The best books on forgiveness

2 authors have picked their favorite books about forgiveness and why they recommend each book.

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Race and Reunion

By David W. Blight,

Book cover of Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory

This book was, for me, like a light bulb that suddenly illuminated a dark terrain: a brilliant analysis of how American memories of the Civil War often bear so little relationship to what really happened in the actual war. Historian David Blight not only dissects myths, like the “Lost Cause”, he also explores the powerful pressures that compelled many Americans, especially white Americans, to pledge allegiance to a reconciliation between the sections. As he observes, that drive to reunify was often accompanied by amnesia about how slavery drove the sections apart and how the long history of black enslavement left a lasting scar on American life.

Who am I?

Having grown up visiting lots of historic sites – and hearing my father sing old Civil War tunes (frequently off-key!) on long car trips – I gravitated pretty quickly to studying the Civil War, and its aftermath, when I was in college and then in graduate school. I was particularly interested in the way Americans experienced the Civil War after it was over: the sentimental novels they read; the romantic movies they watched; the reconstructed battlefields they visited. In my work as a professor at Boston University, I try to get students to think about the stories that do, and do not, get told about the Civil War and other events from the past. I suppose the question that always piqued my interest was why people might find the often wildly inaccurate versions of the past so appealing.

I wrote...

This War Ain't Over: Fighting the Civil War in New Deal America

By Nina Silber,

Book cover of This War Ain't Over: Fighting the Civil War in New Deal America

What is my book about?

Nina Silber deftly examines the often conflicting and politically contentious ways in which Americans remembered the Civil War era during the years of the Depression, the New Deal, and World War II. In doing so, she reveals how the debates and events of that earlier period resonated so profoundly with New Deal rhetoric about state power, emerging civil rights activism, labor organizing and trade unionism, and popular culture in wartime.

At the heart of this book is an examination of how historical memory offers people a means of understanding and defining themselves in the present. Silber reveals how, during a moment of enormous national turmoil, the events and personages of the Civil War provided a framework for reassessing national identity, class conflict, and racial and ethnic division. 

Forgiving the Unforgivable

By Beverly Flanigan,

Book cover of Forgiving the Unforgivable

This is my favorite book on the challenging task of why and how to forgive “unforgivable” offenses. Beverly Flanagan was involved in the Stanford Forgiveness Project and is an expert on the subject of forgiveness. I liked this book because it honors the depth of the pain of wounded persons, including from spousal infidelity, in a way that I seldom see in the “forgiveness” literature. My copy is highlighted on nearly every page. Highly recommended for those who still feel stuck in the mire of pain after a wayward partner’s affair or were deserted by an unremorseful, straying spouse. She offers no clichés or trite solutions. Good for both religious and non-religious readers.

Who am I?

I grew up in an alcoholic home. To me, my father’s addiction felt like an attachment to an outside lover that threatened the stability of our family. I think this is what motivated me, as a Marriage and Family Therapist, to have a special heart to help couples salvage their marriages from the destructive, outside influence of infidelity, when they so desired. I read every book I could get my hands on about affair recovery, for my clinical knowledge as well as for clients to read. Each of the books I included in this list are among my favorites from my 33 years of experience helping couples.

I wrote...

How to Help Your Spouse Heal From Your Affair: A Compact Manual for the Unfaithful

By Linda J. MacDonald,

Book cover of How to Help Your Spouse Heal From Your Affair: A Compact Manual for the Unfaithful

What is my book about?

In my work as an infidelity specialist, I watched many confused, well-intended people make fatal mistakes in their efforts to reconcile their marriages post-affair. Disheartened, I decided to put together a practical step-by-step guide for straying spouses on how to avoid undermining their chances of salvaging their relationships. I framed those who wanted to save their marriages in the aftermath of an affair as “Rebuilders,” as a positive encouragement that they can do this. My suggestions were based upon my 20 years of experience (at the time) helping couples & individuals heal from affairs. The book has sold over 110,000 copies. I receive appreciative letters from all over the country as to how this book was a corner-turner for them, individually and as a couple.

A Certain Slant of Light

By Laura Whitcomb,

Book cover of A Certain Slant of Light

Helen has been haunting the English classroom for 130 years and has never, not once, been seen. And then she feels his eyes on her. Seeing her, really seeing her like she hasn’t been seen in decades. Without wanting to be, Helen is drawn to him. That he has a body and she doesn’t is nothing in the face of their growing love, and the two form a bond that defies death. Let me tell you this book had me in tears. I read it years ago and still think of it with deep affection. I even wrote a song about it when I was far younger and far less self-conscious than I am now!

