Go Beyond Devouring Chicken Soup with These 10 Religious Books

There are times when you want to read something that enhances your understanding of life, your purpose on this planet and how you can live a more enlightened and meaningful life. In such times, turn to the following ten books which will shed new light on the life and help you make the most of the time that has been given to you.

Regardless of your religious beliefs, all the following religious books will appeal to the part of your personality that is perpetually questioning and seeking meaning behind everything.

10. Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse

First Published: 1922

What It’s About:

This is the story of Siddhartha’s journey towards spiritual enlightenment and self-discovery. In English, the name ‘Siddhartha’ translates from Sanskrit to mean ‘he who has attained his goals.’ Hesse charts Siddhartha’s journey, beginning in the Nepalese part of the world called Kapilvastu, when he leaves home in hope of finding spiritual guidance. He leaves his family for learning and contemplating on the meaning of life. Soon, he becomes restless and after meeting a beautiful courtesan, has a son with her. Full of despair and not finding fulfillment in material possessions, Siddhartha goes to a river to end his life, when he experiences a meaningful epiphany.

Why You Should Read It:

Hesse is the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature and this novel has themes related awareness of one’s purpose on earth, being conscious of one’s journey and ultimately understanding why we have been put on this planet. Before being able to write the book, Hesse lived a reclusive life, learning the teachings of Buddhist and Hindu scriptures. He did all of this to get a better understanding of Buddha’s teachings.

Best Quote:

“When someone seeks,” said Siddhartha, “then it easily happens that his eyes see only the thing that he seeks, and he is able to find nothing, to take in nothing because he always thinks only about the thing he is seeking, because he has one goal, because he is obsessed with his goal. Seeking means: having a goal. But finding means: being free, being open, having no goal.”

9. Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor E. Frankl

First Published: 1946

What It’s About:

Between 1942 and 1945, the author of this bestselling novel worked in four different labor camps under the Nazi regime. Frankl describes life in the Nazi death camps and how he managed to survive deadly conditions. During his time in these camps, including time spent at the notorious Auschwitz, Frankl lost both his parents, his brother, and his pregnant wife. Through his account of this nightmare, Frankl discusses the meaning of life and coping with suffering without avoiding it completely. He says that is an unrealistic expectation to have. Much of the book also deals with the experiences of patients that he worked with later in life. Despite being set in one of the most depressing times known to man, this book is ultimately uplifting and inspiring.

Why You Should Read It:

If you want to read a book that will make a difference in your life, then look no further. Frankl’s experiences will motivate you to find your true purpose and see life from a fresh perspective.

Best Quote:

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

8. Don’t Be Sad, by Aaidh Ibn Abdullah al-Qarni

First Published: 2003

What It’s About:

This captivating book discusses the importance and the power of positivity. The book advises how to rid yourself of sadness and other negative emotions when the going gets tough, and instead gain a more positive outlook on life. With heavy references to the Holy Quran, the author discusses how every problem that we face in the 21st century can be overcome by learning the meaning behind certain religious texts. The author writes about the ways to overcome unhappy situations while remaining grateful for what you have.

Why You Should Read It:

If you are looking for an uplifting perspective on life that can be understood by anyone regardless of religion, then this is the book to turn to. If you find yourself always adhering to a negative view of life or any situation, this book will help you uncover the power of positivity. Regardless of your religion, this is a must-read.

Best Quote:

“Episodes of the past are finished with, sadness cannot retrieve them, melancholy cannot make things right and depression will never bring the past back to life.”

7. Love Wins, by Rob Bell

First Published: 2011

What It’s About:

Exploring the age-old concepts of heaven and hell, Rob Bell questions the fundamental teachings of the Bible in this revelatory novel. The author questions everything that the Bible has taught including concepts of salvation, God, Jesus, heaven and hell. Bell argues that perhaps we have been misinterpreting what we have believed all these years to be decisive concepts and religious beliefs. Perhaps what we need to understand is that they are a lot grander in meaning than we realize. The book explores and gives a whole new meaning to ancient beliefs.

Why You Should Read It:

Written by a pastor, this book will give the reader an entirely new perspective on the concepts of heaven, hell, God, and life’s purpose. The book will especially appeal to those who enjoy seeing things and concepts from a fresh perspective and are constantly questioning what they have been told to believe.

Best Quote:

“We are free to resist, reject, and rebel against God’s ways for us. We can have all the hell we want.”

6. The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran

First Published: 1923

What It’s About:

This is a collection of 26 inspirational essays, each delivered by a character called Al-Mustapha, who is about to leave for his homeland after a gap of 12 years. He is in exile on a fictional island when he is asked by the people there to share his knowledge on some of the more pressing questions of life. The essays deal with topics ranging from family, death, love and work. The book urges people to be non-judgemental and offers a spiritual view of life which is the exact opposite of orthodox religion.

