Best books about faith

During our book Pick of the Week chat today, Kerri mentioned she is reading a lot of books about religion, spirituality and belief for our upcoming Faith Week. She’s currently reading “When God Talks Back” by T.M. Luhrman.

We want to get your picks. What’s your favorite book about religion? It can be non-fiction or fiction.

I should also give you links to what I am reading and what Tom is reading. I just finished an article about uncontacted tribes who live in the Amazon and Weber recommends an article from Wired about Chernobyl.

Stephanie Curtis, social media host

  • Paula

    Virgin Time by Patricia Hampl – her spiritual quest – I think this was one of her earliest books

  • Paula

    I know a couple of books that, oddly enough, can inform discussions about both the civil war and faith and public life.

    The first is Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America by Garry Wills. This remarkable telling of the circumstances surrounding Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address will change how a reader thinks about not just the Civil War and Lincoln, but about the craft of writing, historiography, and the impact of words on a semi-literate public.

    Much of what impelled Lincoln to Gettysburg was the spiritual wound of the battle there, and how public acts attempt to heal the wound. This is what Drew Gilpin Faust illustrates in her book, This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War. It’s a sad book, but compelling.

  • Stephanie Curtis

    Paula mentioned the Civil War because we have been talking about Civil War books for the past few weeks and asked for suggestions.

    Kerri mentioned that she admires Eric Foner’s The Fiery Trial.

    I still am slogging through A World on Fire,?a>. A great book, but it feels slow because I made the mistake of starting 2 other books at the same time. I am not making enough progress on any of them.

  • Jenny Vellon

    I am just finishing an interesting book about the Civil War called Confederate Lady, Yankee Spy. It’s an historical non-fiction about a woman from Richmond who became a spy for the Union. Very interesting!

  • Julie

    Okay, I know it’s not a book, but Julia Sweeney’s one woman show “Letting Go of God” is amazing. It’s a personal look at becoming an atheist that’s funny, unpretentious, thoughtful, sweet, and honest. She would make an amazing guest during your week on spirituality.

  • Eric

    Fiction: Brothers K by David James Duncan

    Non-fiction: Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller

    Good books asking good questions about life and God and life with God.

  • kim

    The Shack, by William P Young

    The Magdalene Gospel, by Mary Ellen Ashcroft

    Mathew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts read start to finish, like any other books. You might be surprised what’s in there, if you read it for yourself instead of assuming you know. One of those “books” where you find something new every time you look!

  • Karl LeMay

    The Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu

    The Sparrow, and Children of God by Mary Doria Russell

  • Craig

    The Golden Bough by James Frazer remains fascinating after 120 years. It influenced many of the post-world-war-I greats, including Hemingway, James Joyce, and especially T.S. Eliot in his writing of The Waste Land.

    It is now in the public domain and can be found here.

  • Nora

    @KerriMPR The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown.Can you have her on the #DailyCircuit? She would be amazing!

    — nora (@MindfulofMine) April 25, 2012

  • John R.

    @KerriMPRFav. spiritual book: The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a’Kempis. Oldie but good, nice modern translations available.

    — John R. (@BeatGuy83) April 24, 2012

  • Waggs via twitter

    @stephcurtis @kerrimpr Be Here Now by Ram Daas

    — WAGGS (@waggawagga) April 25, 2012

  • Aaron via twitter

    A fiction- Peace Like A River. RT @stephcurtis: What r yr favorite books about #faith, #religion, #spirituality?

    — Aaron Grote (@atgrote) April 24, 2012

  • Mike M

    The Problem of Pain, by CS Lewis

  • Linda via twitter

    @KerriMPRMany a person has become a Christian because of C. S. Lewis’ famous book, Mere Christianity.

    — LindaKlein (@LindaKlein) April 25, 2012

  • Lee

    There is good stuff on the role faith can have in the public sphere in John Rawls’ “Political Liberalism” (see ‘comprehensive doctrines’). You also might enjoy James Carse’s “The Religious Case Against Belief” if you’re looking for how a postmodern religious scholar views what faith as a public activity has become. I’d also recommend Giorgio Agamben’s “Homo Sacer,” Enrique Dussel’s “Ethics and Community,” and Jacques Derrida’s “The Gift of Death.”