Who am I?

I often refer to myself as a haunted body. Death is something that has fascinated and alarmed me since I can remember. I’ve even had a spooky experience or five that I can’t explain. But to write a ghost story is akin to making someone fall in love with you, or lean in close to hear a secret. I love the intrigue and power of that kind of tale. Our oldest stories are ghost stories and the biggest and most enduring mystery for the entirety of humanity is: Is there life after death? 

I wrote...

And the Trees Crept In

By Dawn Kurtagich,

Book cover of And the Trees Crept In

What is my book about?

When Silla and Nori arrive at their aunt’s home, it’s immediately clear that the manor is cursed. The endless creaking of the house at night and the eerie stillness of the woods surrounding them would be enough of a sign, but there are secrets too—questions that Silla can’t ignore: Why does it seem that, ever since they arrived, the trees have been creeping closer? Who is the beautiful boy who’s appeared from the woods? And who is the tall man with no eyes who Nori plays with in the basement at night… a man no one else can see?


By Donna Hicks,

Book cover of Dignity: Its Essential Role in Resolving Conflict

The author provides evidence that treating one another with dignity, encourages people to become more connected and more capable of creating meaningful and collaborative relationships. Drawing on her extensive experience in international conflict resolution along with insights from evolutionary biology, psychology, and neuroscience, she explains what the elements of dignity are and how violating them triggers defensiveness. Defensiveness makes cooperation and collaboration unlikely in any situation often leading to resistance, aggression, sabotage and even violence.

Who are we?

Jim Tamm was a Senior Administrative Law Judge for the State of California with jurisdiction over workplace disputes. In that role, he mediated more school district labor strikes than any other person in the United States. Ron Luyet is a licensed psychotherapist who has worked with group dynamics pioneers such as Carl Rogers and Will Schutz.  He has advised Fortune 500 companies for over forty years specializing in building high-performance teams. Together they wrote Radical Collaboration and are excited to share this list with you today.

We wrote...

Radical Collaboration: Five Essential Skills to Overcome Defensiveness and Build Successful Relationships

By Ronald Luyet, James Tamm,

Book cover of Radical Collaboration: Five Essential Skills to Overcome Defensiveness and Build Successful Relationships

What is our book about?

Collaborative skills have never been more important to a company's success and these skills are essential for every worker today. Radical Collaboration is a how-to-manual for creating trusting, cooperative environments, and transforming groups into motivated and empowered teams. James W. Tamm and Ronald J. Luyet provide tools that will help you increase your ability to work successfully with others, learn to be more aware of colleagues, and better problem-solve and negotiate.

Radical Collaboration is an eye-opener for leaders, managers, HR professionals, agents, trainers, and consultants who are seeking constructive ways of getting the results they want.

Potato Pants!

By Laurie Keller,

Book cover of Potato Pants!

I adore Potato Pants! It’s laugh-out-loud funny, has hilarious illustrations, entertaining asides, and is the best example I’ve ever seen of effortlessly and humorously modeling how to make amends when you’ve gotten something wrong. Having a potato as the main character is brilliant, and the way he instantly assumes the eggplant has negative intentions is extraordinarily relatable. I wish I’d had this book when I was teaching elementary school. My students and I would have had a good laugh, followed by a good conversation.

Who am I?

Over my career as an elementary school teacher and a science educator I’ve seen time and time again that no matter the topic, learning happens best when people feel positive and engaged. My favorite books to share with young readers are those that capture their attention–be it with stunning illustrations, unusual information, or hilarious situations–and leave them with a strong emotional connection to the characters or story. Now, as I read oodles of picture books for writing research, I keep an extra special eye out for those that leave me smiling and also make me think. Some of my very favorites are collected for you here.

I wrote...

Rat Fair

By Leah Rose Kessler, Cleonique Hilsaca (illustrator),

Book cover of Rat Fair

What is my book about?

When a group of industrious, fun-loving rats find letters fallen from an Art Fair sign, they put the sign back together—with one small adjustment—and get to work creating a spectacular Rat Fair. Their fair is ruined when humans sweep away everything the rats have created. Undaunted, the rats switch gears and start working on their very own Rat Art Fair. As they are wrapping up their first day of the Rat Art Fair, a human child who has been following their progress from the sidelines catches them red-handed, and the rats must decide if they can trust the child.

