The best books about the soul

1 authors have picked their favorite books about the soul and why they recommend each book.

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The Journey of Soul Initiation

By Bill Plotkin,

Book cover of The Journey of Soul Initiation: A Field Guide for Visionaries, Evolutionaries, and Revolutionaries

Representing modern Shamanism, Plotkin offers a descriptive model of five stages of The Journey of Soul Initiation based on the accounts of well-known seekers like Carl Jung and lesser-known individuals who attend the Animus Valley Institute. The latter group’s experiences occurred during treks into wild places, vision fasting, dream work, and active imagination. Plotkin illustrates each stage with extensive examples and unlike many other descriptions of inner processes, his account thoroughly addresses the difficulties and dangers of the journey. Using a very different induction process, Plotkin’s stages are striking similar to those models developed in classical Christian mysticism and the Ten Oxherding Pictures, which I use in my own book

Who am I?

After my father died when I was eleven years old, I started asking those deeper spiritual questions. This started me on a journey both personally and academically to find needed answers to my queries. I became fascinated with mystical experiences and how seekers navigated their way through the vicissitudes of the spiritual journey. With this interest as a focal point, I received a doctorate in theology, attended retreats, and received guidance from Sufi, Buddhist, and Christian teachers. I taught mysticism and world religions at Ithaca College and co-founded Light on the Hill Retreat Center in 1991, where I still guide people of any or no faith on their spiritual journeys.

I wrote...

Dance of Light: Christian, Sufi and Zen Wisdom for Today’s Spiritual Seeker

By Alice McDowell,

Book cover of Dance of Light: Christian, Sufi and Zen Wisdom for Today’s Spiritual Seeker

What is my book about?

McDowell writes about the spiritual life as a captivating dance. In a clear and compelling voice, she guides the reader through the steps of the dance as indicated by mystics of ancient traditions, contemporary spiritual teachers, and her own experiences. Dance of Light offers practical wisdom for today’s seeker. Whether beginner or advanced, readers will receive guidance on the dynamics of the spiritual path, learn how to further develop their inner life, and find ways to move forward when unmotivated, stuck, or lost. The teachings of the mystics will inspire readers to stay true to their calling. Instructive tales and humorous stories from each tradition add lightness and insight to the teachings. 


By Bill Plotkin,

Book cover of Soulcraft: Crossing Into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche

A depth psychologist and wilderness guide, Plotkin is director of the Animas Valley Institute in Durango, CO. Building on the work of Joseph Campbell and others, he proposes various exercises, rituals, and disciplines to use in nature wandering as a soulful practice. These include dream-work and drumming, vision quests, and cross-species dialogue. His later book, Nature and the Human Soul (2007), offers a nature-based pattern for understanding stages of human development.

Who am I?

Belden Lane is a wilderness backpacker and storyteller who has written extensively on the connections between human spiritual experience and the power of place. As Professor Emeritus of Theological Studies at Saint Louis University he taught theology and spirituality for thirty-five years with the Jesuits. Drawing on backpacking trips in the canyonlands of Utah, the Wind River Range of Wyoming, and the Australian outback, his books include Landscapes of the Sacred, Backpacking with the Saints: Wilderness Hiking as Spiritual Practice, and The Great Conversation: Nature and the Care of the Soul

I wrote...

The Solace of Fierce Landscapes: Exploring Desert and Mountain Spirituality

By Belden C. Lane,

Book cover of The Solace of Fierce Landscapes: Exploring Desert and Mountain Spirituality

What is my book about?

The book explores the impulse that has drawn seekers into the wilderness for centuries and offers eloquent testimony to the healing power of mountain silence and desert indifference. It interweaves a memoir of the author’s mother’s long struggle with Alzheimer’s and cancer, meditations on his own wilderness experience, and illuminating commentary on mystical traditions that seek God in the silence beyond language. 

The Emperor's Soul

By Brandon Sanderson,

Book cover of The Emperor's Soul

The Emperor’s Soul is technically a novella, but a Sanderson-length novella rivals many writer’s novels in length. Sanderson is a master of world-building, and many of his books have fascinated me, but The Emperor’s Soul has so much mystery and beauty that it tops his other books when it comes to sheer wonder. It features a forger who is a true artist, and like many artists, her process is at the edge of her control and her creations truly exist apart from herself when they are done. If you love the thrill of creating something outside yourself, the high of a surprise that has been perfectly foreshadowed, The Emperor’s Soul is for you.

