Looking for some books that’ll spark your imagination and maybe even change your life? It’s a tall order, isn’t it?
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Best Spiritual Books to Start With
- Best Spiritual Growth and Development Books
- Best Spiritual Books for Women
- Best Spiritual Books for Young Adults
Believe it or not, those kinds of books are out there! Discover the best spiritual books for beginners, including books on growth and development and books for women and young adults.
Best Spiritual Books to Start With
Here’s a collection of books ranging from Christianity to Buddhism and even Wiccan. Each drives a different concept of struggle, faith, or healing that will help you come out of your comfort zone and into one that requires acceptance no matter your spiritual position.
1. The Tree That Survived the Winter by Mary Fahy
Told in fable form, the center of The Tree That Survived the Winter revolves around a tree that has survived hard times. The idea is that if you can put yourself in the roots and limbs of the tree to define your hardships and subsequent survival, not only will you discover things to be grateful for, but that all the changes and scars show your life’s journey.
2. Hearing Heart by Hannah Hurnard
Hurnard’s autobiography shows firsthand how her faith and spirituality closely connected her with devotion and service. She uses it to be able to share with others so that she can continue to do work for God.
3. The Wounded Healer by Henri J.M. Nouwen
Nouwen's book The Wounded Healer discusses levels of suffering from the perspective of the world, a generation, humanity, and the healer so that suffering is better understood.
While this book requires that you seek insight and meditation versus a quick read and don't mind dated references, you’ll discover some positive insight within ”The Wounded Healer.”
4. Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice by Shunryu Suzuki
Suzuki's explanations to find the light or silver lining in Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind may make you breathe more easily about all things in your life. If you begin with the mind of Shoshin (the Beginner’s Mind), he'll help demystify Buddhism and help you find strength by practicing zazen.
5. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
After reading up on some Buddhist philosophies, you're probably looking for a story that will help enlighten or transform the knowledge you've gained. If so, Siddhartha will help develop your interpretations as you grow.
6. Silence by Shūsaku Endō
Silence is not just an examination of faith but a testament to both tolerance and injustice. Whether the story appeals to you from a Christian point of view, one issue that plagues many devout followers is when God is silent.
7. Wiccan Wisdomkeepers: Modern-Day Witches Speak on Environmentalism, Feminism, Motherhood, Wiccan Lore, and More by Sally Griffyn
Wisdom Wisdomkeepers offers the reader an opportunity to hear from the community's elders in one concise book. Each one provides insight into religion and the ideas of paganism, motherhood, and ancestry, including how they view today's anthropogenic influences.
Best Spiritual Growth and Development Books
Every religion or spirituality from prominent to lesser-known indigenous tribes are represented in some way throughout the books below. These include the smaller religions found across each and every continent, even as some of the approaches take an obviously environmental view in order to understand them better.
8. The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism by Fritjof Capra
The Tao of Physics begins with physics, which should indicate a need to have a base understanding of this fundamental science. With that, Capra can help you process the teachings of Hinduism, Buddhism, Chinese thought, Taoism, and Zen thinking within that frame.
9. Ecodharma: Buddhist Teachings for the Ecological Crisis by David R. Loy
If your lane is somewhere inside environmental or ecological activism, Ecodharma will help you connect that mindset with Buddhist teachings. As such, Loy approaches climate change, including reducing consumption or improving diversity with Buddhism as its foundation.
10. Kabbalah: A Definitive History of the Evolution, Ideas, Leading Figures and Extraordinary Influence of Jewish Mysticism by Gershom Scholem
Scholem's writing is both strong and complex, which can hinder the understanding of Kabbalah. However, his approach to Jewish mysticism will help you discover and define intuition and tradition, including its reach and influences, as well as the people within its rich history.
11. The Upanishads by Eknath Easwaran
This book will help you understand the Upanishads with annotations dividing the wisdom texts that provide context, insight, and historical settings. The glossary and notes section at the end of the book also offers invaluable resources to guide your understanding.
12. The Dhammapada by Eknath Easwaran
The beginning third of Easwaran's translation, The Dhammapada, helps you understand Buddhism. The balance of the book encompasses the 423 Sutras with some engagement and direction of Easwaran for a better grasp of the Sutras therein.
