hygienic dark retreat

profound rest for the self‑healing psyche

a book by andrew durham

formerly darkroomretreat.com


five cranial supernovas

These are the five most important books and authors I have ever read. Each has blown my mind, changed my life, and deeply informed and influenced my methods and thinking since I first read it.

Book Author Published First Read
Atlas Shrugged Ayn Rand 1957 1990
The Continuum Concept Jean Liedloff 1975 1990
Ishmael Daniel Quinn 1992 2000
In Search of the Miraculous P D Ouspensky 1947 2005
The 80/10/10 Diet Douglas Graham 2006 2008


Of Rand, Liedloff, and Quinn, I read and liked nearly everything else. There was nothing I strongly disliked.

Ouspensky’s other books don’t attract me. But Fritz Peters’s books about Gurdjieff are great.

I have just started to study Graham. I sought his crystalline book on diet for over 20 years. His book also stands for Herbert Shelton’s masterful work on hygiene, Science and Fine Art of Natural Hygiene.


  • Introduction to Human Technology by William Arthur Evans. This gets my honorable mention. It was a highly catalytic book that came at a critical moment in late 2006. It is a rare book, discovered by my friend, Sterling.

  • Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins concretely sums up for me the diabolical process of this culture. It enabled me to finally wash my hands of trying to remediate it, at least in ordinary ways.

  • Our Universal Journey, by George Kavassilas is a unusual and profoundly satisfying book about ontology, the soul, and the cosmic-scale God Control Matrix we live under. I found the style difficult but the ideas astounding and well worth it. See George on YouTube.

  • Total Onslaught by Walter Veith is a 50-hour, 36-video series about “The Great Controversy” between Christ and Satan. It presents the Bible coherently. Veith exposes the the light and dark forces in the world throughout history, up to the present. I watched about 15 videos. Compelling.


A few other books really affected me when I was first reading things on my own, starting at age 15. They prepared me for the books above. They are so close to me, it is hard to assess their monumentality, their greatness. Also, they are so central to my thinking, it is hard to objectify them, to separate them from my perspective as I have done in the above list. They are:

  • Summerhill -A S Neill. This is about a free school in England and its philosophy. Neill was its wise headmaster. He believed in the rights of children and their original goodness. Which his school, still going today, proves. From my parents’ shelf. It influenced the teachers of my first school, Horizons.
  • Magical Child Matures -Joseph Chilton Pearce. This is about developmental psychology, a radical critique of our society, and an attitude toward a way out. From my dad’s second wife.
  • The Songlines -Bruce Chatwin. A paean to the aboriginal worldview and the virtues of walking. From my mother.
  • The Natural House -Frank Lloyd Wright. A coherent vision of shelter and the individual. By the hero of my father, who went to Taliesin, Wright’s school, under his widow, Olgivanna.
  • Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah -Richard Bach. A fool finds a friend and becomes wise. The book gently exposes conventional assumptions. From my brother’s shelf.


  • The Prophet -Khalil Gibran. My first book of wisdom, from my mother.
  • The Dark is Rising - Susan Cooper. Haunting, quiet imagery. A boy hero seeks out talismans he’ll need to face down a world-menacing force.
  • Farmer Boy - Laura Ingalls Wilder. Pure American decency and virtue, read to us by my father.
  • James and the Giant Peach, Danny the Champion of the World, The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six Others - Roald Dahl. Dahl unchains children in his stories and in the visions of his readers. James was read to us at Horizons School. My parents bought me the rest. Of course, everyone saw Charlie and the Chocolate Factory every year on TV with Gene Wilder from 1971 (avoid the creepy 2005 version). The book and its sequel are good.
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