The most recommended books about heresy and heretics

Who picked these books? Meet our 28 experts.

28 authors created a book list connected to heresy and heretics, and here are their favorite heresy and heretics books.
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Book cover of Spy for the Night Riders

Karen Meyer Author Of Secrets in the Sky Nest

From my list on a peek into the life of real historical figures.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a history nut since junior high trips to prehistoric Indian Mounds in Ohio. I transcribed an early town settler’s diary as a high school project. Traveling with my Air Force hubby gave me a window into faraway places. Allan Eckert’s narrative history of pioneer times grabbed my imagination. My children would love these gripping tales of settler versus Shawnee, yet they’d never crack the two-inch thick volume. I tried writing historical fiction on their level by bringing a young protagonist into the story. I had no idea I’d follow that first book with eight more, delving into the history of various famous Ohioans. 

Karen's book list on a peek into the life of real historical figures

Karen Meyer Why did Karen love this book?

Through the eyes of the young protagonist, I was immersed in this slice of Martin Luther’s life. The Luther we get to know plays the lute and chuckles at his own jokes, even in the midst of defending his beliefs from those in power. Young Karl Shumacher, Luther’s servant, becomes a key player when they travel to Wurms for the Imperial Council. Later, when Luther is kidnapped and taken to a lonely castle to keep him from being executed for heresy, Karl assists him. Readers (like me) who get hooked on the Jackson’s style of biographies of church leaders can choose from 39 more.

By Dave Jackson, Neta Jackson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Spy for the Night Riders as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Introducing Martin Luther

Karl Schumacher was fifteen when he came to the German city of Wittenberg in 1520 seeking an education. He had been very fortunate that the esteemed university professor Doctor Martin Luther, had taken him into his household as a servant. Luther’s promise of tutoring Karl in exchange for his labor was the chance of a lifetime-until a poster on the church door declared his master a heretic!

Karl is asked to travel with Doctor Luther to appear before the emperor’s Imperial Council in the city of Worms. Will his life be at stake as well as Luther’s?…


Book cover of Count Scar

P.G. Badzey Author Of Whitehorse Peak

From my list on fantasy with mystery, intrigue, and dash of faith.

Why am I passionate about this?

Tolkien and Lewis got their hooks into me when I was a teen and this led me to spend many hours playing RPGs, devouring fantasy novels by the armful. Unfortunately, many books were disdainful of faith (particularly of the medieval European variety) but the respectful ones inspired me. Years later, I decided to write my own novels and add a science-based perspective from 20+ years as an engineer. The result is a series of 5 epic fantasy novels. I have plans for more, branching out into sci-fi, romance, children’s books, and historical fiction. My recommendations showcase a few of the writers who inspired me and still provide a model for my work.

P.G.'s book list on fantasy with mystery, intrigue, and dash of faith

P.G. Badzey Why did P.G. love this book?

A rousing tale of a scarred count sent to revitalize a dilapidated province in an alternate-world version of medieval France, this gem by Brittain and Bouchard features the interaction of religion and magic, engaging characters, a budding romance, and a whodunit worthy of a mystery novel. I especially liked the friendship between the Count and a magically-talented monk and how the authors handled the relationship between the Church and wizardry (a trait of Brittain’s other works from the Yurt series). Since it’s the first in a series, there is a follow-on and hopefully, more to come.

By C. Dale Brittain, Robert A. Bouchard,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Magic, heresy, and treachery: Count Galoran must face them all to keep his high castle.
- Galoran is a scarred warrior and younger son, cast aside by the emperor when his days of service seem over.
- Melchior is a priest trained in the difficult and highly dangerous magical arts, with dark family secrets to hide.
The two are thrown together when Galoran unexpectedly inherits the castle and county of Peyrefixade, and Melchior is assigned as his spiritual advisor. Galoran soon learns that others covet his castle, the heretics who were supposed to have been defeated in the great war…


Book cover of Norse Myths: Gods of the Vikings

Alice Mills Author Of The World Treasury of Myths & Legends

From my list on Norse myths and legends.

