The Best Spiritual Books of 2008
By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
Every year from the more than 300 books we review on this website, we choose 50 "best spiritual books." These are the titles that have most impressed and inspired us, and since we only review books that we want to recommend to you for your spiritual journey, this selection actually represents the best of the best.
We have organized this list by a major theme or spiritual practice covered in the book. These headings are just to make it easier for you to find the books you might be most interested in; they are not subcategories of the awards. Through diverse approaches, drawing upon the wisdom and practices of the world's religions, these titles explore the quest for meaning and purpose, wholeness and healing, commitment and community, contemplation and social activism.
We congratulate the authors and publishers of these exceptional contributions to today's spiritual renaissance. Click on the title link to read the full review.
The 50 Best Spiritual
Books of 2008
Acedia & Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer's Life by Kathleen Norris (Riverhead Books, hardcover) offers an incisive and edifying overview of this terrible scourge of the soul which is rampant in our times.
Finding Beauty in a Broken World by Terry Tempest Williams (Pantheon Books, hardcover) explores beauty, community, and brokenness in Italy, in a prairie dog clan in Bryce Canyon, Utah, and in a village in Rwanda.
To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings by John O'Donohue (Doubleday, hardcover) salutes blessing as a way of life and a source of meaning, beauty, wonder, grace, healing, and transformation.
The Gift of Years: Growing Old Gracefully by Joan Chittister (BlueBridge, hardcover) is an inspiring and encouraging salute to the great spiritual adventure of aging and being an elder.
Stoking the Creative Fires: 9 Ways to Rekindle Passion and Imagination by Phil Cousineau (Conari Press, paperback) is a soulful examination of all the depths and riches of the process of creativity.
Being With Dying: Cultivating Compassion and Fearlessness in the Presence of Death by Joan Halfiax (Shambhala, hardcover) is an extraordinary collection of teachings, personal stories, meditations, and spiritual practices for companioning those who are dying.
Final Journeys: A Practical Guide for Bringing Care and Comfort at the End of Life by Maggie Callahan (Bantam Books, hardcover) provides wise advice on death, dying, and grief from a hospice nurse who has worked with patients and their loved ones since 1981.
Love & Death: My Journey Through the Valley of the Shadow by Forrest Church (Beacon Press, hardcover) presents wise and courageous commentary on this Unitarian Universalist minister's own process of dying.
Open the Door: A Journey to the True Self by Joyce Rupp (Sorin Books, paperback) is an immensely creative and spiritually refreshing work that unravels a host of insights and meanings from the image of a door.
Seven Sacred Pauses: Living Mindfully Through the Hours of the Day by Macrina Wiederkehr (Sorin Books, hardcover) is a wonderful devotional resource that makes the practice of the Divine Hours relevant to our movement through the sacred rhythms of each day.
Building Emotional Intelligence: Techniques to Cultivate Inner Strength in Children by Linda Lantieri and Daniel Goleman (Sounds True, hardcover) explains ways parents and teachers can foster emotional intelligence in children.
A Commuter's Guide to Enlightenment by Stewart Bitkoff (Llewellyn, paperback) contains spiritual practices and meditations on turning commuting into an opportunity for personal transformation.
Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians by Candace Chellew-Hodge (Jossey Bass/Wiley, paperback) offers sane and sagacious spiritual advice on surviving in a homophobic culture.
The Great Awakening: Reviving Faith & Politics in a Post-Religious Right America by Jim Wallis (HarperOne, hardcover) charts the spiritual revival and zeal for social change and justice that has been sparked by some unusual religious coalitions.
The Power of Forgiveness by Kenneth Briggs (Fortress Press, paperback) is a companion volume to the documentary film by Martin Doblmeier that sheds light on the elusive, mysterious, and powerful spiritual practice of forgiveness.
Giving - The Sacred Art: Creating a Lifestyle of Generosity by Lauren Taylor Wright (Skylight Paths, paperback) is a rich multifaith guidebook on the spiritual practice of generosity.
The Search for Spirituality: Our Global Quest for a A Spiritual Life by Ursula King (BlueBridge, hardcover) is an expansive and adventuresome survey of global spirituality and the uncharted territories it is opening up for people.
Sin Boldly: A Field Guide to Grace by Cathleen Falsani (Zondervan, hardcover) models for us a meaningful search for grace in all departments of our lives.
Mindfully Green: A Personal and Spiritual Guide to Whole Earth Thinking by Stephanie Kaza (Shambhala Books, paperback) Applies Buddhist ideals to recommend principles and practices for green living.
Haiku Mind: 108 Poems to Cultivate Awareness & Open Your Heart by Patricia Donegan (Shambhala Books, hardcover) is a wonderful collection that serves as a springboard to the spiritual practices of being present, attention, wonder, beauty, and compassion.
The Wise Heart: A Guide to the Universal Teachings of Buddhist Psychology by Jack Kornfield (Bantam Books, hardcover) explores and explains the riches, breadth, and depth of Buddhist psychology.
Why The Dalai Lama Matters: His Act of Truth as the Solution for China, Tibet, and the World by Robert Thurman (Atria Books/Beyond Words, hardcover) is a bold and visionary book about the peaceful and hopeful role that the Dalai Lama can play in resolving the conflict between China and Tibet.
Jewish Dharma: A Guide to the Practice of Judaism and Zen by Brenda Shoshana (De Capo Press/Lifelong Books, hardcover) is an extraordinary book on the relevance of the teachings and spiritual practices of Judaism and Zen to every dimension of life.
Interactive Faith: The Essential Interreligious Community-Building Handbook by Bud Heckman and Rori Picker Neiss (Skylights Paths, hardcover) offers guidance on spoken dialogue, sharing of worship and prayer services, advocacy, and service projects.
