Demystifying Shariah: What It Is, How It Works, and Why It's Not Taking Over Our Country by Sumbul Ali-KaramaliWhat it's about: clearing up common misconceptions about shariah, with an accessible tour through the basic precepts and the role it plays in modern Muslim life.
Read it for: the author's incisive observations, which are delivered in an engaging and compassionate tone.
Did you know? In English, the literal translation of the word "shariah" is "the way."
Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured... by Kristin Kobes Du MezWhat it is: a thought-provoking and well-researched history of evangelicalism in America, from the charismatic tradition that emerged in the early 1900s to the modern Religious Right.
Why you should read it: Besides its connection to our current social and political dynamics, inside are intriguing arguments about the role of gender in the development of the evangelical movement.
The King of Confidence: A Tale of Utopian Dreamers, Frontier Schemers, True Believers... by Miles HarveyIntroducing: Lawyer and committed atheist James Strang, who disappeared from his small New York town in 1843 only to reemerge as part of the fledgling Latter-Day Saint movement, eventually declaring himself Joseph Smith's successor.
Read it for: the surprising moments of dark humor that come from the truly farcical nature of parts of Strang's story, including forgery, piracy, and creating a private kingdom for himself on an island in Lake Michigan.
When Truth Is All You Have: A Memoir of Faith, Justice, and Freedom for the Wrongly... by Jim McCloskeyWhat it is: the inspiring memoir of Presbyterian minister Jim McCloskey, who was inspired to found the inmate advocacy nonprofit Centurion Ministries after serving as chaplain at a New Jersey state prison.
You might also like: other memoirs at the intersection of faith and the prison system, such as After Life by Alice Marie Johnson or River of Fire by Sister Helen Prejean.
Radical Compassion: Learning to Love Yourself and Your World with the Practice of RAIN by Tara BrachWhat's inside: an accessible guide to learning mindfulness skills, with a focus on developing self-compassion through an easy-to-remember "RAIN" technique -- Recognize, Allow, Investigate, Nurture.
About the author: Mindfulness teacher Tara Brach hosts an eponymous weekly meditation podcast and her previous books include Radical Acceptance, True Refuge, and Healing Traumatic Fear.
An Appeal to the World: the Way to Peace in a Time of Division by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Franz AltWhat it is: a concise, inspiring contemplation of some of the most important-yet-contentious issues dividing people today, from one of the world's most revered spiritual leaders.
Why you should read it: The co-author, German journalist Franz Alt, first began covering the Dalai Lama 35 years ago, and in that time has developed a unique rapport with His Holiness that makes reflecting on weighty ethical topics feel a bit more accessible.
Advice Not Given: A Guide to Getting Over Yourself by Mark EpsteinWhat it's about: the combined positive effects of Buddhist teachings and psychotherapy techniques on an individual's struggles with self-doubt and unrealized potential.
Topics include: managing the ego, coping with destabilizing life events, and the importance of taking advice but drawing your own conclusions from it.
About the author: Mark Epstein is a graduate of Harvard Medical School and has published other books on Buddhism and psychology, such as Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart and The Trauma of Everyday Life.
The Art of Living: Peace and Freedom in the Here and Now by Thích Nhất HạnhWhat it is: an inspiring and thought-provoking guide to mindful living from one of the world's foremost Buddhist figures, peace activist and monk Thich Nhat Hanh.
Why you should read it: With new books about mindfulness published every day that increasingly remove meditation from its traditional context, The Art of Living is refreshingly grounded in Buddhist thought and practice.
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