100 books like The Varieties of Religious Experience

By William James,

Here are 100 books that The Varieties of Religious Experience fans have personally recommended if you like The Varieties of Religious Experience. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Man’s Search for Meaning

Michael Gervais Author Of The First Rule of Mastery: Stop Worrying about What People Think of You

From my list on illuminating the path towards mastery.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a performance psychologist, I’ve spent my career supporting high-performers on their path toward mastery. I founded Finding Mastery, a high-performance psychology consulting agency. Our primary focus is helping leaders, teams, and organizations solve the most dynamic and complex human performance challenges.

Michael's book list on illuminating the path towards mastery

Michael Gervais Why did Michael love this book?

Frankl’s concept of finding meaning in suffering and the idea that our primary drive in life is not pleasure but the discovery and pursuit of what we personally find meaningful deeply resonates with me.

The book underscores the belief that even in the most difficult of circumstances, we have the freedom to choose our attitudes and responses, a concept that is central to high-performance psychology.

By Viktor Frankl,

Why should I read it?

41 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.


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

Margarette Allyn Author Of Running from Yesterday: A True Story of Hope, Courage and Love

From my list on making it fun to be a better person.

Why am I passionate about this?

One of the most important lessons I learned from my grandma is that children have no fear or self-doubt unless they are taught to have these feelings, and then it's a choice to continue to believe in self-doubt. However, I was paralyzed by it after her death. I stopped being a carefree kid and started living through emotional survival. I lived a life of physical, mental, and emotional turmoil, and by a miracle, I was spared and given a chance to change it all. I am a dancer, writer, performer, and speaker, following every dream I've had. 

Margarette's book list on making it fun to be a better person

Margarette Allyn Why did Margarette love this book?

I heard of this book before I got sober. I felt it was too “Western trying to be Eastern Healers” and for people who had personal dysfunctions that I couldn't relate to. 

I came across it again after sobriety and realized that I was running from my past and making up a future based on my fears of the past, never really being present, which was a wack in the gut for the better. The road to healing was way more understandable when I accepted the present, knowing that I also had the power to change anything I wanted. 

By Eckhart Tolle,

Why should I read it?

23 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…


Book cover of The Denial of Death

Mordecai George Sheftall Author Of Blossoms In The Wind: Human Legacies of the Kamikaze

From my list on how culture makes us do self-destructive things.

Why am I passionate about this?

On the morning of September 11, 2001, I woke up expecting to spend that day – and the rest of my academic career – leisurely studying the interplay of culture and individual temperament in second language acquisition. As the rest of that terrible day unfolded, however, my research up to that point suddenly seemed very small and almost decadently privileged. Recruiting the rudimentary cultural anthropology toolbox I had already amassed, I took a deep breath and plunged into the rabbit hole of studying the role of culture in human conflict. Twenty-two years later, using my Japan base and relevant language skills, my research has focused on the Japanese experience in World War II.

Mordecai's book list on how culture makes us do self-destructive things

Mordecai George Sheftall Why did Mordecai love this book?

Have you ever read a book that literally changed your life? I have, and that book is The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction in 1974.

Becker’s basic thesis is that the institution of “culture” has evolved not so much to facilitate our physical survival (the orthodox viewpoint), but rather, as an elaborate symbolic framework that psychologically protects us from our species’ unique awareness of our own inevitable mortality, both individually and collectively.

Becker basically blew the top of my head off when I first read him during my PhD work in the mid-Oughts, and he remains a major influence on my teaching and research to this day.

By Ernest Becker,

Why should I read it?

5 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.


Book cover of The Case for God

John Loughery Author Of Dorothy Day: Dissenting Voice of the American Century

From my list on religion in an age of doubt.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like many Americans, I consider myself uncertain about religion, though that may be less true now that I have come to know the life of Dorothy Day, the radical Catholic activist. She has that effect. Along with the writers below, Dorothy Day has brought me back to thinking of faith in terms that I could find meaningful, to a sense of religion that is about something other than a set of rules and doctrines based on narrow readings of the Bible and the rigidity of men (yes, always men) in positions of power. I grew up a deeply religious child, became a confirmed atheist for decades, but now, in part because of this book, find myself in a different if still uncertain place.

John's book list on religion in an age of doubt

John Loughery Why did John love this book?

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.

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…


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

John Loughery Author Of Dorothy Day: Dissenting Voice of the American Century

From my list on religion in an age of doubt.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like many Americans, I consider myself uncertain about religion, though that may be less true now that I have come to know the life of Dorothy Day, the radical Catholic activist. She has that effect. Along with the writers below, Dorothy Day has brought me back to thinking of faith in terms that I could find meaningful, to a sense of religion that is about something other than a set of rules and doctrines based on narrow readings of the Bible and the rigidity of men (yes, always men) in positions of power. I grew up a deeply religious child, became a confirmed atheist for decades, but now, in part because of this book, find myself in a different if still uncertain place.

