The Wisdom Page 

Personal-Quest Books

Most of the books listed below are books that document the personal quests of individuals (real or fictional) for greater understanding, personal development, and wisdom. A few of them focus on the questing process.

If you have some favorite personal-quest books that meet the criteria below and are not already on the list, please email me at, and I'll add them to it.

My understanding of quest aligns with my dictionary's use of the word as a verb: "to search for," "to ask for." It has a strong element of intentionality. Yes, there is that stage at the birth of the quest that might involve reluctance, and "even kicking and screaming" not to undertake it. Before, there is no quest. But after this perhaps tumultuous birthing stage of the quest, there is intentionality. From that point on one is a seeker. One is searching for ______     One is asking for ______    The writer fills in the blanks: wisdom?     a satisfying life?     inner peace?     worthwhile accomplishnment?     the answers to fundamental questions?

In many, many novels personal development simply happens. People grow psychologically, spiritually, and in wisdom as the result of life circumstances. The books I would like to put on the Personal-Quest Books list, however, are those that involve an intentional quest. Such books (possibly after describing the birthing-stage process) go on to deal with what happens once the intentional search has kicked in.

I would also like to include books that focus on the dynamics of the questing process — Joseph Campbell's Hero With a Thousand Faces and Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet — are examples. I will identify those as questing process books.

The original editions of many of these books are long out of print, but new editions are frequently available. Check online used book dealers for older editions. A good way to check the availability of both new and used books is to go to, and do a search.

Cop Macdonald's list:
Bateson, Mary Catherine. Composing a Life
Bridges, William. Transitions: Making Sense of Life's Changes    (the questing process)
Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces    (the questing process)
Camus, Albert. Notebooks 1935-1942.
Camus, Albert. Notebooks 1942-1951
Castaneda, Carlos. The Teachings of Don Juan
Castaneda, Carlos. Journey to Ixtlan
de Ropp, Robert S. The Master Game
Field, Joanna. A Life of One's Own
Halpern, Charles. Making Waves and Riding the Currents: Activism and the Pursuit of Wisdom (Review)

Hesse, Herman. Demian
Hesse, Herman. Siddhartha
Kazantzakis, Nikos. Report to Greco
Maughm, W. Somerset. The Razor's Edge
Millman, Dan. Way of the Peaceful Warrior
Rilke, Ranier Maria. Letters to a Young Poet    (the questing process)

Tom Lombardo's list:
Damasio, Antonio Looking for Spinoza
Dickens, Charles Great Expectations
Pirsig, Robert Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Jeanne Lombardo's list:
Allan, James As a Man Thinketh
Basho, Matsuo The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Other Travel Sketches
Brown, Harry How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World
de Beauvoir, Simone Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter
Woolf, Virginia A Room of One's Own