The Best Spiritual Books of 2014 (So Far)
By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
Every year from the more than 300 books we review on this website, we choose the Best Spiritual Books. In addition to 50 adult books, we also include 10 Best Spiritual Children's Books.
These are titles that have most impressed and inspired us. 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. 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.
Our full list will be published in December, but the following books are so good, we already know they will be on it — so there's no point, we figure, in postponing the announcement.
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.
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.
A Religion of One's Own: A Guide to Creating a Personal Spirituality in a Secular World by Thomas Moore (Gotham Books) is a sumptuous work of creativity and insight for our times when many people want to craft a personal religion.
Convictions: How I Learned What Matters Most by Marcus J. Borg (HarperOne) is a summing up by the Jesus scholar of his writings, teachings, concerns, and passions over the past 50 years.
Keeping the Faith Without a Religion by Roger Housden (Sounds True) is a beautifully written explanation of a secular spirituality for the seekers of our times.
The Meaning and Practice of Faith by Diarmund O'Murchu (Orbis Books) is an in-depth examination of the faith of the evolving adult generation.
The Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World by Desmond Tutu and Mpho Tutu (HarperOne) contains wise counsel on four concrete steps we can take to practice forgiveness.
The Ecstasy of Surrender: 12 Surprising Ways Letting Go Can Empower Your Life by Judith Orloff (Harmony Books) is an ambitious book, complete with tools, quizzes, and spiritual exercises, on the path of surrender.
The Four Virtues: Presence, Heart, Wisdom, Creation by Tobin Hart (Atria Books/Beyond Words) is a wise and creative field guide to the inner life.
Sacred Laughter of the Sufis: Awakening the Soul with the Mulla's Comic Teaching Stories & Other Islamic Wisdom by Jamal Rahman (Skylight Paths) is filled with superb and substantive meditations on Sufi teaching stories.
The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap by Matt Taibbi (Spiegel & Grau) is a hard-hitting look at the shameful happenings in the United States resulting from severe economic inequality.
The Crusades of Cesar Chavez: A Biography by Miriam Pawel (Bloomsbury Press) is a full, rich, and impressive biography of America's most important Latino leader.
Reflections of Amma: Devotees in a Global Embrace by Amanda J. Lucia (University of California Press) is a solid and substantive overview of the life and service of the hugging saint.
The Next America: Boomers, Millennials, and the Looming Generational Showdown by Paul Taylor & the Pew Research Center (PublicAffairs) is a hugely informative and insightful look at generational differences that can lead to clashes.
Empathy: A Handbook for Revelation by Roman Krznaric (Rider/Edbury Publishers) is a masterful and edifying book that presents the practice of empathy as a transformative virtue that can change individuals and the world.
A Broken Hallelujah: Rock and Roll, Redemption, and the Life of Leonard Cohen by Liel Leibovitz (W. W. Norton & Company) offers a fetching overview of the life, the music, and the meaning of Leonard Cohen as a spiritual seeker.
We Make the Road by Walking: A Year-Long Quest for Spiritual Formation, Reorientation, and Activation by Brian D. McLaren (Jericho Books) contains a 52-week Bible-based curriculum written for use in Christian communities.
Ask the Beasts: Darwin and the God of Love by Elizabeth A. Johnson (Bloomsbury Press) is an exploration of the connections between the scientific insights of Charles Darwin and the Christian ideal of the presence of God in the natural world.
A History of Religion in 5 1/2 Objects: Bringing the Spiritual to Its Senses by S. Brent Plate (Beacon Press) is an elegant and illuminating book on the spiritual importance of objects in the religious life.
Border Patrol Nation: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Homeland Security by Todd Miller (Open Media Series/City Lights Books) is a wake-up call for those who have not kept up with the morally troubling expansion of the U.S. Border Patrol.
Seiki Jutsu: The Practice of Non-Subtle Energy Medicine by Bradford and Hillary Keeney (Healing Arts Press) is an enthusiastic overview on the history, basic ideas, and daily practices of an energy practice that can transform your life.
Sacred Fire: A Vision for a Deeper Human and Christian Maturity by Ronald Rolheiser (HarperOne) is a substantive sequel to The Holy Longing that deals with the three stages of discipleship.
The December Project: An Extraordinary Rabbi and a Skeptical Seeker Confront Life's Greatest Mystery by Sara Davidson (HarperOne) is an illuminating overview of the life and wisdom of Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi.
Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor (HarperOne) is a study that models the questing spirit of creativity, openness, and playfulness in an examination of the manifold meanings of re-learning to walk in the dark.
The Authentic Life: Zen Wisdom for Living Free from Complacency and Fear by Ezra Bayda (Shambhala) is a wise, profound, and generous work by a Zen master who always has much to share with the interspirituality community.