Spirituality and Religion
A History of the Bible: The Story of the World's Most Influential Book by John BartonWhat it is: a thought-provoking journey through the collection of texts (from parables to poetry) that make up the Bible, with plenty of historical and cultural context.
Why you might like it: The comprehensive timeline coupled with the author's impartiality make this a useful resource for all readers of religious history, no matter their individual beliefs.
Try this next: Constantine's Bible by David Laird Dungan; Three Testaments by Brian Arthur Brown.
Conscience: The Origins of Moral Intuition by Patricia S. ChurchlandWhat it is: a scholarly yet accessible inquiry into the possible origins of morality, straddling the intellectual divides between religion, philosophy, neuroscience, and psychology.
Who it's for: readers who enjoy philosophical and intellectually stimulating explorations of spiritual topics.
About the author: MacArthur Fellow and UC San Diego professor Patricia Churchland is a pioneer in the field of neurophilosophy and author of books such as The Computational Brain and Touching a Nerve.
Waking the Witch: Reflections on Women, Magic, and Power by Pam GrossmanWhat's inside: the author's story of the path that led her to witchcraft traditions and the freedom that her practice provides her; discussions of the hold witches have over our cultural imagination.
Why you should read it: There has been a recent resurgence of interest in pagan and magic-influenced religious traditions, especially among young adults.
You might also like: Vexed by Devils by Erika Gasser; Backwoods Witchcraft by Jake Richards.
Leaving the Witness: Exiting a Religion and Finding a Life by Amber ScorahWhat it's about: the personal and religious trials of third-generation Jehovah's Witness Amber Scorah, from growing up in the church to missionary work to ultimately losing her faith and her family of origin.
What makes it unique: the circumstances and story of the author's missionary posting in China, where religious expression is tightly controlled by the government.
Reviewers say: "[Scorah] has a winning sense of humor" in this "impressive debut" (Publishers Weekly).
Love Thy Neighbor: A Muslim Doctor's Struggle for Home in Rural America by Ayaz Virji with Alan EisenstockWhat it is: the moving story of a Muslim doctor who moved to a small town where doctors were in short supply, only to face an increase in anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiments in the wake of the 2016 election.
Why you should read it: The author is candid about discrimination but hopeful because of the impact of his "Love Thy Neighbor" lectures, which are part of an interfaith effort to increase understanding about Muslims.
Did you know? According to the US Department of Health, 20% of Americans live in rural communities while only 9% of doctors do, and many of those doctors were born abroad.
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.
Ageless Soul: The Lifelong Journey Toward Meaning and Joy by Thomas MooreWhat it is: a thought-provoking contemplation of the effects of aging on relationships and spiritual well-being.
Read it for: its inspiring tone; the argument in favor of embracing melancholy as a natural outcome of reflecting on a life well lived.
For fans of: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande; The Gift of Years by Joan Chittister.
Strength in Stillness: The Power of Transcendental Meditation by Bob RothWhat it's about: the science behind the power of transcendental meditation to support stress management and improve resiliency skills.
Why you might like it: The advice is presented in a straightforward manner and tailored toward readers new to mindfulness and meditation.
Try this next: Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics by Dan Harris; Transcendence by Norman Rosenthal.
Becoming Wise: An Inquiry Into the Mystery and Art of Living by Krista TippettWhat it is: a thoughtfully presented reflection on how the increasing social fragmentation of modern life affects us and ideas about how to mitigate the damage.
Featuring: conversations with Eve Ensler, Reza Aslan, and congressman John Lewis.
About the author: Also the author of Einstein's God, Krista Tippett is perhaps best known as the host of NPR's On Being.
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