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I went with another quick read for my twenty-fourth book of the year, choosing Khalil Gibran’s Secrets of the Heart.  Based on my previous experience with Gibran, I expected a deeply philosophical book written in beautiful figurative language.  As usual, Gibran did not disappoint. 

Secrets of the Heart is a collection of poems and short stories that reflect Gibran’s general philosophy of renouncing worldly goods in favor of universal brotherhood.  He writes in language that is both wonderfully symbolic and ageless.  My favorite selections from this particular book were “Dead Are My People” and “John the Madman.”  “Dead Are My People” is a poem about the death and suffering of the people of Lebanon during World War I and Gibran’s guilt about escaping that suffering by moving with his family to America.  “John the Madman” is a short story about a young farmer in Syria who reads the New Testament in his spare time (against the orders of local priests).  His observations of the real world and the sermons preached by the priests do not align with his own scriptural readings.  When he (rightfully) speaks out against the corruption and wickedness he sees, he is dismissed as a madman and shunned.  Both of these stories are well written and very profound.  Even if the other selections offered in Secrets of the Heart had no value, I would recommend the book based on these two stories.  Fortunately, the entire book is wonderful.  Although I would recommend The Prophet or The Madman more highly, Secrets of the Heart is well worth reading.

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