“Remember who you were when you first arrived and reclaim the gift of true self.” – Parker J. Palmer
I have some good books to share with you. I’m obsessed with the website Goodreads. Have you heard of it? It’s a fun and helpful way to catalog books you’ve read, are currently reading, and curate a want-to-read list (and follow friends, too!). I think there is something for everyone here, with books on Women & Spirituality, books on the Soul, and finally books on Purpose & Meaning.
I’m currently actively reading about 6 books including Original Blessing, which is majorly giving me LIFE right now, finishing Artisan Soul and also Echo of the Soul; which is tucked away waiting in the wings. Can’t wait to share more about those books soon.
Alongside the books I’ve been assigned to read for instructor training, I’ve been nerding out and digging into some extra-curricular studying along with a desire to continue nourishing my soul and reading things that are life-giving, spark my imagination and educate. (This is what happens when you’re a life-long student! And I am pretty sure it’s in my genes, with both my parents holding graduate degrees and my dad holding a PhD! Someday…someday…Masters someday!) I’ve been updating the various lists or “shelves” as they’re referred to on the site and through the app.
Here are my top 7 Non-Fiction Books for Nurturing a Healthy Soul*
- Eve’s Revenge
- Lost Women of the Bible
- Ruby Slippers
- Soul Keeping
- Emotionally Healthy Spirituality
- Let Your Life Speak
- Healing the Purpose of Your Life
And here is a little blurb about each of them:
Eve’s Revenge: Women & a Spirituality of the Body by Lilian Calles Barger
I read this treasure of a book at a pivotal time in my life. Growing up without a healthy embodied spirituality left me filled with a massive burden of unnecessary shame, and what turned out to be an unhealthy body image. The shame of being a woman. A physical, embodied woman. The author, Barger, takes us on a chronological journey back to Eve, the mother of all humanity, and through church history which was dictated primarily by men or priests, often, unmarried men. This left a huge gap in the history of the church and the way the body was viewed in relation to spirituality. She gently and critically looks back and weaves this incredibly redemptive picture of the founding ladies of our faith. She draws the holy connection between Eve and Mary, the mother of Jesus. This is no critique of Eve. She invites us into a holy embodied spirituality that makes room for our bodies, not one that disconnects or over spiritualizes. It is both eloquent and incredibly insightful. I will forever recommend this book to every woman I ever meet as it is a healing book, and I’m grateful for finding it through Jonalyn Fincher, her book is below.
Lost Women of the Bible: Finding strength & significance through their stories by Carolyn Custis James
Carolyn Custis James is one of my top favorite authors and theologians. Her unique insight and idea of the Blessed Alliance is incredibly redemptive and rich and full. This is not empty. (I highly recommend any of her books. I’ve read 3 of them, and have 2 more to catch up on, with Half the Church and Malestrom next on my list.)
Ruby Slippers: how the soul of a woman brings her home by Jonalyn Fincher
This is a sparkly book that is more than meets the eye. Jonalyn has incredible depth. Hers was the first book I read that didn’t leave me with the empty feeling that something was missing, as many other women’s books often do. There is no empty stereotype or generalization of women or roles. Instead, she invites us to remove the suffocating, restricting corsets of these stereotypes about femininity. She gives a rich well of information and educates us on the soul, and explains that there is no one picture of femininity, and empowers and frees you up to be your true self.
Soul Keeping: Caring for the most important part of you by John Ortberg
In his delightfully simple but profound way, Ortberg shares about his journey towards this idea of Soul Keeping. He tells about visiting with Dallas Willard and sitting with his wisdom, the incredibly profound insight that he offers. I love the way Ortberg unwraps the layers of the soul and demonstrates how intricate it is and the great, many needs of the soul. Needs like rest, freedom, and blessing.
“Your soul is not just something that lives on after your body dies. It’s the most important thing about you. It is your life.”
“The soul is that aspect of your whole being that correlates, integrates, and enlivens everything going on in the various dimensions of the self. The soul is the life center of human beings.”
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: It’s Impossible to Be Spiritually Mature, While Remaining Emotionally Immature by Peter Scazzero
This book is not quite as intense or condescending as the subtitle may sound. It’s about a holistic spirituality that includes rather than excludes our emotions – heart, mind, and body. I listened to this via audiobook and found it very bolstering and holistic. He begins by talking about ten things that make for an unhealthy spirituality, like some of the following: 2. Ignoring the emotions of anger, sadness, and fear. 3. Dying to the wrong things. 9. Living without limits. Under his second point he explains why feelings matter:
“To feel is to be human. To minimize or deny what we feel is a distortion of what it means to be image bearers of our personal God. To the degree that we are unable to express our emotions, we remain impaired in our ability to love God, others, and ourselves.”
Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation by Parker J. Palmer
I both read and listened to this book. I began with the audiobook and found the material so compelling and rich that I wanted to see the words for myself. It was recommended to me and it was soothing and full of incredible insight, relatable anecdotes with a bit of his personal vocational story. This Quaker insight includes concepts like “when way closes” which he describes the insight found in learning what paths aren’t working.
“For a good man to realize that it is better to be whole than to be good is to enter on a straight and narrow path compared to which his previous rectitude was flowery license.” John Middleton Murray as quoted by Parker J. Palmer
Healing the Purpose of Your Life by Dennis Linn, Sheila Fabricant Linn, & Matthew Linn.
This beautiful, tender, book offers fresh language and insight into our unique way of BEing and helpful questions to help you work through your unique way of DOING that expresses your unique way of BEing, without burnout, without sacrificing your self, your nature, who you were created to be. The authors talk about Sealed Orders: personalized instructions each one of us is imparted with emphasizing the Dignity and unique meaning of each person’s life. And talk about Doings that express our unique way of BEing. The particular way the light of God shines within us. I don’t know what else to say except to point you in this direction if this piques your interest or might help the search for meaning you are looking for. For me, it’s been such a helpful, healing place to start and move forward, in finding my own voice again.
*My caveat for you is that if reading is not a helpful way that fills you up or you don’t find to be life-giving, and if you’ve already tried audio books, then prioritize those things that are helpful, life-giving, not depleting sources. If you prefer stories, then find good books that tell good stories, watch good movies that tell good stories. Whatever works for you. You are uniquely made, and what brings me life may not be the same thing that brings you life. Whatever is good for YOUR soul. Do that.