Many misunderstand faith and spirituality as a rigid set of rules and convictions one must perfectly abide by to reach the zenith of existence—or to avoid eternal damnation. But religion is much more complex than a straightforward path to heaven. These 14 remarkable and diverse memoirs portray the ups and downs, the mysteries and discoveries about living religiously.
Ruth Wariner, the 39th of 42 children, grew up in rural Mexico in a religious colony governed by the founding prophet, her father. When circumstances force her family to shuffle between Mexico and the U.S. for supplemental income, Ruth is torn between her fierce love for her siblings and her determination and courage to forge a better life.
THE BOOK OF MORMON GIRL is Joanna Brooks’ impassioned memoir about her life as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Leaving behind the innocence of childhood belief and embracing the complications of faith in adulthood, her story shows a side of religion that is very rarely exhibited: its humanity, tenderness, humor, and internal struggles.
In ALL WHO GO DO NOT RETURN, Shulem Deen bravely offers an illuminating look at the highly secretive world of the Skverers, who raised him to believe that questions are dangerous. When his tiny transgression of turning on the radio leads him to the library and later the Internet, his feverish inquiry into the tenets of his religious beliefs causes his faith to unravel entirely.
In a series of sublimely absurd ruminations, Israeli writer Etgar Keret recounts the years between the birth of his son and the death of his father—seven good years. Keret’s wise, witty memoir is full of wonder and life and love, poignant insights, and irrepressible humor.
David Gregory was a reporter covering the White House when President Bush asked: “Gregory, how’s your faith?” Raised in a bi-religious household, Gregory had a strong sense of Jewish culture but no real beliefs until he married a Protestant woman of strong faith. In HOW’S YOUR FAITH, Gregory chronicles his spiritual journey, which he explores with the curiosity and dedication one would expect from a seasoned journalist.
Although Susan Silverman grew up with atheist parents, she later became a rabbi, a decision that shocked those who knew her. A mother of five, Susan and her unique family is a microcosm of the hope and despair of the world we all live in. As funny as it is moving, this meditation on identity and faith will resonate with anyone trying to find their place in the world.
Curious to learn about evangelical Christians, Gina Welch, a young secular Jew, joined Jerry Falwell’s Thomas Road Baptist Church—immersing herself in the life and language of the devout. For two years, Welch recognized the allure of evangelicalism, even for the godless, realizing that the congregation met her needs and answered the questions she didn’t even know she had.
When life roughs you up a bit and Scripture feels unattainable, Rabbi Harold S. Kushner’s NINE ESSENTIAL THINGS I’VE LEARNED ABOUT LIFE offers a lifetime’s worth of spiritual food for thought, pragmatic advice, and strength for trying times.
Reba Riley was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. In the anguish of a desperate prayer, an idea came to her: she would embark on a year-long quest to experience 30 religions by her 30th birthday. POST-TRAUMATIC CHURCH SYNDROME tackles the universal struggle to heal what life has broken and is the perfect read for questioners, doubters, misfits, and seekers of all faiths.
Leah Vincent was born into the Yeshivish community, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect that shuns much of the modern world. At 16, she was caught exchanging letters with a boy, banished from the community, and sent to live on her own in New York City. It took a shocking state of despair to empower her to transform a life of tragedy into a tale of unexpected triumph.
In 2013, “King of Queens” actress Leah Remini loudly and publicly broke ties with the Church of Scientology. Her memoir reveals the details of her painful split with the church and its controversial practices. Bold, brash, and bravely confessional, TROUBLEMAKER chronicles Remini’s remarkable journey toward emotional and spiritual freedom.