The best mysticism books

Who picked these books? Meet our 70 experts.

70 authors created a book list connected to mysticism, and here are their favorite mysticism books.
Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission

What type of mysticism book?



By Carl W. Ernst,

Book cover of Sufism: An Introduction to the Mystical Tradition of Islam

Juan R.I. Cole Author Of Muhammad: Prophet of Peace Amid the Clash of Empires

From the list on Islam and Islamic history.

Who am I?

My interest in Islam was kindled when I lived in Eritrea, East Africa as a teenager, and in my youth fell in love with the mystical Sufi tradition. I went on to live in the Muslim world for over a decade, making many dear friends whose kindness overwhelmed me. I studied the Qur’an in Cairo and exploring various corners of Muslim civilization, including in India. I have taught Islam and Middle East History for nearly 40 years at the University of Michigan and devoted myself to writing several books and many essays on Islam. For geopolitical reasons, the subject often gets a bad rap these days, but it is an impressive religion that produced a beautiful, intricate civilization. I hope you enjoy these books about it.

Juan's book list on Islam and Islamic history

Discover why each book is one of Juan's favorite books.

Why did Juan love this book?

Ernst writes about the Muslim Sufi tradition for the general public with passion and verve, making sometimes complex ideas intimately accessible and conveying the excitement and passion of male and female Muslim seekers after union with their divine beloved. He covers Sufi forms of worship, the role of saints and intercession, and ecstatic poetry, dance, and song. It is a fascinating exploration of a widespread and essential Muslim spiritual tradition that contrasts with the sober, puritanical Salafi strain with which many readers may be more familiar.

By Carl W. Ernst,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The classic introduction to the philosophies, practices, and history of Sufism, the mystical tradition of Islam

The Sufis are as diverse as the countries in which they've flourished—from Morocco to India to China—and as varied as their distinctive forms of art, music, poetry, and dance. They are said to represent the mystical heart of Islam, yet the term Sufism is notoriously difficult to define, as it means different things to different people both within and outside the tradition.
With that fact in mind, Carl Ernst explores the broadest range of Sufi philosophies and practices to provide one of the most…

The End of Faith

By Sam Harris,

Book cover of The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason

Maren Showkeir Author Of Yoga Wisdom at Work: Finding Sanity Off the Mat and On the Job

From the list on godless heathens seeking spiritual enlightenment.

Who am I?

Like many people who consciously decided to leave the constrictive religion to which they were randomly born (and raised), I see retrospectively that the decision was an essential act of self-preservation and self-actualization. I abandoned the transactional relationship with a Judging God, including its barter of mindless obedience in exchange for a heavenly eternity after death. In doing so, I discovered my true soul. Through “godless” practices and continual seeking, I have discovered a profound, meaningful spirituality. The books on this list are among so many that have expanded my thinking and helped me become, I hope, a better human along the way. It is my pleasure to recommend them to you.

Maren's book list on godless heathens seeking spiritual enlightenment

Discover why each book is one of Maren's favorite books.

Why did Maren love this book?

I dithered ferociously about including this title, because Harris’s tone can be off-putting and because he uses sexist language — just like the scriptures do! He should know better. Even so, I loved this book for its science-based arguments that skewer organized religion, and for his articulation of vague questions that had been tumbling in my mind without coming into focus enough to ask them. A few big takeaways for me: The “sacred” texts embraced by major world religions can, and are, used to defend almost any atrocity toward other humans. Harris also makes what should be an obvious point about the oft-touted benefits of religion: Universal love, good works, community, teaching values, etc. can be achieved without dogma or belief in a Supreme Deity. Finally, Harris allows for and honors the “mystical,” connecting human experiences that cannot (yet) be explained by science.

By Sam Harris,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In The End of Faith, Sam Harris delivers a startling analysis of the clash between reason and religion in the modern world. He offers a vivid, historical tour of our willingness to suspend reason in favor of religious beliefs-even when these beliefs inspire the worst human atrocities. While warning against the encroachment of organized religion into world politics, Harris draws on insights from neuroscience, philosophy, and Eastern mysticism to deliver a call for a truly modern foundation for ethics and spirituality that is both secular and humanistic. Winner of the 2005 PEN/Martha Albrand Award for Nonfiction.

Book cover of Mysticism and Logic and Other Essays

Andrew B. Newberg Author Of The Varieties of Spiritual Experience: 21st Century Research and Perspectives

From the list on the science of spiritual experiences.