Why am I passionate about this?

Alice has had a passion for myths ever since reading Greek myths as a small child. Alice's most recent book is a retelling of myths and legends worldwide. As well as editing several anthologies for children, she has published a book on mythology and another on the fantasy writer Mervyn Peake, and she has many scholarly publications on fantasy and children's literature.

Alice's book list on Norse myths and legends

Alice Mills Why did Alice love this book?

The way these stories are phrased here makes this my favourite set of retellings. Crossley-Holland’s choice of words evokes the original Norse. He uses alliteration, mainly when describing land and sea, and he is very careful to use words that come from Old English, a sister language to Old Norse, in preference to words from Latin, Greek, and post-Latin languages. There are plenty of other retellings that cover similar ground, but none with quite this joy in the energy of the original.

By Kevin Crossley-Holland,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Norse Myths as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With colour artwork by Gillian McClure, a collection of Norse myths.


Book cover of Church 3.0: Upgrades for the Future of the Church

Cory Hartman Author Of Future Church: Seven Laws of Real Church Growth

From my list on making disciples today the way Jesus did.

Why am I passionate about this?

Cory Hartman (DMin, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) collaboratively crafts practical tools, interactive processes, and breakthrough content for the Future Church Company, three interconnected organizations that exist to help the church embody the movement Jesus founded. I previously served as a pastor for thirteen years and founded Fulcrum Content, a gospel communication training organization.

Cory's book list on making disciples today the way Jesus did

Cory Hartman Why did Cory love this book?

Imagine you and a band of others begin living out what Steve Addison describes, and as a result, more people you’re talking to embrace Jesus and start following his way with you. Your group has changed; now what do you do?

Neil Cole is a leading practitioner of a model known variously as “organic,” “simple,” or “house church”—networked groups with scant formal organization meeting in homes and public spaces. In Church 3.0, Cole argues for and describes the practicalities of this church style. Although in our book Future Church Will Mancini and I contend that there is still a valid and valuable role for the institutional church today, Cole’s work stimulates important thinking about how to evolve it to make disciples where people actually live, work, and play.

By Neil Cole,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Church 3.0 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An expert practitioner answers to questions about the burgeoning organic church movement Neil Cole's best-selling book Organic Church described the fastest growing segment of contemporary Christianity-the so-called organic church. Now in this next-step book, he answers questions about how to deal with theological and organizational issues that come up. He talks about issues such has what to do with finances, children, heresy, leader training, and rituals and ordinances. Without the top-down structure of a denomination, even people who are proponents of this small, house-church model worry that they are not doing it right. Offers an important resource for anyone involved…


Book cover of All Who Go Do Not Return: A Memoir

Brian Rush McDonald Author Of The Long Surrender: A Memoir about Losing My Religion

From my list on people who left life-defining ideologies.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became involved in a rigid religious movement as a teen and prepared for the ministry at a fundamentalist college and seminary. I took this ideology to its logical extreme and became a foreign missionary. I know from the inside how such an ideology takes hold of a person and how difficult it is to escape its grasp, especially when family and career are intertwined. Through my own struggle with depression and anxiety, I scoured books to help understand myself and faith development, eventually earning a Ph.D in counseling, emphasizing developmental theory. I know from personal experience what it means to walk away from a way of thinking that has defined much of your life.

Brian's book list on people who left life-defining ideologies

Brian Rush McDonald Why did Brian love this book?

Shulem Deen grew up in the culture of Hassidic Judaism in New York City. With limited education and awkward English, he decides to explore the world beyond the insular community in which he has lived his entire life. Despite warnings from his wife and recriminations from his community, he eventually decides to leave and seek a new life for which his previous existence has left him completely unprepared. I’m intrigued that a person has the courage to push the boundaries of his existence even though no one in his family or community supports him.