A nearly wordless tale about creativity, kindness, and perseverance.

Forgiving What You Can't Forget

By Lysa TerKeurst,

Book cover of Forgiving What You Can't Forget: Discover How to Move On, Make Peace with Painful Memories, and Create a Life That's Beautiful Again

In The Prince and the Prodigal, Joseph has suffered a huge injustice from the people who should have loved him the most. Lysa’s book deals with the subject of familial hurt and pain, and though Joseph’s situation was not exactly the same, the principles of forgiving those who have wronged us even when we can’t forget what they did is the same.

Everyone experiences hurt or pain from another person. Unfortunately, the ones who hurt us the most tend to be the ones we love the most. I’ve read other books on forgiveness because it’s a subject I’ve had to deal with most of my adult life. When I picked up Lysa’s book on forgiving what you can’t forget, I did a lot of underlining because her words resonated with deep places in my own heart. 

One underlined place says, “Destructive choices always affect more people than just the…

Who am I?

I’ve been fascinated with the subjects of forgiveness and reconciliation most of my life. I’ve spent years researching people of the Old Testament, and as I read their stories, I see their need for these things in their relationships. It is a universal need of humans. Because I write about people who actually lived, I read books that deal with the things we all face. Truth is, time may change, but the human heart does not. I’m an amateur theologian and avid reader of books that will help me grow as a person and allow me to understand these ancient people who walked before us.

I wrote...

The Prince and the Prodigal

By Jill Eileen Smith,

Book cover of The Prince and the Prodigal

What is my book about?

Joseph is the pampered favorite son of the patriarch Jacob. His older brothers, deeply resentful of his status in the family, take advantage of the chance to get rid of him, selling him to slave traders and deceiving their father about his fate. It seems like their troubles are over. But for Joseph and older brother Judah, they are just beginning.

While Joseph is accused of rape and imprisoned, Judah attempts to flee the memory of his complicity in the betrayal of his younger brother. After decades apart, the brothers will come face-to-face in a stunning role reversal that sees Joseph in a position of great power while Judah begs for mercy. Will forgiveness or vengeance win the day?

For All She Knows

By Jamie Beck,

Book cover of For All She Knows

This novel exemplifies parenting fiction in my mind. It takes a concept I could’ve read about in a nonfiction parenting book (how to handle teenage drinking) and slides it into a compelling narrative that realistically depicts all the potential complexities and nuances in the parenting decisions and how they might play out, including several factors and consequences related to teen alcohol use and parent-sponsored parties that I would’ve never thought of myself.  

Who am I?

I'm a mom of two daughters who is fascinated with reading nonfiction parenting books and listening to parenting-related podcasts. My absolute favorite, though, is when fiction authors take a dense parenting topic and turn it into a relatable and engaging story so that readers can explore the same important issues and challenges in a more enjoyable way.

I wrote...

Mom Walks: Starting in 5th

By Rebecca Prenevost,

Book cover of Mom Walks: Starting in 5th

What is my book about?

Mom Walks: Starting in 5th is the first book in a four-book women’s fiction series that follows a mom and her two best mom friends as they navigate the craziness of parenting tweens. The books are light, relatable, and heart-warming stories about mother-daughter relationships, mom friendships, and parenting tweens through issues like mean girl drama, first crushes, materialism, and cell phones. The series is sometimes described as The Baby-Sitters Club, but for moms.

The Choice

By Edith Eva Eger,

Book cover of The Choice: Embrace the Possible

Part memoir, part self-help, part counselling session, this book is a must-read. It doesn't hide the truth, gets very dark in places, and is likely to be triggering for some, but it is written with such strength and love, it is ultimately healing. I couldn't of course relate to the author as a holocaust survivor but her story of overcoming a 'why me' guilt, letting go of perfectionism, and embracing the choice to be free spoke to me in a profound way. Every chapter has some amazing takeaways but I will leave you with this one: "to heal is to cherish the wound." 

Who am I?

I have read a ton of self-help books. A ton. I have a whole library of them – a bookcase of "shelf-help." And I have now written 7 of them as well! I love it when a little or a lot of the author’s story is woven into a self-help book as it demonstrates the author’s personal growth. I don’t need more self-help tools or trite suggestions. I want to feel emotionally connected and moved in a way that encourages me to reflect on and enhance my one precious life. For me, reading a well-written self-help memoir is one of life’s greatest joys. 

I wrote...

