The most fascinating book

Recently I have been thinking about the question which book I would consider the most fascinating I’ve ever read. And with a personal library of about 900 books and hundreds more in digital form, not to mention those books I’ve given away over the years … you might say I’ve read quite a lot. Ranging from theatre plays, classics, historic romances, fantasies, mysteries, science, biographies, non-fiction, children books, teens, etc … there’s something from every genre. I’m not talking about my favourite book. I haven’t decided on that quite yet. As a kid I would have said “Insu-Pu” by Mira Lobe, 1953, 316 pages, a book my father had read when he was young and which I still possess and treasure and love very much. I still remember lying on my parents’ bed, book in front of me, basically reading it in one go, my father looking in on me when he came home from the office, me barely being able to stop reading for joining family dinner.

Ohhh … and there I go again, reminiscing about the past and totally straying from the topic. (Well, this all just a clever measure to make you more curious and heighten the suspense! Hope it worked!)

The most fascinating book I’ve ever read is the “Pfaffenspiegel” (“Priests’ mirror”) by Otto von Corvin. Written in 1845 – 1845!!! – it describes the beginnings and history of Christianity up to the 19thcentury. Why it fascinates me so much? Well, apart from the fact that I myself am very critical of the Catholic Church – and other more fanatical religions – I was more than surprised … stunned … to read something this critical having been written in the 19thcentury. Confirming my personal views I already had. Otto von Corvin writes quite openly about the crimes and misconducts of bishops, popes, priests, monks and nuns … orgies, murder and mayhem … “celibacy” … sales of indulgences …

The funny thing? The “Pfaffenspiegel” I possess is a reprint from 1995. At this time “Amazon” and the huge world of online shopping was still in its infancy and the book basically forbidden. (Especially in Austria, where the Catholic Church rules with more than two thirds of Austrians being Catholic.) Which is why my issue had been printed in Finland. My father, who remembered that book from his youth, having grown up in a quite liberal family, also due to my grandfather’s extensive business travels around the world, gleefully discovered the reprint in a book shop in Germany and couldn’t help buying it. Thanks, Dad, for introducing me to this exceptionally fascinating, entertaining and well written book. Another one of those I couldn’t stop reading until I was done.

I could write endlessly about this book, recounting the shocking historical facts, some of which I have already “used” in past articles about religions, one of my favourite topics, as you know. But … I don’t want to reveal too much and spoil it for you. It’s one of those books one just has to read and enjoy oneself.


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