The most recommended books on forgiveness

Who picked these books? Meet our 39 experts.

39 authors created a book list connected to forgiveness, and here are their favorite forgiveness books.
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Book cover of Forgiveness: 21 Days to Forgive Everyone for Everything

Sonia Frontera Author Of Relationship Solutions: Effective Strategies to Heal Your Heart and Create the Happiness You Deserve

From my list on freeing you from the pain of a toxic relationship.

Why am I passionate about this?

Sonia Frontera is a divorce lawyer with a heart. She is the survivor of a toxic marriage who is now happily remarried. Sonia integrates the wisdom acquired through her personal journey, her professional experience and the lessons of the world’s leading transformational teachers and translates it into guidance that is insightful and practical. Through the years, Sonia has supported domestic violence survivors as an advocate, speaker, and empowerment trainer.

Sonia's book list on freeing you from the pain of a toxic relationship

Sonia Frontera Why did Sonia love this book?

Much of the pain experienced in toxic relationships stems from lack of forgiveness–forgiveness of our partners as well as ourselves. In this book, Iyanla Vanzant comes to the rescue with simple yet powerful strategies that help readers gain clarity and free themselves from the toxicity of unforgiveness. The book contains a 21-day workbook and a CD with guided meditation exercises for every day of your forgiveness journey. I experienced increased inner peace and freedom within days of sharing this journey with Vanzant.

By Iyanla Vanzant,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Today, too many of us stay stuck in stagnant intimate, family or workplace relationships, imprisoned by memories of what others have done to us or not done for us. Weighed down by toxic thoughts and emotions, we are quick to judge, self-righteous about what we feel and slow to pardon.

In Forgiveness, New York Times bestselling author and legendary life coach Iyanla Vanzant challenges us to liberate ourselves from the energetic blockages and wounds of the past.

Her powerful 21-Day Forgiveness Practice, which is also offered as an OWN Lifeclass, combines inspirational stories and intensive journal work with the revolutionary…


Book cover of Forgiving the Unforgivable

Linda J. MacDonald Author Of How to Help Your Spouse Heal From Your Affair: A Compact Manual for the Unfaithful

From my list on to help you recover from an affair.

Why am I passionate about this?

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.

Linda's book list on to help you recover from an affair

Linda J. MacDonald Why did Linda love this book?

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.

By Beverly Flanigan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"A clearheaded study of what life can do to us and possible ways to begin again." --Carl A. Whitaker, M.D., author of Midnight Musings of a Family Therapist and coauthor of The Family Crucible Women and men who have been deeply hurt by someone they love often experience a pain that spirals out to undermine their work, relationships, self-esteem, and even their sense of reality. In Forgiving the Unforgivable, author Beverly Flanigan, a leading authority on forgiveness, defines such unforgivable injuries, explains their poisonous effects, and then guides readers out of the paralyzing anger and resentment. As a Fellow of…


Book cover of The Heart Mender: A Story of Second Chances

Lisbeth Eng Author Of In the Arms of the Enemy

From my list on World War II with unexpected love stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve long been enthralled by tales, real and fictional, that transcend the obvious and clichéd. My interest in World War II was piqued years ago while studying in Italy, when our professor regaled us with accounts of the Italian Resistance. Depictions of the “enemy” in fiction are often brutalized, and he is portrayed as less than human, compared with those on the righteous side of the battle. As a romance writer, crafting characters as living, breathing human beings, amidst the abyss of war, became my passion. Conflict is essential to a captivating plot, and what could be more intriguing than pitting heroine against hero in mortal struggle.

Lisbeth's book list on World War II with unexpected love stories

Lisbeth Eng Why did Lisbeth love this book?

Tales of enemies who become lovers – whether from warring families or rival gangs – are as old as Pyramus and Thisbe, Romeo and Juliet, and Tony and Maria.

Setting this story during an actual war heightens the tension. This book will draw you in from the start.

Josef Landermann sails aboard a German U-boat, hunting Allied supply ships in the waters of the Gulf Coast. Helen Mason is the embittered Alabama widow of a US Army Air Force pilot killed by the Luftwaffe. How Josef and Helen come together is a remarkable, enchanting true story.

Woven around themes of love and forgiveness, The Heart Mender is a thrilling page-turner that will touch your heart.

