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The Inner Life

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  282 ratings  ·  32 reviews
'We are all frail; consider none more frail than yourself.'
Throughout history, some books have changed the world. They have transformed the way we see ourselves - and each other. They have inspired debate, dissent, war and revolution. They have enlightened, outraged, provoked and comforted. They have enriched lives - and destroyed them. Now Penguin brings you the works of
Paperback, 128 pages
Published September 6th 2005 by Penguin UK (first published 1427)
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Average rating 3.66  · 
Rating details
 ·  282 ratings  ·  32 reviews

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Oct 15, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: religion
I don't know exactly why I choose to read this book. The design is wonderful, and I'm a sucker for the whole Penguin Great Idea series. Maybe I was hoping for something more in this book instead of what it ended up being. But a part of me still liked it, the writing was nice, and I'm sure much better than what is found in the modern day thriving Christian self-help market, of which I'm an unwitting guardian of at work so I see them all. While I was finishing up the book I realized that I'd read ...more
The Inner Life (a name the people at Penguin invented for their excerpts from Thomas à Kempis's famous The Imitation of Christ) rounds out my first set of four Great Ideas volumes. I have to admit that, outside of the context of the series, this fourteenth-century Catholic devotional tract is not something I would normally pick up, find interesting, or recommend to anyone except those with a strong interest in the history of Christian theology. As an agnostic person in particular, trying to find ...more
Liz Polding
Jul 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
There are things about this book that I find comforting and beautiful, but the advocacy of, in effect, asceticism as the only possible course if life is one that grates, I'm afraid. If God created the world and it is therefore good, why demand its rejection in total, including our fellow 'creatures' as a condition of spiritual attainment? I am familiar with the fall of man arguments, but it seems odd to ask that we should actively seek out misery and pain and revel in them as a means of salvatio ...more
Louise Mcdonagh
Feb 19, 2015 rated it liked it
A very moving and thought provoking book with excerpts from a book on Christianity originally written in 1400s. The book offers thoughts on true spiritual enlightenment, and a devoted Christian life. Sometimes I felt this book could only be truly followed by someone wholly dedicated and removed from everyday life such as a nun or monk, but it does make you realise, that is not the purpose of it, but understanding our own imperfections and frailty is. Well worth reading for anyone seeking spiritu ...more
Anna Santiago
Apr 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A constantly "tuned up" inner life isn't only for cloistered monks or nuns. It is for everyone. I can say that I've become a little less uptight because of this book...I'm definitely still a work in progress. ...more
Mar 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: think-pink
If I had a hammer
Nov 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The priest who taught my Confirmation Class suggested I read this book before I was Confirmed. The messages of this book have stayed with me since that time. It was heavy reading for a very young person.
Michael Percy
Jun 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Penguin's Great Ideas series showcases important works in an abbreviated format (not my favourite way to read), and this work by Thomas à Kempis is drawn from the larger work The Imitation of Christ . After reading Benjamin Franklin (see his 13-week virtues program in The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin), Albert Camus, and James Allen, I can see the connections to this work dating from the early fifteenth century. There are also elements of Stoicism, recalling Marcus Aurelius. For example, ...more
Jan 19, 2017 rated it liked it
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James C
Apr 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
One of the most spiritually edifying books I've ever read. Made all the more powerful that it was written in the 15th century.

