Spirituality and Religion
A Pilgrimage to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search of a Faith by Timothy EganWhat it’s about: the Via Francigena (a medieval Christian pilgrimage route from England to Italy) and writer Timothy Egan's modern journey along it.
Read it for: the conversational tone and the author's reflections on the generous hospitality he encountered along the way.
You might also like: Sonia Choquette’s Walking Home, in which a series of major life events inspire her to walk the Camino de Santiago, a Christian pilgrimage route in Northern Spain.
Crusaders: An Epic History of the Wars for the Holy Lands by Dan JonesWhat it is: a comprehensive and thought-provoking exploration of the Crusades, which engulfed Europe and the Levant between the 11th and 13th centuries.
What makes it unique: the author’s ability to organize and condense such a large, complex topic into an engaging and accessible narrative.
About the author: Dan Jones is a popular historian and television presenter whose previous books include The Templars, Magna Carta, and The Plantagenets.
God Land: A Story of Faith, Loss, and Renewal in Middle America by Lyz LenzWhat it is: an engaging and thought-provoking glimpse into how contemporary political divisions have affected American society, many churches, and even the author's own marriage.
Topics include: the resurgence of patriarchal attitudes in Christianity, the social issues that are driving many people away from their churches, and the alternative spiritual communities that people excluded from the mainstream are creating for themselves.
Reviewers say: "a spiritual awakening for readers of all beliefs" (Library Journal).
Unfollow: A Memoir of Loving and Leaving the Westboro Baptist Church by Megan Phelps-RoperWhat it is: a candid account of the author’s upbringing in, disillusionment with, and escape from the infamous Westboro Baptist Church (best known for their strong anti-LGBTQIA views and for picketing funerals).
Why you should read it: This richly detailed memoir offers a rare look inside a group that, despite their notoriety, is otherwise very secretive.
You might also like: Girl on a Wire by Libby Phelps (Megan Phelps-Roper's cousin); Beyond Belief by Jenna Miscavige-Hill.
River of Fire: My Spiritual Journey by Sister Helen PrejeanWhat it's about: the career and spiritual journey of Sister Helen Prejean and how her religious calling led her to work on social justice causes.
Who it's for: anyone interested in religious social justice, the 1960s and '70s era of the Catholic church, and anyone wrestling with the death penalty.
Did you know? The 1995 film Dead Man Walking (for which Susan Sarandon won an Academy Award) is based on Sister Helen's book of the same name, which detailed her work as a spiritual advisor to people on death row.
Box of Butterflies: Discovering the Unexpected Blessings All Around Us by Roma DowneyAuthor alert: Fans of the television show Touched by an Angel will recognize Roma Downey's name; here, she shares stories and reflections from her life, along with inspiring quotes, poems, scripture, and artwork.
Why you might like it: Readers looking for encouragement will find hope in Downey's faith in -- and gratitude for -- God.
Above the Line: My Wild Oats Adventure by Shirley MacLaineAuthor alert: Academy Award-winning actress Shirley MacLaine has also written several other bestselling books about spirituality.
What it's about: what it was like making the movie Wild Oats, whose filming location (the Canary Islands) is surrounded in lore that encouraged MacLaine to reflect on her spiritual beliefs.
What makes it unique: Besides a peek into MacLaine's rich inner life, there's also plenty of wit and insider Hollywood gossip.
Grace Without God: The Search for Meaning, Purpose, and Belonging in a Secular Age by Katherine OzmentWhat it's about: the author's curiosity about the "Nones" (the religiously unaffiliated) and the new spaces and practices they are developing to fill the needs that previous generations looked to religion for.
Who it's for: anyone interested in secularism, morality, and trends in cultural understandings of religion.
You might also like: Belief Without Borders by Linda Mercadante; Agnostic by Lesley Hazleton.
I've Been Thinking...Reflections, Prayers, and Meditations for a Meaningful Life by Maria ShriverWhat it is: an inspiring collection of the award-winning journalist's reflections on family, faith, and finding meaning in life.
Read it for: the refreshingly earnest and informal tone; the heartfelt prayers at the end of every chapter.
Reviewers say: "An optimistic reminder to be gentle with oneself" (Library Journal).
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