The most recommended books about nuns

Who picked these books? Meet our 38 experts.

38 authors created a book list connected to Nuns, and here are their favorite Nun books.
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Book cover of Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska: Divine Mercy in My Soul

E. W. Skinner Author Of Children of the Night

From my list on other worlds.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a practicing Catholic, I believe in the supernatural and thus, other worlds. In the Nicene Creed, there is a line: “I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth of all things visible and invisible.” I find inspiration in both fictional fantasy as well as nonfiction stories of people encountering the impossible and discovering their personal stories or talent. As I grew up and learned about the lives of the saints I found myself engrossed in these real people who experienced miracles. It was this conviction of my own faith that inspired me to write a more secular, Catholic-inspired Young Adult series: St. Blair: Children of Night.

E. W.'s book list on other worlds

E. W. Skinner Why did E. W. love this book?

I sought out this book after Divine Mercy Sunday 2002. A visiting priest had shared St. Faustina’s story of receiving the Divine Mercy Chaplet from our Lord on September 13-14, 1935. Several of her dates coincide with dates that have significance in my own life, only mine in the present. God spreads his message of mercy through a Polish nun on what I would eventually discover through personal research, was the same dates that Hitler addressed youth in Nuremberg to inspire National Socialism. The diary gave me a glimpse of a real woman’s calling to bring God’s mercy to our world. 

By Maria Faustina Kowalska,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This bestselling book that birthed the Divine Mercy movement, one of the fastest growing movements in world today. This amazing narrrative will stir your heart and soul while it chronicles the experience of a simple Polish nun.


Book cover of The Clerk's Tale

Lisa E. Betz Author Of Death and a Crocodile

From my list on female sleuth mysteries from centuries past.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an engineer-turned-mystery-writer, and my taste in fiction is as unconventional as my career. I love books set in obscure periods of the past, with underdog characters who rise to the occasion through cleverness and grit. I write the kind of books I love to read, which explains why I set my novels in ancient Rome. The engineer side of my brain thrives on doing historical research while my creative side imagines quirky, imperfect characters who find unconventional ways to solve tricky mysteries. I hope you enjoy my list of clever, spunky sleuths from various periods who solve murders in unique ways. 

Lisa's book list on female sleuth mysteries from centuries past

Lisa E. Betz Why did Lisa love this book?

I love unusual combinations, like a medieval nun who’s also an experienced sleuth with a sharp tongue and an unflappable demeanor. To Dame Frevisse, murder is an unwanted disruption of the quiet life she craves, yet her nimble brain and passion for justice impel her to get involved. She will keep probing until the truth is found, even if that truth isn’t what others want to hear. 

In this book, Dame Frevisse is asked to investigate the death of a man she despised, which doesn’t help her attitude. One of the things I like best about Dame Frevisse is her rich inner life, as she struggles with not-so-godly attitudes and finds moments of deep peace while practicing what to us may look like dry, tedious, duties.

By Margaret Frazer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Clerk's Tale as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A MAN HATED BY HIS WIFE, HIS CITY... AND HIS KILLER

In Margaret Frazer's latest medieval mystery, the "pious and perceptive" (New York Times) Dame Frevisse accompanies her prioress on a visit of mercy to a nunnery. St. Mary's nunnery is a place of prayer and healing for women - so it is surprising to see a man sprawled out in the cloister garden. Dead. Less surprising, to Dame Frevisse, was the identity of the victim: Master Montfort was not particularly liked by anyone in the town of Goring. Even his own wife and clerk despised him. And as royal…


Book cover of The Spiral Staircase: My Climb Out of Darkness

Niki Harré Author Of Psychology for a Better World: Working with People to Save the Planet

From my list on living well together.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a psychologist with environmental interests people often ask me about hope. It goes something like this: “Climate change is pushing us toward disaster! What is your source of hope?”  I finally figured out that I only have one source of hope. It is that we, as people, are able to work together just well enough to keep it all afloat. There’s a lot involved in working together – learning to listen with compassion, run good meetings, empower everyone to give of their best, and rebuild trust when it starts to break down. I’ve been researching these topics in community settings for the past 15 years. 

Niki's book list on living well together

Niki Harré Why did Niki love this book?

The Spiral Staircase is the book I’ve read the most number of times as an adult. It is the autobiography of Karen Armstrong who was a Catholic nun for six years in the 1960s in the UK. The book picks up after she leaves her convent and is studying English literature at Oxford University. She is also suffering from mysterious episodes of fainting and memory loss, and so we are taken into her struggles with both academia and the psychiatry of the 1970s. She then spirals through other careers and eventually returns to God – not now as a person of faith but as a writer about religion – its beauty and its tension.

