Religion & Spirituality
Soul-nourishing primers, memoirs, and more speak to all sorts of seekers.
Ask Me for a Blessing (You Know You Need One)
Adrian Dannhauser (Broadleaf) $22.99
Dannhauser, a priest at Church of the Incarnation in Manhattan, reflects on what she’s learned about faith from her weekly practice of administering prayers to strangers on the street while standing outside her Midtown church with a sign that reads, “Ask me for a blessing.” The anecdotes make for captivating miniature character portraits that brim with folk wisdom, resulting in a touching Christian variation on Humans of New York, with humanity and insight to spare.
The Contemplative Tarot
Brittany Muller (St. Martin’s Essentials) $17.99
In this delightfully unusual volume, Blessed Vigil blogger Muller posits that using tarot cards can prompt prayerlike reflection. To that end she draws spiritual lessons from each card by putting them in conversation with the Bible. The blend of Christianity and the
esoteric results in a refreshingly unconventional outing, and the research into tarot’s origins as a card game influenced by Christian and ancient pagan traditions adds enlightening historical context.
The God of the Way
Kathie Lee Gifford and Jason Sobel (Thomas Nelson) $28.99
Former Today cohost Gifford and Rabbi Sobel follow up 2018’s The Rock, the Road, and the Rabbi with a moving volume on what God’s interventions in the lives of biblical figures can teach modern Christians. Pulling from the Torah and the New Testament, the authors analyze moments in the Bible when God calls on humans to fulfill a divine duty, and they unpack what these episodes reveal about how God works and what it means to lead a Christian life.
The Light We Give
Simran Jeet Singh (Riverhead) $28
Singh, executive director of the Aspen Institute’s Religion and Society Program, recounts growing up as a child of Indian immigrants in Texas and how the racism against Sikhs in the aftermath of 9/11 pushed him to become a religious scholar so he could “share my stories and the stories of my communities.” Singh’s fleet-footed storytelling seamlessly moves between personal stories, Sikh theology and history, and thoughtful musings on what it means to live by a Sikh philosophy, adding up to an exemplary meditation on the faith.
The Mexican Witch Lifestyle
Valeria Ruelas (Simon Element) $17.99
This guide delves into brujeria, a practice of natural, psychic, astral, and spiritual magic blending in Afro-Indigenous beliefs. Ruelas, a gay Chicana/Indigenous bruja/brujx, instructs readers in using the tools of their trade—tarot cards, spells, and healing crystals among them. Throughout, they emphasize respect and safety (honey sold at a botanica, they caution, is not for eating; beginners should avoid spell dolls), making for an empowering, inclusive text.
The Moon Sign Guide
Annabel Gat, illus. by Vesna Asanovic (Chronicle) $19.95
Vice astrologer Gat writes that the moon sign corresponds to the moon’s position at the time of one’s birth and “represents our internal environment—our emotions, memories, and subconscious.” She then details each of the 12 zodiac moon signs and how the moon’s interactions with other planets at the moment of one’s birth impact one’s character, friendships, career, home life, and love life. It’s a good starting point for anyone looking to better understand their sign.
The Other Side of Nothing
Brad Warner (New World Library) $18.95
In Zen priest Warner’s guide to Zen Buddhist morality, humor and pop culture references abound amid discussions of the Buddha’s four noble truths, which suggest that one stops suffering when one stops desiring what one doesn’t have, and the 10 grave precepts, which include vows to not kill, steal, or covet. The author’s plainspoken style makes the mystical comprehensible as he cuts through the jargon and insightfully interprets Buddhist teachings for modern readers.
The Tarot Spellbook
Sam Magdaleno, illus. by Tanya Jacobson (Fair Winds) $24.99
Tarot and magic come together in this enchanting manual, which offers a different spell for each of the 78 tarot cards. Accompanying each spell are stylized card illustrations by Jacobson, which vibrantly update the designs of the Rider-Waite-Smith deck for a new generation (a city skyline replaces the castles in the background of the chariot card, for instance). Magaleno’s conversational prose contributes to the volume’s novice-friendly approach.
Hayley Arceneaux (Convergent) $26
Arceneaux recounts her years as a pediatric bone cancer patient at St. Jude’s hospital in Memphis, and how later, when she began working as a physician’s assistant at the facility, she was asked to partake in the first all-civilian SpaceX mission as an ambassador for the hospital. At age 29, she became the youngest American to visit space, and she credits God for the opportunity: “My life couldn’t have worked out like this without Someone setting it in motion.”
Rebecca Beyer (Simon Element) $17.99
Folk herbalist Beyer suggests that witchcraft can foster connection with one’s environment. To that end she outlines how to grow regionally appropriate plants for rituals and home remedies, and how to forage for common herbs with folk medicinal and magical applications. Deep background on herbal uses throughout history and across Appalachian, Native American, Anglo-Saxon, and West African folk medicine traditions sets this volume apart, particularly the illuminating opening section on the history of witchcraft and folk healing.