Religion & Spirituality

In this collection we've gathered fiction and nonfiction texts that address humanity's age-old search for meaning and purpose within a higher power.

Publication year 2014Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Identity: Mental Health, Emotions/Behavior: HopeTags Self Help, Psychology, Health / Medicine, Religion / Spirituality, Philosophy

Publication year 1880Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionTags Religion / Spirituality, Philosophy, Russian Literature

Publication year 2007Genre Book, NonfictionTags Religion / Spirituality

Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim in the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation is a book by Eboo Patel. Part memoir, part treatise on the vulnerability of youth who are preyed upon and radicalized by religious zealots, the book examines Patel’s search for his identity, following him from childhood to his time as the founder of the Interfaith Youth Core group. Themes of faith, family, religious doubt, pluralism, and the... Read Acts Of Faith Summary

Publication year 1999Genre Poem, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Natural World: AnimalsTags Lyric Poem, Grief / Death, Animals, Religion / Spirituality, Relationships, Latin American Literature

Publication year 1996Genre Novel, FictionThemes Society: Politics & Government, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Emotions/Behavior: Hate & Anger, Emotions/Behavior: Revenge, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Identity: Masculinity, Identity: Femininity, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Values/Ideas: Win & Lose, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Society: Class, Society: War, Society: Economics, Relationships: Siblings, Relationships: Mothers, Relationships: Fathers, Relationships: Marriage, Relationships: Family, Relationships: Daughters & Sons, Natural World: Appearance & Reality, Relationships: Friendship, Identity: Disability, Identity: Gender, Life/Time: Birth, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Life/Time: The Future, Life/Time: The Past, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Values/Ideas: Trust & DoubtTags Fantasy, Action / Adventure, Class, Politics / Government, Religion / Spirituality, Trauma / Abuse / Violence, Grief / Death

A Game of Thrones is a 1996 epic fantasy novel by George R. R. Martin and is the first in his long-running A Song of Ice and Fire series. The novel introduces the audience to the fictional world of Westeros, where characters become embroiled in a complicated web of plots, conspiracies, and betrayals as they pursue power. A Game of Thrones won numerous awards on publication and was adapted for television in 2011. This guide... Read A Game of Thrones Summary

Publication year 1961Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionTags Religion / Spirituality, Christian literature

Clive Staples Lewis (1888-1963) C.S. Lewis was a British writer and academic, renowned for his works on Christianity, and best remembered today as the author of the children’s book series The Chronicles of Narnia. He graduated from Oxford University and taught there until 1954 when he became Chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge University. A Grief Observed was originally publishedunder the pseudonym N.W. Clerk and attributed to Lewis only after his death. A Grief... Read A Grief Observed Summary

Publication year 1993Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Society: Community, Values/Ideas: Trust & Doubt, Natural World: Appearance & RealityTags Religion / Spirituality, History: World, Philosophy

Publication year 1945Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Politics & Government, Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Values/Ideas: Justice & InjusticeTags Philosophy, Religion / Spirituality, Politics / Government, History: European

Publication year 2020Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Relationships: Teams, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: courage, Emotions/Behavior: Hope, Values/Ideas: Trust & Doubt, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Science & TechnologyTags Action / Adventure, Sports, History: Asian, Leadership/Organization/Management, Science / Nature, Religion / Spirituality

Publication year 1838Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Society: ColonialismTags Religion / Spirituality

“A Modell of Christian Charity” is a sermon written by John Winthrop, a Puritan lawyer who served as the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, an English colonial settlement around present-day Boston, and the second settlement in New England. A sermon is a speech on a religious subject, usually used for those delivered by clergy in Christian church services. The sermon’s epigraph (a short, introductory quotation or informational text) tells us Winthrop wrote on... Read A Model of Christian Charity Summary

Publication year 1748Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Science & Technology, Natural World: Appearance & Reality, Values/Ideas: Religion & SpiritualityTags Philosophy, Psychology, Science / Nature, Religion / Spirituality

Publication year 1690Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Natural World: Nurture v. Nature, Identity: Language, Values/Ideas: Science & Technology, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Order & ChaosTags Philosophy, Religion / Spirituality, Education, Science / Nature, Age of Enlightenment

An Essay Concerning Human Understanding by John Locke is a study of how humans think, learn, and retain knowledge. Scholars often focus first on Locke’s philosophical treatises, but his work on epistemology complements and shapes his political thought. Born in 1632, the English philosopher ushered in the Age of Enlightenment and is considered one of the greatest Western philosophers in history. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, first published in 1690, explores the origin and nature... Read An Essay Concerning Human Understanding Summary

Publication year 1734Genre Poem, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Natural World: Space & The Universe, Emotions/Behavior: LoveTags Philosophy, Relationships, Religion / Spirituality, Neoclassical, Didacticism

