Book recommendations or not? - The Witches Table
_I have been thinking long and hard recently about recommending
Pagan/Magickal/Spiritual reading material.  This has been partly
sparked by my Pagan Book Club - over the two years it has been running we have read more than our fair share of rubbish.  But it is
also informed by an interesting exchange on email with a friend.  I
was explaining how much I was getting into a particular book when they responded with "would you recommend it?" This brought me up a little short because I wasn't sure I would recommend it, not because I didn’t like the book (it was amazing and I am about to reread it), it was well written, contained a great deal of useful, practical information and was very inspiring.  But part of the reason I found it so good was because it came at the right time for me to read right now.  Some of the ideas dovetail and extend ideas of my own I have been developing - would it be quite so "right" for someone else right now.  Well honestly I have no idea.

But if we take this line of thinking to its natural conclusion then I
would never recommend any spiritual books and I do believe word of mouth is necessary to sort the pearls from the dross. There are a lot of Pagan and Spiritual books out there which I judge and judge harshly.  However, any recommendation I make has to contain the caveat from now on... that the book was meaningful to me at a particular time in my life, I hope this is the right time for you to read it but it may not be.
1/29/2012 11:41:53

I have to admit, when people ask me if I'd recommend a particular book, my immediate answer is always "It depends!" It will depend on what I know of their reading tastes; what their interests are; and, as you say, what's going on in their lives at that point in time.

Most often, I'll say something like "Well, personally, *I* liked it because of x, y, and z - I don't know if it'll strike you the same way though. Why not try it and let me know what you think?"

2/2/2012 11:29:27

You are very wise. I can't believe it took me so long to realise it - even after so many books I have been recommended I haven't enjoyed!

1/29/2012 22:28:05

I hear you, a lot of what I am reading these days I would be hesitant to push, not so much because they aren't good, more because I'm not always sure of the person I am talking to's foundation. We have just begun a local pagan reading group and we did call the first couple of titles based on them being "gold standard" works. We may continue with that theme or not, but I'm sure we will have fun along the way. Happy reading.

2/2/2012 11:28:08

I love to know what your Gold Standards books are - just to compare!

As you say it depends so much on the person and their foundation and path and what sort of writing works for you. Many years ago someone pressured me to read a book they have found deeply spiritually moving and when I read it myself I hated every single sentence.

2/3/2012 13:54:47

We called Triumph of the Moon and Drawing Down the Moon as the first two books and from their we will let it roll. There were several reasons for our choices. First, we wanted folks that were comfortable reading that form of material. Second we wanted folks to have an idea of some of the research out there, I'm sure there's more current, but these are both "known, good" texts. Where the group will go in the future I'm not sure, there's talk of this...

or that...

We will see, right now we are pretty spread out across So-Cal and finding a central location where nobody has to drive for over an hour to getting together is a primary issue. We may choose to hive locally (there are at least a couple of people in any given area) and then check in as a large group online.

2/5/2012 11:11:17

Very interesting Cat, I'll certainly check out those books. I see what you mean about starting with the classics!

2/6/2012 17:03:27

The thing that is coming up is that people want to read workbooks and I think that that really isn't conducive to the group unless you are all working the same system which we are not at this time. Maybe I'm wrong, what do you think?

2/7/2012 14:46:52

I totally agree with you Cat, workbooks are great if you all make a commitment to do it at the same time and compare results but if you have an eclectic group all working in different traditions then I would be concerned it wouldn't work very well.

My other tip is to steer clear of books that someone recommends because they "really love it". Inevitably someone in the group won't like the book and it will probably upset the person who "really loves it". I had just that problem when someone pressured me to read an Emma Restell Orr book which I really hated.


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