Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “No Man Is an Island” as Want to Read:
No Man Is an Island
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

No Man Is an Island

4.24  ·  Rating Details ·  2,531 Ratings  ·  196 Reviews
A recapitulation of his earlier work Seeds of Contemplation, this collection of sixteen essays plumbs aspects of human spirituality. Merton addresses those in search of enduring values, fulfillment, and salvation in prose that is, as always, inspiring and compassionate. “A stimulating series of spiritual reflections which will prove helpful for all struggling the ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published October 16th 1978 by Mariner Books (first published 1955)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Apr 17, 2009 Reed rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having just finished No Man Is an Island, I can honestly say that it is one of the best spiritual books I've read. This is the second of Merton's that I've read. I took awhile to read it only because I was only reading one small part at a time. But lately, I've devoured it. He speaks to the depths of the spiritual life with compassion, honesty, and simplicity. Merton seems to strike the proper balance between mysticism and practical living, or rather mysticism in practical living.

The last chapte
Jul 13, 2015 Nicole rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing. Breathetaking. I adore this book. I have never given a book a five because there is no such thing as perfection but this book is more or less perfect it is that close. For a million hundred different reasons that is hard for me to explain. But I shall try, yes it is a religious book so it is about god or partly about god and our relationship to him but its not just about that. Its about us as humans and our flaws and our perfections, its about our connection to ourselves to others to th ...more
Jan 29, 2009 Karin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have been reading this forever. At first, I couldn't get past the all male language that he uses throughout. The only feminine language used is when referencing the Church, although in both negative and positive lights, the Church, in this book, is in direct conversation with God. Of the conversation partners, God, is always male.

So after I got over that - this book is AMAZING! Theology is inspiring and clearly comes from a place of experience and practice. Merton is both a practitioner, acad
Michael Noes
Feb 28, 2013 Michael Noes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I believe that love is the highest human aim. What Merton has done here is talk about love well. He exposes false love, and examines the mechanics of proper and pure love. For that, I would like to give him 5 stars, but that would do more to betray the relevance and timeliness of his message in my life than to attest to the work's literary merit. Not that the writing is lacking- Merton is a pleasure to read.

Many topics are covered in these essays, some of them more religiously specific than oth
Tom Tabasco
Too abstract, too airy, too many vague references to other things that are never actually mentioned. The Bible has more than enough vagueness in itself, but that has also its own historic reasons. This was written 50 years ago and it gave me absolutely nothing that the Gospel did not already give me.
Come on, Catholicism is in desperate need of a sweeping reform, a fresh look at the same old truths, and it needs the oxygen of plain English talk, especially in our times. But these type of books n
Aug 26, 2016 Adam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good read, but might be more frustrating than enlightening depending on where you're coming from. Merton does a great job of describing the spiritual plight of humanity (particularly the plight of humans who cultivate no sense of the spirit), but his prescriptive assertions are too narrow to be of much use to anyone who isn't already a devout Christian. As a quasi-skeptic (and seeker of truth) with a history with religion, I found plenty to think about and relate to here, but also plenty to qu ...more
Just one listen and that's not enough. Like Contemplative Prayer I am going to need to listen to this again ... and probably again and again before I can write a review. He's not easy! But taking a break in between to listen to The Intimate Merton: His Life from His Journals, while I read a bio about him as well.
Ali M.
Dec 31, 2009 Ali M. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: soul-food
An incredibly dense set of essays that need to be taken slowly, else you risk missing the full impact of Merton's wisdom. His words build, circle back, progress, and then hit a point of paradox that feels so true-to-life I sat there and reveled in the fact that someone had managed to express it with mere language. My favorite chapters were Silence, Being and Doing, and The Inward Solitude. I kept forgetting that I was borrowing a friend's copy of the book, so I would fumble for a pen to notate a ...more
Mar 21, 2007 Megan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thomasmerton
I really like Thomas Merton in something of an indescribable way. This will not stop me from trying to describe my love for Merton. When I read him I just think he "gets it". He says the most insightful brutally honest things and I feel understands what I understand the search for God and truth to be, especially in the context of being an active Catholic. And by active Catholic, I mean he doesn't take his faith for granted but is actively engaged in probing it's meaning. No Man is an Island is m ...more
Oct 28, 2015 Kayla rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kayla by: KC
Merton! How did I not read him before? I guess things come to us when we are ready for them. As Anne Lamott says, often we are only given the circle of light right in front of us. Only when we step into it are we given the next one.