By Shulem Deen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked All Who Go Do Not Return as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Shulem Deen was raised to believe that questions are dangerous. As a member of the Skveres, one of the most insular Hasidic sects in the US the US, he knows little of the outside world. After turning on the radio, his curiosity leads him to a feverish inquiry into the tenets of his religious beliefs and his faith unravels. In All Who Go Do Not Return, Deen bravely traces his harrowing loss of faith.


Book cover of Towing Jehovah

Jass Richards Author Of The Blasphemy Tour

From my list on that dare to make fun of religion and/or gods.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was raised to be a Roman Catholic. I was not raised to think very deeply, but I did anyway. Eventually.  When I was around fifteen, I started asking questions that irritated my parents. They referred me to our priest. Who basically patted me on the head and showed me the door. When the Pope said 'no contraception,' the shit really hit the fan. I haven't looked back. And I'm quite vocal about it because, damn it, religious beliefs and religions do damage, not the least of which involves hurting and killing people. (As for being funny, that's just icing on the cake.)

Jass' book list on that dare to make fun of religion and/or gods

Jass Richards Why did Jass love this book?

I confess I'm more attracted to Morrow's themes than his actual writing, but still. Towing Jehovah is premised on God having died and his corpse needs to be towed to the Arctic for preservation. It's part of a trilogy (the second and third books are titled Blameless in Abaddon and The Eternal Footman); to be honest, I don't remember reading the other two, but I must have...  Also worth mentioning is Morrow's Bible Stories for AdultsAll irreverent. All funny in a dark way.

By James Morrow,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On his 50th birthday, Anthony Van Horne meets the despondent angel Raphael, who tells him that God is dead, his body in the sea; and that Van Horne must captain the supertanker that will now tow the two-mile-long divine corpse northwards through the Atlantic. By the author of "City of Truth".


Book cover of Veil of the Dragon

Walter Rhein Author Of The Reader of Acheron

From my list on from criminally oppressed and exploited authors.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been working professionally as a writer for twenty-five years. I’m nothing close to a household name, but a number of my articles have gone viral throughout the years. I’ve had educators reach out to mention they’ve taught my work at both the high school and college levels. Writing is an occupation of passion, and the authors I’ve mentioned are all talented and passionate about their craft. It’s rare to find people who speak the truth anywhere in our society. These writers don’t just speak the truth, they make it sing.

Walter's book list on from criminally oppressed and exploited authors

Walter Rhein Why did Walter love this book?

Barczak’s work belongs to that realm of poetic fiction that is occupied by Robert E. Howard and Janet Morris. Veil of the Dragon plays out like a vivid nightmare. This is the kind of fantasy novel that makes you want to pause in the middle of the paragraph you’re reading, go back to the beginning, and read out loud just to see how the words sound. Poetic fantasy takes you to another level.

By Tom Barczak,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Chaelus, Roan Lord of the House of Malius is raised from the dead by the hand of a child. His kingdom stolen by the evil dragon, Gorond, Chaelus’ only hope to reclaim his throne rests with the child knight who saved him, the heretical order to which the child belongs, and the truth about Chaelus which they alone protect.


Book cover of Eisenhorn: The Omnibus

Rory Surtain Author Of Psyker

From my list on fantasy set in a dark, dystopian world or universe.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love dystopian science fantasy for the fact that it defines its own reality. The distant, magical aspects of every dystopian world create separation from the world we live in. The reader must cling to the characters, accept their motives and flaws, and finish the ride no matter where it goes. Not every plot needs to reform the status quo. Star Wars was the white-washed exception, and even that got dark at times. Combining flawed characters with flawed settings makes a novel compelling without the need for overly fantastic powers or world-altering events. Sure, I include those too, but futuristic dystopia offers plenty of challenges for simply surviving each day.

Rory's book list on fantasy set in a dark, dystopian world or universe

Rory Surtain Why did Rory love this book?

