Share 14 Remarkable Memoirs About Faith & Spirituality

14 Remarkable Memoirs About Faith & Spirituality

Tolani Osan joined Simon & Schuster’s Associate’s Program in 2015 where she spent her first rotation in S&S publicity. She recently earned a Master’s in Publishing & Writing from Emerson College. A daughter of Nigerian immigrants, Tolani enjoys literary fiction about the tensions between cultures and classes. Her favorite book is Khaled Hosseini’s “A Thousand Splendid Suns,” which she’s made a pact with herself to revisit every three years. She also founded and runs women’s interest blog, MyDresscapades.com, and writes on topics such as fashion, food, perpetual “singledom,” and feminism. You can enjoy her musings about pop culture, fashion, and literature on twitter @dresscapades.  

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.


Unorthodox
by Deborah Feldman
As a member of the strict religious Satmar sect of Hasidic Judaism, Deborah Feldman spent many of her teenage years trapped in a sexually and emotionally abusive marriage. As the tension between her desires and responsibilities grew more explosive, she realized that for the sake of her son—whom she had at 19—she had to escape.
Unorthodox
Deborah Feldman

A rich and harrowing memoir of a young woman’s escape from the strictly religious Satmar sect of Hasidic Judaism in Brooklyn in order to give herself and her newborn son a brighter future.

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The Sound of Gravel
by Ruth Wariner

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 Sound of Gravel
Ruth Wariner

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.

MENTIONED IN:

14 Remarkable Memoirs About Faith & Spirituality

By Tolani Osan | February 21, 2017

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The Book of Mormon Girl
by Joanna Brooks

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.

The Book of Mormon Girl
Joanna Brooks

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.

MENTIONED IN:

14 Remarkable Memoirs About Faith & Spirituality

By Tolani Osan | February 21, 2017

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All Who Go Do Not Return
by Shulem Deen

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.

All Who Go Do Not Return
Shulem Deen

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.

MENTIONED IN:

14 Remarkable Memoirs About Faith & Spirituality

By Tolani Osan | February 21, 2017

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Muslim Girl
by Amani Al-Khatahtbeh
Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, founder of the popular site MuslimGirl.com, wrote this harrowing and candid memoir about coming of age as a Muslim American in the wake of 9/11. Dispelling the myth that a headscarf makes you a walking target for terrorism, Al-Khatahtbeh’s urgent message is fresh, timely, and a deeply necessary counterpoint to the current rhetoric about the Middle East.
Muslim Girl
Amani Al-Khatahtbeh

This harrowing and candid memoir from the founder of MuslimGirl.com is a Muslim American’s coming-of-age story in the wake of 9/11. In MUSLIM GIRL, Amani Al-Khatahtbeh shares an honest and deeply necessary counterpoint to Islamophobia and the current rhetoric about the Middle East.

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The Seven Good Years
by Etgar Keret

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.

The Seven Good Years
Etgar Keret

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.

MENTIONED IN:

14 Remarkable Memoirs About Faith & Spirituality

By Tolani Osan | February 21, 2017

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How's Your Faith?
by David Gregory

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.

How's Your Faith?
David Gregory

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.

MENTIONED IN:

14 Remarkable Memoirs About Faith & Spirituality

By Tolani Osan | February 21, 2017

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Casting Lots
by Susan Silverman

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.

Casting Lots
Susan Silverman

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.

MENTIONED IN:

14 Remarkable Memoirs About Faith & Spirituality

By Tolani Osan | February 21, 2017

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In the Land of Believers
by Gina Welch

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.

In the Land of Believers
Gina Welch

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.

MENTIONED IN:

14 Remarkable Memoirs About Faith & Spirituality

By Tolani Osan | February 21, 2017

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Nine Essential Things I've Learned About Life
by Harold S. Kushner

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.

Nine Essential Things I've Learned About Life
Harold S. Kushner

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.

MENTIONED IN:

14 Remarkable Memoirs About Faith & Spirituality

By Tolani Osan | February 21, 2017

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The Year of Living Biblically
by A. J. Jacobs
Raised in a secular family but increasingly interested in the relevance of faith in our modern world, A. J. Jacobs dives into religious study headfirst and attempts to obey the Bible as literally as possible for one full year. The resulting spiritual journey is at once funny and profound and will make you see history’s most influential book with new eyes.
The Year of Living Biblically
A. J. Jacobs

From the bestselling author of The Know-It-All comes a fascinating and timely exploration of religion and the Bible. A.J. Jacobs chronicles his hilarious and thoughtful year spent obeying―as literally as possible―the tenets of the Bible.

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Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome
by Reba Riley

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.

Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome
Reba Riley

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.

MENTIONED IN:

14 Remarkable Memoirs About Faith & Spirituality

By Tolani Osan | February 21, 2017

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Cut Me Loose
by Leah Vincent

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.

Cut Me Loose
Leah Vincent

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.

MENTIONED IN:

14 Remarkable Memoirs About Faith & Spirituality

By Tolani Osan | February 21, 2017

Close

Troublemaker
by Leah Remini

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.

Troublemaker
Leah Remini

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.

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