The best books about suspenseful spiritual transformation

Who am I?

I grew up in rural central Virginia the namesake of my African-American, family physician father, Dr. Robert C. Wesley and my educator mother, Anne Louise Reynolds. Becoming a physician seemed to be my destiny, which explains attending Yale Medical School. The Well was inspired by my lifelong concern over global health threats, originally regarding the threat of nuclear weapons, and propelled me toward pandemic inquiry. It was also a way to explore fundamental questions I struggled with: At the current state of mankind’s moral and ethical development, would a miraculous discovery controlled by very few lead to universal well-being or universal tyranny? I'm honored to submit my recommendations of books that combine suspense and spirituality.

I wrote...

The Well

By R. Chapman Wesley,

Book cover of The Well

What is my book about?

Professor Anatoly Popov, an esteemed virologist and Russian-born defector, steals the world’s deadliest virus from a US counter bio-terrorism lab. His aim – to alter its properties with the remains of an interstellar meteorite to create a Universal Cure, based upon an ancient Chinese legend. But the theft sets off a murderous clandestine multinational competition for the ultimate bioweapon. Now with his time running out, Popov pins his hopes upon Commander Rex Lee, an ex-Seal medic and novice physician-scientist, and a desperate search mission in the Amazonian rainforest of Brazil to restore the promise of “The Well.” In doing so, Lee transforms himself from an ambitious research-focused scientist into a Master of deep spiritual insight and physical abilities.

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The books I picked & why

The Celestine Prophecy

By James Redfield,

Book cover of The Celestine Prophecy

Why did I love this book?

Prior to reading this book, I had always been struck by how seemingly random events in my life followed a pattern that, upon closer inspection, pointed me in a certain direction.

It suggested that we are each on a spiritual path that becomes apparent when we peel back the seeming randomness of events to reveal an underlying direction toward a spiritual destination. A single momentous sign could occur all at once, but more likely, signs are broken up into discrete individual experiences, leading from one to the next.

This pattern is distinctly revealed to the hero of The Celestine Prophecy, a story of sequential insights, told in the first person, not easy to do but thoroughly accomplished by James Redfield.

The hero’s conscious insights become intelligible through descriptive subjective reflections but are only fully revealed by recognition of his subconscious and, in some cases, suppressed feelings.

In modern-day Peru, the hero meets a female associate whom he has not seen for some time. This meeting sets off a series of chance encounters that reveal the existence of a 2500-year-old Incan manuscript, whose existence has been hidden by a religious sect to maintain dominion over human populations.

Through self-justification for resorting to unjust means, they reason that human society is not ready for the implications of forbidden revelations. Therein lies the tension and suspense of the story as the hero meanders through multiple traumatic conflicts.

James Redfield revolutionized the modern story-telling concept that synchronous events can propel a hero’s or heroine’s quest forward when conscious awareness is coupled with subconscious insight.

By James Redfield,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Celestine Prophecy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This extremely readable and addictive parable has become a breakout word-of-mouth hit for its uncanny ability to renew your understanding of life, connections and perspective with fresh vigour. From the multimillion-bestselling author, James Redfield, and perfect for fans of Paulo Coelho and Eckhart Tolle.

'The Celestine Prophecy has already reached cult status... It homes in on the deepest, most urgent search of our times - the search for meaning... This is a book like no other.' - THE TELEGRAPH

'If you've ever wondered what the formula is for an "inspirational" bestseller, with promising potential for cult status, look no further'…

Book cover of Saved by the Light: The True Story of a Man Who Died Twice and the Profound Revelations He Received

Why did I love this book?

This book tells the autobiographical journey of Dannion Brinkley through the trauma and revelations experienced through two near-death experiences (NDEs), having been struck by lightning twice. 

The suspense in the story lies not only in the shock of spiritual visions upon entering the nether world but the transformation of character and choices made upon return to the living.

Full disclosure. I have personally witnessed the ongoing spiritual transformation of the author after the publication of his seminal work and his first two NDEs. Dannion has been a dear friend of mine for over 25 years. I first met him when we were interviewed on a radio show in 1998 on the topic of integrative and complementary medicine.  

