The Best Spiritual Books of 2014
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.
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.
The 50 Best Spiritual
Books of 2014
On Looking: A Walker's Guide to the Art of Observation by Alexandra Horowitz (Scribner) explains how we can make the most out of ordinary walks around the block and turn them into spiritual excursions.
Paradise in Plain Sight: Lessons from a Zen Garden by Karen Maezen Miller (New World Library) is a beautifully written book by a connoisseur of the commonplace.
The Grace in Aging: Awaken as You Grow Older by Kathleen Dowling Singh (Wisdom Publications) is a creative, alluring and healing invitation to walk in the last years of our lives on a noble spiritual path.
Belief Without Borders: Inside the Minds of the Spiritual But Not Religious by Linda A. Mercadante (Oxford University Press) is far and away the best assessment of the SBNR movement and its many meanings.
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.
This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate by Naomi Klein (Simon & Schuster) is a cogent and brilliant overview of global warming and its economic and political ramifications.
Conscious Living, Conscious Aging: Embrace & Savor Your Next Chapter by Ron Pevny (Atria Books/Beyond Words) is a book of immense value for those yearning for inner growth and spiritual renewal as elders.
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.
Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor (HarperOne) models the questing spirit of creativity, openness, and playfulness in an examination of the manifold meanings of darkness.
The Days Between: Blessings, Poems, and Directions of the Heart for The Jewish High Holiday Season by Marcia Falk (Brandeis University Press) offers Insights into the Jewish High Holidays from a master of devotional writing.
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.
Empathy: A Handbook for Revolution by Roman Krznaric (A Perigee Book) is a masterful and edifying presentation of the practice of empathy as a virtue that can transform individuals and the world.
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.
Gaza: A History by Jean-Pierre Filiu (Oxford Univesity Press) is a substantive history of the 140-square-mile strip of land between Israel, Egypt, and the Mediterranean Sea.
The Power of Grace: Recognizing Unexpected Gifts on Our Path by David Richo (Shambhala) is an insightful and lyrical overview of the gift dimension of life available to all beings.
An Indigenous People's History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz (Beacon Press) is a radical re-visioning of U.S. history from the perspective of indigenous people.
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.
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 commentaries on Sufi teaching stories.
Zen Encounters with Loneliness by Terrance Keenan (Wisdom Publications) is a radiant and lyrical mix of edifying meditations and pensive poems.
Lila by Marilynne Robinson (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) is a novel about the mysteries of grace, love, trust, aging, and transformation.
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.
With Heart in Mind: Mussar Teachings to Transform Your Life by Alan Morinis (Trumpeter) presents a 48-part spiritual curriculum of practical wisdom and renewal.
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 contributions of Leonard Cohen as a spiritual seeker.
Sacred Seed by Global Peace Initiative of Women (The Golden Sufi Center) is a powerful explanation of how seeds teach us to work for the well-being of the whole universe.
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.
Joan Chittister: Essential Writings by Joan Chittister, Mary Lou Kownacki and Mary Hembrow Synder (Orbis Books) is a sturdy and soul-stirring collection of writings of the prophetic spiritual teacher.
Unquiet Vigil: New and Selected Poems by Paul Quenon (Paraclete Press) is a stellar collection of poems by a Catholic priest on watching and waiting.
The Endless Practice: Becoming Who You Were Born to Be by Mark Nepo (Atria Books) is a grand spiritual call to say yes to life, to open our hearts, to improvise, and to be the light of the world.
A Book of Uncommon Prayer: 100 Celebrations of the Miracle & Muddle of the Ordinary by Brian Doyle (Ave Maria Press) is a spunky and snappy collection of informal prayers by one of the most imaginative souls in Christendom.
Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence by Karen Armstrong (Alfred A. Knopf) is a plea for us all to take responsibility for wars and violence instead of blaming them on religion.
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.
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.
Living the Secular Life: New Answers to Old Questions by Phil Zuckerman (Penguin Press) charts the sea change brought on by the "nones", now the fastest religious orientation in the United States.
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 for use in Christian communities.
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.
Stuff Matters: Exploring the Marvelous Materials that Shape Our Man-Made World by Mark Miodownik (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) is a spiffy celebration of stuff such as steel, concrete, and glass.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo (Ten Speed Press) is a fresh approach to decluttering based on a spiritual relationship with one's possessions.
Second Wind: Navigating the Passage to a Slower, Deeper, and More Connected Life by Bill Thomas (Simon & Schuster) is an enthusiastic vision of the adventures which lie ahead for elders.
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.
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.
The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism by Jeremy Rifkin (Palgrave Macmillan Trade) is a visionary work that maps what's bringing about the Third Industrial Revolution.
How the World Was Won: The Americanization of Everywhere by Peter Conrad (Thames & Hudson) is a immensely creative work of literary and cultural criticism about America's impact on the world.
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.
The Human Age: The World Shaped by Us by Diane Ackerman (W.W. Norton) is an optimistic picture of the future where wonder is a major spiritual practice.
Slowing Time: Seeing the Sacred Outside Your Kitchen Door by Barbara Mahany (Abington Press) is a fresh and richly lyrical tribute to the Divine wonders of the four seasons.
The Buddha Walks into the Office: A Guide to Livelihood For a New Generation by Lodro Rinzler (Shambhala) is a top-notch resource for those who are serious about doing spiritual practice on the job.
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.
The 10 Best Spiritual
Children's Books of 2014
by Lizi Boyd (Chronicle Books) is about the wonders a boy sees at night when he focuses his attention.
The Geese March in Step
by Jean-Francois Dumont (Eerdman's Books for Young Readers) is a delightful parable about those who march to the beat of their own private drum.
Churchill's Tale of Tails
by Anca Sandu (Peachtree Publishers) is a touching tale about the importance of friendship and things you can learn while on a quest.
Thank You, God
by J. Bradley Wigger (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers) is a devotional celebration of a day during which we tally up our thanks for all God has given us.
100 Things That Make Me Happy
by Amy Schwartz (Abrams Appleseed) is a picture book illustrating the practice of counting blessings.
by Stian Hole (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers) is a beautifully illustrated story about a caring daughter who takes her restless father on a healing journey.
by Debbie Friedman (Jewish Lights) is a soothing and loving children's picture book and CD about the grace and presence of God.
Never Say a Mean Word Again: A Tale from Medieval Spain
by Jacqueline Jules (Wisdom Tales) is a wonderful cross-cultural tale about the spiritual art of turning an enemy into a friend.
Shh!: We Have a Plan
by Chris Haughton (Candlewick Press) is a questing tale for children that illustrates the problem with aggressive behavior.
The Book with No Pictures
by B.J. Novak (Dial Books for young Readers) is a thoroughly engaging children's book that gives parent readers a chance to be really silly.