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January 1&15, 2017 BOOKLIST
Find more Top 10 Religion and Spirituality Books
Contentious and controversial, but also faith affirming and humanizing—all of those qualities and more are to be found in this year’s top 10 books on religion and spirituality, originally reviewed in Booklist from November 15, 2012, through November 1, 2013.
And Then There Were Nuns: Adventures in a Cloistered Life. By Jane Christmas. 2013. Greystone, $17.95 (9781553657996).
In order to decide if she really wants to become a nun, fiftysomething Christmas hits the road, taking readers on an amusing, thought-provoking tour to four cloistered communities in Great Britain.
The Book of Immortality: The Science, Belief, and Magic behind Living Forever. By Adam Leith Gollner. 2013. Scribner, $27.95 (9781439109427).
Death perplexes the agnostic Gollner, who consults priests, mystics, magicians, and scientists to learn more about people’s belief in immortality. A probing inquiry into the most insistent of human hopes.
The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic. By John Shelby Spong. 2013. HarperOne, $26.99 (9780062011305).
Spong sees the Gospel of John in a new and provocative light—as the work of a Jewish mystic. His thoughts are bracing, his writing exciting, and his conclusions thought-provoking.
God in Proof: The Story of a Search from the Ancients to the Internet. By Nathan Schneider. 2013. University of California, $34.95 (9780520269071).
By adding dollops of memoir and first-person reportage to a history of attempts to prove that God exists, Schneider makes an often dry subject both companionable and insightful.
Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief. By Lawrence Wright. 2013. Knopf, $28.95 (9780307700667).
In efficient, unemotional prose, Wright offers a fascinating look behind the curtain of an organization, the Church of Scientology, whose ambition and influence are often at odds with its secretive ways.
In the Name of God: The True Story of the Fight to Save Children from Faith-Healing Homicide. By Cameron Stauth. 2013. St. Martin’s/Thomas Dunne, $27.99 (9781250005793).
Faith and the law tangle in this powerful account of a court battle in Oregon City, Oregon, over the right of parents who believe in faith healing to deny medical treatment to their children.
Jews and Words. By Amos Oz and Fania Oz Salzberger. 2012. Yale, $25 (9780300156478).
Oz and his daughter examine the role words and language, especially biblical language, have played in binding the Jewish people to their heritage. A rich meditation on what it means to be a Jew.
When “Spiritual but Not Religious” Is Not Enough. By Lillian Daniel. 2013. Jericho, $19.99 (9781455523085).
In short, zingy anecdotes, Daniel strikes out at what she sees as the spiritual laziness of those who opt for “personal faith” outside of a church community. Controversial but powerfully argued.
Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here. By Karima Bennoune. 2013. Norton, $27.95 (9780393081589).
Bennoune compiles the stories of Muslims who refuse to accept the terror tactics of Islamist groups. A compelling and humanizing record of contemporary Muslim life and culture.
Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. By Reza Aslan. 2013. Random, $27 (9781400069224).
Aslan brings a fine popular style, shorn of jargon, to his account of Jesus of Nazareth as a man. Though he pares the divine away from the historical Jesus, he refuses to deride it. Absorbing and reader friendly.
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