By Andy Andrews,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Can natural enemies make peace? Actually...can they fall in love? In his classic storytelling style, New York Times bestselling author Andy Andrews delivers an adventure set sharply against the warm waters and white sands of the Gulf of Mexico in WWII America.

Saddened and unable to abandon her resentment toward the Nazi war machine that took her husband's life, Helen Mason is living a bitter, lonely existence. Betrayed and left for dead, German U-boat officer Lt. Josef Landermann washes ashore in a sleepy town along the northern gulf coast, looking to Helen for survival.

As you uncover the incredible story…


Book cover of The One-In-A-Million Boy

Kelly Bennett Author Of The House That Ruth Built

From Kelly's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Word-smith Fact-gobbler Adventure-traveler Weed-picker Two-wheeling Grand

Kelly's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Plus, Kelly's 7-year-old's favorite books.

Kelly Bennett Why did Kelly love this book?

I read books three ways: as a reader, a writer, and a woman/mother/grandmother. That being said, when recommending a book, that recommendation extends to others by that author.

The One-In-A-Million Boy delighted me on all levels. Be warned: it is not an easy read; it begins after an 11-year-old boy’s death. The story, told in chapters that bounce effortlessly backwards and between viewpoint characters, tells of the boys’ parents (mostly his guitar man father) coping after losing him.

But mostly, it’s about the boy’s 104-year-old friend ala scouts’ service project, Ona Vitkus, who spurred by the boy’s challenge to set a Guinness Book of World Records for being the oldest person to do something, anything, learns there to be more, want more, live more.

It’s a rich, multi-generational story of unique, nuanced, flawed characters so charming and loveable I smiled while crying and wanted to keep them all.

By Monica Wood,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The One-In-A-Million Boy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

She may be 104 years old, but Ona Vitkus is on a mission and it's all because of THE ONE-IN-A-MILLION-BOY...

Monica Wood's unforgettable novel about a boy in a million and the 104-year-old woman who saves his family is not to be missed by readers who loved THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY, ELIZABETH IS MISSING or THE SHOCK OF THE FALL.

'A lovely, quirky novel about misfits across generations' Daily Mail

'A bittersweet story about finding friendship in the most unlikely of places' Good Housekeeping.

The story of your life never starts at the beginning. Don't they teach you…


Book cover of The Forgiveness Project: Stories for a Vengeful Age

Simon Baron-Cohen Author Of The Pattern Seekers: How Autism Drives Human Invention

From my list on exploring the human mind.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of psychology and psychiatry at Cambridge University. I've been conducting autism research for 40 years, and this has taken me deep into understanding how the mind works, in both autistic and neurotypical people. I've focused in particular on two aspects of the mind, empathy and systemizing, to understand how these develop, how individual differences in these arise, and how we can celebrate such neurodiversity and provide support for people who struggle with these. My research spans psychology, neuroscience, genetics, endocrinology, clinical practice, education, and vulnerability. 

Simon's book list on exploring the human mind

Simon Baron-Cohen Why did Simon love this book?

Maria Cantacuzino’s favourite emotion is forgiveness. I agree with her it is a powerful emotion and a good way to live. Maria founded a unique and important charity, The Forgiveness Project, which helps victims forgive the perpetrators of their crimes by understanding their back story, and gives perpetrators a chance to understand the feelings of their victim and apologise. There is a very close link between forgiveness and empathy, because when a victim forgives a perpetrator they are setting aside the immediate desire for revenge and hate, to understand the reasons why a person might have done bad things. And when a perpetrator apologises to a victim, they are no longer seeing the person as an object but can now see the person as a subject, with feelings such as pain and loss. Maria explores the limits of forgiveness and argues there are no limits, however awful the crime. Her…

By Marina Cantacuzino,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

What is forgiveness?
Are some acts unforgivable?
Can forgiveness take the place of revenge?

Powerful real-life stories from survivors and perpetrators of crime and violence reveal the true impact of forgiveness on ordinary people worldwide. Exploring forgiveness as an alternative to resentment or retaliation, the storytellers give an honest, moving account of their experiences and what part forgiveness has played in their lives. Despite extreme circumstances, their stories open the door to a society without revenge.

All royalties from the sale of this book go to The Forgiveness Project charity.