Who am I?

Since I was a child, I have been fascinated by the question, “What is the nature of reality, and how can we know it?”  To engage this question, I have explored neuroscience throughout my career, trying to understand how our brain perceives reality. During that time, I have also come to recognize the profound importance of religious, spiritual, and philosophical approaches to this question. I have been particularly fascinated by the intense spiritual experiences that people throughout time and all cultures have described. My work in this book and throughout my career has looked at this intersection of spirituality and the brain, a field, sometimes referred to as Neurotheology.

Andrew's book list on the science of spiritual experiences

Discover why each book is one of Andrew's favorite books.

Why did Andrew love this book?

Mysticism and Logic is a significant work written by British philosopher Bertrand Russell. It has always been a favorite of mine as it engages two seemingly contradictory aspects of human thought: mysticism and logic.

He delves into the nature of mystical experiences and attempts to analyze them with the principles of logical reasoning. By exploring these contrasting perspectives, Russell invites readers to question and critically examine different ways of understanding the world and reality. While acknowledging the profound influence of mystical experiences on human thought and culture, he subjects mystical beliefs and experiences to logical scrutiny.

By applying principles of rationality, he challenges the coherence and evidential basis of mystical claims. This critical evaluation encourages us to approach mystical experiences with a balanced and critical mindset that I feel is at the heart of neurotheology.

By Bertrand Russell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mysticism and Logic and Other Essays as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

First published in 1918, this collection from famous philosopher Bertrand Russell contains previously published works slightly refined for their new printing. Among these essays are: . "Mysticism and Logic" . "The Place of Science in Liberal Education" . "On the Notion of Cause" . "The Ultimate Constituents of Matter" As an analytic philosopher, Russell's work focuses on the use of logic and science to explore philosophical ideas. And, conversely, he uses philosophy to study scientific systems and scientific inquiry. He opens the book with "Mysticism and Logic," a discussion of the two major impulses in human and philosophical thought. Here…

The Alchemical Tarot

By Rosemary E. Guiley,

Book cover of The Alchemical Tarot

Peter Mark Adams Author Of The Game of Saturn: Decoding the Sola-Busca Tarocchi

From the list on the Esoteric Tarot.

Who am I?

I have been a tarot devotee since my early teens and have offered both training and divinatory sessions using the tarot. My book on the fifteenth-century tarot deck known as the Sola-Busca, The Game of Saturn, was nominated The Best Esoteric Book of the Year and was reviewed in two of the world’s leading academic journals. My non-fiction is published by Inner Traditions and Scarlet Imprint; literary prose and poetry by Corbel Stone Press and Paralibrum. My essays on energy healing appear in the peer-reviewed Paranthropology Journal and the Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology as well as on my page.

Peter's book list on the Esoteric Tarot

Discover why each book is one of Peter's favorite books.

Why did Peter love this book?

This truly great, visionary re-conceptualisation of tarot imagery combines profound mystical insight with inspired artistry to render familiar tarot imagery through the transformative lens of alchemy. The Alchemical Tarot deck is one of the most outstandingly beautiful and inspiring decks in existence. Based on my own initiatory experience I can confirm that The Alchemical Tarot is an inspired, true, and faithful transmission of the esoteric current underpinning the notion of an esoteric tarot.

By Rosemary E. Guiley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Robert Place's Tarot deck, beautifully illustrated in the style of original Renaissance alchemical art, takes you deep into the alchemical mysteries--and unlocks their secrets.

Camber of Culdi

By Katherine Kurtz,

Book cover of Camber of Culdi

Suzanne DeKeyzer James Author Of The Stone Harp

From the list on fantasy binge reads.

Who am I?

I started writing romance stories when I was about 15 and it was terrible fan fiction with me as the main character interacting with the “romantic hero,” but after a while, I got tired of that, and then I discovered my author mentor, Anne McCaffery and I began to think about creating actual fantasy characters and having them interact with one another in different worlds. The Stone Harp also let me have somewhat of an extra role in the books. My background in art and graphic design also let me use those skills in designing covers and marketing materials as well as illustrations in The Stone Harp and in other projects currently in the works.   

Suzanne's book list on fantasy binge reads

Discover why each book is one of Suzanne's favorite books.

Why did Suzanne love this book?

This book is filled with a blend of magic, mages, and medieval mysticism! A complete fan of all things medieval, I found this book at the beginning of my jump into world-building. Kurtz’s character development is stellar and taught me to try even harder to develop characters a reader could love or hate. Throughout the entire “Dernyni” series you find many characters that you grow to care deeply about and some you cheer when they meet their demise!

