The Conference of the Birds
This may not be my favorite translation of a poem I've ever read (the language was a little sparse, and relied on typographical design and illustration to capture what I know is the beauty of the original), but this book is still a work of art. From the texture of the pages to the artwork, reading it was a physical experience that I really enjoyed. There should be more picture books for adults! Plus, this story feels very meaningful to me. I'm not going to tell you how it begins, but my favorite quote is near the end, when the birds have been through the trials of passing through seven valleys of hardship and despair and death, and they look around for the king they seek: 'The Hoopoe said, "Valleys? They were only an illusion, birds, a dream. We've been through nothing. We are just now at the beginning of our journey." Some birds could not believe it. On the spot, they lost all hope. They dropped dead and fell from the sky. Some kept flying.' They approach the mountain where the king is rumored to live, and after a final trial, '...some thirty birds, unified by their quest, reach their king at last. And they see that they are Simorgh the king, and that Simorgh the king is each of them. And all of them.' I'm not religious; I don't have saints, I have poets. And I felt that.
n.b. I got this book at the Tacoma Public Library, and I just want to say that it's pretty neat that they have such a wide variety of artsy books. I appreciate it. ALSO be aware that this book may make you want to read The Bird King, by G. Willow Wilson! Which is a great novel, so, check that out.