Witch Queens, Voodoo Spirits, and Hoodoo Saints: A Guide to Magical New Orleans by Denise AlvaradoWhat it is: an accessible, engaging tour of the traditions of folk magic in Louisiana.
Featuring: iconic figures like Marie Laveau, Papa Legba, and Annie Christmas; St. Expedite, an Armenian Catholic martyr who gained an unexpectedly large following in New Orleans.
Reviewers say: Witch Queens is a "rollicking party of spirits that should appeal to tourists, contemporary spell casters, and armchair historians" (Publishers Weekly).
This Here Flesh: Spirituality, Liberation, and the Stories that Make Us by Cole Arthur RileyWhat it's about: This descriptive and lyrical account of family and self explores three generations of spiritual practice and the power of ritual to connect us with each other and ourselves.
Want a taste? "From the womb, we must repeat with regularity that to love ourselves is to survive."
About the author: This Here Flesh is the debut of writer and poet Cole Arthur Riley, whose work has been featured in The Atlantic and Guernica.
Faithful Antiracism: Moving Past Talk to Systemic Change by Christina EdmondsonWhat it is: an accessible and persuasive analysis of the past, present, and potential future of racism in the church.
Why you might like it: Research-based arguments are presented alongside practical steps to counter the negative impact of racism inside and outside the church.
Reviewers say: "This timely, always relevant content makes Faithful Antiracism a must-read for all those who profess Christian faith" (Booklist).
The Believer: Encounters with the Beginning, the End, and Our Place in the Middle by Sarah KrasnosteinWhat it's about: the human drive to believe and seek meaning; the relationship between shared (or divergent) beliefs and interpersonal bonds.
Is it for you? Though belief as a concept is the central focus of The Believer, relevant non-religious topics are included in the discussion.
You might also like: How God Becomes Real by T.M. Luhrmann; Unlearning God by Phillip Gulley.
The Spiritual Mandela: Faith and Religion in the Life of Nelson Mandela by Dennis CruywagenWhat it is: a richly detailed and thought-provoking exploration of Nelson Mandela's spiritual life and the relationship between his religious experiences and his politics.
Why you should read it: The Spiritual Mandela shows a personal, relatably human side of a revered figure searching for meaning just like the rest of us.
Reviewers say: "Though Mandela was publicly circumspect about his religious views, Cruywagen’s well-researched book offers a clear account of how religion threaded through his life" (Publishers Weekly).
If All the Seas Were Ink by Ilana KurshanWhat's inside: a reflective and engaging description of author Ilana Kurshan's experiences with daf yomi, a multi-year commitment to daily Talmud study, and how it serves as a grounding ritual during chaotic times.
Read it for: the moving portrait Kurshan paints of belonging to a worldwide network of fellow readers who read the same page every day.
Did you know? Each new daf yomi cycle takes more than seven years to complete, with the next cycle set to begin on June 8, 2027.
Stranger in a Strange Land: Searching for Gershom Scholem and Jerusalem by George ProchnikWhat it is: a compelling reappraisal of the life and work of Jewish philosopher and historian Gershom Scholem, who is best known for pioneering the academic study of kabbalah in a secular context.
Why you might like it: Author George Prochnik displays a deep appreciation for the philosophical and personal reflections that can be drawn from engaging with Scholem's work, and does not hesitate to explore them in the context of his own relationship with Judaism.
Unashamed: Musings of a Fat, Black Muslim by Leah VernonWhat it is: the moving and candid memoir of social media influencer Leah Vernon, where she reflects on her relationship with her Muslim identity and the ways it intersects with self-image, self-expression, racism, sexism, and trauma.
Read it for: the comfortable, conversational tone; the unique perspective Vernon provides at the intersections of her multitude of identities.
You might also like: Love is an Ex-Country by Palestinian American writer Randa Jarrar.
The Very Worst Missionary: A Memoir or Whatever by Jamie WrightWhat it's about: the ups and downs of author Jamie Wright's efforts to reconcile her individual Christian faith with institutional problems that can surround organized religion, especially around missionary work.
Topics include: how missionary presence can disrupt local economies; financial irregularities in fundraising; manipulative recruitment tactics to encourage conversions.
For readers who: welcome tough conversations about the gaps between their relationships with God and the structural obstacles that prevent many faith communities from practicing what they preach.
Contact your librarian for more great books!
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