July Publication

"If I am successful," Roger Gottlieb writes in the introduction to Joining Hands: Politics and Religion Together for Social Change, "people will think twice... before presuming that religious life and progressive political movements have different goals." Gottlieb, who came of age in the 1960s, presents this book as a rapprochement between religion and politics—two fields that, he says, should have more interaction with one another than they currently do. Gottlieb examines the civil rights movement, feminism, environmentalism and disability activism to increase "the full openness of religion and politics to each other's insights." In a presidential era marked by much discussion of faith-based social services, this thoughtful book offers a timely perspective, even though its worldview may be more left-leaning than "Dubya" would likely embrace. (Westview, $26 272p ISBN 0-8133-6554-6)

Spirituality, Health and Healing

Last year's marvelous book Seeds of Grace: A Nun's Reflection on the Spirituality of Alcoholics Anonymous told the story of one woman's recovery from alcoholism and how she found deep spiritual sustenance in the AA program. Now comes The Soul of Recovery: Uncovering the Spiritual Dimension in the Treatment of Addictions, a sweeping study that describes the role of spirituality in a number of treatment programs. What is special about this book is its broad ethnographic approach; author Christopher Ringwald traveled across the U.S. to seek out the stories of individuals from all walks of life who feel they have recovered from addiction through some kind of spiritual transformation. Ringwald also interviewed doctors, family members and counselors to understand more about the role spiritual belief can play in successful treatment programs. This is an encouraging, well-researched book on an important topic. (Oxford, $27.50 336p ISBN 0-19-514768-5; June)

Vincenzina Krymow, author of Mary's Flowers: Gardens, Legends and Meditations, extends his interest in the spiritual significance of flora in his new book, Healing Plants of the Bible: History, Lore, and Meditations. The Old and New Testaments mention more than 125 different plants, and Krymow attempts to group them into categories, explaining their history, associations and healing powers. This is a simple and informative book, offering little-known facts. Cumin and anise, for example, were "tithing herbs" in ancient Israel, and there are actually several different plants that can be called "balm of Gilead." (St. Anthony Messenger, $29.95 192p ISBN 0-86716-467-0; Aug.)

Daily Spiritual Practice

Janet Holm McHenry follows up her popular book PrayerWalk with Daily PrayerWalk: Meditations for a Deeper Prayer Life, once again encouraging Christians (especially women) to enhance their prayer time by walking. Fifty prayer-related meditations can be used as daily devotions before setting out. McHenry also offers quick fitness tips to complement the Scripture verses and "prayer starters" that accompany each devotion. (WaterBrook, $11.99 paper 208p ISBN 1-57856-544-8; June)

Yoga as practiced in North America is almost exclusively "yang" in nature, meaning that it relies upon postures that aggressively stretch the muscles. Paul Grilley offers his book Yin Yoga: Outline of a Quiet Practice as a counterbalance to this trend. Yin yoga, he says, should only be done when muscles are already relaxed, and postures should be held for long periods—at least several minutes. Yin yoga can be used to unwind, and is particularly appropriate for the end of the day. Anyone who thinks that yin yoga sounds wimpy should gaze hard at the 35 photographs in this book, which illustrate some pretty challenging poses. Grilley's technique offers a unique blend of yoga meditation and Taoist principles. (White Cloud, $15.95 paper 192p ISBN 1-883991-43-9; July)