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Recommended religious and spiritual books

Tentatively scheduled books
for the next few months:

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Webmaster's note:

We feel that these books should be of interest to everyone:

  • Those who follow a conservative religious belief system should find the books helpful when proselytizing. It is important to know what Christians from other faith traditions, religious liberals, and secularists believe and -- above all -- why they believe it.

  • Agnostics, Atheists, and other secularists should find the books helpful because they may increase their understanding of their own beliefs, and those of various organized religious traditions.

  • Everyone may benefit from these books. Taken as a group, they combat with reason the high levels of sexism, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, hatred and mistrust of Atheists, general pervasive and entrenched religious intolerance, etc. in the North American culture and the rest of the world.

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Previous months' recommendations

Current month's selection

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Note to those without a Kindle reader:

Amazon supplies a free Kindle reader application that is available in various versions, for Android phones, PCs, Macs, tablet, etc.:

  • Go to the Amazon web site at: https://www.amazon.com/

  • Go to the search bar at the top of the screen. Enter free reading app

  • There should be a "Free Kindle Reading App" link as the top selection customized to the device you are using.

Once you download it, you can buy ebooks from Amazon which are usually significantly cheaper than paperback or hardcover versons. And, if you download the app to your tablet or phone, you will be able to carry dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of books with you! No need to build additional book shelves!

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2016-March's selection

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"Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless" by Greta Christina

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.
$
10.56 plus postage in Paperback, or $6.61 in Kindle format.

Amazon.com book description:

"Why are atheists angry? Is it because they're selfish, joyless, lacking in meaning, and alienated from God? Or is it because they have legitimate reasons to be angry -- and are ready to do something about it? Armed with passionate outrage, absurdist humor, and calm intelligence, popular blogger Greta Christina makes a powerful case for outspoken atheist activism, and explains the empathy and justice that drive it. This accessible, personal, down-to-earth book speaks not only to atheists, but also to believers who want to understand the so-called new atheism. Why Are You Atheists So Angry? drops a bombshell on the destructive force of religious faith—and gives a voice to millions of angry atheists.

Greta Christina has been writing professionally since 1989, on topics including atheism, sexuality and sex-positivity, LGBT issues, politics, culture, and whatever crosses her mind. She is a regular contributor to AlterNet, Free Inquiry, the Humanist, and Salon, and is on the speakers' bureaus of the Secular Student Alliance and the Center for Inquiry.

Average rating by Amazon customers: 4.4 out of 5 stars.

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2016-April's selection

book cover

"Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family" by Amy Ellis Nutt

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.
$
16.20 plus postage in Hardcover, or $13.30 in Kindle format.

Book description by Erin Kodicek:

" 'Why IS it such a big deal to everyone what somebody has in their pants?' Excellent question, posed by an unusually astute transgender girl, the subject of Amy Ellis Nutt’s emotional and illuminating Becoming Nicole. It’s also a little ironic, since Nicole’s story makes a bit of a deal of it, but in a much different way than other stories we’ve been hearing lately, from celebrities like Caitlyn Jenner and television shows like Transparent. Nicole, her twin brother Jonas, mom Kelly, and dad Wayne, are your typical middle class American family. They live next door to you -- are shuttling from work, to Cub Scouts, to softball practice. … They’re also coming to terms with the fact that one of their own has Gender Dysphoria, a medical condition whereby a person does not identify with the sex they were assigned at birth. And so Wayne and Kelly Maines discover that they don’t have two sons at all, but a son and a daughter. This is a particularly hard pill for Republican, Air Force veteran, Wayne, to swallow, and his journey from denial to accepting and championing his daughter, is one of the more powerful and moving side narratives in a book chock full of them. That is why I really struggled to write this review, because Becoming Nicole is an important book that imparts important lessons, and the ones that resonate most have nothing to do with what’s in anyone’s pants: Be true to yourself, live an authentic life, exercise compassion.

Average rating by Amazon customers: 4.4 out of 5 stars. It was selected as Amazon's Best Book of October, 2015; a New York Times notable book; one of People's ten best books of the year; and Men's Journal's one of the best books of the year!

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2016-May's selection

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"Freedom from Religion," by Noel McGivern

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.
$
18.65 plus postage in Paperback, or $5.77 in Kindle format.

