Genre: Non-fiction, Reference, Psychology, History, Art.
Rating: 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟
This is my favourite book of all time. That’s a big statement because I’ve read many books.
I’ve been reluctant to actually review The Book of Symbols. So afraid I was that I wouldn’t be able to capture its brilliance.
The Book of Symbols is the most under-promoted and criminally underrated reference books ever. Even the blurb on Taschen’s website plays it down, giving it only one meagre paragraph of explanation…
This encyclopedia explores the hidden meanings of visual symbols across time and geography, from the sun to whales and the human hand. Spanning different eras and cultures, over 800 beautiful images combine with expert illuminations of symbol history, meanings, and psychic associations, offering readers a precious and fascinating resource for thoughtful interpretations of life, art, and spirituality. Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism (ARAS)
However the Book of Symbols is a masterpiece of art history, philosophy, mysticism, psychology, anthropology, biology and spirituality. It brings together the history of various symbols, concepts and objects from many cultures and civilisations.
Aside from being a superb reference book, this book is for anyone who has a curious nature, enjoys quirky history and appreciates art and beauty. It is hard to not feel a sense of awe at the beautiful typesetting and illustration along with the evocative and fascinating write-ups. The storytelling is weaves together the Jungian archetypal, the Freudian and post-modern into a cohesive whole. It achieves what most other books can only dream of achieving, an accurate description of the material world we live in, in all of its splendour and wonder
This is the ideal gift for anyone of a curious nature. I waited for about three months for my copy to arrive from overseas, and so they ended up sending me two copies. So I gave one away to my friend Mike, who I knew would appreciate and cherish it.
The only book that would come remotely close to this in style and content would be Neil MacGregor’s wildly popular A History of the World in 100 Objects. Another historical reference book that tells the history of the world through ancient objects. The Book of Symbols goes one step further and explains the hidden meaning of everything in the world in exquisite detail.
If you are a designer of any kind: games, interiors, industrial, graphic design you will cherish this book. Similarly if you’re an artist, musician or writer, you will appreciate having the symbology of objects and easily accessible and in one place. It’s an endless font of inspiration this book, that will keep on giving and giving to you, forever. I can’t rate this highly enough. It’s definitely the most treasured book I have ever found.
5 thoughts on “Book Review: The Book of Symbols by the Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism (ARAS)”
That’s quite some recommendation Catnip.
I took up your invite to read Michael Faber’s ‘The Book of Strange New Things’…am about halfway through and loving the perspective he gives to life on planet Earth. Good steer – cheers!
Thanks Kev, I am so excited that you took up that invitation to read The Book of Strange New Things and that you are enjoying it. There is a lot of psychological and philosophical depth to it, isn;t there. From the description it looks like a paint-by-numbers sci-fi, but it has very little to do with sci-fi, even though it is set in space. Would love to hear about what you think of it after you’ve finished. Take care Kev, speak soon 🙂