  • Yvonne

    Just finished reading “the Grunt Padre” – what an amazing story about an amazing man…

    “Navy Chaplain killed in vietnam l967 with Marine search unit in operation swift, outnumbered 2500 to 500 marines, killed protecting a corpsman who was administering first aid to soldier. Receive Congressional medal of honor, Bronze star and 3 purple hearts. Even though wounded refused to leave battle area to assist his grunts. Most recognized and respected chaplain in that war, memorials and buildings thoughout the world named after him. This is a hero”

  • Jim

    Martin Buber: an Intimate Portrait. It’s out of print, but it is a beautifully written biography of Buber, who lived at the intersection of faith and ethics.

  • Heidi

    As a person who has read many books on faith as a religion minor in college and as a seminary student. I really like Theologian Walter Brueggeman and really want to read his new book: Journey to the Common Good. I also like Parker Palmer. Additionally, I like Sara Miles and Anne Lamott

  • Katie

    Speaking of Faith: Why Religion Matters – and How to Talk About It, by Krista Tippett

    Anam Cara, by John O’Donohue

    Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs, by Heather Lende

  • Tatti

    The books that I recommend are written by Voddie Baucham. Both are great reads on the role of families and faith – especially the role of fathers. –

    Family Driven Faith – Voddie Baucham

    What he must be – if he wants to marry my daughter – Voddie Baucham

  • Ann

    Read any of Ken Ham’s materials, including books, magazines, and videos. You can find out how science is gradually finding out that Genesis is true. It will affect all of your attitudes about life and the value of life. Be warned–it will affect your whole life!

  • Linda

    An excellent book about the difference between merely “worshiping” god and being actively engaged in the type of life exemplified by Jesus is: “Saving Jesus from the Church: How to Stop Worshiping Christ and Start Following Jesus” by Robin R. Meyers. From the back cover: “The marriage of bad theology and hypocritical behavior by the church has eroded our spiritual lives. Taking the best of biblical scholarship, Meyers recasts core Christian concepts in an effort to save Christianity from its obsession w/ personal salvation. Not a plea to try something brand new, but rather the recovery of something very old.”

  • Matt Lehmann


    The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal

    By Christopher Moore

    What a hoot!

  • Stephanie — I came to this blog looking for a post from a listener who called in today ( Wed) saying he has an organization that works with farmers and social media — I did not catch his name or the name of the organization — can you connect me with him? Thanks

    As far as one of my favorite spiritual writers goes:

    The Way to Love, 1992. ISBN 978-0-385-24939-3

    By Anthony de Mello

  • Scott Brazil

    My life was greatly enriched once I was introduced to the writings of Richard Rohr. Anything he has written is worth reading, but I especially recommend “Everything Belongs,” “Things Hidden,” “Adam’s Return,” and his book on the Enneagram.

  • Sr Laurie Niblick

    I fell in love years ago with “A River Runs Through It” by Norman Maclean when I heard him read it on NPR. There’s more solid theology in it than a lot of so-called Theology books I’ve read.

    Also, a shameless plug for a book coming out by my former boss, the Rt Rev Steven Charleston, interim Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral, Oklahoma City, OK. (He also has a Twin Cities Connection) About a year ago he began posting morning meditations on Facebook. “Hope as Old as Fire” is a compilation of one year’s worth of his words. Amazing prophet and preacher and wonderful writer!

  • I am a new author writing eBooks and publishing them on Amazon. I believe that much of what happens or occurs in a person’s life begins with his or her words. Your words can make you or break you. My first book, after ten years of research is entitled, “Say What You Mean: Because You’ll Have What You Say.”

  • Chaplain Jennifer Martin, MAPM, BCC

    I am currently writing a book entitled “UNEMPLOYED: A Modern Day Lament” which deals with being laid off on 9-11-2008 and the identity journey that occurred within the cloud of financial uncertainty. This journey led me to uncover my spiritual vocation to ministry and how I was sidetracked from this through my focus on professionalism.

