The best books on science, ultimate consciousness, and practical spirituality

Who am I?

I am a biologist and I am also interested in spiritual explorations and sacred places. These books discuss some of the most interesting issues in science, and the nature of ultimate consciousness - the primary subject of theology, consciousness. I am also very interested in spiritual practices that have measurable effects, as discussed in my books Science and Spiritual Practices and Ways to Go Beyond and Why They Work.

I wrote...

The Science Delusion: Freeing the Spirit of Enquiry

By Rupert Sheldrake,

Book cover of The Science Delusion: Freeing the Spirit of Enquiry

What is my book about?

The Science Delusion is the belief that science already understands the nature of reality. The fundamental questions are answered, leaving only the details to be filled in. In this book, Dr. Rupert Sheldrake, one of the world's most innovative scientists, shows that science is being constricted by assumptions that have hardened into dogmas. The 'scientific worldview' has become a belief system. All reality is material or physical. The world is a machine, made up of dead matter. Nature is purposeless. Consciousness is nothing but the physical activity of the brain. Free will is an illusion. God exists only as an idea in human minds, imprisoned within our skulls.

Sheldrake examines these dogmas scientifically, and shows persuasively that science would be better off without them: freer, more interesting, and more fun.

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The books I picked & why

Britain's Pilgrim Places

By Guy Hayward, Nick Mayhew-Smith,

Book cover of Britain's Pilgrim Places

Why did I love this book?

This is a truly wonderful guide, lavishly illustrated to hundreds of holy places in Britain, together with pilgrim routes on foot that connect them. This book includes ancient sacred sites, holy wells and springs, sources of rivers, cathedrals, medieval village churches and ancient trees. This is a book that literally opens new horizons and magical doorways, complete with practical details on how to get there.

By Guy Hayward, Nick Mayhew-Smith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Britain's Pilgrim Places as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Britain's Pilgrim Places captures the spirit of 2,000 years of history, heritage and wonder. It is the complete guide to every spiritual treasure, including 500 enchanting holy places throughout England, Wales and Scotland and covers all major pilgrimage routes.

Produced in collaboration with The British Pilgrimage Trust, this book encapsulates the timeless quest of the human spirit to find meaning, connection and peace.

Each listing is illustrated in full colour and written and presented in a way that appeals to everyone. From wild hermit islands to city-centre cathedrals alike, there is something to surprise and enlighten anyone with a sense…

Double Blind

By Edward St Aubyn,

Book cover of Double Blind

Why did I love this book?

I read very few novels, but Edward St Aubyn is my favourite contemporary novelist. His writing is brilliant, funny and always intelligent. Of all his books, this new novel is my favourite because it not only tells a good story but also explores the very frontiers of contemporary science and of the paradigm shift going on within it. And it is amazingly well informed scientifically. In some cases it may be anticipating scientific advances that will occur in coming years; it does not simply describe what has already happened.

By Edward St Aubyn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Double Blind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'I was gripped by it' IAN McEWAN

Three lives collide, not one of them will emerge unchanged - the exhilarating new novel from the author of the Patrick Melrose series.

When Olivia meets a new lover, Francis, just as she is welcoming her dearest friend Lucy back from New York, her life expands dramatically. Her connection to Francis, a committed naturalist living off-grid, is immediate and startling. Eager to involve Lucy in her joy, Olivia introduces the two - but Lucy has news of her own that binds the trio unusually close.

Over the months that follow, Lucy's boss Hunter,…

Book cover of The Fourth Phase of Water: Beyond Solid, Liquid, and Vapor

Why did I love this book?

One of the best science books I know, at the same time profound, stimulating and accessible. Pollock describes discoveries made in his own laboratory and by others about a highly ordered state of liquid water that can be revealed in very simple experiments, that can lead to the generation of energy in new ways, and that plays a major role in all living cells. Pollack also opens extraordinary new areas for investigation through imaginative speculations, each with an “out on a limb” index to indicate how far it goes beyond established orthodoxy.

By Gerald H. Pollack,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Fourth Phase of Water as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Professor Pollack takes us on a fantastic voyage through water, showing us a hidden universe teeming with physical activity that provides answers so simple that any curious person can understand. In conversational prose, Pollack lays a simple foundation for understanding how changes in water's structure underlie most energetic transitions of form and motion on earth.

Book cover of Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures

Why did I love this book?

This is a brilliant book about the nature of life, starting from the largely hidden world of fungi. No doubt I am biased, because Merlin is my son. However, I am not alone in my high regard for this book. It was one of Time magazine’s must-read books of 2020 and described by the Wall Street Journal as “food for the soul”; by the Guardian as “brilliant and entrancing”; by the Observer as “wondrous”; by the Spectator as “truly astounding”; by the Telegraph as “mind boggling”; and by The Mail on Sunday as “dazzling”.

By Merlin Sheldrake,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked Entangled Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A “brilliant [and] entrancing” (The Guardian) journey into the hidden lives of fungi—the great connectors of the living world—and their astonishing and intimate roles in human life, with the power to heal our bodies, expand our minds, and help us address our most urgent environmental problems.

“Grand and dizzying in how thoroughly it recalibrates our understanding of the natural world.”—Ed Yong, author of I Contain Multitudes

ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR—Time, BBC Science Focus, The Daily Mail, Geographical, The Times, The Telegraph, New Statesman, London Evening Standard, Science Friday

When we think…

Book cover of The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss

Why did I love this book?

Deep ideas, indeed some of the deepest ideas possible. This is state-of-the-art theology by one of the greatest living theologians who brings together essential insights from the Hindu, Christian, Sufi, Buddhist, and other religious traditions showing how all have much more in common than separates them. Essential reading for anyone interested in the nature of consciousness, because the fundamental subject matter of theology is none other than ultimate consciousness, the source of all other forms of consciousness in the universe, including our own. Hart’s writing is lively and engaging.

By David Bentley Hart,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Experience of God as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From one of the most revered scholars of religion, an incisive explanation of how the word "God" functions in the world's great faiths

Despite the recent ferocious public debate about belief, the concept most central to the discussion-God-frequently remains vaguely and obscurely described. Are those engaged in these arguments even talking about the same thing? In a wide-ranging response to this confusion, esteemed scholar David Bentley Hart pursues a clarification of how the word "God" functions in the world's great theistic faiths.

Ranging broadly across Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Vedantic and Bhaktic Hinduism, Sikhism, and Buddhism, Hart explores how these great…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in pilgrimages, God, and self-actualization?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about pilgrimages, God, and self-actualization.

Pilgrimages Explore 22 books about pilgrimages
God Explore 198 books about God
Self-Actualization Explore 160 books about self-actualization

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Braiding Sweetgrass, Sapiens, and Thinking, Fast and Slow if you like this list.