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Seeking Enlightenment Hat By Hat [Hardcover]

St Avila
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 3 2003
The author of the New York Times-bestselling Anna Pigeon mystery series beckons her readers to share her spiritual search for meaning in life.

During her life as an actor, a writer, an adventuress, a non-believer, and a seeker of truth and amusement, Nevada Barr has been cursed and blessed with the question of "why?" Though the things she wanted to know were mostly in the realm of the unknowable, she sought answers through reading, thinking, and talking-looking outward for signs and truths. But she found that while her quest for meaning provided inspiration, it afforded little in the way of proof.

It was then that she began to look inward for answers. Seeking Enlightenment . . . Hat by Hat is the beguiling story of her journey from arrogance and atheism toward humility and a sense of being part of something greater than herself. Hat by hat, step by step, Nevada Barr leads readers down her path to enlightenment by sharing personal episodes, some of them funny and revealing, others painfully honest. Each chapter offers a truth or an answer forged through experience and deep reflection, and a nugget of insight certain to encourage thought and discussion among readers who may, in turn, find their own spiritual language.

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From Publishers Weekly

"A life ago," Barr writes, "I was depressed, broke, homeless, unemployed and divorced." One evening she wandered into an Episcopal church, primarily because it was unlocked. Desperation, not interest in religion, had brought her there, but warmly accepting parishioners kept her, and soon she wanted to be confirmed. "I went to the priest and asked him if it would be okay considering I didn't accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior, didn't believe the Bible was divinely inspired and wasn't entirely sure about the whole God thing. Fortunately Father Andrew had been tending his flock long enough to recognize a lost lamb when one came bleating into his office and put no obstacles in my way." It was a turning point for Barr, who here describes the resulting changes in her life and thinking over the last six years. Readers of Barr's bestselling mystery series featuring park ranger Anna Pigeon might have hoped for a whole book full of enlightenment about Anna's creator. However, apart from the introduction and occasional anecdotes throughout, her first nonfiction work is more a collection of personal essays than spiritual memoir. In more than 40 short chapters, she looks at topics as varied as forgiveness, girlfriends, being ordinary, Halloween and of course hats, usually saying more about how she thinks life should be lived than about how she actually lives hers. Nevertheless, Barr's sassy style, self-deprecating sense of humor and trenchant observations make for a good-and, yes, enlightening-read.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

There is something about having survived a serious bout of clinical depression that causes a person to look inward in an effort to find meaning. For popular mystery writer Nevada Barr, author of the Anna Pigeon series, depression set off a chain of events that led her to embrace religion and spirituality. In these short essays, she charts the course of her spiritual evolution, how she sought to understand the many aspects of spiritual life, from forgiveness ("a sigh of relief on which the memory of evil is breathed out ") to pain ("it is a duty to relieve our own pain") to commitment ("not a contract with the world but with the self"). Barr's account of her transformation from nonbeliever to committed churchgoer--but one who maintains a healthy sense of doubt even as she prays and attends Bible studies--is moving but never saccharine. Her conclusion that one can believe in God (or any other higher being) and still live a life based on logic should appeal to other skeptics. Managing to be inspirational as well as practical, Barr finds in spirituality a way to get beyond self-centeredness: "It was a number of years of crashing and burning in the personal arena before I made the discovery that I was not God." Mary Frances Wilkens
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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First Sentence
Having made my living much of my life by writing fiction, I know when I, or those around me, are making things up, when our plotlines drift free of the earth and we begin to weave tales of explanation, justification or-in most cases-tales of what we would like our story to be. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Not on the road to Damascus April 5 2004
By R. BULL
Format:Hardcover
For Nevada Barr, her faith journey started in a church that was close to home, had light shining through a stained glass window and was open at the moment she responded to an inner impulse. As she describes herself..."I was a godless heathen and proud of it. According to the priest as the Epsicopal church, I am still a heathen but no longer godless." The description of her coming from no childhood experience of a church and hearing church members criticized to eventually joining a church is told in a very readable and quite touching. Most of the book is a series of thoughts or anecdotes about judgment,sin, gratitude etc. It is the type of book to read one ot two chapters at a time and to return to at a later time. One thing is for certain; Nevada Barr can flat out write well.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Seeking Enlightenment...Hat by Hat Jan. 24 2004
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
This is an honest account of Navada Barr's spiritual journey told in short essays. There is a mixture of seriousness and lightheartedness here. Anyone willing to share such personal detail of spiritual development deserves much credit for courage. Her candor gives the book its authenticity and makes the reader want to keep reading.
Describing ones spiritual life in a way that would provide an exact road map for others is probably impossible, but you can see that the "ah!ha!" moments often happen when we least expect them and often when we think we least deserve them. This book is full of hope, optimism, and joy. I really liked it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book by a serious, honest thinker. Aug. 25 2003
Format:Hardcover
This is not so much a book as a series of related essays about life and the other imponderables related to living. But, what a group of essays it is. This is not a book for the Bible thumpers, Barr is not so sure that she believes in God so much as she is now comfortable with the idea of God. And, she gets to this point, revelation by revelation, hat by hat, not of God but of her. You do not really understand her fiction unless you read this book. It adds such depth to her characters.
I enjoyed the book, and I profited from reading it. What more can you say about any book, any work of art? Buy it. Read it yourself and enjoy the presence of an interesting woman.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Know Anna, but Not Nevada, Better Aug. 9 2003
By Reader
Format:Hardcover
I remember the beginning of "Track of the Cat," the first Anna Pigeon mystery, where she muses about having sought all the gods and goddesses, and found them dead and useless to her. The theme of the spiritual journey recurs in the series, until in "Flashback," the proposal of marriage she flees from is from an Episcopal priest whose work she respects. Anna loves animals and needs the wilderness to keep her sanity and her spirituality. I'd wondered if this reflected Nevada Barr's life. So I was delighted to find the book. And I did learn that the reflection was there. But Barr keeps the reader at a considerable distance. There are confessions, tears, faults displayed. There is humor. But this is no deep spiritual classic. Nevada Barr has opened the door on her soul just a little. But she has definitely not shone the light on herself as she does on Anna Pigeon. Anna is my very favorite protagonist of mysteries today, with her intelligence, her prickliness, her spirituality, however "nonreligious," her integrity, her humor, her loyalty, her pluck and persistence. It's clear all of that's in Nevada Barr too, somewhere. But she hasn't shown it to us in this, her first non-fiction book. As a fan, I wouldn't have missed it. I'll recommend it to other fans. But if you're not a fan, don't bother.
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