Amazon.com book description:

"Why is belief a useless guide to truth? Why do we need to understand the danger of religious identity? Was Moses a ruthless psychopath? What led to the Catholic Church's moral cowardice over the Nazis and child-abusing priests? How harmful have Islamic interpretations been for women in Arab countries? What are the best answers to claims the Bible is inerrant? Are spiritual experiences just products of the mind? Freedom from Religion explores the evidence and makes a powerful case for walking away from religion. It's a guide for those defending non-belief and deeply challenging to those within religion."

Noel McGivern was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in 1962, and left at the age of 19 for a degree in politics at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. A major reason for leaving Belfast was his desire to be free from the religious identities imposed by that divided society. He spent many years seeking the truth at the heart of religion and spirituality, eventually reaching the conclusion that such beliefs are often barriers to human and political progress. He embarked on a study of how religion affects individuals and society. This book, sometimes funny, and at others deeply serious, is the outcome of that.

Average rating by Amazon customers: 4.6 out of 5 stars.

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2016-June's selection

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"The fear of Islam: an introduction to Islaophobia in the West," by Todd H Green

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.
$
19.82 plus postage in Paperback, or $10.52 in Kindle format.

Amazon.com book description:

"American and European societies have struggled with the recurrent problem of Islamophobia, which continues to surface in waves of controversial legislative proposals, public anger over the construction of religious edifices, and outbreaks of violence. The ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine contributes fuel to the aggressive debate in Western societies and creates the need for measured discussion about religion, fear, prejudice, otherness, and residual colonialist attitudes. The Fear of Islam speaks into this context, offering an introduction to the historical roots and contemporary forms of religious anxiety regarding Islam within the Western world. Tracing the medieval legacy of religious polemics and violence, Green weaves together a narrative that orients the reader to the complex history and issues that originate from this legacy, continuing through to the early and late modern colonial enterprises, the theories of 'Orientalism,' and the production of religious discourses of alterity and the clash of civilizations that proliferated in the era of 9/11 and the war on terror."

Todd Green is Associate Professor of Religion at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, and the past co-chair of the Religion in Europe Group of the American Academy of Religion. His research focuses on Islamophobia, secularization, and interfaith dialogue. He is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post, and he has been interviewed by CNN, NPR, Al Jazeera, Reuters, and France 24 on events related to Islamophobia. His most recent book, The Fear of Islam, surveys the historical origins and contemporary manifestations of anti-Muslim bigotry and hostility in the United States and Europe.

Average rating by Amazon customers: 4.8 out of 5 stars.

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2016-July's selection

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"Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People," by Nadia Bolz-Weber

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.
$
17.80 plus postage in Paperback, $13.99 in Kindle format, or $22.99 in hardcover.

A sampling of Amazon.com book reviews:

“Unflinchingly honest (and funny)…You don't have to be religious to get something out of this book.”
-NPR’s “Best Books of 2015”

"[Bolz-Weber] is one of the most important Christian voices around -- not because she has come up with some catchy, easy new way to do faith, but because when talks about the destructive power of sin, as well as redemption and grace, she knows of what she speaks."
-Huffington Post

"Wickedly funny and painfully vulnerable, theologically nuanced and lyrically sonorous. [Bolz-Weber's] voice communicates the scandal of the Christ and the sacraments of his church with more force and vitality than most writers can hope to summon."
-The Christian Century

“Engaging and accessible…Bolz-Weber is clear-eyed about the personal travails faced by the marginalized and those without faith.”
–Booklist

"If Saint Augustine were to return to life and live among us now, he would be Bolz-Weber; and if his Confessions were to be written in 21st century rhetoric and style, they would be this book. Accidental Saints is what every Christian yearns to know is possible." 
-Phyllis Tickle, author of The Divine Hours and The Great Emergence 

About the Author:

Nadia Bolz-Weber is the founding pastor of House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, Colorado. She is the au­thor of the New York Times best-selling memoir Pastrix. Nadia has been featured on CNN and in the Washington Post, Bitch Magazine, NPR’s Morning Edition, More Magazine, and the Daily Beast.

Average rating by Amazon customers: 4.8 out of 5 stars!

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Originally written: 2008-MAR-16
Latest update: 2016-FEB-10
Assembled by: B.A. Robinson

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