Since the book’s publication, Dannion has experienced two additional NDEs. One occurred following aortic valve replacement surgery for a bicuspid aortic valve, originally traumatized by lightning shocks. The second occurred following redo aortic valve replacement coupled with coronary artery bypass surgery.

While he had been my friend for the first half of our relationship, he was both a friend and my patient in the second half when, as his cardiologist, I diagnosed him with coronary artery disease.

By Dannion Brinkley, Paul Perry,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Saved by the Light as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


After two near-death experiences, author Dannion Brinkley shares the profoundly moving account of his extraordinary experiences in the afterlife in this updated trade paperback edition of his international and New York Times bestseller

The Emerald Forest

By Robert Holdstock,

Book cover of The Emerald Forest

Why did I love this book?

This is a fictional narrative based on true events immortalized in the stunning film directed by John Boorman from the adapted screenplay by Rospo Pallenberg. 

It recounts the spiritual transformation of a father seeking to find his lost young son and the son’s embracing of a spiritual destination that neither could have foreseen.

Bill Markham, an engineer, with his family, including his 7-year-old son, Tommie, ventures to the Brazilian rainforest to destroy it for the construction of an electrical dam. This incursion creates the forced migration of indigenous tribes.

One tribe happens upon Tommie at the edge of the rainforest during a picnic with Bill’s family. The tribe kidnaps Tommie, not with malevolence, but rather to rescue him from an upside-down worldview by which the rainforest could be destroyed. They can do so by camouflaging themselves with the foliage of the rainforest, thus appearing invisible.

Bill sets off on a 10-year mission to find Tommie. The suspense in the story lies in Bill’s acceptance of Tommie’s transformation and integration into the tribe, followed by Bill’s commitment to aid the tribe in its struggle for survival.

By Robert Holdstock,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Deep in the sounds, scents and shifting rhythms of the Amazon forest, a family have lost their seven-year-old child, stolen by the mysterious 'Invisible People', the tribe which has never been seen.
Through ten years their agonised search for him takes them beyond the world's last great natural frontier into the cruel beauty of the Brazilian jungle.
When at last father and son do meet - in a dramatic and terrifying encounter - it is in the emerald forest, a place where the mythical and magical powers of primal existence must clash with the cold-hearted greed of modern man.

Dances with Wolves

By Michael Blake,

Book cover of Dances with Wolves

Why did I love this book?

The famous movie is extremely faithful to the book, although the book adds to the richness and depth of both plot and character.

In addition to heralding the transformation of spiritual awareness through empathetic identity with the indigenous peoples of the Lakota Nation, Dances with Wolves focuses upon the power of animal spirits and the lessons embedded in observing their behavior. Despite the title, the most prominent animal spirit is the Buffalo.

By Michael Blake,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dances with Wolves as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ordered to hold an abandoned army post, John Dunbar found himself alone, beyond the edge of civilization. Thievery and survival soon forced him into the Indian camp, where he began a dangerous adventure that changed his life forever. Relive the adventure and beauty of the incredible movie, DANCES WITH WOLVES.

Book cover of The Legend Of the White Buffalo Woman

Why did I love this book?

This is a picture book published by National Geographic Kids, but equally applicable for reading by adults of our day. 

It is a rendition of, perhaps, the most important Lakota sacred legend, relaying how the Great Spirit presented to the People of the Lakota Nation the Sacred Calf Peace Pipe with which to pray and communicate with the Universe. 

I found this story particularly intriguing as the heroine is an animal spirit sent by the Universe, transformed from a White Buffalo calf into a beautiful spiritual Lakota woman. 

She comes forward at a particularly troubled time for the Lakota Nation, forced into a traumatic migration from mid-western forest lands to the Great Plains by indigenous wars and European colonizing transgressions. The relationship of the tribes to sustenance provided by buffalo herds became the mainstay of the Lakota Nation.

Of all my choices, this story most directly depicts the impact of an individual spiritual transformation upon societal consciousness and identity.

By Paul Goble,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Legend Of the White Buffalo Woman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Paul Goble recounts the legend of the White Buffalo Woman who appears to her people offering them a peac e pipe, a gift that will give them hope and a new way to pra y to the Great Spirit. A spiritual celebration of life is ap parent on every page. '

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the Lakota people, spirituality, and near death experiences?

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