Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life by Winifred Gallagher is a thoughtful book positioned halfway between popular and scholarly. It reads well and has meaningful insights for the average reader, and these are reasonably documented. On the other hand there is little or nothing here that will stimulate either a research scientist or a dedicated spiritual seeker.

All the way through I had the feeling that this was a filler book for a professional writer. For a writer this book was easy money and safe to write. She wanders through the usual list of spiritual suspects picking off a quaint quote here and an appropriate aphorism there. It reminded me of a collection of Chinese fortune-cookie sayings, each of which has a touch of truth wrapped in a conundrum of obscurity, but anything to be gained from the “wisdom” must come from the reader themselves. Of course it was ever thus, but one could hope for a little more fire from heaven and hell in a book about deeper explorations into consciousness.

RAPT is a book that I would liken to a Wikipedia article in that it is accurate in its claims and details, but utterly lacking in what makes a book set a person onto a passionate life.