This books is kicking my butt in the best kind of way. Here are my circles of light:

One: Real love isn't hungry.

Two: We have a "death instinct," the force that is self-love turned to self-hatred. This is healed by understanding that you don't live for yourself alone.
Oct 24, 2016 Galicius rated it really liked it
I transcribed the thoughts of Merton in this spiritual handbook to understand his journey and message for myself. There are sections and passages in Merton’s work that I found difficult and obscure and I specified when I came across such. I don’t propose that my notes will make the overall experience any simpler or easier. I suggest reading the original No Man Is an Island to get the full message and see for yourself perhaps what I did not fully comprehend.

I found "No Man Is an Island" difficul
Jan 29, 2013 Audrey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Growing up in a sub-culture where black is black and white is white, and all shades or grey in between are either swept under the carpet or worse, denied, can lead to anxious frustrations and an inability to deal honestly with the real complexities of life. Often surfacing from this type of orientation to life are indications of marked defensiveness, ongoing protection of one’s self image, a deep-rooted guilt complex, and continuous justification of one’s actions. When faced with the inconsisten ...more
This was a generally good read, although not a quick one. I found Merton's writings difficult at first to absorb, as he has a tendency to be long winded and unclear. His examples are often vague, rather than concrete. I'm sure to the religious and contemplative community, this is fine, but to a first time reader of Merton and a lay person, his writing can be frustrating and takes time to absorb. That being said, Merton has interesting insights and profound thoughts on God and spirituality. I hig ...more
Sep 11, 2015 SeaShore rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent. I read this a few years ago and return to it again and again. It's a book you must own: finding yourself, knowing yourself; healing body, mind, Spirit. I also read. "Seeds of Contemplation", which I recommend. I had read Marianne Williamson's "A Return to Love", in 1993 and this sent me on a search for the source of inner healing. Love is the answer. Our subconscious at work, which is ever reinforced in Dr Joseph Murphy's book, "The power of your Subconscious Mind". see the website "I ...more
Alex Kartelias
May 27, 2016 Alex Kartelias rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
His direct and simple language still allow him to communicate profound truths. You can read all the Christian mystics and learn startling interpretations and themes, but John Tauler and Thomas Merton are those rare ones who have combined style with concrete teachings about the living of the Christian life. Much of what he says has helped my spiritual life and made me acknowledge thing I've kept unsolved. Highly recommend reading this.
Shawn Nguyen
Jul 14, 2009 Shawn Nguyen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I Have been reading many spiritual books: Zen and Tibetan Buddhism and Christianity, and I must say No Man is an Island is the greatest book I have read so far. This is not one of those books one can just read and understand (even though it is written in simple English). This book should be read by all who are seeking for meanings in life and in their relationship with God.
Audrey Conn
Jul 20, 2012 Audrey Conn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book changed my life. Right from the first page. I've read other books by Merton, some of which are quite complicated, but this one I loved. I read it every few years. Reminds me about what is important, to get out of myself, to listen to others, to learn, to remain teachable, to find what your purpose in life is and use the talents God has given you.
Jun 10, 2016 Jenni rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't recommend this book highly enough. My normal style of reading is to devour books in a couple days, but I had to pace myself with this to give time to dwell on the life-changing truths. If you are seeking a deeper understanding of your relationship to God and the people around you, you must read this book.
Jul 20, 2009 Sam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
NMIAI gets my highest recommendation. Merton was a true Christian, a true genius. He had his thumb on the pulse of humanity, its many cultures and ways of thinking. Oftentimes in this book I felt as though he was addressing me personally- he is that good at diagnosing the human condition. Get it, read it.
Joey O'Connor
One of Merton's absolute best books! If you really want to understand why you're on this planet and how to live within it with any sense of sanity, read this book. It will put so much in perspective. I can't say enough good things about it!
Shanon Eubank
As many who heard Christ speak, I echo their words after reading this book..."these are hard sayings indeed!"
Katie Jensen
Feb 05, 2015 Katie Jensen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very insightful man. Dense book with lots of good thoughts on a variety of topics. Looking forward to reading more from T Merton.
Georgette Suggs
Jan 30, 2013 Georgette Suggs rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved it! This is one that I'll read again.
Nov 30, 2016 Spencer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic theology/contemplative book. Made me think about a lot of things in regards to faith, my faith, religion, and the contemplative/ascetic life. I really like this Merton guy.

