15 Must-Read Books About Heaven for Adults or Families

Updated

Do you have questions about death and what comes next? Take a look at the must-read books we’ve discovered below that will help you and your family find your truths, with some help from religious texts and people’s near-death experiences.

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The list below notes that theologians, doctors, and even ordinary people have their interpretations of heaven. Many of those views are extensions of what’s evidenced through religious texts, while others display patterns found in thousands of near-death experiences. 

New Books About Heaven for Adults

Scattered throughout the Bible, there exist many descriptions of heaven differing from the false consensus. Even so, there are still others who adamantly believe that pearly gates, harps, and white-winged angels are what define heaven. In the following list, note the mix of these two ideas.

1. Heaven by Randy Alcorn

Many Christians shy away from books about near-death experiences or other secular books about life after death. Instead, they want something based on scripture. Alcorn writes about heaven as if it were a physical place—a new Earth destination. 

And hell? It’s not the fire and brimstone of movies and fiction. Instead, it’s a place of dull, insignificant nothingness. Boredom, even. 

2. Encountering Heaven: 15 Supernatural Visions of Heaven That Will Change Your Life Forever by Laurie A. Ditto

Using detail and imagery, the author encourages you to imagine heaven through the 15 visions she experienced. Alongside the harps and pearly gates, Laurie A. Ditto details how heaven is constantly asking you to become more devoted to the glories of God. 

Ditto advocates for you to function in your “heaven identity” and “fulfill your purpose.”

3. All Things New: Heaven, Earth, And the Restoration of Everything You Love by John Eldridge

By narrowing in on the word “palingenesia” from the Book of Matthew, author John Eldridge interprets heaven as a new Earth destination—a restoration. 

Some critics believe his work to be theologically incorrect, while others have said that the book fulfills a thirst for peace and knowledge. 

4. Place Called Heaven: 10 Surprising Truths about Your Eternal Home by Dr. Robert Jeffress

Jeffress’s book is researched, clear, concise, and written well. Like the authors mentioned above, he uses scripture to interpret the afterlife instead of the imaginings of movie directors and fiction writers. This approach will appeal to those who study the Bible.

Even so, the oft-overlooked interpretations replaced by musings or horror-theater will appeal to those seeking a new and more Biblically defined narrative.

Older Books About Heaven for Adults

Some of these classic books about heaven are common to the mainstream vernacular, while others will be brand new to you. 

5. The Book of Heaven: An Anthology of Writings from Ancient to Modern Times by Carol Zaleski and Philip Zaleski

Zaleski's anthology comprises notable classics, religious texts, and authors who've shaped people's views of heaven. Many influential works and authors are examined but not mentioned here.

However, you'll find quotes from such classics as The Prose Edda and The Iliad, various excerpts from sacred texts such as the Upanishads, the Qu'ran, the Bible, and mentions from notable authors such as Swedenborg, Shelley, Plato, Black Elk, and Mark Twain.

6. The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis’s fictional bus ride to the foothills of heaven is based on the author’s theological vision. Using Dante, Milton, St. Augustine, and more, Lewis constructs characters journeying together, having conversations, and interpreting what they see.

The story parallels similar journeys here on earth—those who choose to be in hell do so willingly, no matter the potential to arise in heaven. 

7. Paradiso by Dante Alighieri translation by John Ciardo

Paradiso, aka paradise, is yet another voyage, this time of the soul’s ascent into heaven and to God. It’s the third book in Alighieri’s Divine Comedy Series, preceded by Inferno and Purgatorio. 

More than just a 14th-century Italian classic, Paradiso is also a commentary on politics, culture and is filled with references to politics, history, Greek mythology, and Christian theology. 

There are nine spheres (planets and stars) in Alighieri’s heaven that align with the nine levels of angel hierarchies. Each represents a space of growth until the final sphere, where one becomes suitable enough to live with God.

It’s a challenging, meaty read but worth the effort.

8. Heaven and its Wonders and Hell From Things Heard and Seen by Emanuel Swedenborg 

Swedenborg influenced notable figures such as Carl Jung, to Czesław Miłosz, D.T. Suzuki, and even Joseph Smith. These global psychiatrists, poets, Buddhism scholars, theologians, and more took note of the beginning premise of Heaven and Hell, which evidenced that since God is all-powerful, there can be only one God. Suggesting that there’s another omnipotent being would undermine the premise, making it contradictory.

As it’s known globally, Heaven and Hell is a 19th-century literary work that focuses on affirming that God is love, that He is not angry, and that His love is Divine.

