Earlier this year I told my faith story, one that continues to evolve and reshape. After a decade long pause, two years ago I picked up a faith memoir (and then another, and another). I know that in the long years since I read anything in this genre, there have been some amazing things published. So forgive that this list is a tad dated. But books like this don't really come and go. They either impact you or they don't.
Here's my list of five that did:
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. I had read a couple of other things by C.S. Lewis by the time I stumbled around to Screwtape, but this short little book knocked my socks off. It's a series of letters from one demon to another, a senior to a junior, if you will. At the time it fell into my hands, the idea of warfare happening in a spiritual realm was all the publishing rage. (This Present Darkness, anyone?). The Screwtape Letters is older than that and is, in my opinion, genius. I think this could be read no matter your belief system, just because it's an interesting take on the emotional psyche.
Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott. If I had to pick just one, this book would be the one that changed the game for me. I read it just after college, while nursing a broken heart, on recommendation of Shauna Niequist. It made me think about what it meant to be Christian woman in America in the modern age. I had absolutely no idea that people thought like this, prayed like this, acted like this. Now, the internet was a different animal back then. In 2012, one google search will tell you all about the varying faiths and beliefs within the Christian denomination. But to a little Oklahoma girl who had painted Jesus with one stroke, Traveling Mercies was a revelation.
Sister Aimee: The Life of Aimee Semple McPherson by Daniel Epstein. Bear with me, as this is kind of a wild ride. This historical book about one of the most popular and effective tent evangelists in all of American history, a woman who has been all but erased from the current record. Founder of the foursquare gospel, if you are even mildly interested in the history of the church, this story will blow your mind. (It will also anger you that you weren't aware of Aimee Semple McPherson before.) As a woman, as a Christian, this book made me want to punch my fist to the sky. (And after I finished it, I made my husband take me to her original church here in Los Angeles, not far from our home.)
Windows of the Soul by Ken Gire. I read this earlier in college and it just solidified my instinct to attach God to art, instead of forcing a separation between holy and secular. There are few things in this book that I think back on and still appreciate.
Evolving in Monkey Town by Rachel Held Evans. I read this book when I very first decided that I was going to venture back into the spiritual waters. This book and Rachel's blog has made a huge impact on how I think about the current Christian atmosphere. Monkey Town is a faith crisis memoir, and her story isn't that unlike many other women my age. But she shared it, she shared it well, and her influence is growing wider for certain disillusioned women of faith. (Not coincidentally, Rachel has a new book out today!)
I could talk about books all day, and they're some of the most popular posts here at HH. But instead of just sharing what I'm reading currently, I love to delve into the things that have stuck with me the most over time.
What are some of your favorite books on faith?
(Looking for more books on faith? Let me just point you right on over to Sarah Bessey's 10 Books that Changed My Faith. Sarah inspired this post more than just a little bit.)