Word of the Week

Books for the Soul

I don't know how to have faith without gathering gems from spiritual teachers along the way-- especially those in print.

Recently I was asked about what were some of my favorite spiritual reads. I thought I’d share some of the books on my list here.

If you are looking for more than a fluff read for an summer beach trip, I’d say check some of these out. Your soul will thank you later.

1. Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It’s a book that is a must read. Truly. Have you ever wondered about how you can truly be both alone and with others at the same time? In this spiritual classic, Bonhoeffer explores what it might mean to life in community in such a way that is true to the New Testament model of the church.

2. Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott. People either love or hate her, but I find myself in the love category because of her honesty. If you’ve never picked up an Lamott book, check her out . . . you might just find yourself challenged to open your own heart to some honest space.

3. Soul Survivor: How Thirteen Unlikely Mentors Helped My Faith Survive the Church by Philip Yancy: Read this and be challenged by how radical and transformative message of Christ and how Christ meets us in the witness of each other-- folks who are both living and dead. I read this book the summer before I went to seminary and found it to be quite an encouragement to keep on going. (or try Yancy’s What’s So Amazing About Grace?)

4. Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith by Kathleen Norris. Come explore with Norris the world of religious language and culture through a new lens. You may find yourself liking the word “sanctification” after all. (Or try Dakota: A Spiritual Geography if you are in the mood for a memoir).

5. Life of the Beloved. By Henri Nouwen So many of Nouwen’s works are classics, but this one is especially wonderful as it challenges all of us to reconsider what it might mean to see ourselves as Christ’s beloved— one of the dearly loved children of God which we are. (Or try Inner Voice of Love)

6. Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal and Delight in Our Busy Lives by Wayne Muller. Muller provides an interfaith framework for why rest is so important in our lives. We must rest in order to experience God’s presence in our lives. Thoughtful questions end every chapter as a way to bring the conversation home. (Or for busy parents try Sabbath in the Suburbs by MaryAnn McKibben Dana)

7. The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. You just can’t go wrong with Manning—it’s an oldie but a good one. In need of some grace in your life? Manning explores how most of us fail to accept this wonderful aspect of life in Christ. Come explore how God is already smiling on your life no matter how bedraggled, beat-up, or tired you feel.

8. Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor. I can’t help but think that the presence of God is all around us—in our daily work, in our relationships and in our rest. BBT explores paying close attention to the presence God without ever leaving your home ore community. Gems of narrative within to last for a long time.

What classic books would you add to such a list?