Spirituality and Religion
The Lost Art of Scripture: Rescuing the Sacred Texts by Karen ArmstrongWhat it is: an incisive argument in favor of a different way of looking at scripture: not as historical documents, rulebooks, or justifications, but instead as paths to commune with the divine.
What makes it unique: The discussion takes place in the context of religious texts not usually discussed in tandem, from the Pali Canon to the Torah.
Initiated: Memoir of a Witch by Amanda Yates GarciaWhat it's about: This engaging and thought-provoking memoir tells the story of the author's circuitous (and occasionally traumatic) path to becoming "the Oracle of Los Angeles" and "a professional witch."
Why you might like it: Although interest in witches and their practices is currently on the rise, Amanda Yates Garcia was actually raised by a neopagan mother, making her story relatively unique among witchcraft memoirs.
Who it's for: anyone interested in women's spiritual journeys or narratives of returning to one's ancestral faith traditions.
Dominion: How the Christian Revolution Remade the World by Tom HollandWhat it is: an engaging and incisive cultural history of Christianity that is not as concerned with the religion itself as with the ways it interacted with the wider world.
About the author: Tom Holland is a historian whose previous work includes Persian Fire, The Shadow of the Sword, and Rubicon.
Don't miss: the discussion of Christianity's "intertwined but often hostile relationship with Judaism" (Publishers Weekly).
For Small Creatures Such as We: Rituals for Finding Meaning in Our Unlikely World by Sasha SaganWhat it's about: This thoughtful and engaging memoir explores the rise in and value of ritual in secular life and includes advice on how to incorporate more of it into your own life.
Read it for: the author's reflections on her interest in religious topics as the daughter of noted scientist and avowed skeptic Carl Sagan.
Reviewer say: "profound" and "elegantly written" (Kirkus Reviews).
Exactly as You Are: The Life and Faith of Mister Rogers by Shea TuttleWhat it's about: the experiences and religious life of beloved children's television icon Fred Rogers and how his faith informed both his career and the compassion he encouraged in others.
Why you should read it: Although the tone is one of admiration, this spiritual biography makes a point to distinguish between Mister Rogers and Fred Rogers the man, nor does it shy away from his shortcomings.
Did you know? Before beginning his career in television, Fred Rogers went to divinity school and became an ordained Presbyterian minister.
The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America by Frances FitzGeraldWhat it's about: the rise and development of the American evangelical movement, from its beginnings in the 18th century to its role in political life in the modern era.
Read it for: its sweeping, comprehensive scope; the impartiality of the author's analysis.
Reviewers say: "a timely and accessible contribution to the rapidly growing body of literature on Christianity in modern America" (Publishers Weekly).
Letters to a Young Muslim by Omar Saif GhobashWhat it is: a conversational collection of the author's reflections on the place of Islam in contemporary society, framed as letters written to his two sons.
Topics include: the diversity of practice in faith throughout history and around the world; an exploration of the current relationship between religious leaders and the community of believers.
Read it for: the whole-hearted embrace of pluralism and conviction that there is no contradiction between being a faithful Muslim and taking part in modern life.
The End of White Christian America by Robert P. JonesWhat it's about: The origins and development of the concept of America as a white, Protestant nation and why that idea doesn't stand up to qualitative or quantitative analysis.
Who it's for: readers across the political and social spectrum who are interested in the past, present, and future effects of religion on politics (and vice versa).
About the author: Robert P. Jones is the CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) and writes regularly about religion and American society for the Atlantic.
Genghis Khan and the Quest for God: How the World's Greatest Conqueror Gave Us... by Jack WeatherfordWhat it's about: The surprisingly light hand that Genghis Khan took toward the practice of religion in his vast empire, with an exploration of attitudes toward religious tolerance in the centuries before and after his reign.
Why you should read it: for a better understanding of the Mongol Empire, which despite its violent creation could also be strikingly cosmopolitan for the era.
Did you know? Many of the wives, extended families, and even descendants of Genghis were Nestorian Christians, and more than one group of Catholic priests traveled east to try converting the Mongols to the Roman rite.
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