  • Lawrence M. Doe

    Very little discussion on religion and spirituality include the practices common before the formation of the world’s great religions and still in use today. Loren Cruden is a wonderful author who writes and teaches about a direct relationship with the Divine without orthodoxy. She also writes about spiritual relationship to the world we live in. For a fresh look at these topics, read some of her beautifully expressed insights in the following books published by Inner Traditions:

    The Spirit Of Place (a workbook for sacred alignment)

    Compass Of The Heart

    Coyote’s Council Fire (Contemporary Shamans on Race, Gender, and Community)

  • rebecca

    “Reason for Hope, a Spiritual Journey”, Jane Goodall with Phillip Berman. A fantastic memoir and some of her thoughts about spirituality and science, and how her studying animals and being in nature have brought her a sense of peace and purpose. “The forest-any forest-is, for me, the most spiritual place.”

  • Sandra

    @stephcurtis @kerrimpr Life of Pi is my favorite book about #faith, #religion, #spirituality. Time to read it again.

    — Sandra Burrowes (@sandraburrowes) April 26, 2012

  • Jordan via Twitter

    @stephcurtis Daisaku Ikeda’s _For the Sake of Peace_ presents Buddhist humanism as the way to addressglobal issues #dailycircuit

    — Jordan Stalker (@JordaanS) April 25, 2012

  • Jon LaCore

    I think the “End of Faith” by Sam Harris should be included in the discussion. It’s a perspective about how faith can actually be harmful. I think it would round out the discussion a bit.

  • Kevin

    “A Prayer For Owen Meany” – John Irving

    “The Last Temptation of Christ” – Nikos Kazantzakis

  • Penny

    I would recommend Death Comes for the Archbishop, a 1927 novel by Willa Cather. I think it clearly demonstrates the good and bad of organized religion.

  • Lon

    “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins is hands down the best book about religion.

  • Gary Green

    I would like to recommend “In Pursuit of Joy” by Gary Green. It discusses my recovery from alcoholism and depression and the spiritual lessons I learned.

  • End of Faith by Sam Harris is an excellent counter to the overblown amount amount of time devoted to organized religions. My book, Bizarre Beyond Belief, also compares Rationalism with Mythology.

    Available at

  • Tom Boman

    I’d highly recommend Bible Babel by Kristin Swenson. Best book I’ve read that gives an inside look at the all the fascinating characters and events in the Bible. Not only interesting but fun to read. And, she corrects a lot of distortions that seem to persist about the Bible.

  • Jibson

    I recommend “Jesus and the Disinherited” by Howard Thurman for what it has to say about poverty and religion.

  • Brian Berggren

    With the Pope and so many bishops voicing positions that seem to go far beyond sheperding the faithful, a revisit of Garry Wills’ Papal Sin: Structures of Deceit (2000) would be a timely read. Wills organization includes Historical Dishonesties, Doctrinal Dishonesties, The Honesty Issue, And The Splendor of Truth. Even for the unchurched, this is a great read.

  • Deb

    I recommend ‘The Heart of Christianity’ by Marcus J. Borg.

  • Kathy from Duluth

    The oldie classic -“Mere Christianity” by CS Lewis, OR the contemporary provocative-“The Reason for God” or “The Prodigal God” by Timothy Keller.

  • jane

    I would like to recommend “Take this Bread” by Sara Miles and “The Prodigal God” by Timothy Keller.

  • carol

    I would to recommend 2 older books which have been helpful on my faith journey.

    “The Faith Club” by Idiby, Oliver and Warner. 2006

    “A History of God” by Karen Armstrong 1993

  • Chris Idzerda

    Everyone who claims to be a Christian needs to read Jaraslov Pelikan’s Origin of Christian Doctrine, Volume 1. This volume looks at the early Christian “fathers” 100-600; after that it is all down hill no brakes.

