be superstition and delusion sometimes, but I think life is constantly communicating with us. This is a story about listening, letting go of the mind’s will, being open and empty and receptive. This book can be a model for one’s mystical quest. Plus it’s a really fun read.


The Pathwork of Self-Transformation

By Eva Pierrakos,

Book cover of The Pathwork of Self-Transformation

Why this book?

Mystical quests are all well and good, but most things, even our quests, can be fodder for self-delusion. That’s just how humans are built. Learning the particulars of how we’re built is a powerful way to lessen that delusion. Sooner or later, some actual self-work becomes necessary. I haven’t come across a more effective roadmap to the self than what’s found in the Pathwork Lectures of Eva Pierrakos. This is channeled work, the idea of which may make you punch your computer screen. But the information in these lectures, about the inner workings of the human psyche, seems spot on. This book contains a sampling from a few of the lectures, a sort of dim sum of psychological wisdom.


Emmanuel's Book: A Manual for Living Comfortably in the Cosmos

By Pat Rodegast, Judith Stanton,

Book cover of Emmanuel's Book: A Manual for Living Comfortably in the Cosmos

Why this book?

I saved the best for last. In the mid-’80s, I was in a meditation group, and though we were centered around the teachings of Edgar Cayce, we read every new age and self-help book that came along. Far and away our favorite, with the most inspiring viewpoint, was Emmanuel’s Book. It was written a bit like poetry and I think there’s a reason for that. Emmanuel had a way of bypassing the human mind and speaking to us on a level deeper. As he liked to say: “Your life is none of your mind’s business.” Emmanuel has a way of putting you in contact with a knowing place within. As to whether or not you stay there, well that’s your personal mystical problem. 


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