Why You Should Read It:

Regardless of your religion, this book is a must-read as it encourages people to take a less judgmental and more spiritual view of religion. Despite being one of the most popular poets in American history, Gibran faced a lot of opposition by academics in the Western world. He remains, however, one of the world’s bestselling authors, consistently loved by generations for his liberated views and beautifully written prose.

Best Quote:

“You talk when you cease to be at peace with your thoughts.”

5. The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz

First Published: 1997

What It’s About:

Don Miguel Ruiz discusses self-limiting beliefs, which have the power to diminish your joy while creating an excess of pain and suffering. The book is based on ancient Toltec wisdom and offers a transformative way of living that will change not only your outlook on events, but your mindset as well. The way of life that Ruiz discusses will help you gain happiness in every aspect of your life, while also gaining a new sense of freedom. ‘The four agreements’ refers to four distinct concepts: Don’t take anything personally, don’t make assumptions, always do your best, and be impeccable with your word.

Why You Should Read It:

This is a fascinating book that will show you how to see life from a new perspective, while finding better ways to react to events. Read this if you want a book that delivers simple truths and promotes self-growth.

Best Quote:

“If someone is not treating you with love and respect, it is a gift if they walk away from you. If that person doesn’t walk away, you will surely endure many years of suffering with him or her. Walking away may hurt for a while, but your heart will eventually heal.”

4. The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins

First Published: 2006

What It’s About:

Written by one of the foremost atheists of the 21st century, this eye-opening book examines the concepts of God and religion. Dawkins discusses the ‘Old Testament’, the concept of an invisible designer of life, known as the Celestial Watchmaker, and generally touches upon all the major arguments that religion makes for the presence of a supreme being. He also discusses how religion has been behind some of the world’s biggest wars, while also being the root cause behind the abuse of children and bigotry. Dawkins argues that not only is believing in God wrong, it is also dangerous.

Why You Should Read It:

Whether or not you are a religious person, if you are curious about the concept of Atheism and its impact on an individual as well as on the society as a whole, then Richard Dawkins’ work is the best place to start.

Best Quote:

“We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.”

3. Everyday Zen, by Charlotte Joko Beck

First Published: 1989

What It’s About:

Using spiritual enlightenment and wisdom, Beck discusses solutions to the problems of daily life, including problematic areas such as relationships, work, fear, suffering, and love. The book is great for anyone who is overwhelmed by life. Beck discusses relevant topics such as understanding and overcoming disappointment, understanding the root cause of anger, being self-conscious and above all, always being honest with yourself.

Why You Should Read It:

If you are always seeking a way to live each moment of your life to the fullest, then this book will help you do just that. It is also interesting to note that the author is the founder and teacher at the Zen Center, San Diego. This book can be defined as an extraordinary read aimed at ordinary people. Most of us sail through life half asleep and this book will help you open your eyes. The language used is very straightforward and easy-to-understand. The book is great for beginners looking to understand the concept of Zen.

Best Quote:

“My dog doesn’t worry about the meaning of life.”

2. Angels in My Hair, by Lorna Byrne

First Published: 2008

What It’s About:

This is the autobiography of Lorna Byrne, who was a mystic in Ireland and is said to have powers of the saints from previous centuries. Ever since she was a child, Lorna has been able to see and talk with angels every day. She assumed that others could also see what she was seeing daily, but adults assumed Lorna was suffering from a mental disability as she seemed unable to focus on the world around her. This is the story of Lorna and how she met and married the man of her dreams, until tragedy struck and changed her life forever.

Why You Should Read It:

If you want to hear the true account of life from the eyes of someone who can see angels, this is an extraordinary book to read. Today, people travel from all over the world to seek Lorna in the hope of healing and gaining comfort. At the same time, theologians of various religions seek Lorna’s guidance. Do angels really live among us? This book may surprise you.

Best Quote:

“Your guardian angel never, ever stops communicating with you.”

1. The Jew in the Lotus, by Roger Kamenetz

First Published: 1994

What It’s About:

The book deals with the historical dialogue that took place between the Dalai Lama and several rabbis, two different religions being represented by experts in Judaism and Buddhism. Poet Roger Kamenetz accompanies eight high delegates of the Jewish faith to Dharamsala in India for a Buddhist-Jewish dialogue with the Dalai Lama and documents his encounters with the people he met and the conversations he had. The book chronicles the historic journey, the group dynamics, and the places they visit. It can be summed up as an account of the historic meeting between leaders of two faiths as described by a poet.

Why You Should Read It:

The book is full of descriptions of places that the group visits, including parts of India. The author describes in great detail the markets, shrines, temples and other vibrant places. It is a personal account of a journey and can be considered a travel narrative which would appeal to anyone looking to understand Judaism and Buddhism.

Best Quote:

“The preservation of Buddhism is preserving your own internal heart.”

Conclusion

Sometimes, finding out the greater meaning of life requires introspection and turning to the study of religion.

These ten religious books will help you see things about life, yourself as an individual or even the society as a whole from a new perspective.

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