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Thoughts in Solitude

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  1,706 Ratings  ·  119 Reviews
In thirty-seven concise and beautifully written chapters, Thomas Merton explores the meaning of interior solitude and its necessary role in bringing every life to joyous fruition. "What is said here about solitude is not just a recipe for hermits," he writes in the preface, "it has a bearing on the whole future of man and his world."
Paperback, Abridged, 144 pages
Published May 11th 1993 by Shambhala (first published 1956)
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Lynne King
Thomas Merton, a trappist monk, has written the most sublime book on his relationship with God and his life in solitude as a monk. I found the book to be quite inspiring and such a pleasure to read. Each page was a delight and one can literally browse any page at a later stage and immediately connect with Merton's thoughts.
Darwin8u
Jul 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, religion
"The solitary life is above all a life of prayer."

description

A nice exploration of/exposition on the need for reflection, silence, seeking God in quiet spaces, and the vocation of solitude. Merton's thoughtful tract, originally written from 1953 to 1954, seems more important now than ever. We live in a world that seems textured with bytes, bits, information, noise, distractions, and trivialities. Merton reminds us to seek. He implores us to find, like the Desert Fathers did years ago, our wildernesses and
...more
Katie Marquette
Jan 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We live in a society that does not value solitude. Being alone is a frightening thought for most. If we cannot be with our friends, we turn on our TVs or our music stations. We text our friends or browse the internet. We quite literally cannot bear to be alone. This is a world that no longer understands silence. We have phones that are constantly buzzing and ringing. Music blares from our radios, from our computers, from our cars. We live in bustling cities filled with constant noise. Being cons ...more
Jen
Jan 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great thoughts on spiritual formation and deepening our love in Christ through prayer and meditation. Lots of highlighting involved in reading this book... there is a lot to chew on and many pages dogeared for future reference.
Amy Neftzger
As a fan of writers such a Augustine, Aquinas, and Thomas a Kempis, I'm very familiar with the writings of monks. I've benefited from the timeless wisdom and though provoking writings of all these authors. However, this was the first book I've read by Merton.

I really enjoyed this short book. Merton writes beautifully and from a philosophical as well as practical perspective. He defines solitude (which can be found either amid groups of people or when we're alone), the benefits of it, and explain
...more
Matt Mcmanus
Jan 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is much to learn from in this short book and I know I've only scratched the surface. In a world of smartphones, Netflix, social media and everything else, I'm grateful for any clear headed thoughts that point me towards silence and contentment, rather than endless cycle of consuming.
Colby
Jan 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Incredible. Merton is able to put into words...things that I didn't know had words.
But at the same time, he is kind of confusing. Because I'm not a Catholic monk, mostly.

Still:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


"Before we can surrender ourselves we must become ourselves. For no one can give up what he does not possess." p.29

"Why should I want to be rich, when You were poor? Why should I desire to be famous and powerful in the eyes of men, when the sons of those who exalted the false prophets and stones the true -
...more
Pinkyivan
Oct 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I feel like going on a christposting spree now.
Ashley
wow. This completely exceeded my expectations. There were a few sections that I found difficult to relate to, but the vast majority of the book blew me away. I will doubtlessly be returning to Thoughts In Solitude again and again.

A word in season. I greatly look forward to checking out some of Merton's other works!
Emily
Feb 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, spirituality
I was surprised to enjoy this as much as I did and will be seeking out more Thomas Merton. Most interesting to me were his meditations on humility.

Drew
Sep 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quite good. I've not read nearly enough Merton, and this was excellent. Worth the price of admission for the famous "Merton Prayer" alone. Reminiscent of Henri Nouwen.
Brian Tucker
Apr 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right ro ...more
Robin Mccormack
Jan 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I fell in like with trappist monk Thomas Merton several years ago when I read Seven Storey Mountain. Since then I've collected several of his works and they are always enlightening and inspirational.

Thoughts in Solitude is a short read of 130 pages, but packed with Merton's philosophical and spiritual thoughts on humility and silence. So much stood out and I'll probably be coming back to this time and again.
Mehrsa
Jan 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think I would have loved this book 10 years ago, but when I read it this week, it seemed not to be what I needed at the moment. The book is not exactly what it says it is. It really isn't thoughts on solitude, but thoughts on how to be a humble Christian. This is useful, but I guess not what I was looking for at the moment.
Terry Watson
Nov 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fortunately Kim told me to savour it slowly. Incredible wisdom if you read it slowly and ponder what Merton is saying.
Erin Toburen
Feb 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-books-read
This book is part dialogue between Merton and the reader and part dialogue between Merton and God (a prayer of sorts). In a time where "busy" is seen as a virtue, Merton reminds us that solitude helps us become the truest version of ourselves.
Sumaya
Mar 22, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Hmm

Too religious for me,
I couldn’t relate much to the content as I don’t follow the same belief as the author’s
Michael Laflamme
http://mrlshelflife.wordpress.com/201...

