Summer: when the length of your days finally matches the length of your reading list. Make the most of this extravagant stretch with a succinct inventory of must-reads. Better still, see to it that every one of them has a transcendent bent, so you exit the exercise (and enter the autumn) with your spirit all filled up.
An eclectic mix to get you started:
• Faith Beyond Belief: Stories of Good People Who Left Their Church Behind, Margaret Placentra Johnston. Named Gold Winner of the prestigious 2013 Nautilus Book Award in the religion/spirituality category, this book is designed to challenge conventional understandings of religion, with a view to finding harmony between the religious believer and the nonbeliever. Such an effort from a spiritual development perspective, the author contends, has to lead to a kinder, gentler world.
• If the Buddha Dated: A Handbook for Finding Love on a Spiritual Path, Charlotte Kasl. This quirky volume is about getting to know yourself — what makes you happy, uncomfortable, bored and angry — and learning to accept every last thing you discover. Rather than hating your bad qualities, If the Buddha Dated encourages you to love each and every part of yourself, including the negatives. The author also promotes the idea of embracing multiple forms of religion and spirituality, according to what speaks to you.
• The Sun, The Moon, The Stars and Maya, Rich Okun. This new book of spiritual quotations — “a collection of little sayings about enormous things” — was written to facilitate conversation about spirituality and morality inside of families. The artist, who whimsically pairs his inspirational sayings with original illustrations, penned the book with the hope of cultivating spiritual appreciation among his pulled-in-all-directions, time-starved readers.
• Wordsmith: The Gift of a Soul, Megan Young and Merrilyn Thomas. This thoughtful heartbreaker is the combined effort of a mother and daughter, the former bringing the latter’s eloquence to life after her untimely death to cancer at age 32 in 2010. The book is a collection of Young’s lyrical and spiritually uplifting poetry and prose on the enduring mystery, beauty and joy of the world — and of the pain and grief it contains. “This is a gift of my soul,” Young wrote. “All that I have, all that I am is here. I am a scientist, an artist, a wordsmith.”
• Little Book of God: Merging God with Science, Jerry Pollock. Here, the author (whose previous books include Putting God into Einstein’s Equations: Energy of the Soul) looks to bridge the divide between spirituality and science. The tome, Pollock says, is his literary effort to understand “God from God’s eyes.”
• Living Well With Chronic Illness: A Practical and Spiritual Guide, Richard Cheu. This unique guide looks to provide step-by-step counsel for people living with chronic conditions on the premise that conventional medicine largely overlooks their needs. Subjects like relaxation, stress management, overcoming loneliness and discovering spirituality are discussed as coping methods. “There are two tracks in health care: one is medical, one is spiritual,” says Cheu, a chaplain and counselor at Bellevue Hospital in New York. “It’s up to the patient to take care of that spiritual track, the one that keeps the train moving.”