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The Seven Storey Mountain
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In 1941, a brilliant, good-looking young man decided to give up a promising literary career in New York to enter a monastery in Kentucky, from where he proceeded to become one of the most influential writers of this century. Talk about losing your life in order to find it. Thomas Merton's first book, The Seven Storey Mountain, describes his early doubts, his conversion to a Catholic faith of extreme certainty, and his decision to take life vows as a Trappist. Although his conversionary piety sometimes falls into sticky-sweet abstractions, Merton's autobiographical reflections are mostly wise, humble, and concrete. The best reason to read The Seven Storey Mountain, however, may be the one Merton provided in his introduction to its Japanese translation: "I seek to speak to you, in some way, as your own self. Who can tell what this may mean? I myself do not know, but if you listen, things will be said that are perhaps not written in this book. And this will be due not to me but to the One who lives and speaks in both." --Michael Joseph Gross

A modern-day Confessions of Saint Augustine, The Seven Storey Mountain is one of the most influential religious works of the twentieth century. This edition contains an introduction by Merton's editor, Robert Giroux, and a note to the reader by biographer William H. Shannon. It tells of the growing restlessness of a brilliant and passionate young man whose search for peace and faith leads him, at the age of twenty-six, to take vows in one of the most demanding Catholic orders-the Trappist monks. At the Abbey of Gethsemani, "the four walls of my new freedom," Thomas Merton struggles to withdraw from the world, but only after he has fully immersed himself in it. The Seven Storey Mountain has been a favorite of readers ranging from Graham Greene to Claire Booth Luce, Eldridge Cleaver, and Frank McCourt. And, in the half-century since its original publication, this timeless spiritual tome has been published in over twenty languages and has touched millions of lives.

Customer Reviews:

  • See how a non-religious man became a Trappist monk
    This book is a modern masterpiece-- often compared to St. Augustine's Confessions. I think the comparison is valid. Merton's struggles in life can help guide us today.

    The book is a bit boring at times, but you should still be able to get through it without too much trouble.

    I highly suggest anything by Thomas Merton....more info

  • A book that makes you face yourself and turn to God
    I'm reading this book for the 2nd time -- the 1st time changed my life. Funny, that seems to be a recurrent theme in these reviews. I started reading it expecting a dense academic work, and was VERY pleasantly surprised to find that it is a life-changing book and a good read to boot. Merton is unbelievable; his candid (and funny) observations about himself, his self-absorbtion, his pride and his misery made me so clearly see the same things in myself, and humbly sprint back into God's arms. P.S. -- In response to the reviewer who was disappointed because Merton didn't discuss having a child out of wedlock in the book (How dare we compare the book to St. Augustine's Confessions?): It is my understanding that, in his original manuscript, Merton was very frank about his past, including the pregnancy. However, his superiors at Gethsemene made him take it out, "cleaning the book up" a bit for his 1950s audience....more info
  • Powerful and timeless
    Merton's book offers refuge and sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of modern life. Like the monastery to which he fled as a young man, this book is an island of peace and serenity in a world that often seems geared to over-stimulate us and make us forget what's truly important in life.

    "The Seven Storey Mountain" describes Merton's life from birth to the beginning of his religious vocation as a Trappist monk. Along the way, the reader watches as Merton grows and develops, travelling across Europe, dabbling in Communism, educating himself at Oxford and, later, Columbia, seeking fame and fortune as a writer, and wondering at last if he might be called to the monastery.

    Merton's true gift is an ability to describe his life while also transcending it. He writes not to explain his life, but to explain what he's learned about all life, about our relationships with each other and with God, about how we strive for spiritual development and how we sometimes fall short.

    One major flaw with this book is its lack of frankness when dealing with Merton's college years. The book's vagueness about his decision to leave England and come to the U.S. leaves the reader wondering if Merton is making much ado about nothing. What many readers may not know is that Merton had gotten a girl pregnant and was told by his stepfather that he should leave the country and restart his education in the U.S. Years later, when writing the book, Merton had reportedly wanted to detail this episode of his life, but was overruled by members of his religious order. Because of this, the book suffers, and the uninformed reader loses some sense of the size of the mountains Merton climbed to reach his final destination.