An incredibly challenging book and a must read for all born again christians who are truly seeking God. This book was an encouraging reminder that life this side of heaven is a war, but Kempis also reminds that if we seek God with all of our hearts and allow his grace to cultivate our lives, we can make it to the promised land and live lives truly glorifying our creator.
Jan 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy, religion
This book is made up of excerpts from Thomas a Kempis' "The Imitation Of Christ". And it is INCREDIBLY depressing. As I was reading it, I often wanted to lock myself in a dark, secluded room and cry myself to sleep. And that's coming from a genuinely optimistic person :)
It is nicely written, much more fluent than I expected. A bit repetitive though, but I guess that's how Catholic priests roll :)
As much as I don't agree with his philosophy I was surprised to see myself kinda agreeing with some m
Ade Bailey
Jun 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spirit
Yjis neat little print from Penguin is great for the pocket. A book to carry around. It's the sort of 'substrate neutral\ spirituality I like, not specific rligious background. The appeal is aesthetic, the sort that drives my loved Georges Bataille to the mystic attempts to render though language and thought what cannot be thought or written, namely the inner experience, the subjectivity, the unique individual. As I take cold showers in Wittgenstein and language as an onject of scientific study, ...more
Jan 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is a really good book...I'm only part of the way through it, but the chapters are succinct and to the point. Thomas a Kempis is pretty rad...lots of insight. Read this one. It's not a read-all-in-one-day kinda book, I'm using it as more of a devotional. Anyway, if you want a good read, go get it. ...more
Mike Gibbs
Jan 14, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: christian
This is a great book that is packed with deep thoughts. It would probably make a good devotional book since each section is very short, but contains a lot of stuff to think about regarding the nature of man, his relationship with God, and how to live the Christian life on the inside as well as on the outside.
Mar 10, 2013 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this small book and definitely gleamed some excellent quotes from it, so perhaps it deserves more like a 3.5. There was a powerful challenge to desire none but God alone and give up everything else for him. Overall, however, I think I'd say I "liked it" over "loved it." ...more
Dec 03, 2013 rated it it was ok
I just wasn't able to finish this book. Frankly, I found it painful to read and thank fortune that I was born in the late 20th century. Life as a monk may have had its benefits, particularly in the Middle Ages, but I doubt I would have found much joy in it. ...more
Nov 10, 2008 added it
This is my daily devotional. It really challenges me. If you need a good devotional. This is it.
Sep 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Spiritual people
Excerpts from 'The Imitation of Christ'.
Spiritual food; beautiful and simple.
Roy Mark
Jul 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
inner life must be enriched in the ways of life turning moments in making things be humble and contrite in one's self ...more
May 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
While not perfect, this abridged edition of Thomas a Kempis' The Imitation of Christ is truly a good read. The wisdom compacted here seems like common sense - which makes it all the more important as I don't think it was considered common sense when first published in the 15th century. I had problems understanding the strictly Christian and theological tone of the work, but its transcendental beauty made an engaging read nonetheless. I came across this while reading George Eliot's The Mill on th ...more
Dec 05, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really wonderful book full of profound devotional wisdom. Many things are to be learned from this, sadly this digital edition has some problems with its presentation: the table of contents only shows Chapter 23, 12 and 57 (in that order; spelling errors; one chapter missed a few words at the end... But of course, the presentation does not diminish in any way the content of the book.
Brian Tucker
Feb 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
To take no account of oneself, but always to think well and highly of others is the highest wisdom and perfection.
Jeannie Huie
Jul 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Good! Really helps as you examine your life. Well researched!
Mar 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
A book to refer to often and a source of Christian contemplative meditations.
Mar 09, 2021 rated it it was ok
One of the least interesting books in the Great Ideas series.
Apr 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing
If I could keep only one book for the rest of my life (Bible excepting) I would not go wrong choosing a work from Thomas a Kempis.
Jul 18, 2012 rated it it was ok
Ehhh...I can see how some people would like this book but it was much to preachy for my taste.
Jun 29, 2013 rated it it was ok
Some nice life lessons, but too focused on God and not on how you can help yourself. Wen in doubt: Jesus.
If you're not into Jesus, I would not recommend this book to you, but reading it does no harm. ...more
Charlotte Dann
Nope nope. Nope. Noppe. nope. video ...more
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Thomas Hammerken (or Hammerlein -- both mean "little hammer") / Thomas de Kempis / Thomas Hamerken von Kempen was born at Kempen (hence the "A Kempis") in the duchy of Cleves in Germany around 1380. He was educated by a religious order called the Brethren of the Common Life, and in due course joined the order, was ordained a priest, became sub-prior of his house (in the low Countries), and died 25 ...more

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