This is perhaps the most honest book I’ve read, as it unflinchingly describes the experience of making terrible mistakes – as we almost all do – without blame or self-flagellation. Karen Armstrong learns, in the end,…

By Karen Armstrong,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • The New York Times bestselling author of A History of God delivers the gripping, inspirational story about her own search for God.  

“A story about becoming human, being recognized, finally recognizing oneself…. It fills the reader with hope.” —The Washington Post Book World

In 1962, at age seventeen, Karen Armstrong entered a convent, eager to meet God. After seven brutally unhappy years as a nun, she left her order to pursue English literature at Oxford. But convent life had profoundly altered her, and coping with the outside world and her expiring faith proved to be excruciating. Her…


Book cover of Sor Juana: Or, the Traps of Faith

Leopoldo Gout Author Of Piñata

From my list on reminding us that the past never dies.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an author, visual artist, and film producer. I’m originally from Mexico but studied fine art in London at Central St Martins School of art with a scholarship. I’ve had a wild career of writing, packaging, developing, and publishing books for more than a decade. You can see some of my visual art in galleries, museums, and my Instagram @leopoldoleopoldo or in my most recent illustrated novel Monarca. My forthcoming novel, Piñata, is a supernatural possession story driven by the real horrors of colonialism in my native Mexico. I wrote it as an outlet for a simultaneous love and rage at the world, history, my country, and current events.

Leopoldo's book list on reminding us that the past never dies

Leopoldo Gout Why did Leopoldo love this book?

It’s an all-too-common crime of a history written by societies victors that brilliant women like Sor Juana Ines De La Cruz are doomed after living a life enriching this world’s literature and thought.

It was rage at this kind of historical injustice which inspired my writing of my book

Sor Juana’s great poem "First Dream" also inspired me not only in my first novel, but in many of the visual art I did in my 20’s. We even called my daughter Inés, partially in homage to her.

Octavio Paz’s masterpiece that won him the Nobel Prize of Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz is an incredible time travelling journey. It’s so wonderful that sometimes you think you are reading a memoir and go deep inside her poetry, science, love life, and dreams.

It is biography, history, literary criticism, and an expose against the Vatican’s minions who were colonizing…

By Octavio Paz, Margaret Sayers Peden (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Mexico's leading poet, essayist, and cultural critic writes of a Mexican poet of another time and another world, the world of seventeenth-century New Spain. His subject is Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, the most striking figure in all of Spanish-American colonial literature and one of the great poets of her age.

Her life reads like a novel. A spirited and precocious girl, one of six illegitimate children, is sent to live with relatives in the capital city. She becomes known for her beauty, wit, and amazing erudition, and is taken into the court as the Vicereine's protegee. For five…


Book cover of Common

Katy Huth Jones Author Of Mercy's Prince

From my list on YA fantasy about hope in dark places.

Why am I passionate about this?

“Hope in dark places” has been the theme of my life, beginning at age 17 when my parents disowned me for my faith. I’ve walked through the “valley of the shadow of death” twice, battling cancer, and endured many other struggles, which everyone faces at some time in their lives. Reading Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey as a teen gave me the courage to face the darkness, and so the characters in the stories I write and prefer to read do likewise.

Katy's book list on YA fantasy about hope in dark places

Katy Huth Jones Why did Katy love this book?

When I first started reading this fantasy book club selection, I thought it would be a simple sort-of-like Cinderella tale and didn’t expect to be sucked into Leah’s story. My heart went out to her for all the ways she was unfairly treated and misunderstood, for I have known that pain. She was trying to save the royal family, and the queen exiled her!

The best part about this story is how brave and loyal Leah is, and how she doesn’t complain, even when she has good reason. I remember how difficult it was not to complain when I was a teen, so I especially appreciate the encouragement Leah gives without realizing it.

By Laurie Lucking,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Common as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 13, 14, 15, and 16.

What is this book about?

Only one person knows of the plot against the royal family and cares enough to try to stop it—the servant girl they banished.

Leah spends her days scrubbing floors, polishing silver, and meekly curtsying to nobility. Nothing distinguishes her from the other commoners serving at the palace, except her red hair.

And her secret friendship with Rafe, the Crown Prince of Imperia.