"The loud plane seems for a moment to deny the reality of the clouds and of the sky, by its direction, its noise, and its pretended strength. The silence of the sky remains when the plane has gone. The tranquility of the clouds will remain when the plane has fallen apart. It is the silence of the world that is real.
Jan 23, 2017 Louis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent! Absolutely busting with insight and wisdom into approaching the truth, putting love into action, and being a human in the world. Yes, Merton was a Christian monk, but his teachings have a much broader scope (though the constant Christian terminology can be frustrating at first). Could read this book another ten times and still not glean half of the wisdom contained between the covers. Definitely a book to sip slowly, constantly refer back to, one that you're never really quite done wi ...more
"It is supreme humility to see that ordinary life, embraced with perfect faith, can be more saintly and more supernatural than a spectacular ascetical career. Such humility dares to be ordinary, and that is something beyond the reach of spiritual pride. …Humility finds all its peace in hope, knowing that Christ must come again to elevate and transfigure ordinary things and fill them with His glory."
Dec 25, 2016 Eric rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hard to know how to review this. Read over the course of many months, paragraph by paragraph in order to savor it. It was hard not to see Kierkegaardian existentialism throughout, though this is part of why I found this, and just about any other Merton writing, so engaging.
I didn't read this all the way through, really just picked out some of the most interesting parts and skipped the rest. Some of it is relevant outside a very religious context, but not as much as I'd hoped.
Stephen Bauer
Published in 1955, No Man is an Island is a guide to help Christians find meaning and purpose in life, through charity, prayer, self-knowledge, and the virtues.

Each chapter is a deep meditation on a particular subject. To absorb the content requires that you stop and ruminate over each idea before going on. The sections within each chapter are numbered, and so I left it on my night table and for a long time, read one numbered section at a time and only when I thought of it. After about a year a
Anthony Bracciante
Thomas Merton is not an easy read. To be fully appreciated this book should be read slowly so that it can be properly digested and understood. This is a deeply spiritual book that is well worth the time and effort put into it. The copy I read was from my local library but I will be purchasing my own soon because I know that there are sections of this book that I will want to return to again.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Seven Mountains of Thomas Merton
  • When the Well Runs Dry: Prayer Beyond the Beginnings
  • The Cloud of Unknowing and The Book of Privy Counseling
  • Out of Solitude: Three Meditations on the Christian Life
  • Abandonment to Divine Providence
  • The Spiritual Exercises
  • The Lessons of Saint Francis: How to Bring Simplicity and Spirituality into Your Daily Life
  • The One Thing Is Three: How the Most Holy Trinity Explains Everything
  • This Tremendous Lover
  • The Ascent of Mount Carmel
  • Prayer
  • Interior Castle
  • Becoming Who You Are: Insights on the True Self from Thomas Merton and Other Saints
  • Revelations of Divine Love
  • Uniformity with God's Will
  • Prayer Primer: Igniting a Fire Within
  • Open Mind, Open Heart: The Contemplative Dimension of the Gospel
Thomas Merton was one of the most influential Catholic authors of the 20th century. A Trappist monk of the Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani, in the American state of Kentucky, Merton was an acclaimed Catholic spiritual writer, poet, author and social activist. Merton wrote over 60 books, scores of essays and reviews, and is the ongoing subject of many biographies. Merton was also a proponent of int ...more
More about Thomas Merton...

Share This Book

“The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them” 3198 likes
“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” 3035 likes
More quotes…