I struggled through 350 pages of this book before finally giving up. It was extremely boring and as another reviewer aptly put it 'flat and wooden'. As a Catholic convert who has read a fair number of conversion stories (both ancient and modern) this book pales in comparison. I have read conversion stories which are 1/10th the length, but which pack 10 times the inspirational punch. The favorable comparison of this book with St. Augustines Confessions is absurd and insulting to this great saint. The chief problem seems to be that Merton is so self absorbed that he is really writing a book about himself instead of about God, or his relationship with God. This self centeredness fits in perfectly with modern society and probably explains why so many people are fond of it. For the well read Catholic looking to be inspired, steer clear of this mundane book and take a look at something like Saint Therese of Lisieux's 'Story of a soul', or G.K. Chesterton's 'Orthodoxy'. Please don't waste your time or money on this book
It has been a couple of years since I read this autobiography. From the perspective of an always aspiring writer and poet, I applaud this piece of literature for capturing the interest of even the most adamant unbeliever or un-anchored agnostic simply for the raw and accessible story which it conveys. From the stand-point of a spiritual seeker, a self-censoring #4 on the Enneagram (read "Merton: An Enneagram Profile", by Suzanne Zuercher), and a religious tolerant (which Merton certainly became in his later life), I connected with it instantly on a very intimate level.
I can honestly credit Merton for inspiring me to investigate Christianity much more deeply without the usual repugnance and negative bias I had approached it with before, and has since become one of my favorite writers, artists, thinkers, and Christians... period!
Merton was a very "human" being. His struggles with pride, ego, Biblical understanding, lust, vanity, etc. may help the spiritually inclined reader to accept his or her own flaws in a more forgiving light. He reminds us that nobody is perfect.
I highly recommend this book to both the fan of compelling autobiography, and to the aspiring contemplative.