But Leah’s safe, ordinary world begins to splinter. Rafe’s parents announce his betrothal to a foreign princess, and she unearths a plot to overthrow the royal family. When she reports it without proof, her life shatters completely when…


Book cover of Rocket to the Morgue

Lavie Tidhar Author Of The Circumference of the World

From my list on science fiction’s golden age.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been fascinated by the Golden Age of science fiction, when a group of young dreamers formed the genre as we know it today. I grew up far away from their world, on a small kibbutz in Israel, and the lives of those god-like beings seemed as remote and as impossible as the moon. I grew up to eventually write stories of my own, and even got to meet some of my childhood heroes, and eventually I thought it would be fun to write a book that was partially about them. I read every book I could get my hands on to try and better understand that time when science fiction was born.

Lavie's book list on science fiction’s golden age

Lavie Tidhar Why did Lavie love this book?

Anthony Boucher straddles the history of both crime fiction and science fiction.

As the founding editor of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction he has an oversized role in the history of the genre. As a crime writer, he gave his name to the Anthony Awards, which are handed out every year at the annual Bouchercon.

His SF story “The Quest for Saint Aquin” is a classic. None of this, admittedly, has much to do with Rocket to the Morgue, Boucher’s roman-à-clef mystery set in pre-WW2 California in which the emerging world of science fiction comes to glorious life. A young L. Ron Hubbard makes an appearance, as do Robert A. Heinlein and the rocket scientist and occultist Jack Parsons.

The mystery matters less than the characters, who though moving under different names are all very much true to life.

By Anthony Boucher,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A Golden Age mystery set in the Golden Age of science fiction

Legendary science fiction author Fowler Faulkes may be dead, but his creation, the iconic Dr. Derringer, lives on in popular culture. Or, at least, the character would live on if not for Faulkes’s predatory and greedy heir Hilary, who, during his time as the inflexible guardian of the estate, has created countless enemies in the relatively small community of writers of the genre. So when he is stabbed nearly to death in a room with only one door, which nobody was seen entering or exiting, Foulkes suspects a…


Book cover of Galileo's Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love

Dianne Hales Author Of La Passione: How Italy Seduced the World

From my list on italy and italian.

Why am I passionate about this?

Decades ago, I fell madly, gladly, and giddily in love with Italian. This passion inspired La Bella Lingua: My Love Affair with the World’s Most Enchanting Language, which became a New York Times best-seller and won an Italian knighthood for my contributions to promoting Italy’s language. Intrigued by the world’s most famous portrait, I wrote Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered, an Amazon Best Book of the Year, translated into seven languages. My most recent journeys through Italian culture are La Passione: How Italy Seduced the World and  ‘A’ Is for Amore, an e-book written during the pandemic and available free on my website.

Dianne's book list on italy and italian

Dianne Hales Why did Dianne love this book?

While researching Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered, I rented an apartment a few blocks from a house where Galileo lived in Florence. I could stand outside its door every day, but this book transported me inside—not just a building but a family, a home, and an era. 

Dava Sobel’s meticulous research reveals not just new dimensions of Galileo’s life and work as an intrepid scientist but the often hidden realm inhabited by his daughter. Illegitimate and unmarriageable, she entered a convent at age 13 to live in poverty and simplicity. And yet, as her letters demonstrate, Sister Marie Celeste’s soul and spirit soared. The ending—which I dare not spoil—has haunted me since my first reading decades ago.

By Dava Sobel,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Galileo's Daughter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Inspired by a long fascination with Galileo, and by the remarkable surviving letters of his daughter Maria Celeste, a cloistered nun, Dava Sobel has crafted a biography that dramatically recolors the personality and accomplishments of a mythic figure whose early-seventeenth-century clash with Catholic doctrine continues to define the schism between science and religion-the man Albert Einstein called "the father of modern physics-indeed of modern science altogether." It is also a stunning portrait of Galileo's daughter, a person hitherto lost to history, described by her father as "a woman of exquisite mind, singular goodness, and most tenderly attached to me."

Moving…


Book cover of Devious

Claris Lam Author Of Winner Takes All

From my list on mysteries stuck in isolated areas.

Why am I passionate about this?

Mystery fiction was one of my favourite book genres growing up. I especially enjoy reading mysteries taking place in remote locations, since it narrows down the suspects to only the people present there. Having the cast isolated from the rest of the world creates a special kind of pressure on them to find out who committed the crime. These mysteries also often involve ensemble casts and deep and complicated relationships between characters that are fun to keep track of. Reading these mysteries, including the ones in this list, inspired me to write my own! I’ve written and self-published two amateur sleuth murder mystery books, and I’m currently writing my third one!

