10 books like The Varieties of Religious Experience

By William James,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like The Varieties of Religious Experience. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Man’s Search for Meaning

By Viktor Frankl,

Book cover of Man’s Search for Meaning

In apposition to the Levi book I listed first, Frankl becomes more of what he already is, which is a transformation of a completely different sort. The author’s professional life becomes magnified, his thought processes on suffering become exponential. The Holocaust experience affects him so much, so deeply, that he emerges with a new field of thought that shakes up the foundational thought on mental health that Freud had well established. One is not a slave to his own mind; one can attain mastery under any circumstances with certain shifts of reason. Resonant for all time, and certainly for our time.

Man’s Search for Meaning

By Viktor Frankl,

Why should I read it?

26 authors picked Man’s Search for Meaning as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the outstanding classics to emerge from the Holocaust, Man's Search for Meaning is Viktor Frankl's story of his struggle for survival in Auschwitz and other Nazi concentration camps. Today, this remarkable tribute to hope offers us an avenue to finding greater meaning and purpose in our own lives.


The Power of Now

By Eckhart Tolle,

Book cover of The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

This is a book that I often use as my literary mantra; I can choose any chapter that applies to my current life circumstances and it provides the directive I need to move forward. I love Tolle’s breakdown of how our thoughts can be our worst enemy, especially when he describes the act of complaining and surrendering. He encourages us to abandon what we know and to embrace what is; it’s the simplicity of these messages that will lead you on the path to your desired outcome.

The Power of Now

By Eckhart Tolle,

Why should I read it?

15 authors picked The Power of Now as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

**CHOSEN BY OPRAH AS ONE OF HER 'BOOKS THAT HELP ME THROUGH'**

The international bestselling spiritual book, now with a new look for its 20th anniversary. Eckhart Tolle demonstrates how to live a healthier, happier, mindful life by living in the present moment.

************

'I keep Eckhart's book at my bedside. I think it's essential spiritual teaching. It's one of the most valuable books I've ever read.' Oprah Winfrey

To make the journey into The Power of Now we will need to leave our analytical mind and its false created self, the ego, behind. Although the journey is challenging, Eckhart…


The Denial of Death

By Ernest Becker,

Book cover of The Denial of Death

I first read this Pulitzer Prize winner in my early twenties, and it blew my mind, almost literally: I was in a bar in post-revolutionary Prague describing to a friend the book’s central idea – that human character, and the culture it lives in,  are both effectively an illusionary construct that we build around ourselves as a means of denying that we are all doomed to vanish.

As I explained it, the idea suddenly made perfect sense to me and I felt my entire personality briefly dissolve.

Years later, covering wars in the Middle East, it struck me as ironic that we are so afraid of dying that we build gods and afterlives to comfort ourselves, but then end up dying for those imaginary comforts.

The Denial of Death

By Ernest Becker,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Denial of Death as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Pulitzer prize in 1974 and the culmination of a life's work,The Denial of Death is Ernest Becker's brilliant and impassioned answer to the "why" of human existence. In bold contrast to the predominant Freudian school of thought, Becker tackles the problem of the vital lie -- man's refusal to acknowledge his own mortality. In doing so, he sheds new light on the nature of humanity and issues a call to life and its living that still resonates more than twenty years after its writing.


The Case for God

By Karen Armstrong,

Book cover of The Case for God

Armstrong has written brilliant histories of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and Chinese spirituality, biographies of Buddha and Mohammed, and a memoir of her own spiritual struggles as a nun who left the Catholic Church. Her reputation as the foremost scholar in our time of the history of religions is well-earned. The Case for God is an erudite account of a human need that has existed through all of recorded history and the thwarting of that need, especially in our own polarized time, by fundamentalism, arrogant misreadings of spiritual texts, and notions of God at odds with the selflessness, creativity, and compassion faith is meant to inspire.

The Case for God

By Karen Armstrong,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

There is widespread confusion about the nature of religious truth. For the first time in history, a significantly large number of people want nothing to do with God. Militant atheists preach a gospel of godlessness with the zeal of missionaries and find an eager audience.

Tracing the history of faith from the Palaeolithic Age to the present, Karen Armstrong shows that meaning of words such as 'belief', 'faith', and 'mystery' has been entirely altered, so that atheists and theists alike now think and speak about God - and, indeed, reason itself - in a way that our ancestors would have…


Without God, Without Creed

By James C. Turner,

Book cover of Without God, Without Creed: The Origins of Unbelief in America

Turner asks a great question. How did the United States go from being the deeply religious society of the Puritans and the Founders to a culture of widespread unbelief, especially among the well-educated? His astute analysis of 19th-century America explains why and how agnosticism and atheism gradually became socially acceptable alternatives to faith. As Turner sees it, attempts to “explain” God and fit the Divine into a more rationalistic, scientific, and anti-mystical framework, and the deadening hand of dogma, helped pave the way for a culture resistant to the very idea of God.

Without God, Without Creed

By James C. Turner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Without God, Without Creed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Until the 19th century, atheism and agnosticism were viewed as bizarre aberrations. But atheism emerged as a viable alternative to other ideologies. How and why it became possible is the subject of this cultural revolution.