Who am I?

An avid reader my whole life, I jumped into epic fantasy at age eleven. Anne McCaffrey, David Eddings, and Robert Jordan were all high school favorites (and they are wonderful) but by the time I had reached the age that I was supposed to be reading their books, my palette was fairly jaded. The thrill of discovering new worlds and surprising magic was growing elusive, but wonder remains my favorite beat as a reader. I consider it the ultimate challenge in my own writing, and I greedily collect books that surprise me with their scope and imagination, leaving me awed and wonderstruck.

I wrote...

Vows of Gold and Laughter

By Edith Pawlicki,

Book cover of Vows of Gold and Laughter

What is my book about?

The Sun Emperor, ruler of the gods, is dying, cursed by one of his own children. Only the tender-hearted Goddess of Beauty, his youngest daughter, is willing to brave the dangers of the Underworld to save him. She is accompanied by the perpetually intoxicated God of Pleasure, the first immortal who disdained becoming a god, and the world’s second-best thief. 

This ragtag band must journey from the icy peaks of the White Mountain and the lush banks of the Kuanbai River to the palace of the Sea Dragon and the halls of the Moon Deer, through court intrigue and bloody battles, power struggles, and magical traps. The Heavens, Earth, and the Underworld will forever celebrate their triumphs – and mourn their mistakes.

The Further Education of Oversoul Seven

By Jane Roberts,

Book cover of The Further Education of Oversoul Seven

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. 

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.

I wrote...

The Man Who Came and Went

By Joe Stillman,

Book cover of The Man Who Came and Went

What is my book about?

Fifteen-year-old Belutha Mariah, our storyteller, is the oldest of three kids from three different fathers. Her life’s goal is to keep her dysfunctional mom, Maybell, from procreating yet again and leave the coffin-sized town of Hadley, Arizona the second she graduates high school. Along comes the new grill cook at Maybell’s Diner, Bill Bill, a mysterious drifter with the ability to mind-read orders. The curious and desperate pour into this desert town to eat at Maybell's.

Some believe Bill knows the secrets of the universe. Belutha figures he’s probably nuts. But his cooking transforms the lives of locals and visitors, and Belutha finds her angry heart opening, as Bill shows her the porous boundary between this life and what comes after.

Soul Retrieval

By Sandra Ingerman,

Book cover of Soul Retrieval: Mending the Fragmented Self

Witchcraft offers a path for incorporating Magickal ritual into a healing practice. When we experience trauma, we fragment our spirit and these disconnected parts become our shadow selves that block the manifestation of our deepest desires. This is what happened to me and why I weave together Magick and retrieving lost parts of our souls. Only when we come to wholeness with the deep healing practices found in Soul Retrieval can we reclaim these splintered aspects of self and focus all, not merely part, of our energy onto creating the life of our dreams. Soul Retrieval helped me address my mental wellness and release suffering, which has in turn given me a magick touch for manifestation.

Who am I?

When my Mexican maternal grandmother died the month before I was born, she left the door between the worlds ajar. Conversations with my nana’s spirit instilled faith that I could converse with all spirits, from the consciousness of land to trees, herbs, and even ideas. Being raised a Christian Scientist taught me the power of mind over matter and instilled the authority and responsibility for my own wellness through my Divine essence. This upbringing prepared me for my Witchcraft path that considers self-care as tending of my Divine spirit, illuminates the Divine light in all of Life, and teaches how to manifest Magick through our relationships, self-love, and personal healing.

I wrote...

The Book of Spells: The Magick of Witchcraft

By Jamie Della,

Book cover of The Book of Spells: The Magick of Witchcraft

What is my book about?

The Book of Spells: The Magick of Witchcraft teaches the reader they are a reflection of the Divine Source, which grants the authority to create Magick and manifest by forging connections and conversations with the natural and supernatural worlds. The first third of the book is devoted to outlining magickal correspondences, like ingredients for a recipe that can be substituted or added depending on the reader’s preferences. The remaining two-thirds of the book consists of fifty spells focused on self-empowerment, self-love, and total wellness (physical, emotional, and mental). With the help of timeless myths and fables, as well as personal anecdotes, each spell and ritual offers empowering insight to help you uncover your innate Divine essence. You can access the Divine through Magick and Witchcraft.

