Books that nourish the spirit are more popular than ever. Here’s our guide to the top titles.
The first inspirational book was, of course, the Bible. Talk about longevity: Americans reportedly spend some $400 million a year on various editions of the Good Book. These days, though, they’re also buying up a lot of other titles that promise different sorts of spiritual guidance. We’ve sifted through these books and highlighted the more inspiring among them–both classic and new. Whether you believe in the healing power of angels, animals, or chicken soup, you’re sure to find something here to help you on your journey to enlightenment.
* Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, professional motivational speakers, have collected enough heartwarming stories to fill a series of books called CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL that has sold more than 12 million copies. Their 4TH COURSE OF CHICKEN SOUP, published in April, contains 101 new stories that celebrate love, parenting, and our capacity to overcome obstacles and experience lasting joy–even in the face of sorrow.
* Joan Wester Anderson is the best-selling author of WHERE ANGELS WALK and WHERE MIRACLES HAPPEN. In her latest book, WHERE WONDERS PREVAIL, published last November, she’s gathered dozens of true stories that attest to the existence of heaven and God’s presence in our lives. He reveals Himself with little “signs and wonders,” she writes. And “although faith should never depend on such things…we need a touch of the sacred now and then to remind us of our eternal home.”
* MODERN-DAY MIRACLES by Paul Prather, a newspaper columnist and religion writer, shows how ordinary people experience acts of God. Miracles, Prather reports, are happening all around us to individuals of every faith. He examines the different types–prophesies, medical remissions, divine interventions–and looks at how believers can increase their chances of living one, while avoiding “miracle mongers” and charlatans.
* “In their innocence and wisdom, in their connection to the earth and its most ancient rhythms, animals show us a way back to a home they have never left,” writes Susan Chernak McElroy in ANIMALS AS TEACHERS & HEALERS. A former veterinarian’s assistant, wildlife rehabilitator, and zookeeper, McElroy credits much of her own triumph over illness to her love of animals-her role models for courage, grace, and acceptance. In her recently published book, she shares her story and the accounts of others who have been profoundly moved by the loving nature of animals.
Seeing the Light
* In 1992, Betty J. Eadie told the extraordinary story of her near-death experience in EMBRACED BY THE LIGHT, which quickly became a No. 1 best-seller, with sales totaling more than two million copies. In her new book, THE AWAKENING HEART: MY CONTINUING JOURNEY TO LOVE, to be published in June, Eadie expands on the lessons of Embraced, examining the idea of unconditional love and challenging readers to strive for a more enriching spiritual life.
* Rosemary Altea is an English spiritual medium and faith healer. Her best-selling autobiography, THE EAGLE AND THE ROSE, published in 1995, tells how she discovered her psychic abilities in early childhood but was too ashamed to reveal her gift–until, in her early 30s, she met her spirit guide, Grey Eagle, an Apache chief. Altea’s second book, PROUD SPIRIT, published this month, is a collection of lessons, insights, and healing stories drawn from her work.
* Five years after his mother’s death, Justin Matott became aware of her guiding presence while tending the garden in his backyard. As he planted and weeded, he listened to her silent communication and gained insights about his life. His reflections are recorded in MY GARDEN VISITS, published in April.
* The scientific and psychic worlds meet in SECOND SIGHT by Judith Orloff, M.D. An assistant professor of psychiatry and a staff physician at three hospitals, Dr. Orloff uses her psychic powers to help police find missing children, and insurance companies investigate corporate fraud. She believes everyone has psychic abilities, and encourages readers to tap into them by using their hunches and gut feelings and to recognize psychic experiences–like deja vu–in everyday life.
* In 1992, at an emotional low point in his life, Neale Donald Walsch, a former radio talk-show host, wrote a letter to God. And God replied, Walsch says, as a voice in his head. The record of the conversation that ensued over the next three years is being published in three volumes. CONVERSATIONS WITH GOD, BOOK 1, which appeared last fall, focuses on individual challenges and opportunities, offering therapeutic advice from God, who speaks in a remarkably colloquial voice. BOOK 2, published this month, tackles global topics.
“Life is difficult.”
So reads the first line of THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED, a phenomenal best-seller for over ten years, with more than five million copies in print. In it, author M. Scott Peck, M.D., a psychiatrist, integrates traditional psychology and spiritual insights, suggesting ways in which confronting and resolving problems–and suffering through the process–can help us achieve greater self-knowledge, maturity, and wisdom. Dr. Peck’s most recent book is FURTHER ALONG THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED.
* One of the leading superstars among inspirational writers is Deepak Chopra, M.D., a physician schooled in India, best known for blending modern medicine, herbal cures, meditation, quantum physics, and ancient Hindu spiritual practices. Dr. Chopra has written 16 books, including AGELESS BODY, TIMELESS MIND and THE SEVEN SPIRITUAL LAWS OF SUCCESS.
In THE PATH TO LOVE, published earlier this year, he examines how we can fulfill our heart’s desires by overcoming the blocks we put in the way of our own happiness. “The sense of delight, uniqueness, and blessing felt by lovers has its own reality,” he writes, “but you must find it within.”
* Mother Teresa, renowned for her selfless work with the poor in Calcutta, India, has appeared for many years on Good Housekeeping’s list of Most Admired Women. Her books–A SIMPLE PATH, LOVING JESUS, ONE HEART FULL OF LOVE (edited by Jose Luis Gonzales-Balado), and the newest collection of her reflections, NO GREATER LOVE, published in March-teach the value of a deep commitment to prayer, faith, and service, “The fruit of love is service,” she writes in NO GREATER LOVE. “And the fruit of service is peace.”
* CARE OF THE SOUL by Thomas Moore spent almost four years on The New York Times best-seller list. The author has been a monk, a professor of religion and psychology, and a practicing psychotherapist. In THE RE-ENCHANTMENT OF EVERYDAY LIFE, his newest book, Moore encourages readers to lead a soulful life by viewing familiar things in new ways, and by spending time in quiet contemplation. “The soul has an absolute… need for regular excursions into enchantment,” he tells us, going on to explain that we often don’t realize how much our lives have been impoverished by a lack of magic.
* Drawing on modern literature, psychology, theology, and his 30 years of experience as a rabbi, Harold S. Kushner writes about the struggles of human existence in such popular books as WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE and WHEN ALL YOU’VE EVER WANTED ISN’T ENOUGH. His latest best-seller, HOW GOOD DO WE HAVE TO BE?, encourages readers to accept themselves and others even when they fall short of perfection. “There seems to be something in the human soul that causes us to think kiss of ourselves every time we do something wrong,” he writes. But religion can “wash us clean of disappointment” with the liberating message that God does not expect perfection and finds us worthy of His love.