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June 1&15, 2013 BOOKLIST
Find more Top 10 Books in Religion and Spirituality
This year’s top 10 religion books pay homage to the King James Bible, with 4 of the 10 titles addressing aspects of the book’s 400-year history. Other selections explore Indian spirituality, the history of Jerusalem, and the challenge of bringing compassion to daily life. —Ilene Cooper
American Veda: From Emerson and the Beatles to Yoga and Meditation—How Indian Spirituality Changed the West. By Philip Goldberg. 2010. Harmony, $26 (9780385521345).
The Vedic tradition—Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism—is a powerful, often unappreciated force in American life. Goldberg traces its flowering in the West and provides lively portraits of its practitioners.
Being Alive and Having to Die: The Spiritual Odyssey of Forrest Church. By Dan Cryer. 2011. St. Martin’s, $27.99 (9780312599430).
Cryer has crafted a top-notch biography of Forrest Church, stressing the liberal theologian’s writings to let the subject speak for himself.
The Book of Books: The Radical Impact of the King James Bible, 1611–2011. By Melvyn Bragg. 2011. Counterpoint, $28 (9781582437811).
A secular-minded historian, Bragg offers a potent reminder of how the King James Bible, celebrating its 400th anniversary, has inspired daring thought over the decades.
In the Shadow of Buddha: Secret Journeys, Sacred Histories, and Spiritual Discovery in Tibet. By Matteo Pistono. 2011. Dutton, $25.95 (9780525951193).
Pistono tells chilling cloak-and-dagger tales and offers mesmerizing descriptions in this account of one man’s quest for spiritual illumination and political justice.
Jerusalem, Jerusalem: How the Ancient City Ignited Our Modern World. By James Carroll. 2011. Houghton, $28 (9780547195612).
With insight and candor, Carroll examines the enigma that is Jerusalem, the holiest and most blood-soaked place on the planet.
The Rise and Fall of the Bible: The Unexpected History of an Accidental Book. By Timothy Beal. 2011. Houghton, $25 (9780151013586).
Writing in a remarkably accessible style, Beal discusses the Bible as a cultural icon as well as a book meant to provoke and inspire those who read it.
The Shadow of a Great Rock. By Harold Bloom. 2011. Yale, $28 (9780300166835).
Bloom approaches the King James Bible seeking not religious truth but literary beauty, and he marvels at how much he finds.
Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life. By Karen Armstrong. 2010. Knopf, $22.95 (9780307595591).
An acclaimed religious historian courageously steps out from behind the scrim of scholarship to offer guidelines for a spiritual practice to make humanity a kinder and saner species.
Unprotected Texts: The Bible’s Surprising Contradictions about Sex and Desire. By Jennifer Wright Knust. 2011. HarperOne, $25.99 (9780061725586).
This impressive and highly readable analysis uses Old and New Testament stories to explore ancient codes of conduct and to understand what was meant beyond the written text.
Visions of a Better World: Howard Thurman’s Pilgrimage to India and the Origins of African American Nonviolence. By Quinton Dixie and Peter Eisenstadt. 2011. Beacon, $34.95 (9780807000458).
The overlooked story of one of the most important African American religious thinkers, Howard Thurman, and his meeting Gandhi, a crucial encounter of East and West.