The Third Jesus: The Christ We Cannot Ignore by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, hardcover) presents Jesus as an enlightened teacher of God-consciousness and personal transformation.
Learning from the Heart: Lessons on Living, Loving and Listening by Daniel Gottlieb (Sterling, paperback) is full of inspiring essays on lessons learned about empathy, dealing with challenges, and caregiving discerned by the author from living as a quadriplegic for 30 years.
Love as a Way of Life: Seven Keys to Transforming Every Aspect of Your Life by Gary Chapman (Doubleday, hardcover) presents seven steps on the spiritual practice of love in everyday life.
Love's Ripening: Rumi on the Heart's Journey by Kabir Helminski and Ahmad Rezwani (Shambhala Books/hardcover) delivers new translations of poems by Rumi about love and the opening and softening of the heart.
The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine by Matthew Fox (New World Library, hardcover) is an ambitious and wide-ranging overview of the Sacred Masculine.
Between Earth and Sky: Our Intimate Connection to Trees by Nalini M. Nadkarni (University of California Press, hardcover) is a capacious and enlightening book about the importance of trees in our lives.
Comfort and Joy: Simple Ways to Care for Ourselves and Others by Colette Lafia (Conari Press, paperback) is a treasure trove of comforts that bring pleasure, satisfaction, and meaning into our lives.
Great Peacemakers: True Stories from Around the World by Ken Beller and Heather Chase (LTS Press, hardcover) profiles 20 peacemakers and their messages of hope, meaning, and transformation.
Finding Our Way Again: The Return of Ancient Practices by Brian McLaren (Thomas Nelson, hardcover) charts a dramatic and adventuresome emergent form of everyday Christian spirituality based on seven ancient practices.
Integral Life Practice: A 21st Century Blueprint for Physical Health, Emotional Balance, Mental Clarity, and Spiritual Awakening by Ken Wilber, Terry Patten, Adam Leonard, and Marco Morelli (Shambhala Books, paperback) contains an overview of the practices and perspectives that can transform your life, promote inner work, and keep you fully alive every day.
Leap Before You Look: 72 Shortcuts for Getting Out of Your Mind and Into the Moment by Arjuna Ardagh (Sounds True, paperback) presents practical and accessible spiritual practices for deepening and enriching everyday life.
In Constant Prayer by Robert Benson (Thomas Nelson, hardcover) is an irresistible affirmation of the ancient Christian practice of the daily office as a devotional expression of prayer without ceasing.
Prayers for Hope and Comfort: Reflections, Meditations, and Inspirations by Maggie Oman Shannon (Conari Press, paperback) is a fine collection of inspirational material designed to spur personal renewal.
Progressive & Religious: How Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Buddhist Leaders Are Moving Beyond the Culture Wars and Transforming American Life by Robert P. Jones (Rowman & Littlefield, hardcover) maps an emerging left-center coalition of authentically religious voices working for social justice and the healing of the planet.
Why Good People Do Bad Things: How to Stop Being Your Own Worst Enemy by Debbie Ford (HarperOne, hardcover) examines the wants, needs, and habit energies that animate us to self-sabotage and self-destructiveness and then provides some spiritual solutions and practices as antidotes.
In the Eye of the Storm: Swept to the Center by God by Gene Robinson (Seabury Books, hardcover) explains his understanding and vision of Christianity as a religion of liberation and reconciliation.
A Monk in the Inner City: The ABCs of a Spiritual Journey by Mary Lou Kownacki (Orbis Books, paperback) is a spiritual primer on applying Benedictine values to life in the inner city where poverty, injustice, and violence hold sway.
Feeding Your Demons: Ancient Wisdom for Resolving Inner Conflict by Tsultrim Allione (Little, Brown and Company, hardcover) is a wise and healing work on dealing with our demons and coping with inner conflict.
Holy Simplicity: The Little Way of Mother Teresa, Dorothy Day & Therese of Lisieux by Joel Schorn (Servant Books, paperback) explores the importance of the little way in the lives of three saintly Catholic women.
Common Sense Spirituality: The Essential Wisdom of David Steindl-Rast by David Steindl-Rast (Crossroad, paperback) explores mysticism, sacred traditions, and spiritual experiences.
Thrift: A Cyclopedia by David Blankenhorn (Templeton Foundation Press, paperback) delivers a timely and illuminating overview of the value of this ancient virtue as a way of thriving.
Light Comes Through: Buddhist Teachings on Awakening to Our Natural Intelligence by Dzigar Kongtrul (Shambhala Books/hardcover) contains profound insights into the power of five self-centered emotions, working with others, and emptiness.
Living Deeply: The Art and Science of Transformation in Everyday Life by Marilyn Schlitz, Cassandra Vieten, and Tina Amorok (New Harbinger Publications, paperback) provides a wide-ranging and inspiring map of the spiritual practice of transformation.
Spiritual Liberation: Fulfilling Your Soul's Potential by Michael Bernard Beckwith (Atria Books, hardcover) is a rousing primer on the path of spiritual maturity and the practices that accompany it.
A Life at Work: The Joy of Discovering What You Were Born to Do by Thomas Moore (Broadway Books, hardcover) offers advice on how to dig deeper and discover the soulful meanings of your life's work.
Together Under One Roof: Making a Home of the Buddha's Household by Lin Jensen (Wisdom Publications, paperback) consists of revealing and illuminating essays on the Zen path.
Zen Heart: Simple Advice for Living With Mindfulness and Compassion by Ezra Bayda (Shambhala, hardcover) presents understandings and practices needed to build a life of awareness, appreciation, and kindness.