Merton’s writing is for people who want to think about life and their position in it. It is for people who want to encounter God on a deeper level, deeper being deeper than what they have encountered so far, whatever that may be for them. His work is full of God and Jesus and The Holy Spirit. Personally, I find that a good thing. I like that Merton doesn’t attempt to give us the answers to all our questions. He knows that the answers will be different for
...more
Jamie
A quick, good read. Not my favorite of Merton's works, his collected essays and 'Raids on the Unspeakable' probably take the cake there. Perhaps because I myself have little experience with solitude, I found this book a little hard to relate to or find relevant. Still, if you have a spare afternoon or evening, it is worth the read.
Marguerite
Apr 28, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gotta-have-faith
My copy of this is very coffee-stained. I enjoyed Merton's thoughts on interior life and the human need for reflection. And, I found the short chapters conducive to daily reflection and prayer. But before I'd made it to the halfway point of this book, I was already alienated by Merton's male-only pronouns. I understand he was a product of his day, and I think Merton served as novice master at the monastery for a while and was accustomed to addressing young men. Nonetheless, being beaten over the ...more
Maryam Kd
Apr 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I love reading honest books like this where the author speaks directly to your heart and basically reiterates what you already know but are too afraid of bringing to life.

"To keep ourselves spiritually alive we must constantly renew our faith. We are like pilots of fogbound steamers, peering into the gloom in front of us, listening for the sounds of other ships, and we can only reach our harbor if we keep alert. The spiritual life is, then, first of all a matter of keeping awake. We must not los
...more
daniel
Nov 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
a purely mental life may be destructive if it leads us to substitute thought for life and ideas for action.
Whitney
Dec 28, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A great book, though a bit preachy at times. I found that even as a non-christian, I could understand most of Merton's message in the first half. The second half was a bit too preachy, though.
Mary Beth
Nov 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read it every year on my birthday.
Shane
Jan 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This wonderful, short but sweet, book is chalked full of amazing wisdom on silence and solitude. Great for anyone wanting to deepen their contemplative prayer.
Brian Gramman
Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There's a distinct pattern to Thomas Merton's writing in each chapter of Thoughts in Solitude, none of which is more than three or four pages. Merton makes an insightful assertion about living a spiritual life, immediately points out the dangers of misinterpreting either his point or one's own feelings about his point, lays out the benefits of applying his thoughts to one's actions, and admits how difficult it is. He's perfectly concise while still managing to delineate the progression of his th ...more
Andy Mattice
Jul 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The reason I gave this book five stars is that I simply could not put it down. Ironically, Merton seems to have very intentionally arranged a series of short reflections that one reads and then, putting the book down, enacts. Merton is a fascinating man and I wanted to drink in his words greedily like a man finding an oasis in a desert. It is the kind of book that draws you in so deeply that you neglect everything else around you. It is the kind of book that when you read the last page you want ...more
Shelley Alongi
I have had this book on my reading list for at least five years let’s just call it that. I think this was a little dance in places and quite readable and other places. I don’t think that I agree with everything and some of it just seems very own fathomable is that word yes. I think parts of it are very intriguing though because he obviously thought a lot about things. The thing that I found really interesting was when he said that Christ who showed emotions was showing us the character of God an ...more
Heidi Archer
Aug 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Timely for me to be reading this. Much to think about and contemplate. Some of his writing I felt was undergirded by a lot of theological language that I don't feel comfortable with (some Calvinistic leanings, at least from my perspective), but there is a lot more to get out of his writing than that. Some of the language he uses as well is uncommon for the times (published in 1956), at least in the Christian world I was taught about: like genderless references to God ("Being itself"), which I ap ...more
Roben
Nov 30, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I have been reading this book for quite some time concurrently with How To Love by Thich Nhat Hanh.

Always I am thankful for new prophets. Creation presents so many different seekers and this duel-read offered particular insight to me.

How to Love was a devotional which spoke to the life of community which I lead; little solitude in my world compared to Thomas Merton, though he outlines categories of solitude practice, "Some people live for God, some live with God, some live in God." think, thin
...more
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  • Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life
  • The Spiritual Exercises
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  • Invitation to Love: The Way of Christian Contemplation
  • Seeking God: The Way of St. Benedict
  • The Seven Mountains of Thomas Merton
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  • A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life
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  • Sacred Reading: The Ancient Art of Lectio Divina
  • Original Blessing
  • Sadhana
  • Encounters With Silence
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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
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“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.” 1053 likes
“If a man is to live, he must be all alive, body, soul, mind, heart, spirit.” 255 likes
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