    In the end, though, flaws and all, this is still an indispensable book. It often seems to be speaking directly to the reader, offering insights and wisdom that linger long after the final page is turned....more info
  • Seven Storey Mountain
    I'm not really qualified to review this book because I haven't read it. I bought it for a gift for my son who requested it. He said it's excellent, but that's hearsay....more info
  • Couldn't Ask for More
    Copies were well priced, new, and came amazingly fast.The Seven Storey Mountain Obviously the Merton story and the quality of his prose are outstanding....more info
  • Literature, Theology, and Autobiography
    Part literary analysis, part theological speculation, and largely spiritual autobiography, this 467 page tome is a much easier read than one might initially expect. There were times when, as a non-Catholic, I got bogged down in some of the particulars of the tradition, but much of the book has a universal appeal. The Seven Storey Mountain tells of Merton's journey from agnosticism to Catholicism, from self-absorbed young man to contemplative monk. The work is well enough written to have captured the imagination of countless readers, and it has even been translated into 20 languages. The Protestant reader may be either annoyed or amused (depending on his personality) by Merton's jabs at Protestantism. He does, however, have the magnanimity to frequently compliment Protestants for having "at least that much of religion."...more info
  • tedious at first, but worth the trip
    I picked up this book a year ago and found it tough to get through the early stages of Merton's life. After putting it aside for several months, I found myself attacking it again. Merton shows his readers that his life was far from perfect--just like ours! He wasn't the typical Catholic-bred schoolboy who fell into the church because of his heritage.

    This book shows the journey of a man who didn't believe in God to a man who would surrender his life to God. The steps and stops in his life show us the many times God tapped him on the shoulder and how he eventually listened....more info
  • A Classic Work
    This is a timeless masterpiece from a man who always seems to speak to me in ways that mere words could not. Father Merton takes the reader on a beautiful journey of faith and seeking God, ultimately leading to his ordination as a priest and the monastic life. I have found myself going back to this book from time to time, always seeming to come away with something new. This book has stood the test of time, as its words are as relative today as they were the day they were written. Highly, highly recommended. ...more info
  • For the Deeply Contemplative
    Thomas Merton is a wonderful voice for the spiritual yearning that lies within us all. Merton, a trappist monk expressed the spirituality of so many people that longed for a religion that could both function within the bounds of Christianity and bring it to life. Thus it is with this poet, monk, and student of the Zen Masters the world recieved a new voice on its oldest subject. In this book, Merton's spiritual autobiography, one comes in contact with a truly beautiful human being. This book has my nomination for the great twentieth century American novel. It is a book in which every word echoes the warmth and passion of its author.
    Thomas, You will be sadly missed....more info
  • Probably the most well-known book by an American monk...
    Even for a non-Catholic agnostic kind of person, this book was a near life-changing event. Having read Merton's work on Eastern things (Chuang-tzu, etc.) I came to this book with an open mind. What I found in reading it was a story of a child of the early nineteen forties who turned toward God. He was actually a classmate at Columbia (or a near contemporary) of Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg..... and they ended up trying to find salvation in a similar, but different manner....

    It's a wholly worthwhile book for anyone to read though for some I could imagine the section after his conversion (which would strike many of his readers as the most profound section of the book) could end up being a bit tiresome.......more info

  • Thomas Merton: Climbing the Mountain
    After reading Thomas Merton’s “The Seven Storey Mountain,” and being amazed at what I read, I want to set down the reaction I had to this powerful book. Merton’s story of his faith, from its virtual nonexistence to conversion and then finding his true vocation deeply touched my spirit and enabled me to reexamine a portion of my spirituality that, like the author’s at my age, was severely neglected. I hesitate to say that Merton’s personal “confessions” changed my life, because that phrase is so clich¨¦. However, as a fellow convert, journeying from uncertainty and darkness to light and joy, I connected on that level with him immediately. The sentiments I share with him are best expressed through his words. I hope to convey some sense of the pervasive effects of faith and love on life, which Merton explored. The masterful unity, coherence, and balance of his words can only come from a life of faith...

