Walker Percy, a physician and practicing Catholic in the American South, wrote a number of interesting novels, the best-known perhaps being "The Moviegoer," winner of the National Book Award in 1962 (or was it?), beating books by Salinger and Heller. But Percy also wrote some oddball nonfiction, including this one, billed as "The Last Self-Help Book." It seems to have been an attempt to puncture some of the astrological, spiritual and pseudo-therapy books on the market in the 1970s. It is a strange and entertaining read (marred, alas, by the casual homophobia of that time, among other flaws). The book is part humor, part spiritual quest, part a treatise on semiotics before that word was in vogue. It is also part self-help quiz, and part riff on Carl Sagan's popular science book "Cosmos," with one of the best arguments you'll ever read against suicide. You'll find that in the chapter entitled, "The Depressed Self: Whether the Self is Depressed because there is something wrong with it or whether Depression is a Normal Response to a Deranged World." 

     This Old Book started as a Tumblr, which is also archived on These are books that have survived many purges from my shelves over decades, with a few comments attempting to figure out why I have held onto them.

AuthorPatrick LaForge