By Katherine Kurtz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Magic and mysticism come alive in this magnificent historical fantasy from the New York Times–bestselling author of the Chronicles of the Deryni.

Long before Camber was revered as a saint, he was a Deryni noble, one of the most respected of the magical race whose arcane skills set them apart from ordinary humans in the medieval kingdom of Gwynedd.
For nearly a century, Camber’s family has had little choice but to loyally serve the ruling Festils, Deryni usurpers who employed dark magic to wrest the throne from the rightful Haldane liege.
Now, the land suffers under the tyranny of King…

The Mystic Masseur

By V.S. Naipaul,

Book cover of The Mystic Masseur

Raymond A. Saraceni Author Of Off the Beach in the Caribbean: Travels in the Little Leeward Islands

From the list on accompaning your Caribbean Sojourn.

Who am I?

Over the years, I have had the good fortune to visit various ports of call through the eastern Caribbean and have been struck repeatedly not by the sameness but by the diversity of things and people. I also began to lament that those who visit the islands are encouraged to do so as vacationers rather than as travelers – to borrow a binary from the great Paul Bowles. Encountering a place with any sense of generosity necessitates reading about it, and while the titles I have included here represent some of those that I have found most rewarding and exciting, the full list is as long and varied as the archipelago of islands itself.           

Raymond's book list on accompaning your Caribbean Sojourn

Discover why each book is one of Raymond's favorite books.

Why did Raymond love this book?

Every so often you come across a book that opens up a world you have never encountered before. This 1957 novel by Trinidadian noble laureate V.S. Naipaul is one such book. Its account of the enterprising Ganesh Ramsumair – a Trinidadian of South Asian descent – and his rise from obscurity to national prominence is recounted with a satirical wink and rendered in delicious prose. Every scene is meticulously observed, and every character impeccably drawn – particularly Ganesh’s cantankerous father-in-law and sometime rival, Ramlogan. Sly, sardonic, and Dickensian in its (generally good-natured) reflection upon human frailty, The Mystic Masseur remains as fresh and fun today as ever.

By V.S. Naipaul,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Two of V. S. Naipaul's earliest novels, already displaying his humour, endless inventiveness and imaginitive brilliance.

The Mystic Masseur tells the story of Ganesh, who at the beginning of the novel is a struggling masseur at a time when 'masseurs were ten a penny in Trinidad'. From failed primary-school teacher and masseur to author, revered mystic and MBE, his is a journey memorable for its hilarious and bewildering success. Naipaul's clarity of style, humorous touch and powerful characterization are all in evidence in this, his first book. Funny, touching and perceptive, this novel is a wonderful introduction for readers new…


By Jay Griffiths,

Book cover of Wild: An Elemental Journey

Jules Pretty Author Of Sea Sagas of the North

From the list on stories and place since writing began.

Who am I?

Alienation from nature has contributed to environmental problems in today’s world. Until recently in human history, our daily lives were intertwined with living things. I've always been keenly interested in the intersection between people and nature, between ecology and society. How should we live, what have we done lately? Observation today can bring much-needed respect, and if we are lucky, we will find that animals, birds, and places intercept us in our wanderings, helping to bring forth distinctive and personal stories. There is danger, the seas are mighty, many monsters lurk in the dark. But can be silence too. Pull up a chair by the blazing fire, come listen to those voices.

Jules' book list on stories and place since writing began

Discover why each book is one of Jules' favorite books.

Why did Jules love this book?

This is the most intense nature-writing and storytelling, as if written by bear or tiger, by the rainforest tree or tropical sea itself. Jay Griffiths becomes Joseph Campbell’s hero with a thousand faces, as we travel out in life, across the threshold and leaving behind ordinary world. Myth is story, and it is also how we live, battling against personal and historical limitations. Jay finds the secret openings and weaves an Odyssey to the wildness of earth and sea, water and fire. On the heroic journey, we are repeatedly tested, and come back with an elixir. Story itself becomes currency and guide. The monk and mystic, Meister Eckhart of Thuringia, wrote in the early 1300s, “There are many ways, Some are crowded, others less travelled, But every way, is the right one.”

