Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tuesday Ten: Some Favorite Spiritual Books

This is a beginning list, selected from my personal library in the past few weeks. Please understand that this is just the barest beginning of a list of favorite spiritual books. I am sure to add to the list in later posts.

(1) The Celtic Spirit: Daily Meditations for the Turning Year
Caitlin Matthews, Harper San Francisco 1998
These daily meditations sustained me through some dark times - they were different enough from the spirituality of my childhood, yet resonant enough with my cultural heritage, to assist me in finding new connections with the divine.

(2) Truth or Dare: Encounters with Power, Authority, and Mystery
Starhawk, Harper San Francisco 1987
Starhawk is by far my favorite feminist pagan author. This book assisted me in seeing how our relationships with one another in community impacts our spirituality. It further clarified the meaning of unrighteous dominion and gave me powerful ideas of how to resist such uncalled for authority.

(3) Cries of the Spirit: A Celebration of Women’s Spirituality
ed. by Marilyn Sewell,Beacon Press 1991
This is a lovely book that can be dipped into over and over again at your leisure. Haunting wonderful poems, stirring quotations. Another book that sustained my heart during times of crisis.

(4) The Book of Blessings: New Jewish Prayers for Daily Life, the Sabbath, and the New Moon Festivals
Marcia Falk, Beacon Press 1996
I never understood the power of multiple daily ritual prayers until I read this. The book is also beautifully designed.

(5) Buffalo Woman Comes Singing
The Last Ghost Dance: A Guide for Earth Mages
Brooke Medicine Eagle, Wellspring/Ballantine 1991 & 2000
A powerful, personal account and an amazing journey into semi-new-age Native American spirituality. The two books should be read together, in my never-to-be-confused-for-humble opinion.

(6) Why the Church is as True as the Gospel
Eugene England, Bookcraft 1986
This is the first book by Brother England that I read. The titular essay kept me from leaving the Church in high school and calls me to repentance still.

(7) Dialogues with Myself: Personal Essays on Mormon Experience
Eugene England, Orion Books 1984
This is the 2nd book by Brother England that I read. Brother England is the reason I went to BYU (seriously, THE reason). I miss his voice, his compassion, his wisdom. I have truly never met anyone else like him.

(8) To Heal a Fractured World: The Ethics of Responsibility
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Shocken Books 2005
This book was my introduction to Rabbi Sacks. This is an eloquent and impassioned call to service. Rabbi Sacks is gifted at bringing ancient texts to bear upon modern dilemmas and reminds me of the deepest meaning of personal accountability and integrity. 

(9) Bonds that Make Us Free: Healing Our Relationships, Coming to Ourselves
C Terry Warner, Shadow Mountain 2001
This book challenges me every time I return to it. I first read the book online, then purchased the hardcover. Dr Warner challenges everyone to see beyond the box of self-delusions and self-justification, and see with eyes unclouded (to quote Princess Mononoke).  The most Buddhist Mormon text I know.

(10) Earthborn, volume 5 of the science fiction series Homecoming
Orson Scott Card, Tor, 1995
Technically not a "spiritual" book, but tackles spiritual issues nevertheless.  The series is a retelling of the core ideas and stories in the first few books of the Book of Mormon. Card describes the influence of the Spirit like no other author I know of. Perhaps the sense of "realness" I get from reading the book is the deep "Mormoness" of the book and I don't know how accessible it is to people who are unfamiliar with LDS culture. But I find myself returning to key passages every year or so, just to revisit the feeling that someone I've only met at book-signings somehow understands my deepest spiritual moments.


  1. Interesting list. There are several I intend to find when I have a chance. I just went to the library yesterday and came home with "1491" and "The Evolution of God," so I might be a few weeks with those. I'm very interested in Bro England's books. I don't believe I have ever read him. I enjoy Orson Scott Card. I read his trilogy about old testament women a couple of years ago ("Rebekah", "Sarah" and "Rachel & Leah".) I also love Hugh Nibley, who you didn't list, although I can only take him a bit at a time, and then I need to digest for a while. I also find myself reading books my kids are reading. In the last few years I have read the Artemis Fowl series, the Harry Potter series (alhtough I shouldn't pretend I read them only because of the kids), the Charlie Bone series, the Leven Thumps series, and the Twilight series (and Aubrey and I decided she would wait til she was 14 to begin reading them.) Thanks for sharing your list. It's a pretty personal one.

  2. I find Hugh Nibley interesting, but not soul-satifying, which is why he did not make it to the list.

    I have read the first Harry Potter to the boys. I've read all of them myself, but my boys are wee bit young for the whole series. =8)

    I am in the middle of reading the first of the Little House Books to the boys. Eli likes the book especially.

    Shane has listened to the Charlie Bone series on tape and seems to like them. I don't like the premise of Twilight so I haven't tried it.

    I've been reading a lot of Dianne Wynn Jones lately. I recommend any of her books, but especially the Chrestomanci series.

    I think you should alo try Shannon Hale's books if you haven't already - I've enjoyed all that I have read. The boys loved Rapunzel's Revenge.

    I also love Margaret Peterson Haddix's Just Ella & Palace of Mirrors.

    Happy Reading!