It's very rare that I come across a book that speaks to me as deeply as "Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment, and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words" by David Whyte. I have only come across a few authors -- Emerson, Rilke, and Rumi come to mind -- who are as deeply thoughtful and perceptive, and who are able to combine a deep attention to and appreciation of the mystery, beauty, and struggle that compose even the most average human life.
In "Consolations," Whyte, a British-American poet, takes 52 common words that are packed with meaning -- like "friendship," "heartbreak," "giving," and "vulnerability," -- and then creates short but emotionally rich examinations of how these words are most fully conceived and felt.
Many of Whyte's ideas are counterintuitive -- disappointment, for instance, is not something to be (or that can be) avoided; rather it is "a misunderstood mercy and, when approached properly, an agency for transformation and the hidden underground engine for trust and generosity in a human life."
"Consolations" walks a fine line in which it is genuinely spiritually nourishing without being at all religious or hectoring and a little sentimental without being cloying. It is quite simply the best book I have read in years, and one I will be sharing throughout my life with those I love.