    A question remains: why does Merton’s story continue to fascinate and speak to so many after 50 years? The fact that his works remain in print and are available in over 20 languages suggest that it is at least profitable to keep them on bookstore shelves and inventories....Merton’s works are not dated, but continue to affect millions. They are classics, even when viewed on a purely economic scale, discounting substance and material. Robert Giroux, a personal friend of Merton, quotes Mark Van Doren, an influential professor in his and Merton’s life, in his introduction to “The Seven Storey Mountain:” “A classic is a book that remains in print” (xviii). I agree with [a reviewer] to an extent when he skeptically questions, “But I doubt that any of us would have heard of him or his writings if he hadn’t become a monk. As a lay writer, he would have been forgotten long ago.” Robert Giroux addresses this quandary in the introduction: “Why did the success of the Mountain go so far beyond my expectations as an editor and publisher?” (xvi). The spiritual yearning and search for peace in a nuclear age and cold war, where small children in innocence were taught to duck under their desks in case of an attack, certainly plays a role, as Giroux notes. But, “Merton’s story was unusual – a well-educated and articulate young man withdraws – why? – into a monastery” (xvi). Why indeed would a man deny a lucrative career as professor, writer, and intellectual to perform continual penance in an isolated abbey? This intriguing question and unique situation provides the initial draw to the “Mountain.” To modern middle-class America, the idea that someone would give up “profit and financial security for asceticism and penance seems strange. Perhaps readers were awkwardly convicted by the notion that something more substantial existed than a cold beer and hot shower in order to be happy, and that someone had found this something more. However, after curiosity attracts, Merton holds the reader’s attention on his own merits. After the head-turning surprise, arresting the passer by in mid stride, he must or, as so many carnival attractions, rapidly relinquish their hold as soon as it is established. Merton’s belief he places in the Church is humbling, and provides a draw much stronger than gaudy language or verbal theatrics, even if the reader does not agree with his philosophies. The passion he displays in his words and the yearning for spiritual union with God is so plain in his heart that he propels the reader like the promise of an oasis drives a nomad through endless deserts. Merton gives his reader, a fellow spiritual pilgrim, whether they know it or not, a clear draught to refresh and fortify. And, as Merton ends his story and takes leave, he offers a final piece of advice: “Sit finis libri, non finis quaerendi – Let this be the end of the book, but not the end of the search” (462).

    I have written a longer essay on this book - if you want to read it, send me an email at GOPForever@yahoo.com...more info

  • a life changing book
    this is really a life changing book and i would recommend it to anyone who searches for god regardless of which denomination they come from. Thomas Merton tells his life story warts and all in order that the reader may understand the amazing work of god's grace in his life. This book is inspiring and hopeful, a welcome change from the usual low standard of christian books in your average christian bookshop....more info
  • An Inspiring Journey of Faith
    This famous autobiography chronicles the author's life from childhood up to the point as a young man he makes the bold decision to enter the Trappist order. Like many of us, Merton spiritually sleepwalks through much of his youth. But gradually, he is drawn to God as he comes to perceive the shallowness and futility of the intellectuality and self-indulgence that had thusfar characterized his life. Eventually his love for God becomes a passion of awesome proportions, enabling him to bring his life into a wonderous balance, inspiring him to write some of the most influential religious reflections of our age or perhaps any age.

    The questions Merton grapples with here--how to balance the seemingly conflicting impulses of our intellect, passions, and spirit--are timeless. Anyone looking for greater harmony in his/her life will undoubtedly find great insight and inspiration from Merton's story.

    Also--I think today "The Seven Storey Mountain" is particularly relevant because of its historical context, which so closely parallels our own. Much of Merton's story takes place during the outbreak of World War II. As war looms larger and larger, Merton describes with great unease the sense of impending doom, the uncertainty of where the world is heading, and yet the certainty it is heading somewhere disturbing and dangerous. As I read Merton's reflections on the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia--a defining act of war--for a moment I thought I was reading about September 11. The looming threat of terrorism gives us a newfound ability to relate to Merton's world, and this I think makes his message far more accessible, meaningful, and necessary for us to hear....more info

  • Classic!
    This book was written over 50 years ago but is still a fresh story of a young man's faith awakening! I would recommend this book to anyone!...more info
  • An Enduring Spiritual Classic
    Thomas Merton's "The Seven Storey Mountain" is one of the classics of Christian literature and was one of the best selling books of the twentieth century. It will last well into this century as well. There is something about a worldly man giving up so much of the promise that life has to offer to live the austere life of a monk. While the book somewhat echoes St. Augustine's "Confessions," we see more of the emptiness of Merton's life prior to his conversion to Catholicism than we would find in Augustine's work as well as the role that faith played in his life. Readers are fascinated with Merton's life, and even if it cannot be emulated by most of us, we admire Merton's willingness to enter a monastery and it helps us re-evaluate our own faith.