Why I Am a Catholic

By Garry Wills,

Book cover of Why I Am a Catholic

Garry Wills, a scholar of Jefferson, Lincoln, modern politics, and religious history, is a major thorn in the side of the Catholic Church. He’s critical of that institution’s checkered past, the questionable primacy of the pope, and the social and political narrowness of its bishops. Yet he is a devout Catholic, a confirmed believer. He sees no contradiction in that. This is a blunt, persuasive book about reconciling an urge to faith in a higher, transcendent power with a sharply critical perspective on an institution that, in Wills’ view, is often less about the teachings of Jesus than a corporate structure pretending to more spiritual authority and infallibility than it has any right to assert.

Why I Am a Catholic

By Garry Wills,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Why I Am a Catholic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An “intellectually satisfying, and spiritually moving,” argument for a questioning, conscience-driven faith, by a New York Times bestselling author (Booklist).
 
Pulitzer Prize winner Garry Wills has been asked more than once why he remains in the Church, especially in the wake of his bestselling book Papal Sins, which examined the darker side of the religion’s history. In Why I Am a Catholic, he offers some persuasive and heartfelt answers.
 
Beginning with a reflection on his early experiences as a child, and later as a Jesuit seminarian, Wills reveals the importance of Catholicism in his own life. He discusses G.K. Chesterton,…


Augustine of Hippo

By Peter Brown,

Book cover of Augustine of Hippo: A Biography

Augustine's Confessions is an extraordinary book, but it is not always an easy one! Readers looking for help in understanding its brilliant author can do no better than to turn to Peter Brown's biography, first published in 1967. It is a beautifully written, lucid, and illuminating study of Augustine's life and thought, the best possible guide to both the man and his world. In an Epilogue added for the forty-fifth-anniversary edition, Brown discusses what he and other scholars have learned in the decades since he first wrote the book, and how his ideas about Augustine have changed, demonstrating the curiosity and openness that are the hallmarks of a great scholar.

Augustine of Hippo

By Peter Brown,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Augustine of Hippo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This classic biography was first published forty-five years ago and has since established itself as the standard account of Saint Augustine's life and teaching.


Autobiography of a Yogi

By Paramahansa Yogananda,

Book cover of Autobiography of a Yogi

One can’t put together a yoga memoir list without including this classic. So much has been written about it (including that it was George Harrison’s favorite book) but I’ll add my two cents, which is that this memoir helps one believe that there’s a greater force, source, being, or something out there orchestrating some of the uncanny stuff we meet up with in our lives. Yogananda was a revered spiritual teacher, but he was also a human being. When he couldn’t be with his mother at her death, he writes that the “Intervening Hand” arranged his absence because his presence would have been too painful to bear, a profound sharing that helped me face my own guilt about a similar experience. His story is wild, crazy, and so unbelievable that it makes you believe. 

Autobiography of a Yogi

By Paramahansa Yogananda,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Autobiography of a Yogi as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Autobiography of a Yogi is at once a beautifully written account of an exceptional life and a profound introduction to the ancient science of Yoga and its time-honored tradition of meditation. Profoundly inspiring, it is at the same time vastly entertaining, warmly humorous and filled with extraordinary personages.

Self-Realization Fellowship's editions, and none others, include extensive material added by the author after the first edition was published, including a final chapter on the closing years of his life.

Selected as "One of the 100 Best Spiritual Books of the Twentieth Century", Autobiography of a Yogi has been translated into more…


The Divided Self

By R.D. Laing,

Book cover of The Divided Self: An Existential Study in Sanity and Madness

The Divided Self kick-started my search for the truth of the human condition. It taught me that I didn't have to follow the life laid out for me and that I was expected to follow. Through it I discovered that I was not the only person trapped in a world and struggling to make sense of the bizarre and contradictory reality around me, that lied and lied about existence continually. Further books by him reinforced this awareness of the illogic of it all, including The Politics of Experience, The Self and Others, and Knots. I was Brer Rabbit, caught in the honey trap of the tar baby and this book showed me that.

The Divided Self

By R.D. Laing,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Presenting case studies of schizophrenic patients, Laing aims to make madness and the process of going mad comprehensible. He also offers an existential analysis of personal alienation.


The Courage to Be

By Paul Tillich,

Book cover of The Courage to Be

Tillich’s work is foundational for any “mystery-based” religiosity, or to put it another way, “awe-based” spirituality, and The Courage to Be is one of his most accessible and popular works. The Courage to Be, which influenced generations of humanistic and existential-oriented thinkers and therapists is about the willingness to face the anxieties of existence in the service of maximal participation in the life-space we are granted. It is all about boldness and risk-taking, with full awareness of limitation and fragility, to meet the demands of creative participation in love and work. 

The Courage to Be

By Paul Tillich,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Selected as one of the Books of the Century by the New York Public Library

"The Courage to Be changed my life. It also profoundly impacted the lives of many others from my generation. Now Harvey Cox's fresh introduction helps to open up this powerful reading experience to the current generation."-Robert N. Bellah, University of California, Berkeley

Originally published more than fifty years ago, The Courage to Be has become a classic of twentieth-century religious and philosophical thought. The great Christian existentialist thinker Paul Tillich describes the dilemma of modern man and points a way to the conquest of the…


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