Claris' book list on mysteries stuck in isolated areas

Claris Lam Why did Claris love this book?

Devious might bit a bit heavy-handed with the religious references, but it makes sense given its location and the types of murders occurring in this book.

I enjoyed how the author worked those references into the overall mystery with not just the location, but the clues and other discoveries along the way. There also is a big twist behind the true killer in this book that I really enjoyed reading, too.

I wish I could explain it in more detail, but that would give away major spoilers! 

By Lisa Jackson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NOWHERE IS SACRED. NOWHERE IS SAFE.

Fans of Karen Rose and Nora Roberts will love Lisa Jackson's chilling new novel about a killer striking in the holiest of places.

Sister Camille, a troubled novice, is found garrotted in St Marguerite's cathedral. Bentz and Montoya discover this case is close to home - Montoya knew Camille previously as his brother's girlfriend and they even know the prime suspect: the priest Frank O'Toole, father of Camille's unborn child.

When more nuns are brutally slaughtered by someone who seems to know their darkest secrets, Bentz is sure Father O'Toole is their man. But…


Book cover of Black Lies

Andrea Smith Author Of Murders on the Ridge: Mystery in Briar County

From my list on 'who-dun-it' fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion for true crime fiction started in 2016 with the murders of eight family members in a neighboring county in Southern Ohio. The case made international news, and five years later there are still more questions than answers. I felt the victims of this heinous crime deserved some closure which the legal system has not yet provided. So, writing a fictional version of this story was my way of providing closure - at least in my own mind.

Andrea's book list on 'who-dun-it' fiction

Andrea Smith Why did Andrea love this book?

I personally love twisted relationship books, especially when the antihero is hard to distinguish. This book deals with a marriage that is far from typical. I can't say more without spoilers, but take my word that this makes for a fabulous suspenseful read. If you read a book that makes you want to kick and scream when you finally "get it" then this is a perfect read for you. All I can say about Black Lies is expect the unexpected!

By Alessandra Torre,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Brant: Became a tech billionaire by his twentieth birthday. Has been in a relationship with me for 3 years.Has proposed 4 times. Been rejected 4 times.Lee: Cuts grass when he’s not banging housewives. Good with his hands, his mouth, and his cock. Has been pursued relentlessly by me for almost 2 years, whether he knows it or not.Go ahead. Judge me. You have no idea what my love entails.If you think you’ve heard this story before, trust me – you haven’t.


Book cover of Matrix

Nora Fussner Author Of The Invisible World

From my list on female protagonists who have magical powers.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was researching my novel, I learned why so many psychics are women: Spiritualism, founded in the 19th century, had both an intense following (more than 8 million followers in the late 1800s) and gave women equal importance to men, one of the few religions at the time (or since) to do so. Even today, women’s pain is dismissed by doctors disproportionately to that of men; women’s testimony is scrutinized more closely than that of men. I love books that invest women with abilities that seem super-human, perhaps as compensation for unequal access to resources. These books keep one foot in the real, one in the fantastic.

Nora's book list on female protagonists who have magical powers

Nora Fussner Why did Nora love this book?

I never imagined I would be so invested in the lives of 12th-century nuns, but here we are.

Groff’s writing has such energy, I was completely consumed by the story of Marie, who, guided by visions, transforms an English convent into a utopia for the nuns within, protected from the world without. I was blown away by the sheer amount of knowledge that adds texture to the book: knowledge of plants, animals, medicinal herbs, clothing.

It feels deeply researched but not tedious. Everything about this novel feels propulsive.

By Lauren Groff,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
SHORTLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARDS
AN OBAMA'S BOOK OF THE YEAR

'Gorgeous, sensual, addictive' SARA COLLINS
'Brightly lit' NAOMI ALDERMAN

Born from a long line of female warriors and crusaders, yet too coarse for courtly life, Marie de France is cast from the royal court and sent to Angleterre to take up her new duty as the prioress of an impoverished abbey.

Lauren Groff's modern masterpiece is about the establishment of a female utopia.

'A propulsive, captivating read' BRIT BENNETT
'Fascinating, beguiling, vivid' MARIAN KEYES
'A dazzlingly clever tale' THE TIMES
'A thrillingly vivid,…