Rediscover Your Sparkle: Revive the Real You and Be Rebelliously Happy Every Day

By Julie Schooler,

Book cover of Rediscover Your Sparkle: Revive the Real You and Be Rebelliously Happy Every Day

What is my book about?

This short book has all the ingredients YOU need to create a delicious and simple recipe to rediscover your sparkle. It provides ‘sparkle strategies’ to take your daily life from tired, stressed, and overwhelmed to being full of fun, love, and energy.  

Read this book and you will immediately start to feel more light, energized, and cheerful. Find out just how meaningful and exciting life can be, right now and for the rest of your life.

The Knowing

By Serena Dyer Pisoni, Saje Dyer,

Book cover of The Knowing: 11 Lessons to Understand the Quiet Urges of Your Soul

This powerful book will return you to the remembrance of how to trust your own intuition and get into a most miraculous and co-creative space with the Divine. Filled with personal stories of growing up with their father, the late renowned spiritual teacher Dr. Wayne Dyer and their mother, Marcelene, The Knowing is a trusted ally in opening yourself up to remembering the spiritual wisdom within you. The book also clearly shares 11 lessons to understand the quiet urges of your soul, which provide a comprehensive pathway to reconnect to the power you’ve always had, but now know how to unlock.

Who am I?

I am a shaman, seer, and spiritual teacher who lives in Austin, Texas with my husband Luke Storey, black cat Jelly Bean and dog Cookie. I’m devoted to being of service by living by the calls of inner wisdom, mysticism, energy medicine, and shamanic practices I’ve mastered through studies with spiritual teachers, both of and beyond this world. I lead global courses, events, and talks to reconnect people to their fullest power and confidence through sacred practices. My book was named “a top meditation to try” by O, The Oprah Magazine, and I’ve been called "a leading shaman for expanding others into their full gifts and power" by Forbes.

I wrote...

Animal Power: 100 Animals to Energize Your Life and Awaken Your Soul

By Alyson Charles, Willian Santiago (illustrator),

Book cover of Animal Power: 100 Animals to Energize Your Life and Awaken Your Soul

What is my book about?

Brimming with 100 different vibrant animal illustrations, transformative practices, and captivating stories from around the world, Animal Power is an enlightening guide to the power of the animal realm and how they bring peace, healing, and empowerment to your life.

Learn how to connect with the animal power of the bear for comfort and protection, the leopard for confidence, the seal for healthy relationships, and the peacock for creative inspiration, and many others. The practices are paired with illuminating stories from spiritual teachers around the world, plus sidebars with fascinating details on ancient traditions, global mythology, and scientific trivia. Delivered in an enchanting package overflowing with insight and magic, Animal Power is a celebration of the natural world and an inspiring companion for modern mystics, nature and animal lovers, and the spiritually curious.

Thief of Corinth

By Tessa Afshar,

Book cover of Thief of Corinth

Although this novel isn’t about a historical biblical woman, both the setting and the premise bring the latter half of the New Testament to vibrant life. In Corinth of the first century, a girl thief is befriended by a Jewish teacher named Paul, leading us into a fast-paced story of action and intrigue. Afshar’s novels brim with authentic historical detail as well as great empathy for what it meant to be a woman in this time in history. Turning the last page of the story, I felt like I’d lived and breathed alongside this long-ago woman.

Who am I?

I’m a writer who has traveled the world in real life and traveled through time in my research and imagination. In the past dozen years, I’ve researched historical women of the Bible for my own novels and have come to realize that women of the ancient world were much like women of today. Biblical women had dreams and fell in love. They worried about their children, politics, and the world around them. They wished for security and happiness just as we do. I have a special regard for historical fiction that brings these ancient women to life—honoring their lives and their struggles.

I wrote...

The Tomb: A Novel of Martha

By Stephanie Landsem,

Book cover of The Tomb: A Novel of Martha

What is my book about?

In this captivating retelling of a classic biblical story, Jesus shocks the town of Bethany with Lazarus’s resurrection from the dead, but what will this miracle mean to the risen man’s sister, Martha?

Martha of Bethany comes to life in surprising and vivid detail as a woman “worried and anxious about many things” and one carrying long-held and dangerous secrets. When her brother, Lazarus, lies dying she must risk all to send for the one man who can save him, Jesus of Nazareth. But when Jesus does not arrive in time, will Martha’s secrets come to light—and her faith in the Messiah fail? The Tomb is a poignant tale of the power of secrets, the strength of love, and the freeing power of grace.

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