Book cover of Anger and Forgiveness: Resentment, Generosity, Justice

Gregg Easterbrook Author Of It's Better Than It Looks: Reasons for Optimism in an Age of Fear

From my list on hope for the future.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an author, I write both serious nonfiction and literary fiction. As a journalist, I have lifelong associations with The Atlantic and the Washington Monthly. I didn’t plan it, but four of my nonfiction books make an extended argument for the revival of optimism as intellectually respectable. A Moment on the Earth (1995) argued environmental trends other than greenhouse gases actually are positive, The Progress Paradox (2003) asserted material standards will keep rising but that won’t make people any happier, Sonic Boom (2009), published during the despair of the Great Recession, said the global economy would bounce back and It’s Better Than It Looks (2018) found the situation objectivity good on most major issues.

Gregg's book list on hope for the future

Gregg Easterbrook Why did Gregg love this book?

Nussbaum, a philosopher at the University of Chicago, is among the great minds of our era. In this book she shows – admittedly, at a slow pace – that ability to forgive is essential to individual love, political justice, and the smooth running of society. Today’s politics and social media cultivate recriminations, downplay the moment in which we forgive. Nussbaum describes a better way.

By Martha C. Nussbaum,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Anger is not just ubiquitous, it is also popular. Many people think it is impossible to care sufficiently for justice without anger at injustice. Many believe that it is impossible for individuals to vindicate their own self-respect or to move beyond an injury without anger. To not feel anger in those cases would be considered suspect. Is this how we should think about anger, or is anger above all a disease, deforming both the personal and the political?

In this wide-ranging book, Martha C. Nussbaum, one of our leading public intellectuals, argues that anger is conceptually confused and normatively pernicious.…


Book cover of The Friend Who Forgives Storybook: A true story about how Peter failed and Jesus forgave

Jared Neusch and Connor Shram Author Of Jesus vs. the Bad Guys

From my list on Christian children’s books on peacemaking.

Why we are passionate about this?

We are two dads, both with three kids, who are on a journey of trying our best to raise our kids in the way of Jesus. Of particular interest to us both is exploring how Jesus overcomes evil. Does He beat up the bad guys like superheroes do? Does He drop bombs on them, like nations do? With all the struggles kids experience at school—and everything they hear about evil occurring around the world—we think it’s important for kids to learn how Jesus teaches us to love our enemies, even from the earliest ages.

Jared and Connor's book list on Christian children’s books on peacemaking

Jared Neusch and Connor Shram Why did Jared and Connor love this book?

As we dive into the difficult work of enemy love and peacemaking, we quickly discover that loving someone often begins with forgiving them. And further, once you forgive someone, this opens the door to authentic friendship.

I have some comical memories of saying “bless you” to a particular bully in school as though this were a magic trick that would completely change the situation. While it may have been a good start, I now realize that forgiveness is more about an ongoing posture of the heart than it is about using “magic words” to fix everything.

This book doesn’t just show us how Jesus forgives us (through the story of Peter’s restoration), it also gives kids a roadmap to understand the deeper realities of forgiveness.

By Dan DeWitt, Catalina Echeverri (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Friend Who Forgives Storybook as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

Bible storybook that points young children to Jesus, the friend who forgives.

Do you ever talk before you think? Mess up? Let others down?

That’s what Peter did, again and again and again, and it led him to abandoning his best friend, Jesus.

Peter loved Jesus. He felt terrible when he pretended not to know him. He thought all was lost when Jesus died.

But after Jesus rose from the dead, he went and found Peter and forgave him. He explained that his death took the punishment for all of Peter’s mistakes and that his resurrection showed that the penalty…


Book cover of The Power of Forgiveness

Ellen Cassedy Author Of We Are Here: Memories of the Lithuanian Holocaust

From my list on hope and understanding after the Holocaust.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ellen Cassedy explores the ways that people, and countries, can engage with the difficult truths of the Holocaust in order to build a better future. She researched Lithuania’s encounter with its Jewish heritage, including the Holocaust, for ten years. Her book breaks new ground by shining a spotlight on how brave people – Jews and non-Jews – are facing the past and building mutual understanding. Cassedy is the winner of numerous awards and a frequent speaker about the Holocaust, Lithuania, and Yiddish language and literature.  

Ellen's book list on hope and understanding after the Holocaust

Ellen Cassedy Why did Ellen love this book?

Eva Mozes Kor was ten years old when she was sent to Auschwitz. As a survivor, she became an eloquent – and controversial – activist on behalf of forgiveness.  Her book tells the gripping story of how she freed herself from the burden of hatred.  Not everyone will agree with her stance, but everyone will be challenged and moved by it.

