A Fool’s Guide to Actual Happiness
Mark Van Buren. Wisdom, ISBN 978-1-61429-448-1
Van Buren lays out a concise but informative crash course on finding happiness through Buddhist concepts and practices in this powerful book. He regularly reminds readers that it is acceptable to be a foolish person so long as one is cultivating awareness, taking steps to avoid hurting oneself and others, and being exactly oneself to the fullest extent.
Inner Witch: A Modern Guide to the Ancient Craft
Gabriela Herstik. TarcherPerigee, ISBN 978-0-14-313354-4
In this fun feminist guide to witchcraft, Herstik, “Ask a Witch” columnist for Nylon magazine, empowers women to connect with something larger than themselves. Her rituals are easy and mainly involve household items, such as fruit, flowers, and oils. She also covers crystals briefly. With its mix of primer information and practical magick, Herstik’s book will appeal to women interested in exploring witchcraft.
Be Well Read
On Reading Well
Karen Swallow Prior. Brazos, ISBN 978-1-58743-396-2
Prior, English professor at Liberty University, enthuses about the transformative power of reading in this lively treatise on building character through books. Prior uses classic works of literature to examine 12 central virtues and their corresponding vices. With exquisite writing, she demonstrates how “reading literature, more than informing us, forms us.”
He Held Radical Light: The Art of Faith, the Faith of Art
Christian Wiman. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, ISBN 978-0-374-16846-9
Wiman, a poet and professor of religion and literature at Yale, weaves together philosophy and lush prose in an circuitous memoir about his long flirtation with the belief that he could gain immortality by writing a perfect poem. Readers who allow themselves to be swept along by Wiman’s beautiful style and oblique considerations will come away with fresh strategies for unpacking faith in the contemporary world.
The Wisdom of No Escape
Pema Chödrön. Shambhala, ISBN 978-1-61180-605-2
An accessible guide to Buddhist thought, comprising 18 short lectures originally given by Chödrön in 1989 at a monastery in Nova Scotia, the book circles around the idea of accepting the process of enlightenment with gentleness. This deceptively straightforward book is an excellent introduction to the thinking of a major Western Buddhist leader who gracefully bridges contemporary life with traditional practices.
Be a Spiritual Chef
No Recipe: Cooking as Spiritual Practice
Edward Espé Brown. Sounds True, ISBN 978-1-68364-054-7
Brown, former head cook at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, addresses the spiritual qualities of cooking in this illuminating guide. There are no recipes here; instead, Brown’s observations and encouragements fill the pages. This book’s down-to-earth wisdom, generous spirit, and exuberant encouragement simply to cook will appeal to all readers who enjoy cooking, particularly those with an interest in Zen spirituality.
I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness
Austin Channing Brown. Convergent, ISBN 978-1-5247-6085-4
In this powerful book, Brown, a Christian, is up front about her exhaustion with white people as she meticulously details the experience of being a black woman in modern American society. She believes that Christian communities need to play a large role in racial reconciliation. She calls on readers to live their professed ideals rather than simply state them. This a must-read for those interested in racial justice within the Christian community.
The Ultimate Bible Knowledge Challenge: A Collection of Bible History, Trivia, and Fun Facts
Stan Toler. Harvest House, ISBN 978-0-7369-7416-5
Inspirational speaker Toler presents an entertaining, fact-filled condensation of Bible history and sayings in this book of memorable lists and questions. The longest and most entertaining section contains more than 200 multiple choice and true-false questions that test readers’ knowledge of the Bible. Toler’s pleasurable book will serve as a fun introduction or refresher for anyone reading the Bible.
Biography of Silence: An Essay on Meditation
Pablo d’Ors, trans. from the Spanish by David Shook. Parallax, ISBN 978-1-946764-23-2
D’Ors, a Spanish Catholic priest and novelist with 11 books published in Spain, debuts in English with this tranquil exploration of his introduction to meditation practice. “Until I decided to practice meditation with all the rigor I could,” he writes, “I can say that I did not properly know who I was.” In accessible language, d’Ors’s enchanting book channels his Catholic spiritual heritage into a persuasive meditation guide.
God Is Young: A Conversation with Thomas Leoncini
Pope Francis, with Thomas Leoncini, trans. from the Italian by Anne Milano Appel. Random House, ISBN 978-1-984801-40-1
Pope Francis speaks frankly about problems facing the young and the elderly, Catholic and non-Catholic, throughout the world in this brief treatise. With the hope that Christianity can provide a “revolution of tenderness.” Francis states his truths plainly and unequivocally—“nuclear weapons should be destroyed immediately”—and repeatedly asserts the need for a compassionate, harmonious social order. While not sugarcoating problems, Francis’s simple, humane voice emerges clearly in this beautiful book of hope and inspiration.