    One of the things that I find interesting about "The Seven Storey Mountain" is the way it can speak differently to a person over the years. I first became acquainted with the book when I came across an old, dusty and mildewy copy of the book in our cellar. I was probably in the sixth or seventh grade and decided to read it but put it down after one page when I was told I was too young to understand it. This inspired me to one day read the book. I finally read it while I was in college and saw Merton as an adventurer, and could relate to the boldness of his actions and the reality of his faith. As I have gotten older and reread the book or passages of the book, I see his writings differently, yet they still speak to me. Merton becomes less of a bold maverick and more of a person seeing what our hearts are all seeking, but not necessarily finding it. He becomes less of a hero and more of a person whose flaws speak as powerfully as his insights and discoveries about faith. In this way he is very much like his literary ancestor, St. Augustine.

    Over the years interested in Merton seems to grow. At the time this review is being written, his works are being republished and a biography of Merton using his actual journal is now available. This first book is essential for anyone who has even a casual interest in Merton. Readers with an interest in Merton may also find Paul Elie's "The Life You Save May Be Your Own" helpful as well. This book, which also looks at the lives of Walker Percy, Flannery O'Connor, and Dorothy Day, puts Merton in both a historical and literary context.
    ...more info
  • A beautiful book
    I read this book at a time of spiritual crisis and it helped to open my mind to Christ. I have gone on to read more of Merton's works and am constantly moved by his writings....more info
  • "I Once Was Lost, But Now Am Found."
    The Seven Storey Mountain is a beautifully written book. Thomas Merton was a brilliant intellectual who had looked at many different types of belief. Merton realizes that he isn't happy, though, and he continues to search until he is converted to Christianity. The Seven Storey Mountain is the story of Merton's journey from being that confused and despairing intellectual to being a secure and happy Trappist monk.

    The Seven Storey Mountain offers the reader so much. It is an extraordinary way to build faith. The picture of courage that Merton presents as someone actually willing to give up himself for his belief in God is so inspiring. Some of the passages about God are so beautiful. The only possible warning I have for this book is that its possible that some Protestant readers may be slightly offended by some rather general criticisms pointed at non-Catholic Christians. Still, these in no way detracted from the book for me, and I think that any reader of this book will benefit despite some any doctrinal differences. The Seven Storey Mountain is moving and joyful story of a man's journey to God, and it is a journey which should be celebrated and learned from....more info

  • A personal favorite
    I read a lot, but there are few books I return to for a second or third reading. Merton's spiritual autobiography is one of them. His story is engaging and well-written, and you will likely see yourself more than once in his unfolding search. I have given this book to friends as a gift, and I highly recommend it. My suggestion would be to use it as an introduction to Merton's journals and other writings....more info
  • Give him points for zeal, but he glorifies selfishness
    THE SEVEN STOREY MOUNTAIN is Thomas Merton's autobiography, concentrating on his early life up to his Catholic conversion experience and entrance into a Trappist monastery.

    Comparisons abound between this work and the CONFESSIONS of St. Augustine, both authors address the book as much to God as to the reader, and they both look back scornfully and regretfully upon their lives before entry into the Church. However, Augustine has the upper hand here due to his immense honesty of his sins, while Merton alludes to sinful actions without exactly saying what he did wrong, leading the reader to wonder what exactly he's complaining about. Merton's fathering of an illegimate child while at Cambridge is a crucial event which leads to his leaving England, coming to New York and eventually into the Church, but is never plainly stated, and in fact one has to read the preface to find out what happened.

    Thomas Merton's convert zeal is impressive throughout the book, and that the book shows an inside view of a man's love for his God is its one redeeming factor. This reviewer's complain is that Merton claims to want to live a better life, but he spurns the poor and unfortunate people of the world, fleeing to solitude to work for his salvation alone. The reader would think, if only Merton had shown his love for God through helping the needy, we'd have one of the greatest charity workers in history. But instead, Merton comes across as an uncaring, incompassionate man.

    THE SEVEN STOREY MOUNTAIN is, of course, a story of conversion and is therefore written in a frenzy of love for God. His later works are much more concerned with ecumenicalism and world events from a monastic viewpoint, and so the reader should know that those books read differently....more info

  • "A Merton" Merton Never Abandoned
    "Seven Storey Mountain" will always rank as one of Thomas Merton's (Fr. Louis's) greatest written works.

    While in later years, Merton himself at times was dismissive of it (and we "all" grow and evolve and look back at earlier work and thought as perhaps "lacking"), this work set the groundwork and foundation for ALL of what was to follow from the heart, mind, and pen of this true monk. Had merton not thought as he wrote in this volume, nothing that he came to discover and uncover and write later would have likely come to pass. . . and certainly not in such an incisive and decisive way. Like it or not, Merton, from his monastery in Gethsemany KY and his hermitage affected the world.