13. Pagan Spirituality: A Guide to Personal Transformation by Joyce Higginbotham and River Higginbotham
Pagan Spirituality is structured as a text with theory, insight, exercises, and even discussion opportunities. You can study pantheism, polytheism, or animism and define your path and spirituality.
14. Earth's Insights by J. Baird Callicott
This life-changing book is an invaluable addition to those seeking to understand the ethics of religion inside an ecological framework. From Shamanism to Totemism, or Tukano to Kuyapo, Yourub to San, or Judeo-Christian to Hindu belief structures (and more), you'll discover a dense catalog of spirituality inside nature in Earth's Insights.
Best Spiritual Books for Women
The often quiet and questioning controversies that people have about their own faith structures are starkly exposed in the books below. These raw and revealing topics offer real-life stories about failing beliefs or rising tolerance.
15. The Shack by William Paul Young
The Shack is a controversial book — readers seem to either love it or hate it. Young echoes the questioning of pain, suffering, and free will.
16. Unfollow: A Journey from Hatred to Hope by Megan Phelps-Roper
Unfollow, Megan's memoir of leaving the infamous Westboro Baptist Church, is an invocation about the good in all of us. With that, you may be surprised by what you feel those who exhibit hate with all the intensity they can muster.
17. All Who Go Do Not Return by Shulem Deen
Deen's memoir is about one man's struggle with his faith coupled with an inside view of the Hasidic community's relationship with its religious leader. You might consider All Who Go Do Not Return if you're questioning more about your faith than you've admitted out loud.
18. Inner Engineering: A Yogi's Guide to Inner Joy by Sadhguru
Sadhguru is one of the most influential people in hatha yoga today. Through Inner Engineering, you'll discover what he finds important in practice, meditation, diet, and living.
19. Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion by Sara Miles
Take This Bread has two audiences. The first is the most obvious — the conversion of a non-believer to a believer. The second less obvious is for those who already have faith, but are curious about outside perspectives, which may deepen your faith.
20. Queer Virtue: What LGBTQ People Know About Life and Love and How It Can Revitalize Christianity by Elizabeth M. Edman
From Edman's point of view in Queer Virtue, her sexuality has deepened her faith as a Christian. Not only that, she believes that the LGBTQ community has a role to play in religion and can also help teach more about the value of tolerance in Christian life.
Best Spiritual Books for Young Adults
There are limited resources for young adult spirituality but a few authors have taken the challenge to write meaningful novels and books for children in this category. One book may fall outside the guidelines of the YA genre but it’s applicable for children who seek their own version of what that means to them.
21. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
A Prayer for Owen Meany offers young adults a chance to read and reflect on difficult subjects. Specifically, there's a time to embrace who you are and become who you'll become.
The Chronicles of Narnia is a beloved classic tale of four kids who travel through the wardrobe into a fantastical world, which represents the teachings of Christianity. The lion, who represents Jesus, acts as their guide throughout the seven-part series.
23. Turtle Shell by Sue Jones
Check out Turtle Shell, the story of a girl who must choose between the spiritual or the material worlds. Unfortunately, there aren't many options like this for young adults, so if your child is struggling with the two ideas, it'll still be accessible even if a bit sophomoric for that age.
24. Oh God, Oh God, Oh God!: Young Adults Speak Out about Sexuality and Christian Spirituality by Heather Godsey and Lara Blackwood Pickrel
Religion and sex are often a massive hurdle for teenagers. Oh God, Oh God, Oh God! tackles this taboo subject to better guide teenagers on their path through sexual maturity and smart decision-making in the eyes of God.
25. Regener8: Straight Talk for Street Smart Teens by Robert Cook
There's a certain age where teenagers can't stand to have life sugarcoated for them anymore. Regener8 addresses the real issues no matter how tough the topic might be.
If you're looking for more book recommendations for teens, read our guide on the best memoirs for young adults.
Appreciating the Perspectives
If you’ve discovered the best spiritual books that can both stretch your mind and better appreciate your beliefs, then the authors have done their jobs. Otherwise, if you are seeking an approach that will guide you with books on mindfulness and gratitude, then the journey has just begun.