Prisoners of Secrets

By Lata Gwalani,

Book cover of Prisoners of Secrets

Set in South India in the 1950s, this is a story of Meera, Manuel, and Shankar—three conflicted souls, each with secrets that can destroy the other. It is a beautiful novel showing how one can become a prisoner of one's secrets and live compromised lives. The descriptions are so hauntingly vivid that they will remain etched in my mind forever. I loved the narration and the poetic language, and the bittersweet ending was like icing on the cake.

Who am I?

As an Indian writer of contemporary fiction revolving around family, relationships, emotions, and hope, I am constantly on the lookout for similar novels to take inspiration from them and learn how to build beautiful, well-etched characters and portray heart-wrenching emotions. I love books that make me cry as they give me a fulfillment like nothing else. I love characters that are likable and make me feel a strong connection with them. And I like to write similar characters in my books as well. The readers of my novel The Fragile Thread of Hope have corroborated the same. I live in Gangtok, a hill station in northeast India.

I wrote...

The Fragile Thread of Hope

By Pankaj Giri,

Book cover of The Fragile Thread of Hope

What is my book about?

A gripping emotional inspirational fiction about love, loss, and finding hope in the darkest of times. 

Seasoned with the flavours of exotic Nepalese traditions and set in the picturesque Indian hill station, Gangtok, The Fragile Thread of Hope explores the themes of spirituality, faith, alcoholism, love, and guilt while navigating the complex maze of family relationships.

Inspirational and heart-wrenchingly intimate, it urges you to wonder—does hope stand a chance in this travesty called life?

The Curse of Chalion

By Lois McMaster Bujold,

Book cover of The Curse of Chalion

I love the slow, deep delving into the mind and heart of Cazaril. Despite all the abuse and injustice in his life, he faithfully fulfills his duties. Even as he patiently abides by the actions of the gods in his life, he isn’t passively waiting, but instead using his wit and wisdom to do all he can. His example of balancing patient humility and courageous action inspires me.   

Who am I?

I am a Christian and my writing is influenced by my belief in a loving God who is very aware and involved in our lives. I directly address these ideas in my novel, The King's Trial, which many readers compare to the writings of CS Lewis. Readers who rarely care for religious themes have commented that the balance is right and the novel can be read as straight fantasy. Some of my favorite books with journeys of faith portray religions very different from mine, a few of which I include in the novels recommended below.

I wrote...

The King's Trial

By M.L. Farb,

Book cover of The King's Trial

What is my book about?

A mute radical. A brutal queen. A quest through a deadly maze.

Posing as a mute tavern hand, Yosyph gathers information on his bigoted queen and silently seeks to raise a rebellion. But when he discovers the monarch’s scheme to enslave thousands, he fears leading a revolt now would only end in a massacre. Desperate for allies in the coming war, Yosyph travels through a deadly desert in search of his kin. But he’s shocked to discover his only option to defeat the queen’s vast military is an ancient power that will consume him–unless he opens himself to the voice of his god. Will Yosyph’s unexpected answers to his prayers stop his realm from descending into bloody darkness? Whitney Award nominee for 2019.

Dreaming the Soul Back Home

By Robert Moss,

Book cover of Dreaming the Soul Back Home: Shamanic Dreaming for Healing and Becoming Whole

An expert in approaching your dream life with beautiful and imaginative consciousness, Robert Moss shows you how to use your dreams, both figurative and literal, as the backdrop for immense personal discovery and growth, and as a powerful tool in reclaiming yourself after trauma. 

Who am I?

Ora North is the author of I Don’t Want To Be An Empath Anymore: How to Reclaim Your Power Over Emotional Overload, Maintain Boundaries, and Live Your Best Life, and the upcoming book Mood Magick: Wellness Spells and Rituals to Find Balance in an Uncertain World. A seasoned spiritual teacher and healer, she helps people unpack their emotional trauma and work with it in a creative and regenerative way. 

I wrote...

I Don't Want to Be an Empath Anymore: How to Reclaim Your Power Over Emotional Overload, Maintain Boundaries, and Live Your Best Life

By Ora North,

Book cover of I Don't Want to Be an Empath Anymore: How to Reclaim Your Power Over Emotional Overload, Maintain Boundaries, and Live Your Best Life

What is my book about?

I Don't Want to Be an Empath Anymore is a gift for the jaded empath searching for authenticity in spirituality, and spirituality in being authentic--something beyond the clichéd, positive affirmations that seem to invalidate our anger, sadness, and pain. When we feel broken--and when real damage has been done, it's not always helpful to ignore our feelings and tell ourselves that we are perfect and whole.