John's book list on religion in an age of doubt

John Loughery Why did John love this book?

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.

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.


Book cover of Why I Am a Catholic

John Loughery Author Of Dorothy Day: Dissenting Voice of the American Century

From my list on religion in an age of doubt.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like many Americans, I consider myself uncertain about religion, though that may be less true now that I have come to know the life of Dorothy Day, the radical Catholic activist. She has that effect. Along with the writers below, Dorothy Day has brought me back to thinking of faith in terms that I could find meaningful, to a sense of religion that is about something other than a set of rules and doctrines based on narrow readings of the Bible and the rigidity of men (yes, always men) in positions of power. I grew up a deeply religious child, became a confirmed atheist for decades, but now, in part because of this book, find myself in a different if still uncertain place.

John's book list on religion in an age of doubt

John Loughery Why did John love this book?

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.

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,…


Book cover of Augustine of Hippo: A Biography

Sara Lipton Author Of Dark Mirror: The Medieval Origins of Anti-Jewish Iconography

From my list on medieval religious history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was raised in a Jewish but completely secular family, with no religious traditions or affiliations. Perhaps because religion was so exotic, I have always found it fascinating. In college, I gravitated toward topics in medieval religion, which crystallized the strangeness of an era both earthy and intensely devout. I wanted to understand why an Anglo-Saxon monk sitting in a cold monastery in northern England cared so much about biblical history. Or how Saint Bernard could so relentlessly hound a fellow monk over a scholarly treatise, yet also work energetically to protect Jews from violence. I can't say I'll ever fully comprehend the force of religion, but I love trying.

Sara's book list on medieval religious history

Sara Lipton Why did Sara love this book?

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.

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.


Book cover of Autobiography of a Yogi

Jonathan Ellerby Author Of The Seven Gateways of Spiritual Experience: Awakening to a Deeper Knowledge of Love, Life Balance, and God

From my list on spiritually-focused books to awaken your heart, mind, and soul.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love books! I wrote my first book as a science project at age 11. As a writer, books are my passion. Specifically, I have been interested in the nature of consciousness and healing since I was 12 years old. I started reading everything I could get my hands on at that time and continued voraciously until I completed my Ph.D. around the age of 30. Many themes in transformation and spirituality I read almost exhaustively – Indigenous studies, cross-cultural healing, the nature of mind, and the nature of the soul. I have always needed to keep books around me just to feel at home.

Jonathan's book list on spiritually-focused books to awaken your heart, mind, and soul

Jonathan Ellerby Why did Jonathan love this book?

This book opened my mind to the possibility of spiritual superpowers and the wealth of wisdom that lives in the ancient spiritual traditions of the world.

A little on the dense side, this amazing book blew my mind as I felt like I was transported in time to study at the feet of great masters. I was amazed by stories of miracles and incredible gifts of consciousness that had otherwise seemed only the stuff of movies and fiction.

The images were so compelling to me that I could not stop reading it. It felt like a course in deep metaphysics. And it was all a way of sharing the life story of a master teacher I truly admire and want to know everything about.

I have to say, on top of all this, it felt familiar, easy, and like a beautiful world to immerse in.

By Paramahansa Yogananda,

Why should I read it?

7 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…


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

Tony Sandy Author Of Observations from Another Planet

From my list on the struggle to be yourself in a crazy world.

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion and subsequent expertise in this subject have followed years of self-study and reading. I have tried to make sense of the conflicting views that the world has thrown at me, confusing me by each claiming to be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth (the seller's marketplace). The books in this series, reflect how difficult it is to be yourself and how much courage it takes to break free of your conditioning, parental or societal. It covers the necessary breakdown of the internal personality, so that a new you can emerge from the cocoon of the reassembled old you, butterfly-like.

Tony's book list on the struggle to be yourself in a crazy world

Tony Sandy Why did Tony love this book?

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.

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.


Book cover of The Courage to Be

Kirk J. Schneider Author Of The Spirituality of Awe: Challenges to the Robotic Revolution

From my list on meaning and purpose of life.

Why am I passionate about this?

Because of some early life-challenges, I have long been fascinated with human behavior and experience (my own and others). In this light questions about meaning and purpose in life, the big questions, have long been a passion of mine. I want to do everything I can to promote these inquiries, and the books I recommend are integral to that calling.

Kirk's book list on meaning and purpose of life

Kirk J. Schneider Why did Kirk love this book?

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. 

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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