By Jay Griffiths,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


Part travelogue, part manifesto for wildness as an essential character of life, Wild is a one-of-a-kind book from a one-of-a-kind author

'Undefinable, untameable, profound and extraordinary' Observer

'I took seven years over this work, spent all I had, my time, money and energy. Part of the journey was a green riot and part a deathly bleakness. I got ill, I got well. I went to the freedom fighters of West Papua and sang my head off in their highlands. I met cannibals infinitely kinder and more trustworthy than the murderous missionaries who evangelize…

A Rose for Emily

By William Faulkner,

Book cover of A Rose for Emily

Vicki Olsen Author Of A Sparrow Falls

From the list on vulnerable protagonists with family secrets.

Who am I?

My idyllic childhood while following my father, a US Air Force JAG officer, around the country and around the world did not prepare me to understand and recognize an abusive relationship. I had never seen or experienced abuse until I married. After twenty years of emotional abuse, which eventually led to domestic violence, I was able to leave it behind. It is only with therapy that I came to understand the early warning signs, why I had ignored them and why I stayed so long. While preparing to write A Sparrow Falls, I read many personal accounts of domestic violence and child abuse and conducted an interview with a survivor of child sexual abuse.

Vicki's book list on vulnerable protagonists with family secrets

Discover why each book is one of Vicki's favorite books.

Why did Vicki love this book?

I cheated a little here; this one isn’t a novel, it is instead, a short story (or perhaps a novella). I couldn’t put it down and stayed up into the wee hours reading it in a single sitting. Granted, it is a short story, but this is still an unusual feat for me. 

What an unforgettable ending.

If you haven’t experienced classic Southern Gothic, this is a wonderful introduction to the genre...follow it with Flannery O’Connor’s “Wise Blood” and you will be hooked. If your high school English teacher did not introduce you to William Faulkner, A Rose For Emily is a great place to start – or “As I Lay Dying.” 

Faulkner’s characters are among some of the most memorable in American literature.

By William Faulkner,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Rose for Emily as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The short tale A Rose for Emily was first published on April 30, 1930, by American author William Faulkner. This narrative is set in Faulkner's fictional city of Jefferson, Mississippi, in his fictional county of Yoknapatawpha County. It was the first time Faulkner's short tale had been published in a national magazine.
Emily Grierson, an eccentric spinster, is the subject of A Rose for Emily. The peculiar circumstances of Emily's existence are described by a nameless narrator, as are her strange interactions with her father and her lover, Yankee road worker Homer Barron.

Holistic Tarot

By Benebell Wen,

Book cover of Holistic Tarot: An Integrative Approach to Using Tarot for Personal Growth

Laura Perry Author Of The Minoan Tarot

From the list on to make Tarot seem less intimidating.

Who am I?

I began reading Tarot in high school – or at least, trying to. Like most people, I was pretty intimidated starting out. It took several teachers, a stack of books, and a lot of years before I understood that Tarot cards are simply repositories for symbols of the human experience. That’s how they continue to be so popular: they speak to something deep within us all. It was only natural that my art endeavors and my passion for the ancient Minoans would eventually dovetail with my love of Tarot. The end result was The Minoan Tarot, which I’m delighted to share with you along with these excellent Tarot books.

Laura's book list on to make Tarot seem less intimidating

Discover why each book is one of Laura's favorite books.

Why did Laura love this book?

If you’ve ever thought about using the Tarot for personal development instead of just divination, but didn’t know where to start, Holistic Tarot is the resource for you. Tarot cards are no substitute for a good therapist, but in this book, Benebell Wen shows you how to use the cards to better understand your emotions and desires and to help you remove blockages to your creativity and satisfaction with life. This is a structured and methodical approach that will give you practical results.

By Benebell Wen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Designed for beginning as well as experienced tarot readers, Holistic Tarot offers a fresh and easy-to-follow approach to the use of the tarot deck for tapping into subconscious knowledge and creativity. The tarot deck has been used as a divination tool for more than two centuries; while the tarot is still most commonly thought of as "fortune telling," the true power of the tarot lies in its ability to channel a clear path for our deep intuition to shine through. Consulting the tarot can help clear creativity blockages, clarify ambitions, work through complex decisions, and make sense of emotions and…

Let's Get Visible

By David Gaughran,

Book cover of Let's Get Visible: How To Get Noticed And Sell More Books

Scott Lorenz Author Of Book Title Generator: A Proven System in Naming Your Book

From the list on how to market and promote a book.

Who am I?