In this refreshingly honest guide, shamanic practitioner Ora North offers practical exercises to help you navigate your intuition and empathic sensitivities, create much-needed boundaries, and build confidence. You'll also learn to balance your emotions and energy, and harness the strength of your shadow side to embrace your whole self and live your best life.

Rewriting the Soul

By Ian Hacking,

Book cover of Rewriting the Soul: Multiple Personality and the Sciences of Memory

The brilliant Rewriting the Soul was published in the mid-1990s when the diagnosis of multiple personality disorder was booming, particularly in the USA. The text reflects these times in its focus on the sciences of memory from the late 19th century. Hacking links discussions on memory, trauma, and consciousness in the study of multiple personalities in the 1980s and relates these to earlier discussions on ‘double consciousness’ in the 19th century. He argues that contemporary liberal societies have become obsessed with individual memory and how to analyse and assess it. Hacking skilfully weaves together historical and philosophical perspectives to explore case studies in depth. He questions how and why facts about our memories have become so important in contemporary culture, and how psychiatry has always struggled with interpreting the meaning of memory for its subjects. We are left with a deeper understanding of how a diagnosis ascribed to so many…

Who am I?

My interest in this topic began after my father died when I was a young teenager and I was left looking for answers, explanations, and meanings. My dad was an architect and had written a book on Jeremy Bentham’s panoptican and prison architecture published before the French philosopher Michel Foucault’s famous Discipline and Punish. A small collection of Foucault’s books stood prominently on my father’s bookshelves and I really wanted to understand them. At university I studied all of Foucault’s works and many authors inspired by him. These are the best books that explain how we have developed philosophical and psychological theories to understand ourselves in the contemporary world.

I wrote...

The Metamorphosis of Autism: A History of Child Development in Britain

By Bonnie Evans,

Book cover of The Metamorphosis of Autism: A History of Child Development in Britain

What is my book about?

My book explores the background to contemporary theories of child development, and the neurodiversity movement, by explaining the rapid increase in diagnoses of autism in children that occurred at the turn of the 21st Century. I argue that the way we understand children’s thoughts, motivations, and actions is directly influenced by the legal models that have been established to protect them as individual subjects with unique social rights. Drawing from a large array of government and scientific archives, I explain how the closure of state institutions and the growth of special education was accompanied by a complete metamorphosis in the meaning of autism in the 1960s and 1970s that had a knock-on effect on everyday diagnoses in educational, psychological, and other settings. 

Skin of the Sea

By Natasha Bowen,

Book cover of Skin of the Sea

Skin of the Sea is a beautiful blend of West/Central African mythology and alternate history to give us an imaginative story featuring a mermaid protagonist. Simidele is a water spirit, Mami Wata, whose job is to gather the souls of [enslaved] people who die on the seas. This concept alone makes the book interesting, but it is also a fast-paced story that never ignores its most powerful aspect—the mythology and the fantastic ocean world. The story is lyrical and atmospheric, and takes you along for an unforgettable journey into the waters.

Who am I?

I’m a South Asian writer who grew up in dry plains and the desert, so when I saw the ocean for the first time—it was an absolute shock to my senses. I was drawn to its vastness, its strangeness. Everything about our seas is fascinating, from the way they sustain life on the planet to the alien creatures that inhabit them. Since I’m a reader, I began to look for books featuring seas, and after nonfic ones, found fantasy books that were set in imaginative water-based worlds. This lifelong love has now led to my own debut being an oceanic fantasy. So I hope you enjoy this list. :)

I wrote...

Monsters Born and Made

By Tanvi Berwah,

Book cover of Monsters Born and Made

What is my book about?

In an oceanic world swarming with vicious beasts, 16-year-old Koral is forced to capture maristags for the Glory Race, a deadly chariot tournament reserved for the upper class. The winning contender receives gold and glory. The others―if they're lucky―survive. When the last maristag of the year escapes and Koral has no new maristag to sell, her family's financial situation takes a turn for the worse and they can't afford medicine for her chronically ill little sister. Koral's only choice is to do what no one in the world has ever dared: cheat her way into the Glory Race.

Perfect for fans of The Hunger Games, this South Asian-inspired fantasy is a gripping debut about the power of the elite, the price of glory, and one girl’s chance to change it all.

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