Publication year 2005Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Identity: Language, Life/Time: The Past, Values/Ideas: Religion & SpiritualityTags Self Help, Allegory / Fable / Parable, Religion / Spirituality

A New Earth: Create a Better Life by Eckart Tolle was originally published in 2005 with the title A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose. The book followed in the wake of Tolle’s seminal 1997 work The Power of Now, which discusses the potential inherent in the present moment and suggests that the destructive voice in our heads, which causes us to be constantly dissatisfied and compare ourselves to others, is the ego and... Read A New Earth Summary

Publication year 1868Genre Poem, FictionThemes Natural World: Environment, Natural World: Appearance & Reality, Natural World: AnimalsTags Lyric Poem, Religion / Spirituality

Publication year 1961Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: Coming of Age, Relationships: Family, Values/Ideas: Religion & SpiritualityTags Historical Fiction, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Military / War, History: U.S., Religion / Spirituality, Relationships, American Revolution

April Morning is a historical fiction work by Howard Fast, a prolific author whose writings spanned the bulk of the 20th century. Published in 1961, midway through Fast’s career, the novel is one of many he wrote on the Revolutionary War and the birth of America. Originally intended for a general audience, it came to be regarded as a young adult novel as many middle and high school English programs included it in their curriculum... Read April Morning Summary

Publication year 1977Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Relationships: Marriage, Values/Ideas: Beauty, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Self Discovery, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Values/Ideas: Trust & DoubtTags Religion / Spirituality, Christian literature, Grief / Death

Sheldon Vanauken’s celebrated memoir A Severe Mercy is a moving portrait of deep love confronted with suffering and death. Published in 1977, A Severe Mercy was written by Vanauken from the compilation of many years’ worth of journal entries, hand-written letters, and firsthand accounts of the people and events that the narrative relates. As a Yale- and Oxford-trained scholar and professor of English and an accomplished poet and author, Vanauken brings his literary expertise to... Read A Severe Mercy Summary

Publication year 1930Genre Poem, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Self Discovery, Emotions/Behavior: Hope, Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Natural World: Appearance & RealityTags Narrative / Epic Poem, Religion / Spirituality

Publication year 1980Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Values/Ideas: Good & EvilTags Christian literature, Inspirational, Leadership/Organization/Management, Religion / Spirituality

Publication year 1946Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Natural World: Space & The Universe, Values/Ideas: Science & Technology, Self DiscoveryTags Religion / Spirituality, Indian Literature, Philosophy, History: Asian

Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952) was first published in 1946 and has since become a much-loved and admired book around the world. It is regarded as one of the classics of 20th-century spiritual literature. In 1999, it was named by a HarperCollins panel of authors and scholars as one of the “100 Best Spiritual Books of the Century.” In the book, Yogananda tells the story of his life, beginning with his childhood... Read Autobiography of a Yogi Summary

Publication year 1959Genre Play, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Relationships: Friendship, Values/Ideas: Power & GreedTags Historical Fiction, Play: Tragedy, Religion / Spirituality, History: European, Politics / Government, French Literature, Modernism

Becket or The Honor of God is a 1959 play by the French dramatist Jean Anouilh. It portrays a fictionalized version of the conflict that took place between King Henry II of England and the archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket, in the 12th century. The English translation of the play premiered on Broadway in 1960 to great acclaim and was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film in 1964.The central conflict of Becket, which ended in... Read Becket Summary

Publication year 2004Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Fate, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Self Discovery, Emotions/Behavior: courage, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Hope, Life/Time: Mortality & DeathTags Inspirational, Action / Adventure, Travel Literature, Animals, Arts / Culture, Philosophy, Relationships, Religion / Spirituality, Science / Nature, Music, Sports

Between a Rock and a Hard Place is a 2004 adventure and survival memoir by American mountain climber Aron Ralston. The narrative focuses on Ralston’s near-death experience when his arm became stuck under a boulder in a canyon in Utah, where he remained trapped for five days until he amputated his arm. Dealing with profound existential themes, the book garnered critical acclaim and became a New York Times bestseller. A 2010 film adaptation titled 127... Read Between a Rock and a Hard Place Summary

Publication year 1972Genre Scripture, NonfictionTags Religion / Spirituality

The Bhagavad Gita is a religious text written by an unknown author in the 1st or 2nd century BCE. The title translates as The Song of God, and the text contains 700 verses that explore the nature of the Hindu religion. The Gita comprises part of the Mahabharata, one of two ancient Indian epics, but it is often regarded and studied as an independent work. The narrative portrays a conversation between a prince named Arjuna... Read Bhagavad Gita Summary

Publication year 1611Genre Scripture, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Life/Time: The PastTags Religion / Spirituality, Christian literature

Publication year 1611Genre Scripture, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Emotions/Behavior: HopeTags Religion / Spirituality, Philosophy, Jewish Literature