    From his earliest spiritual encounter with "the Little flower" St. Therse of Lisieux, Merton recounts his pilgrimage into monasticism and his transformation and evolution into a monk . . . and it was and is exactly as a monk that Merton ingests and digest the world and world events and relationships and shapes a view which we are able to read and think on to help us formulate our own.

    "Seven Storey Mountain" presents us with "the man" who discovered "God" and his place in relationship to God and to his neighbors . . . if you want to undertand anything else Merton edver wrote or thought . .even his later encounters with "non-christian" monasticism, you MUST read THIS volume first . . . Merton never abandoned this starting point . . he wandered and meandered through a world beseiged with turmoils, hatreds, wars, prejudices, limitations, and cultures and religious diversities . . and he met them "on their own terms . . but always as "this monk" . . .this monk whom you will meet and grow to admire in the pages of THIS volume.

    i would go so far as to say if you only ever read ONE book by Thomas Merton, make it THIS ONE: "The Seven Storey Mountain". You will never be the same . . . and you will always remember it . . . and you will look at the world . . your life . .the lives of others . .at monasticism . .at everything differently . . . more positively and meaningfully.

    Thank you Thomas Merton (Fr. Louis) for all that you prayed . . and meditated . .and wrote . . . you are missed by many . . needed by many more today more than ever . . but we can still find you in your published works . . . and in this book, "The Seven Storey Mountain"! :)...more info
  • Hard to Rate - Easy to Read
    This book generates many responses, depending on the reader's state of mind when he picks it up.

    I read it at a very critical point in my life, and it started me on a journey that ended, like Merton, in the Catholic Church, but not in a monastery. Why? I don't know. It's not great literature. It is nothing like his later works, written after he matured in ways that he would never have expected when this was written. It is an 'immature' book. He's reported to have said later in life that he wished he had never written it. But he did, and it's a good thing.

    It gives us a starting point. Other contemplatives probably went through many of these feelings, but not many of them wrote at this point in their lives. Merton talked later about the irony of forsaking all possessions in the morning, and signing the publishing contract for this book in the afternoon. That tension stands out here. The man stands in two worlds. One (his past) that he has rejected, but can not let go of, and the other that he needs (is there any other reason for becoming a monk?), but hasn't grown into.

    This is his story. It's not the story of a monk. It's not the story of a secular man. It's the story of a man who was to become one of the most influential monks of the century, almost in spite of himself, but he wasn't there yet. He's still new, caught up in bliss, not yet aware of the things that come with the life he had chosen (or had chosen him, if you want to say it that way).

    As I said, it is a hard book to rate. There are times in a sincere man's life when it is going to speak to something within him. If it does, this could be one of the most interesting things he will ever read....more info

  • A deep and important autobiography
    Thomas Merton is a profound person, and his personal story reflects his wisdom and keen sense of what is important in life. The book itself is surprisingly easy to read, though at times it seems to contain more detail than I hoped for, particularly in the latter parts of the book. As a non-Catholic, I was not reading this book for specific religious doctrine, but rather as a study of the nature of intensely devoted religious people. I got my money and time's worth....more info
  • A Thought Provoking Christian Classic!
    A true classic in Christian literature. The man was truly a saint and a sinner who knew his need of forgiveness. His life was shaped by many early experiences and he shares them openly in this extremely well-crafted autobiography. Deeply encouraging and inspiring, it left me wanting to read everything he ever wrote. A passionate, sensitive, and powerful autobiography. ...more info
  • The Gateway to Merton
    The Seven Storey Mountain is by no means Thomas Merton's Masterpiece. But it is his most well-known work. Many people only know Merton for this, the biography of his early years. This can lead people to an uneven view of Merton and his worldview. A good antidote to this particular problem is to read either Merton's Journals or his Letters. They give a much broader view of Merton's developing thought.

