Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse is the kind of book you need to go into ready to highlight.
The novel follows a young Indian man, Siddhartha, as he explores his faith (primarily Hinduism and later elements of Buddhism). Siddhartha goes from being a born into the priestly Brahmin class, to a merchant, to a ferryman all while delving into what it means to be enlightened and human.
As a realist and a person who rolls my eyes at modern-day 20-somethings who head off to “find themselves” on Mommy and Daddy’s dime, I can say that what Hesse presents and honest spiritual quest, stripped of pretention.
Indeed, the novel was written in 1922, long before the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow in her $120 yoga pants could soil the notion of spiritual exploration forever with her faux intellectualism.
Siddhartha takes true risks and true sacrifices, with fasting and thoughtfulness being his two self-described best qualities. Siddhartha frequently abandons the comforts of his station find his path to enlightenment.
It’s important to note here that despite the fact that we are following a Hindu man’s quest, Hesse does not seek to isolate Judeo-Christian readers. You can almost substitute any religious exploration in the context of this text. Theologians know the importance of examining one’s faith, and do so frequently.
One illuminating passage: “One can pass on knowledge but not wisdom. One can find wisdom, one can live it, one can work wonders with it, but one cannot speak or teach it.”
There are many more from there. If you are interested in the elusive book-that-makes-you-think, this is the one.