  • Elliott James

    Bertard Russell

    “Why I am not a Christian”

    Richard Dawkins:

    “The God Delusion”

    Chrisopher Hitchens:

    “God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything”

    Three worthwhile books that will help you think for yourself.

  • Laurel Stiebler

    I recommend Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis, by Lauren Winner.

  • Mallory

    The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield

    Ishmael by Daniel Quinn

    Wonderful books about spirituality.

  • Jim

    The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan

  • Guy

    The most informative book I have found on faith is “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins. I feel that as intelligent people, when we choose to believe anything, religious or otherwise, we are obligated to know the arguments which are counter to that belief. The more comfortable a belief and the more we want to believe the stronger the obligation to question that belief. To believe something without know all sides of the issue, (there are usually more than 2 sides), is to choose ignorance and where is the virtue in that?

  • Abbey

    I loved This I Believe.

    Also anything by Karen Armstrong especially A Case for God. Her scholarship is evident and her passion is infectious!

  • James

    “The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power is Destroying the Church” written by Gregory Boyd, is an excellent book, especially for an election year. It helps to clarify the difference between government and church involvement in society. What is appropriate for the church to be doing versus what we should expect the government to be doing regarding needs within the larger society.

  • Michael

    The book “The Way of the Heart” by Henri Nouwen was tremendously instructive for me regarding the issue of prayer. For fiction, “Crossing to Safety” by Wallace Stegner is a magnificent portrait of friendship and work on a level with such depth it could be called spiritual.

  • Aaron Towner

    Would have to recommend the book ‘Concerning the book that is the body of the beloved’ by Gregory Orr. A fabulous and inspired book of poems on spirituality. Each poem stands alone and the book as a whole is one meditative poem.

    Fiction pick would be ‘Tortuga’ by Rudolpho Anaya.

  • Dan

    I don’t know if this has been mentioned yet, but _The Lord of the Rings_ is clearly a book about faith, courage, and serendipity. It teaches that even a humble man can change the world, even the best of us can fall, and even the worst of us can be forgiven.

  • Kit Hansen

    While not directly a book about religion, I found Daniel Mendelsohn’s “The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million” illuminating because of how he wove biblical stories into modern day life – showing me, an atheist, how such stories can be instructive and can explain dilemmas we all face. And, of course, Mendelsohn’s book, a true story, is a worthwhile and moving read on multiple levels. (It is about his search 6 of his relatives lost in the holocaust, initially to learn how they died, but ultimately, to learn how they lived.)

  • Jim

    The fiction trilogy “His Dark Materials” by Philip Pullman is an excellent series for young and old that touches on religious topics. The audio book is exceptionally well done.

  • Greg Hayes

    Peace in the Puzzle-Becoming your Intended Self- by Susan Myhre Hayes. The author’s life journey and how her experiences can transform your life.

  • Eric

    A new book that is completely Minnesotan features the struggles, joys, challenges, and rewards of being an atheist. The anthology features 36 personal stories from Minnesotans about what it’s like to be an atheist. Many topics are covered: why/how religious faith was rejected, death, parenting, GLBT, feminism, and science. Contributors include Huffington Post writer, Chris Stedman and University of Minnesota biologist and professor, PZ Myers.

  • Chrisa

    The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley (1983) is a retelling of the King Arthur Legends from the perspective of women who are practicing pagans. Although it is fiction, the book gives amazing insight into the differences between Christianity and Paganism, and the struggles that ensued when Christians began taking over the ruling faction.

  • Mary

    I like Mutant Message Down Under

  • Tyler

    Tim Keller is highly influential on Christian dialogue right now, and also very conversant with the non-Christian world (see The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism, 2009)

    He’d make a great guest on the show.

  • Lily

    As a Driven Leaf by Milton Steinberg. Historical fiction about the life of Elisha Ben Abuya, a rabbi of the Talmudic age who became a heretic/apostate and is referred to in the Talmud only as “Acher”— “Other”. The book delves into his struggle with faith and reason.