9. The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis

Weaving together paganism, Greek mythology, and scripture, C.S. Lewis displays his significant influences in The Silver Chair, one of the Chronicles of Narnia series' books. One pivotal point in the book follows the journey through Aslan's Mountain, where Aslan tells Eustace, "You would not have called to me unless I had been calling to you." Said differently, choosing to follow God leads to beneficence.  

Because it is fictional and geared toward younger audiences, it's a great book to read to your child, especially if you want them to experience heaven through imagery and Christian allegory.

Books About Near-Death Experiences and Heaven

Near-death experiences (NDEs) offer hope and anticipation to believers; others believe them to be anoxic brain reactions. But no matter the spectrum of your belief system, each of the authors below offers compelling evidence to support their stories.

10. God and the Afterlife: The Groundbreaking New Evidence for God and Near-Death Experience by Jeffrey Long, M.D. with Paul Perry

Dr. Jeffrey Long founded the Near-Death Experience Research Foundation after witnessing so many oncology patients have NDEs. God and the Afterlife is based on research from that foundation, using 1000s of individual responses.

They discovered some dissimilarities, but overall patterns emerged to include the separation of consciousness from the body, experiencing powerful emotions, meeting others, awareness, and deciding to return to one’s body.

11. Imagine Heaven: Near-Death Experiences, God's Promises, and the Exhilarating Future That Awaits You by John Burke

Author John Burke’s Imagine Heaven is a compilation of over 100 near-death experiences. He tries to show how each one is related to Biblical scripture, defining their shared experiences as evidence for an afterlife in Heaven.

Some would argue that there is little biblical reference to support these stories, while others are deeply comforted by the individual accounts of the NDEs.

12. 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper

If you’re looking for a story about a harrowing survival story, check out Don Piper’s book. While only two chapters detail his experience in heaven, the balance of the book is about trauma and recovery. That said, the two chapters about heaven are modestly detailed but inspiring.

Look for the newest edition of 90 Minutes in Heaven that includes personal updates about the book’s impact on his family and the many people who’ve contacted him.

13. Touching Heaven: A Cardiologist's Encounters with Death and Living Proof of an Afterlife by Dr. Chauncey Crandall and Kris Bearss

Dr. Chauncey Crandall’s book details the countless times that he’s experienced heaven through his patients’ near-death experiences. The frequency of these NDEs seems like too much of a good thing for some critics, given that an experienced doctor who almost loses that many patients should be examined more intently.

For others, and those that find value in his recollections, Dr. Crandall weaves a connection between religion and science, creating a space for inspiration for those of any faith or background. Some believe that this is a display of God’s power in action.

14. Face to Face with Jesus: A Former Muslim's Extraordinary Journey to Heaven and Encounter with the God of Love by Samaa Habib, Bodie Thoene

Samma Habib was a Muslim who once saw Jesus in a dream, leading her to the path of converting to Christianity. She kept her new faith from her family, and when they discovered her truth, she endured a beating from her sibling and persecution. 

Later, a bomb exploded at her church which sent her to the hospital, where she later died and, this time, met Jesus.

15. To Heaven and Back: A Doctor's Extraordinary Account of Her Death, Heaven, Angels, and Life Again: A True Story by Mary C. Neal. M.D.

Before her near-death experience, Dr. Mary Neal was not particularly religious. She attended church, took her kids to Sunday school, and lived an ordinary and moral life. But after her drowning and through her experience, she changed. 

You won’t find much detail about heaven, but you will read how her experiences completely changed her outlook on life and living.

So, What Happens Next?

Many laypeople throughout the world have attempted to describe the next phase of the human journey. Some will seem credible, while others will make you question their validity. Either way, the journey doesn’t seem to be over. 

In end-of-life planning, you may want to take a moment to think about the next phase so that your loved ones can prepare to support your wishes and needs.


Sources: 
  1. “Christian Stories of Heaven and Beyond.” Christian Book, Christian Book, n.d. christianbook.com
  2. Fairchild, Mary. “The Eight Best Books About Heaven.” Learn Religions, Learn Religions, 6 March 2020. learnreligions.com
  3. Jackson, Wayne. "The Regeneration - A Study of Matthew 19:28." ChristianCourier, ChristianCourier, n.d. christiancourier.com
  4. Mullan, John. “Ten of the Best Visions of Heaven In Literature.” The Guardian, The Guardian, 30 April 2010. theguardian.com
  5. Paley, Morton. "A New Heaven is Begun: William Blake and Swedenborgianism, Volume 13, Issue 2, Fall 1979". Blake/An Illustrated Quarterly, Blake Archive, Fall 1979. bq.blakearchive.org 

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