Spirituality and Religion
Shameless: A Sexual Reformation by Nadia Bolz-WeberWhat it's about: the author's experience with and research into the culture of shame surrounding sexuality among many Christian groups.
Why you might like it: the candid and accessible writing; the thought-provoking analysis balanced with irreverent humor.
Author alert: Nadia Bolz-Weber is a Lutheran pastor and former comedian whose previous books include Pastrix and Accidental Saints.
On Thomas Merton by Mary GordonWhat it is: a moving, stimulating biography of author, interfaith advocate, and Trappist monk Thomas Merton.
Read it for: the focus on Merton's writing life (both his published works and his private journals) and the ways in which his identity as a monk was inseparable from his identity as a writer.
You might also like: Zen Spirit, Christian Spirit by Catholic priest and Buddhist monk Robert E. Kennedy; Without Buddha I Could Not Be a Christian by theology scholar Paul Knitter.
Muhammad: Forty Introductions by Michael Muhammad KnightWhat it is: a compelling take on the Forty Hadith genre of Islamic literature, in which 40 sayings of the Prophet Muhammad are chosen from thousands to fit a particular theme or topic -- in this case the Prophet himself.
Read it for: Michael Muhammad Knight's included commentary, which expands on each hadith and his own spiritual journey.
Reviewers say: "The author's portrait of Muhammad is progressive, sometimes controversial, and he aims to be inclusive of a variety of Muslim voices" (Kirkus Reviews).
Love For Imperfect Things: How to Accept Yourself in a World Striving For Perfection by Haemin SunimWhat it's about: the ways in which lessons learned from the author's Buddhist practice can be applied to fostering self-acceptance and supporting self-care.
Chapters include: "Your Existence Is Already Enough"; "The First Failure"; "The Art of Letting Go."
Author alert: Haemin Sunim is a Zen Buddhist monk known for his first book The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down.
How to Read the Bible and Still Be a Christian: Struggling With Divine Violence... by John Dominic CrossanWhat it's about: the ostensible contradictions between the Bible's portrayal of God as being capable of both boundless love and acts of violence.
Author alert: John Dominic Crossman has published several other books about Christian history, including The Historical Jesus and The Power of Parable.
You might also like: Zealot by Reza Aslan, Kosher Jesus by Shmuel Boteach.
The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu and Their Race to Save the World's Most Precious... by Joshua HammerWhat it is: the compelling tale of a treasure trove of Islamic manuscripts from Mali's medieval period and the clandestine mission to save them from destruction at the hands of Al Qaeda sympathizers.
Featuring: Abdel Kader Haidara, the archivist who first gathered the disparate manuscripts into a central library and later led the effort to smuggle them to safety.
Did you know? Medieval Timbuktu was a scholarly and literary powerhouse; in the 1500s the city allegedly contained 70 paper mills and almost 200 educational institutions.
What the Qur'an Meant And Why It Matters by Garry WillsWhat it's about: a non-Muslim's observations on the Islamic holy book, detailing the differences between it and the Bible and more often, the things the two texts have in common.
Is it for you? Pulitzer Prize-winning author Garry Wills is known for his conservative politics, although his published work is generally considered scholarly and well-researched (if sometimes controversial).
The Book of the People: How to Read the Bible by A.N. WilsonWhat it is: a thought-provoking examination of the Bible as a work of literature, with discussions of its effects on both writers and believers.
Read it for: the conversational tone; the personal account of the author's own experiences reading the Bible as a believer.
Try this next: Out of the Garden, a collection of essays on the Bible featuring authors such as Louise Erdrich, Ursula LeGuin, and June Jordan.
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