By Eva Mozes Kor,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Eva Mozes Kor was just ten years old when she was sent to Auschwitz. While her parents and two older sisters were murdered there, she and her twin sister Miriam were subjected to medical experiments at the hands of Dr. Joseph Mengele. Later on, when Miriam fell ill due to the long-term effects of the experiments, Eva embarked on a search for their torturers. But what she discovered was the remedy for her troubled soul; she was able to forgive them.

Told through anecdotes and in response to letters and questions at her public appearances, she imparts a powerful lesson…


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

John Poniske Author Of Snakebit: Prelude to War

From my list on reflecting on our current cultural impasse.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was raised in Springfield, Illinois, what is considered Lincoln’s backyard. I grew up fascinated by history, and the Civil War in particular. The trouble was, its racial overtones always bothered me. Later in life, I became a high school history and journalism teacher and turned my interest in historical-based board gaming into a business I called Indulgent Wife Enterprises (because my wife is so incredibly supportive). To date, I have published 30 board games based mostly on American conflicts. When I retired, I began the ambitious project of writing a strongly researched account of the divisions leading up to the Civil War and through to the Reconstruction period that followed. 

John's book list on reflecting on our current cultural impasse

John Poniske Why did John love this book?

Having been raised with a love of history, particularly the Civil War, I have always sought to connect our seemingly irreconcilable differences to that great conflict. Here, I was reminded that our differences stem as much from our failed attempt at Reconstruction following the war as from the war itself.

I can’t believe we came so close to resolving our racial failings only to entrench them. I firmly believe this period in history defines who we are today.

By David W. Blight,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Race and Reunion as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Bancroft Prize
Winner of the Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize
Winner of the Merle Curti award
Winner of the Frederick Douglass Prize

No historical event has left as deep an imprint on America's collective memory as the Civil War. In the war's aftermath, Americans had to embrace and cast off a traumatic past. David Blight explores the perilous path of remembering and forgetting, and reveals its tragic costs to race relations and America's national reunion.In 1865, confronted with a ravaged landscape and a torn America, the North and South began a slow and painful process of reconciliation. The…


Book cover of God Sleeps in Rwanda: A Journey of Transformation

Michela Wrong Author Of Do Not Disturb: The Story of a Political Murder and an African Regime Gone Bad

From my list on Central Africa (from a journalist based there).

Why am I passionate about this?

After working as a foreign correspondent in Italy and France I was sent by Reuters news agency to Cote d’Ivoire and what was then Zaire, the latter posting coinciding with the shocking start of the genocide in neighboring Rwanda. It was the kind of assignment you don’t forget, and when I moved to the Financial Times I continued following the larger-than-life dramas unfolding in Africa’s Great Lakes region. I’ve now written five books, the first – In the Footsteps of Mr Kurtz - about Mobutu Sese Seko's imprint on the Democratic Republic of Congo and the latest – Do Not Disturb - looking at personalities and events I first started writing about a quarter of a century ago. You keep going back.

Michela's book list on Central Africa (from a journalist based there)

Michela Wrong Why did Michela love this book?

The author, a Tutsi genocide survivor, was once a young Rwandan politician who deeply admired Paul Kagame and seemed destined for prominent public office. Instead, from his position as parliamentary speaker, he watched as his hero steadily emasculated the judiciary, undermined the country’s Hutu president – a symbol of ethnic reconciliation - and sabotaged parliamentary democracy itself,  eventually fleeing the country when his own life was threatened. His book not only offers great insights into the workings of village life in a tiny African country traumatized by its violent past, it’s a step-by-step analysis of how a dictatorship takes cynical, relentless hold.

By Joseph Sebarenzi, Laura Mullane,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Joseph Sebarenzi’s parents, seven siblings, and countless other family members were among 800,000 Tutsi brutally murdered over the course of ninety days in 1994 by extremist Rwandan Hutu—an efficiency that exceeded even that of the Nazi Holocaust. His father sent him away to school in Congo as a teenager, telling him, “If we are killed, you will survive.” When Sebarenzi returned to Rwanda after the genocide, he was elected speaker of parliament, only to be forced into a daring escape again when he learned he was the target of an assassination plot.

Poetic and deeply moving, God Sleeps in Rwanda…