Publication year 1877Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Society: Class, Emotions/Behavior: courage, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Natural World: AnimalsTags Classic Fiction, Historical Fiction, Action / Adventure, Animals, Addiction / Substance Abuse, Class, History: European, Poverty, Religion / Spirituality, Social Justice, Trauma / Abuse / Violence, Urban Development, Victorian Period, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman

Black Beauty was written by English novelist Anna Sewell, and published in 1877. It quickly became extremely popular, and led to increased activism and public concern for the humane treatment of horses and other animals. It went on to become one of best-selling novels of all time, and has been adapted numerous times into films and theatre productions. Sewell used her novel to explore themes such as kindness and responsibility, and to critique social problems... Read Black Beauty Summary

Publication year 1988Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: Coming of Age, Natural World: Appearance & Reality, Values/Ideas: Win & Lose, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / PerseveranceTags Historical Fiction, Religion / Spirituality, Animals, Arts / Culture, Disability, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman

Boy of the Painted Cave is a 1996 middle-grade Historical Fiction novel by Justin Denzel set 18,000 years ago in prehistoric France. The novel is told in limited third person point of view and follows Tao, a 14-year-old boy with a disability, who longs to be a cave painter for his clan. Tao has difficulty walking with his right foot, and he compensates for this by using a spear as a crutch. The crutch allows... Read Boy of the Painted Cave Summary

Publication year 2007Genre Novel, FictionThemes Self Discovery, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Emotions/Behavior: Joy, Values/Ideas: Beauty, Values/Ideas: Fate, Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Values/Ideas: New AgeTags Religion / Spirituality, Philosophy, Travel Literature

Publication year 1984Genre Play, FictionThemes Life/Time: Coming of Age, Relationships: Family, Relationships: Fathers, Relationships: SiblingsTags Play: Drama, Play: Comedy / Satire, Auto/Biographical Fiction, Love / Sexuality, Great Depression, WWII / World War II, Poverty, Relationships, Religion / Spirituality

Brighton Beach Memoirs is a semi-autobiographical play by American playwright Neil Simon. It is the first play in Simon’s Eugene Trilogy and follows its young protagonist as he grapples with adolescence and identity in the midst of the Great Depression. Its initial 1983 Broadway run enjoyed critical acclaim and won several awards. Most notably, actor Matthew Broderick won a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor for originating the role of Eugene. Despite its initial success... Read Brighton Beach Memoirs Summary

Publication year 1940Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Society: CommunityTags Classic Fiction, Action / Adventure, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Fairy Tale / Folklore, Education, Animals, Relationships, Religion / Spirituality, American Literature

Publication year 1994Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Femininity, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Values/Ideas: Religion & SpiritualityTags Historical Fiction, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Religion / Spirituality, Class, Gender / Feminism, History: European, British Literature, Medieval Literature / Middle Ages

American author Karen Cushman’s middle grade novel, Catherine, Called Birdy, explores the life of a young woman in 13th-century England. Published in 1994, the book won the Newbery Honor the following year. It is currently being adapted for the screen by actor, writer, and director Lena Dunham. This detailed work of historical fiction immerses the reader in the very different world of medieval England, with its emphasis on religion as the organizing force behind daily... Read Catherine, Called Birdy Summary

Publication year 2020Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Identity: Sexuality, Society: Community, Emotions/Behavior: Revenge, Identity: GenderTags LGBTQ, Fantasy, Grief / Death, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Diversity, Religion / Spirituality, Gender / Feminism, Love / Sexuality

Publication year 1816Genre Poem, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Natural World: Place, Identity: Sexuality, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Relationships: Mothers, Values/Ideas: BeautyTags Narrative / Epic Poem, Horror / Thriller / Suspense Fiction, Love / Sexuality, LGBTQ, Religion / Spirituality, Romanticism / Romantic Period, British Literature

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, a key figure in the British Romantic Era of poetry wrote the Gothic narrative poem “Christabel” in two parts, the first in 1797, and the second in 1800. Though it was still unfinished, “Christabel” was published in 1816.“Christabel” is Coleridge’s longest poem, at almost 700 lines. It is also the least edited of Coleridge’s work. Most of the poem contrasts the innocent piety of Christabel with the experience and supernatural abilities of... Read Christabel Summary

Publication year 1400Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: War, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Society: ClassTags History: European, Medieval Literature / Middle Ages, Military / War, Class, Religion / Spirituality

Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Values/Ideas: Literature, Values/Ideas: Order & ChaosTags Religion / Spirituality, Philosophy, Post Modernism

E. L. Doctorow’s 2000 novel City of God is a postmodern, metafictional novel of religious questioning that attempts to reconcile the history of the 20th century, particularly the Holocaust, with modern conceptions of morality and God. The novel is structured as a fragmented writer’s notebook written by a character loosely based on Doctorow himself. The plot, which concerns a stolen cross and an Episcopalian priest’s doubts about his faith, is rendered through the mediated lens... Read City of God Summary