I am a book publicist and President of Westwind Book Marketing, a public relations and marketing firm that has a special knack for working with authors to help them get all the publicity they deserve and more. I work with bestselling authors and self-published authors promoting all types of books, whether it's their first book or their 15th book. I’ve handled publicity for books by CEOs, CIA Officers, Navy SEALS, Homemakers, Fitness Gurus, Doctors, Lawyers, and Adventurers. My clients have been featured by Good Morning America, FOX & Friends, CNN, ABC News, New York Times, Nightline, TIME, PBS, LA Times, USA Today, Washington Post, Woman's World, and Howard Stern. 

Scott's book list on how to market and promote a book

Discover why each book is one of Scott's favorite books.

Why did Scott love this book?

In my years as a book marketer and book publicist I have found the real experts in this field are other authors. These are the people whose livelihoods depend on selling books. This is not a hobby for David Gaughran, being an author is how he makes a living. As a result, he’s studied, analyzed, and written about what makes a successful book and graciously shared this knowledge with fellow authors.

The fact that he is a bestselling author himself and has taken the time to analyze Amazon in every way conceivable way is reason enough to buy this book. I highly recommend Let’s Get Visible and consider it a must-read for all authors.

By David Gaughran,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Let's Get Visible as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Take your sales to the next level! The author of the award-winning, bestselling Let's Get Digital is back with an advanced guide for more experienced self-publishers.

There are over 4 million books in the Kindle Store, with thousands more added every day. How do you get yours noticed? Visibility isn't a challenge that can be bested once - it requires continual work. But there are tools and strategies to do much of the heavy lifting for you.

In Let's Get Visible: How To Get Noticed And Sell More Books, you'll discover how to:

* Leverage Amazon's famous recommendation engine to…

The Rumi Daybook

By Kabir Helminski (editor), Camille Helminski (editor),

Book cover of The Rumi Daybook: 365 Poems and Teachings from the Beloved Sufi Master

Diane Weiner M.S. Author Of Awakening as a Human*Divine Being

From the list on awakening yourself to transform the world.

Who am I?

I've always been fascinated with the idea that humans have so many layers of consciousness, and reality is multi-faceted. I've studied Zen Buddhism, yoga, and for the past 43 years, Sufism. My experience of life has developed into a journey of changing difficult situations into exhilarating discoveries, finding hidden patterns in nature that delight me and tell me I’m not alone in the universe, and helping many people transform into beings of joy and gratitude. I’m beginning to see that our transformation delights and changes the Divine; we are not a passing phenomenon but contributors to new creation on a major scale.

Diane's book list on awakening yourself to transform the world

Discover why each book is one of Diane's favorite books.

Why did Diane love this book?

As I approach a book, I live in a world of separation. In each of Rumi’s poems, I fall first into a well-told tale and then am whirled into a mystery where you and God, humble gnat and whole universe are reflected in each other. My heart can’t help but be remade in the process.

By Kabir Helminski (editor), Camille Helminski (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The wisdom of the great Sufi master comes to life in this compendium of 365 Rumi poems and writings for daily contemplation and inspiration
My heart wandered through the world
constantly seeking after my cure,
but the sweet and delicious water of life
had to break through the granite of my heart.

When the words of Rumi enter your heart, something softens, breaks, and is subtly reborn. That he wrote the words seven hundred years ago in a medieval Persian world that bears little resemblance to ours makes their uncanny resonance to us today just that much more remarkable.

The Magic And The Healing

By Nick O'Donohue,

Book cover of The Magic And The Healing

Kim McDougall Author Of Dragons Don't Eat Meat

From the list on urban fantasy with marvelous monsters.

Who am I?

Have you ever pretended to be a superhero? What was your special ability? Mine was always the ability to talk to animals. What an amazing world that would be if I could chat with the squirrel nesting in my shed or the stray cat trotting through my yard! Animals of all kinds have always been part of my world, from my own pets to animals that came through rescue ranches where I volunteered. So it’s no wonder that I seek them out in fiction. For my own books, my love for cats and dogs was easy to translate into a love for dragons and hellhounds. 

Kim's book list on urban fantasy with marvelous monsters

Discover why each book is one of Kim's favorite books.

Why did Kim love this book?

Veterinary student BJ Vaughn journeys through the Crossroads to treat amazing creatures such as griffons, centaurs, and unicorns, while dealing with a full course load and all the stresses of being a student. After reading The Magic and the Healing (many, many years ago), I fell in love with supernatural creatures. It made me think, “I want to write something like that!” I’ve never forgotten it.