  • David Wells

    I recommend the book “A Course in Miracles” with miracle being defined by seeing something differently, as through the Christ mind.

    Many authors have based their books on this one.

    It is a distillation of the teachings of Jesus – Love and Forgiveness, without any doctrine or dogma.

  • Colleen Spillers

    What about some teen fiction?

    Many of the books by Melody Carlson revolve around faith, beliefs, doing good things, being the best you can despite difficulties. They usually revolve around tough “girl” issues for teens.

    Godless by Pete Hautman (a local!) Story about teens who question religion and create their own.

    Authors Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker. They have undertones of God working/good/evil, even though the topics are generally pretty dark. Personally….I loved Three by Ted Dekker!

    An adult book:

    Heaven Is Here by Stephanie Nielsen. True story about her life post plane crash. Amazing testimony of seeing the positive side of life – despite your circumstance. Loved this book!

  • Nichoals S.

    This is an old book, but my recommendation is “Beyond Good and Evil” by Freidrich Nietzsche. In his typical style, it covers a lot of issues in a non-linear fashion, but at the core of it is the relationship between truth and meaning in the context of subjectivity and the ineffibility of language. Furthermore, he examines morality in a post-judeochristian sense. He argues that (during his time), most educated no longer believed in God, yet the ethics of judeochristian belief still govern most moral and ethical choices. Furthermore, he presents ethics in a cognitive, rather than moral, sense.

  • Jean Cole

    James Galvin’s “The Meadow.”

  • Sonja

    Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees and The Dance of the Dissident Daughter.

    Ira Byock’s The Four Things that Matter Most.

  • NormaJeanne Ellis

    A book that has remained a constant source of guidance is Gibran’s The Prophet. It is my bible of choice!

  • I recently heard very compelling comments about both of these books one being Mankinds’ Search for God as well as What Does The Bible Really Teach? The first addresses beliefs from a large group of different faiths. What I found most interesting was what all mankind seems to have in common regardless of cultures or eras. It also gave a very good over view of what people really believe as well as the sources of information. A good read no matter what your beliefs are just for the information if nothing else. Now the latter book mentioned has primarily to do with the Bible what I found so interesting is the line of reasoning that went along with it. Some reasoning and scriptural backing from both old and new testament leaves little room for doubt or challenge (which I am always up for) all and all I really enjoyed these both and think they are worth consideration. Oh and bonus they were both free online at

  • Kathy in Morris

    A good novel is Silas Marner, and maybe anything by George Eliot, who thought art should have a moral purpose.

  • Scott

    I recommend Terry Pratchett’s “Small Gods,” a fiction book about a god who has only one believer despite there being a huge religion around him. The story brings up issues of belief, tolerance, origins of gods/religion, and faith vs. religion. Plus it’s witty and a fun read.

  • Patrick Basile


    1. Breaking the Spell: Religion as Natural Phenomenon by Daniel Dennett

    2. The Believing Brain by Michael Schermer

    3. The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker

    4. The documentary film: Flight From Death: The Quest for Immortality

    Thank you.

  • “The Raindrop Who Lost His Cloud”

    winner of a Reader Views Award in 2011.

    Childrens’ book with pictures ages 5-8

    Finding ones purpose in life.

    Book is not geared to any particular faith.

    Published through Beavers’Pond Press.

  • Jean Trumbauer

    I suggest three books:

    Christianity After Religion:Diana Butler Bass

    St, Benedict on the Freeway: Corinne Ware

    The Way of Discernment: Elizabeth Liebert

  • Amy

    I recommend

    “Growing Spiritually, Without Getting Bogged Down in Religion, by Robert Ouradnik available on Amazon

    Lots to ponder here.

  • David Churches

    The Game of God

    Game of God(Link to Amazon reviews)

    This is the only book I have given to many people. It is trans-religion and takes you to a view of the miracle of existence that feels “right”. In a deceptively simple (almost child-like) way, it tackles the basic questions of why there is anything, what is the purpose if any and how we fit into the whole scheme of things. As I read it I felt as though I was seeing in print my view of everything.