    Yet this book is not without its charms. How all the subsequent efforts of his biographers, no one has told the story of this period of Merton's life better than Merton. There are indispensable insights, biographical as well as spiritual, to be gained from this book. It is still probably the best place to start with Merton. I recommend it....more info

  • A Life Changing Book
    I read this book six years ago, in my last semester in college, and, through the travels and travails of my life since then, I've kept it not far from my side. I must admit that I am not Catholic, and never will be, and that I struggle every day with my faith (something Merton could relate to). What I related to most, though, was the fact that this man struggled constantly with issues so terribly neglected in modern times: issues surrounding charity, asceticism, non-violence, and the downside of capitalism. One can cull a tremendous amount of very relevant social criticism from this book, a good sixty years after it was written. I would have to argue, though, that at the point of authorship of Seven Storey, Merton owed only a few of his ideas to the left. He was overwhelmed with an idealistic, Christian/Utopian vision of peace, love and charity. This left him very untied to the outside world, however often he argued that Gethsemani was the "real American." I have struggled with Christian utopianism for years, quite convinced that it could never work, and at other times believing that it is the only true salvation for humanity. Merton naively believed that the struggles of mankind, as impermanent as they were, might be solved through the sense of humility and charity that the "real" Catholic church brings. It is a huge, impossible dream. And, in escaping to Gesthemani, perhaps he was escaping from the thorny issues that surround such idealism. But, for the most part, he was right on. The rot that was (and is) Western civilization, built layer by layer for centuries, was finally seeing its stinking fruition at the time of his conversion and subsequent vocation in the Catholic church. With American hegemony, in the present time, we have not seen the rot disappear, only to take upon a different mutation. What I believe is the very essence of Christianity: non-violence and
    charity, has been replaced by an amorphous and greedy capitalist system that keeps pace with the continuation of a military-industrial complex. Civilization holds on by a thread. In this new century, we continue to avoid peaceful answers. And although he did not have all the best solutions, Merton asked most of the right questions....more info
  • A journey of faith
    I have read and reread this book several times, and I always enjoy going back into the first half of the 20th century and taking the journey to faith with Thomas Merton, as he moves from childhood to self-absorbed teen to a dabbler in communism, to writer/intellectual, to searcher, to Catholic, to Trappist monk. What a journey!

    Merton writes in a clear, matter-of-fact, self-depreciating style that is quite attractive. He makes the reader feel as "if this too, could happen to them", because Merton himself is portrayed as just a common man - filled with sin and propensity for wrong decision-making, but on the road to God nevertheless.

    Merton shows us that our religious conversion is more than just a point in time: it is a journey in God.

    I would especially recommend this book to young adult Catholics and those who were not in the Catholic Church during the pre-Vatican II period. The book goes into a fair amount of detail regarding Merton's experience in that Church, and for this reason, might be of interest to those who have come into the Catholic Church since the mid-1960's....more info

  • Great read for the Faithful and non-faithful alike
    I would like to state first that this edition is not the exact edition that I read. The one that I read featured a strangely imaginative cover of a "seven storey mountain" that was quite interesting to look at(perhaps more like a fantasy cover) as I made my way along the long journey woven with in this book.
    Ah this book was great, like a soothing cup of tea it works on many levels. First of all, this is wonderfully written. I was instantly drawn in to his life, from his childhood, to his college days, to his partying days, to his Trappist Days.
    This book reminded me that as different as things are today then in Merton's day they are essentially the same. He stayed out at clubs until four in the morning, just as Kerouac did, and most young poeple do today. It's really so familiar, and accessible.
    I think about this book often. I think about how Merton must have wandered the streets of Manhattan looking for his faith, and living a very "Manhattan" life. It's amazing to think that a man that can write so lovingly of one of the most urban modern populated settings in the entire world could find more peace on essentially a farm, a Trappist One at that.
    This book was given to my college room mate by his father who asked him as a favor to read it. He never did, but somehow it found its way into my hands. I opened it up, and was taken in by the beautiful openness of the story, and the very elegant style.
    I had read On the Road by Kerouac, and many other "classic american novels" that many read while at College, but I wondered why this was left off of the list. It seems only to be on "Catholic" or "Christian" lists. I don't think that is fair of this book. It transcends any genre. It's simply a great read. Yes it has a preachy tone. I appreciate that because it's honest. Believers believe. And if someone is a believer then that should definitely come out in thier story. Merton later tones his Faith down adopting a more 'inclusive' tone to his writings, and subjects of his writings as well, but this is written by a very fresh believer. It's written by someone burning to tell thier story, and why they think that thier story is important. And I believe that this story is important, important to anyone that wants to read one of the best autobiographies in American literature, as well as anyone that wants to be touched by a beautiful story of conversion from a very artistic intellectual yet empty life. He had his art, and his ideas, but there was still a hole. And the story of how that hole is ultimately filled is here interwoven in a beautifully honest way. ...more info