We want to encourage young people to get interested in reading again. There is a book out there for everyone. If you can't get through one, move on!, you can come back to it later, more equipped from the experiences of life. Just start reading.

And we are always open to suggestions! Comment below or shoot us an email at: rockandroloff@gmail.com

The Glass Bead Game

(Magister Ludi)

I was recommended this book by my previous one, The Joyous Cosmology. It follows the life of Joseph Knecht, who is fictional, although you might not even know due to the masterful way the book is written and formatted. It jumps right in with a historical recap of The Game, and ends with "The Posthumous Writings of Joseph Knecht". It's all very sincere and much like a good actor in that when the acting is done well, you don't even notice it. This writing is done in such the same way that I had to remind myself that this Joseph was indeed not real. Hermann Hesse is brilliant in this way and the book is quite hard to put down. Hesse's other books, like Siddartha, largely focus on the individual journey and spiritual development one one or two main characters, usually contrasting body and mind, world and spirit. This book does that as an aside, and instead puts the spotlight on the society as a whole and the triggers within that society that force an individual, Joseph, to go to the mental extremes of "finding oneself". Hermann Hesse is always worth reading and this book is no exception. It's a relatable account of personal growth, and also a prescient indictment of the over-intellectual and detached elements of our society; Joseph says at one point, "Abstractions are fine, but I think people also have to breathe air and eat bread."

And later, a poem I loved: 

Our days are precious but we gladly see them going,
If in their place we find a thing more precious growing:
A rare, exotic plant, our gardener’s heart delighting;
A child whom we are teaching, a booklet we are writing. //

If you're looking for a novel to read, consider it found.

The Joyous Cosmology:

Adventures in the Chemistry of Consciousness

Joyous Cosmology by Alan Watts; Painting by Nicolás and Tomás Garretón

Joyous Cosmology by Alan Watts; Painting by Nicolás and Tomás Garretón

This book is an experiential and contemplative account of Alan Watts taking acid in the early 1960s. I really need not say more, but the format of the book is very direct and engaging, not unlike the drug itself, in that it has only a brief introduction, a single 61 page chapter, and an epilogue. One of the points he made that stood out to me as most important is this ideal state of mind building up to, and during, such an experience. He says in the introduction, "..the use of such powerful medicines is not to be taken lightly, as one smokes a cigarette or tosses down a cocktail." Far too many people take these types of substances for kicks, it could be said "dietarily", rather than for the contemplative and consciousness-changing effects that are possible — that is, "medicinally" — given, of course, the proper surroundings, understanding, respect, and company. Watts goes on in the introduction: "As an escape, an isolated and dissociated ecstasy, they may have the same sort of value as a rest cure or a good entertainment. But this is like using a giant computer to play tick-tac-toe, and the hours of heightened perception are wasted unless occupied with sustained reflection or meditation upon whatever themes may be suggested."

Consider it recommended. 

You Can Heal Your Life

You Can Heal Your Life by Louise L. Hay

You Can Heal Your Life by Louise L. Hay

This book was one of the most helpful and life changing I have ever had the pleasure of reading. It could be categorized as a “Self Help” book, but truthfully I think it far surpasses that with its authenticity. This book came to me at a profound time in my life; when I desperately needed it. The story is: I had been struggling in a low place and I did not know how to help myself. My whole entire being was in dire need of healing. I had seen other people say this book was helpful to them, so I figured maybe it could help me. On one particularly difficult day, I walked over to my bookshelf and found this very book. Without even previously knowing I owned it. The reason I wasn’t aware I owned it is because when my brother and I moved out of our house years ago, we kept only a handful of books. Books we hoped to read one day, or books we knew were special to our mother. When I started to read it, it was clear this book was my late mother’s old copy; the very first edition with the colorful heart on the front and pen marks scribbled inside. She had underlined key sentences and filled in the blank spaces. It was truly a gift to find such a treasure on my own bookshelf, and what ‘perfect’ timing. To me, it felt as though my mother had plopped the book in my hands and said, “Here. Read this.”

This book is filled with helpful tips to get through your darkness, and to find happiness again. It was published in 1984, before mental health and the power of the mind were really addressed when professionals and doctors wanted to figure out what was “wrong” with a person or their body. In this book, Hay encourages people change their thought process to lead them toward a better life. She explains how capable our minds are and the power of thought. When we start working to clear our mind of negative thoughts, things start to change right before our very eyes. What I learned from her is happiness and health are essentially a person’s ‘choice’, if they are willing to work at it and strive for it. One could play the victim card forever, or one could take hold of their lives by changing the way they think and in turn, changing the way they live. Truly recommended for anyone wanting to "heal their lives".

The Greek Passion

The Greek Passion by Nikos Kazantzakis

The Greek Passion by Nikos Kazantzakis

This novel follows a year, from Easter to Easter, in Lycovrissi, a quiet, safe and prosperous Greek village. Priest Grigoris, the plump and pious leader of their church, appoints six villagers to play the role of Jesus, his Apostles, and Mary Magdalen until the following Easter where they would act out the Passion and Crucifixion. During the year they are supposed to study the Gospel and take on the personality of their character. Manolios, a poor servant shepherd, is chosen to play Christ. Soon after, a band of refugees, led by the starving and selfless Priest Fotis, come to Lycovrissi looking for shelter and food. Manolios, taking to heart his role, pleads with his own priest to oblige. Grigoris however sees a rival in Fotis, and turns him away, sensing unwanted change and perhaps a holier man than he; a usurper of God's representation. Manolios and his group of friends, now Apostles, are left in Lycovrissi to pity the refugees from afar, for a time. The author does a fantastic job painting the picture of inner anguish and spiritual dilemma in Manolios and his chosen friends. This anguish is of course symbolic of the same that we all face, especially now, more literally with refugees. From the inside flap: "Each man gradually turns toward that which he must do, evil or good. The monumental forces that have boiled underground erupt to sweep them all toward a devastating climax — the great Passion."

I'm still unclear as to whether it was the story, the characters, the astute authorship, the relevance to our modern day, or otherwise, but this book took power over me. I have been living in Lycovrissi for the past week; I urge you to visit! Come back to your own world with lessons from Manolios the humble, Ladas the greedy, Michelis the innocent, Yannakos the warm of heart, Panayotaros the vengeful, Fotis the unconquerable, Kostandis the generous, Hadji the cowardly, Katerina the loving, and the Agha — Turkish ruler of Lycovrissi who has "washed his hands" of the suffering of others.