By Nick O'Donohue,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

About to give up veterinary school because of a family crisis, BJ Vaughan is chosen to join a special group of healers who venture into the mystical world of Crossroads, where unicorns, centaurs, and other magical creatures live. Original.

Book cover of The Further Education of Oversoul Seven

Joe Stillman Author Of The Man Who Came and Went

From the list on to inspire your personal mystical quest.

Who am I?

Back in New York, while struggling to be a screenwriter, I was spiritually questing. My friends and I read “books that change lives”. New age books, self-help, mystical, spiritual. We meditated with crystals. We dabbled in tofu. And our lives did change. Some moved to Santa Fe. Some took up Reiki. I found my way to LA to write for TV and film. Throughout my time there, I was working on my own story to tell, like the ones I had loved in New York. That story eventually morphed into The Man Who Came and Went. For me and my friends at least, these books really did change lives.

Joe's book list on to inspire your personal mystical quest

Discover why each book is one of Joe's favorite books.

Why did Joe love this book?

This is a work of fiction written by Jane Roberts, famous as the writer of the Seth books. Through the novel form, Roberts gets across a plausible way to look at life, the fluid nature of time and some possible meaning and purpose to be found in reincarnation. It’s also pretty entertaining. Yay novels! There are three books in the Oversoul series. This, the second, is my favorite. 

By Jane Roberts,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Further Education of Oversoul Seven as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The ageless, timeless entity Oversoul Seven must deal with the problems of an unusual assortment of mortals that includes a young man reluctant to be a father, a student contemplating suicide, and a woman unhappy with her reincarnation


By Jada Fisher,

Book cover of Oracle

K.B. Thorne Author Of Bad Blood

From the list on if first person snark is your style.

Who am I?

I’ve adored reading a good snarky first-person story since I first read Bloodlist, so long as the snark doesn’t go too far and become total unlikeable jerk… It can be a fine line! I hope I stay on the right side of it, but having read it enough and written in it for years with my Blood Rights Series, I feel qualified to say I’m a…snark connoisseur. (If you ask my family, this is how my own internal/life narrator speaks! My mother says that my character Dakota is me if I “said everything aloud that I think in my head.” She’s probably right, and I’m okay with that.)

K.B.'s book list on if first person snark is your style

Discover why each book is one of K.B.'s favorite books.

Why did K.B. love this book?

The final book on my list rolls into epic fantasy, with oracles and dragons and magic and prophecies… All sorts of stuff to really make the life of a girl who works at a coffee shop very confusing and difficult. Poor Davie gets thrown into the deep end but works to keep her head above water. Savvy and snarky, she got to me right away, but again, it’s the heart. She’s one of those characters that inspires loyalty from the people around her and you understand why. You want to be by her side too, even if she’s got a totally sardonic inner and outer voice.

By Jada Fisher,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

I hate fire. It nearly destroyed me. Now, my only chance at survival is a fire-breathing, shape-shifting dragon.
An urban fantasy adventure full of mystical creatures and sassy heroines

Davie is a normal girl trying to live a normal life. Except that she can see the future and has visions that make her seem crazy. When she meets a man who immediately seems too perfect to be real, her quest for a normal life quickly ends. She soon learns the world is full of mythical creatures including shapeshifting dragons, dwarves, and mystical oracles. Can Davie adapt to the new world…

Rumi and the Whirling Dervishes

By Shems Friedlander,

Book cover of Rumi and the Whirling Dervishes

Bryan S. Turner Author Of The Body in Asia

From the list on making you wish you lived in Asia.

Who am I?

As an undergraduate at the University of Leeds in the 1960s the principal influence on my life and thinking was Trevor Ling an Anglican Priest and Buddhist who eventually became a Professor of comparative religion at the University of Manchester. He was the start of my research on Islam and Asia and my peripatetic career having lived in Scotland, Germany, Holland, America, Australia and Singapore. I became a professor of the sociology of religion in the Asia Research Center at the National University of Singapore. I have published two books on Singapore, a handbook of religions in Asia, and several works on the body, medicine, ageing and human vulnerability.

Bryan's book list on making you wish you lived in Asia

Discover why each book is one of Bryan's favorite books.

Why did Bryan love this book?

I am including Turkey as located in Asia Minor. As a frequent visitor to Istanbul in the past, I watched with fascination the whirling Dervishes. I know it is corrupted by tourism. The dance reflects the legacy of Rumi the 13 century Persian poet. The beauty of Rumi’s philosophy and the world of Sufism comes through as does the grace of the body.

