Teresa of Ávila: The Book of My Life

ISBN: 1590303652
ISBN 13: 9781590303658
By: Teresa of Ávila Mirabai Starr

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About this book

She was the last person anyone would have expected to become a nun, yet she became one of the most celebrated nuns of all time. She was a brilliant administrator when such vocations were virtually closed to women. And above all, she combined an astonishing proclivity for ecstatic union with God with down-to-earth practicality and good humor. Teresa of Ávila (1515–1582) is one of the most beloved of the Catholic saints. During the era of the Spanish Inquisition, Teresa wrote an account of the mystical experiences for which she had become famous. The result was this book—one of the great classics of spiritual autobiography. With this fresh, contemporary translation of The Book of My Life, Mirabai Starr brings the beloved Spanish mystic to life for a new generation. And in this audio edition, Tessa Bielecki delivers such an engaging reading of The Book of My Life that it seems as if we are listening to Teresa of Ávila herself.

Reader's Thoughts


I heart Teresa of Avila. Does reading this stuff count as prayer or is it just time-wasting?


This book is a wonderful read for anyone who is looking to improve and advance their prayer techniques. Saint Teresa outlines 4 different stages of prayer, which are very helpful if you wish to go deeper.


English transaltion of Santa Teresa de Ávila: Libro de la Vida by Mirabai Starr. I can only assume that this got higher ratings than it deserved because people confused the poor translation with the subject. The language of the translation is, indeed, fine. However, a translation is inevitably an interpretation and this one is, as one reviewer rightly wrote, "froofy." Ms. Starr is a spiritual seeker with a considerable gift of language, but seems to have transformed the life of her subject, Teresa de Ávila, into whom she needed her to be. Highly disappointing.

Stefan Garcia

It is difficult to read this book as a modern person because it is such a different one, even if one remains a Catholic. I would psychologize so much of the writing here, the visions in particular, but to do that would not do justice to what Teresa was saying. I found the visions part to be redundant. It is much less important than she believed. What did provide more inspiration was the beginning, her struggling in the spiritual life. That part was useful as a twisty road map for anyone who would like to embark on such a life.

Brian Kubarycz

I love how whacked this book is. I read it as a contrast and antidote to the sober reasoning and cautious speculations of Descartes and his progeny. This Theory's other.

Sam Fink

Just could not feel a strong connection. Probably the slowest reading book I have completed. If it were any other topic, I would not have persisted.


Great book. Teresa of Avila was a woman of very modern sensibilities. Her love affair with God is an integral part of this extraordinary autobiography/confession. There are the usual markers of the narrow-mindedness of the contemporary culture in which she lived: the pervasive religious fascism and fanaticism--a fanaticism fostered and promoted by the Church's power through the mandate of the Inquisition, the fear of the Devil's power to overthrow one's soul and the Devil's association with Negroes (or Black-skinned races (Moors)), the intolerance for other religions (Lutherans), the abasement of women within the Church. Yet for all of this, it retains its sense of the modern, due in no small part to Teresa's extraordinary skill in psychological analysis, knowledge of Doctrine as well as Dogma, Scripture and supporting texts such as St. Augustine's Confessions, and her use of Church politics and hierarchy to criticize the ecclesiastical structure and its ruling elite. Despite her liberal sprinkle of self-deprecatory remarks, the reader will discover, I think, that St. Teresa of Avila was an ambitious nun, careful to hold herself apart from criticism by inviting it as a penance from God, while carefully courting the favor of powerful interests to lobby on behalf of projects or persons she identified as "true servants of God," eventually obtaining what she desired, enclosure in a stricter House, which she founded, and which was based upon poverty-the convent of Discalced Carmelite Nuns of the Primitive Rule of St. Joseph at Avila. Readers may find her nested digressions excessive. Still, I think it was worth the effort to read about a woman who rose in prominence and influence at a time of great cultural and religious conservatism.

Margaret Dee

I wanted to like this book. I had heard about it for years and I meditate but it was so anti women(I know the times)and I could never understand what she felt she had done that was so terrible.

Diana Jenkins

What a purely devine woman. Her journey is both inspiring and inlightening.

Victoria Hernández

I don't have words to explain this book!!! very deep!!! but at the same time you can see the role for the women in the XVI century!!


While the life of Saint Teresa is interesting, she could have used a good editor. The book is a rambling, unfocused mess. I could have even overlooked that, but the translation was a big problem for me. How can you translate a 16th century book by a nun and edit out almost all references to the devil? How can you translate "sin" as "missing the mark"? I don't care if the translator is a Jewish-Buddhist-New Age whatever. She ruined the book for me. While I was looking forward to reading other works by Spanish mystics, now I'll look for them in the original Spanish.

Jonathan Drnjevic

If you're looking for confirmation that a life of holiness is often accompanied by difficulty, then this book will confirm that. Teresa's visions, which make up only a few pages, are remarkable and timeless. This is not an easy read.


One of the greatest books on mysticism of all time!If you have any interest in faith or meditation you must read this, and Road to Perfection and The Interior Castle!Best read in Spanish.


I completely disagree with the characterization of St. Teresa as a " hysterically unbalanced" woman... She was a great woman OOD her time and for all times, a true feminist in and of the Church. Her struggle. To find God is the Struggle of many people when they find themselves in the desert of spirituality. I have read and re-read this book for over twenty years and still find new layers.

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio

When reading this in liberal arts school and participating in discussion based class sessions I drew great knee jerk, PC-er than thou, dogmatic insistence at tolerating all things with word 'religious' or 'spiritual' attached to them (besides red state Christian fundamentalism) type of reactions by calling Ms. Teresa a junky looking for her God fix. I stand by this assessment today. I found her writing to be an interesting read nonetheless but also felt sorry for her and her rejection of the present world in favor of 18 hours of praying per day focusing only on thoughts of the hereafter. She sought the rush of endorphins and called it spiritual ecstacy. She spoke of God as her lover. She expressed a vicious hatred for the present world with all of its imperfections. I do like that sculpture on the cover though. David Foster Wallace references it in Infinite Jest when describing the way Madame Psychosis (AKA The Prettiest Girl Of All Time, P.G.O.A.T.) feels when free basing cocaine: the Ecstacy of Saint Teresa of Avila.

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