A different kind of hero. Cerebral and self-contained. Eisenhorn is an Inquisitor who maneuvers within the system and operates within his own complex reality, fighting a never-ending war against all aspects of Chaos. He finds allies in impossible places and uses them to his advantage. Part mystery, part adventure, and expertly crafted to portray the darkest of futures, it is the quintessential dystopian science fantasy. While some may question the rigid morality of the future day, Eisenhorn chooses results over dogma, choosing the lesser of two evils. I learned that characters must choose their own reality, adapting to the dystopia in which they reside. It’s a compelling human trait that transcends any universe.  

By Dan Abnett,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Inquisitor Gregor Eisenhorn is an Imperial inquisitor, one of the tirelss defenders of humanity. With his warband he scourges the galaxy, walking in the shadows of darkness in order to root out heresy. When that heresy is found to infiltrate the hierarchy of the Imperium and the Inquisition itself, Eisnehorn must rely on himself alone to deal with it – even if it means making deals with the enemy and compromising everything he ahs ever believed in.

Read it because
It's the whole classic trilogy that remains top of many Warhammer 40,000 fans' must-read lists, And in Pariah, there's a…


Book cover of Grendel

John Wiswell Author Of Someone You Can Build a Nest In

From my list on showing the human side of monsters.

Why am I passionate about this?

I never outgrew the curiosity of wanting to know more about the things we fear. Plenty of monsters are just neat! But the more you learn about them, whether they’re animals like bears and sharks or figures of myth like werewolves and dragons, the more interesting they become. I wanted to take audiences deep inside a skin unlike their own so they could understand how it feels to be cast out and how much a monster might look down on us. Because the more you look at monsters, the more you recognize us in them.

John's book list on showing the human side of monsters

John Wiswell Why did John love this book?

One of the classic novels about monsters having internal lives. Grendel doesn’t even survive the first half of the Beowulf poem.

But what was his life like? This creature who went into rages over music and merriment? This outsider who clearly had no one to commune with? Where there could just be pathos, Gardner injects surprising dorkiness and humor that further round out Grendel’s existence. And there’s a huge bonus in the poem’s dragon also showing up as an utter weirdo neighbor.

By John Gardner,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This classic and much lauded retelling of Beowulf follows the monster Grendel as he learns about humans and fights the war at the center of the Anglo Saxon classic epic.

"An extraordinary achievement."—New York Times

The first and most terrifying monster in English literature, from the great early epic Beowulf, tells his own side of the story in this frequently banned book. This is the novel William Gass called "one of the finest of our contemporary fictions."


Book cover of Children of the Furnace

Mandy Hager Author Of The Nature of Ash

From my list on speculative YA fiction from Aotearoa New Zealand.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a writer from Aotearoa New Zealand, I’ve always been interested in social justice and human rights, and my own writing explores such issues, including who holds the power and who exerts the control. By writing about real-world issues in a speculative future, it allows us to peel back the layers of conditioning and look at ourselves and our actions through the eyes of an outsider – which forces us to examine our best and worst human traits. I love the way speculative fiction can do this, and I love that it challenges us to do better.  

Mandy's book list on speculative YA fiction from Aotearoa New Zealand

Mandy Hager Why did Mandy love this book?

The first in a trilogy, it takes a little while to adjust your reading ‘ear’ to the strange new language used, but then you’re rewarded by another great speculative cli-fi novel, with complex, layered characters, lots of tension, and a plot that will challenge you to think harder about how climate change may affect the future. 

By Brin Murray,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Truth died in the fires. Only through courage can it be born again. Under the iron rule of the Revelayshun, one boy discovers the truth… ‘Ty promised my ma he’d bring me up right. Bring him up to hear the rhythm beat, she said, and to feel the heartsblood warm. Not Strong – not in their way – but strong in the ways of the heart.’ When the Revelayshun murders his pa, Wil discovers through savage inquisition that he’s marked as a Heater, one of the old-time heretics who burned up the world. But Wil holds the key to a…