By Shems Friedlander,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This brings together, in English, for the first time a number of articles in one volume that have been published in various books and journals and are reprinted with permission. Through this work, Rumi and his poetry as well as the whirling dervishes, will hopefully become more widely known in Western countries than they are at present. The whirling dervishes are famous for their ecstatic dance and but here it is hoped that their role within Sufism will become more clearly understood. The book is an attempt to suggest a renewed manner of thinking about one of the most celebrated…


By Sheila Heti,

Book cover of Motherhood

Peggy O'Donnell Heffington Author Of Without Children: The Long History of Not Being a Mother

From the list on women without kids (that aren’t sad).

Who am I?

I’m a historian who knows women have long lived not-sad lives without children. I’ve spent years researching the full and vibrant lives women without children lived throughout history—lives that often were only possible because they didn’t have the responsibilities of motherhood. I’m also a woman living a decidedly not-sad life without kids. And yet, in popular imagination, a woman without kids must be longing to be a mother or grieving the fact that she isn’t. I know firsthand that it can be isolating not to have kids. But in writing about the sheer variety of lives non-mothers lived in the past, I’m trying to show that we’re not alone.

Peggy's book list on women without kids (that aren’t sad)

Discover why each book is one of Peggy's favorite books.

Why did Peggy love this book?

My list wouldn’t be complete without Heti’s Motherhood, which features an unnamed narrator who is approaching her 40th birthday and weighing the question of whether or not to have children.

The narrator carefully considers what she might lose and gain with either choice, weighing the unknown joys and challenges of motherhood against the more familiar joy and grief of her life as it is. The narrator’s agonizing might not be for everyone, but for me it felt equal parts electrifying and uncanny, like finding the contents of my own brain on the page.

Toward the end of the book, a young girl asks the narrator why she never had children. “I had never dreamed of being a mother,” the narrator answers. “I wanted to be free.” That makes sense, the girl says, nodding. It makes sense to me, too.

By Sheila Heti,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'A response - finally - to the new norms of femininity' Rachel Cusk

Having reached an age when most of her peers are asking themselves when they will become mothers, Heti's narrator considers, with the same urgency, whether she will do so at all. Over the course of several years, under the influence of her partner, body, family, friends, mysticism and chance, she struggles to make a moral and meaningful choice.

In a compellingly direct mode that straddles the forms of the novel and the essay, Motherhood raises radical and essential questions about womanhood, parenthood, and how - and for…

I Am That

By Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj,

Book cover of I Am That

Kate Gustin Author Of The No-Self Help Book: Forty Reasons to Get Over Your Self and Find Peace of Mind

From the list on spiritual books to find out who you really are.

Who am I?

I’ve spent my professional life as a psychologist delving into the inner workings of the “self.” After working with thousands of clients over the past twenty-five years, I’ve come to understand the liabilities and limitations of the mind’s constructed sense of personhood. These books, including the one I wrote, attempt to address the ages-old question of “who am I?” from a different perspective than that of conventional conceptual identity. They transmit something to us about the core consciousness of our make-up that we may know intuitively but do not encounter often in western discourse. If you’re a truth seeker, curious about your essential nature, then I’m sure you’ll find them compelling. 

Kate's book list on spiritual books to find out who you really are

Discover why each book is one of Kate's favorite books.

Why did Kate love this book?

I love this book!  I’ve returned to it many times over the years. It’s my rock. It contains a series of questions and responses of students in dialogue with the well-known Indian sage Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj. His teachings are direct, down-to-earth, and very timely, in that they address matters of continued importance to all of us: the nature of reality, suffering, mind, body, agency, fear, happiness, peace…and pretty much every truth you can think of!  It’s 550 pages of unadulterated wisdom.   

By Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked I Am That as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Back cover This collection of the timeless teachings of one of the greatest sages of India, Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, is a testament to the uniqueness of the seer's life and work and is regarded by many as a modern spiritual classic. I Am That (first published in 1973) continues to draw new audiences and to enlighten seekers anxious for self-realization. Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj was a teacher who did not propound any ideology or religion, but gently unwrapped the mystery of the self. His message was simple, direct, and sublime. I Am That preserves his dialogs with the followers who came…

Book cover of Selected Poems of Rumi

Sita Bennett Author Of Maya of the In-Between

From the list on finding yourself (for sensitive teens).

