The nearest approach to this ideal is perhaps Fr. Emile Lamballe's Mystical Contemplation? Here the author's aim is to avoid all controversy on disputed questions—a purpose which in the main is kept steadily in view—and to make the reader familiar with what is thought by some to be not uncommon in the lives of God's children. The writer's teaching is explicitly not his own; it is that of the Masters of the science of prayer and these he cites copiously and to the point. A careful reading of some such book would well repay the labor, as it results in an accurate grasp of a complete system. There is another effect which ought not to be lightly passed over; it is the stimulus to the practice of real generosity and humility—the essential prerequisites for all spirituality; for it seems to be the clear teaching of the saints that we ordinary mortals may desire and pray for the gift of prayer.
The standard classic however is the Jesuit Fr. Augustin Poulain's The Graces of Interior Prayer It is a colossal work, scientific to a degree, and traversing the whole range of mysticism; it has moreover this advantage that for the most part the examples where possible are from modern history and the author has a wide and exhaustive knowledge garnered from the experience of a lifetime. The book is absolutely safe, having a warm approbation from the Pope, from the Congregation of the Inquisition, from various bishops, as well as a very commendatory introduction written by a Jesuit Master of Novices for the translation of the sixth edition.
The first six chapters are really enough for the average director; since ecstasies and stigmata and levitation and such like rarer phenomena are in a class apart from what is of not infrequent occurrence. This portion of the magnum opus has been published separately in English under the title The Prayer of Simplicity.