Who am I?

Growing up, I didn’t understand the hypersensitivity I felt to my own inner world and the outer. Highly alert to both interoceptive and exteroceptive data, I often felt overstimulated and overwhelmed by the intensity to which I experienced my own feelings, the feelings of others, and sensory inputs. I thought there was something wrong with me because being a feeler is generally seen as a weakness. I now write novels about quiet, sensitive, introspective young people for others who feel like I did, as a way to share the true power within this way of being, which I have discovered to be a gift, not a curse over time.

Sita's book list on finding yourself (for sensitive teens)

Discover why each book is one of Sita's favorite books.

Why did Sita love this book?

This is a book of poetry, but it speaks so deeply to the exquisite beauty, simple joy, and profound presence available at the heart of us all, if we are quiet and still enough to listen.

People who are already sensitive seem to drop into this space more fluidly than others, more consumed by the outer world because they are, by nature, closer to the source and often more aware of the subtle forces that run beneath the surface. These ‘ecstatic’ poems always help me return home to the space inside that reminds me what a blessing it is to have the capacity to feel so deeply.

By Rumi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In recent years the stirring, unforgettable poetry of Jalālu’l-Dīn Rūmī (1207–1273), the great Sūfi teacher and the greatest mystical poet of Iran, has gained tremendous popularity in the western world. Although he died over 700 years ago, his poetry is timeless. In the best modern translations, the passion and playfulness of his words reach across the ages to communicate themselves to people today with an undiluted fervor and excitement.
Rūmī produced an enormous body of work — as many as 2,500 mystical odes, 25,000 rhyming couplets, and 1,600 quatrains — some of it instructional, some personal and emotional, much of…

Revelation Of Love

By Julian of Norwich, John Skinner (translator),

Book cover of Revelation Of Love

Christina St. Clair Author Of Naomi and Ruth: Loyalty Among Women

From the list on women whose spiritual understanding is enlightening.

Who am I?

One Christmas Eve many years ago when I was a little girl, I was too excited to sleep. I prayed to the baby Jesus whom I’d heard about in carols. I felt wrapped in love and woke up well-rested on Christmas morning. I’ve always believed life is a spiritual journey: I respect and learn from many religious and secular traditions. After I joined a church, I became a spiritual director. When I was sixty, I earned an MA in pastoral ministry and women’s studies. I have pastored two churches and also became a preacher—something I could not imagine I’d ever be able to do. It’s never too late!

Christina's book list on women whose spiritual understanding is enlightening

Discover why each book is one of Christina's favorite books.

Why did Christina love this book?

Because I am also English and became a minister when women were not readily accepted in this profession, this 14th-century English mystic, Julian of Norwich, felt like a friend. She was able to thrive in a male-dominated world. She taught about God-imagery that included not only the divine father but also the divine mother. She spoke and wrote about her revelations from Jesus that, unlike the fear-based religious teaching of her day, were about God’s love for all people. I cherish her well-known words: “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.”

By Julian of Norwich, John Skinner (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

I Am That

By Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj,

Book cover of I Am That: Talks with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

Duff McDonald Author Of Tickled: A Commonsense Guide to the Present Moment

From the list on to help you find your true self.

Who am I?

That’s the eternal question, isn’t it? Out here in the manifestation, I am Duff McDonald, author and journalist, father of Marguerite, husband of Joey, and general man about town. I’m a Canadian who moved to the U.S. to go to college and never went back. But who am I, really? I am the same thing as everyone else, a speck of consciousness in the possibility machine, a perfect creation. This whole thing has divine origins, something I only realized not that long ago, and it set me free. I can’t wait to see what happens next. I have, of late, discovered that maximizing one’s awareness is the main quest of a human life.

Duff's book list on to help you find your true self

Discover why each book is one of Duff's favorite books.

Why did Duff love this book?

I don’t like rankings — I think we count and rank to our collective detriment – but if I had to make a list of the most important books I’ve ever read, this would probably be on top of the list. What is it about? It’s about finding your true self. On the one hand, the task couldn’t be simpler: You are what you are, so there’s hardly a Hardy Boys mystery to crack here. On the other, we cloud our own understanding with so much illusion that few of us have the capacity to see the truth about ourselves. Maharaj can be a bit prickly, but he’s more love than anything else. If you try this book and you can’t connect to it, put it down and return to it later. That’s what I did – the first time, it was impenetrable; the second time, it penetrated to the…

By Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked I Am That as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.