Publication year 2004Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Society: Colonialism, Society: Class, Life/Time: The Future, Life/Time: The Past, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: Order & Chaos, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags Science-Fiction / Dystopian Fiction, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Social Justice, Anthropology, Class, Depression / Suicide, Finance / Money / Wealth, Politics / Government, Love / Sexuality, Race / Racism, Sociology, Religion / Spirituality

Cloud Atlas is a 2004 novel by British author David Mitchell. The sprawling narrative is composed of a series of nested stories, spanning centuries into the past and the future. In addition to winning numerous literary and science fiction awards, the novel was adapted into a 2012 film of the same name. This guide uses the 2014 Sceptre edition of Cloud Atlas.Content Warning: The novel and this guide depict slavery and discuss racism, death by... Read Cloud Atlas Summary

Publication year 1986Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Identity: Mental Health, Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Emotions/Behavior: Forgiveness, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Emotions/Behavior: Hope, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Relationships: Family, Relationships: Marriage, Self Discovery, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags Self Help, Psychology, Relationships, Health / Medicine, Religion / Spirituality

Publication year 1911Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Art, Values/Ideas: Beauty, Values/Ideas: Religion & SpiritualityTags Philosophy, Religion / Spirituality, Modernism

Publication year 1846Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Society: CommunityTags Philosophy, Religion / Spirituality

Published in 1846, Concluding Unscientific Postscript to the Philosophical Fragments is one of the major works of the Danish philosopher and theologian Søren Kierkegaard. The book is so named because Kierkegaard intended it as a sequel to his 1844 work Philosophical Fragments, although the Postscript is more than six times longer than the Fragments. The word “unscientific” is an ironic allusion to rationalistic philosophy, particularly that of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.Hegel’s philosophy—known as Hegelianism—held that... Read Concluding Unscientific Postscript Summary

Publication year 400Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Values/Ideas: BeautyTags Religion / Spirituality, Christian literature, Philosophy

Confessions, or Confessiones in the original Latin, is a book of spiritual reflection, philosophical commentary, and Biblical interpretation produced in the last century of the Western Roman Empire. Written around the year 400 CE by Saint Augustine of Hippo, a prominent Catholic bishop in the Roman province of Africa, the book is sometimes called the world’s first autobiography. Although this claim is inaccurate, Confessions has nevertheless born enormous influence on personal narrative writing in the... Read Confessions Summary

Publication year 2023Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & BetrayalTags Religion / Spirituality, Christian literature

Publication year 1932Genre Poem, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Values/Ideas: Beauty, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Society: ColonialismTags Lyric Poem, Modernism, Philosophy, Grief / Death, Love / Sexuality, History: European, Religion / Spirituality

Publication year 2023Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Identity: LanguageTags Psychology, Religion / Spirituality, Crime / Legal

Publication year 422Genre Play, FictionThemes Identity: Masculinity, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Win & Lose, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Natural World: Place, Emotions/Behavior: RevengeTags Mythology, Ancient Greece, Classical Period, Play: Comedy / Satire, Drama / Tragedy, Arts / Culture, Religion / Spirituality

Publication year 1842Genre Novel, FictionThemes Society: Class, Society: Economics, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags Classic Fiction, Satire, Class, History: European, Politics / Government, Religion / Spirituality, Russian Literature, Victorian Period

Nikolai Gogol called his 1842 work Dead Souls an “epic poem in prose,” though most critics and scholars now refer to it as a novel. Structured in part as an analog to Dante’s Inferno, Dead Souls is an absurdist social satire of imperial Russia before the emancipation of the serfs, especially the foibles and customs of the Russian nobility. Though Gogol is not interested in strict realism, his portraits of nobles who speak French more... Read Dead Souls Summary

Publication year 1919Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: Coming of Age, Relationships: Friendship, Self Discovery, Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Values/Ideas: Religion & SpiritualityTags Auto/Biographical Fiction, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Philosophy, Religion / Spirituality, German literature

Hermann Hesse’s Demian (1919) explores the coming-of-age journey of Emil Sinclair as he develops his sense of self and understanding of the duality of humanity. The novel is set in Germany in the early 20th century between World War I and World War II, and it adheres to the Bildungsroman genre. Hesse also utilizes philosophical thought, including Jungian psychology, Gnostic Christianity, and Nietzsche, to shape Sinclair’s self-discovery journey. The novel explores themes regarding the importance... Read Demian Summary

Publication year 1905Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Emotions/Behavior: Forgiveness, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Values/Ideas: Justice & InjusticeTags LGBTQ, Philosophy, Religion / Spirituality

Publication year 2009Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Globalization, Society: Nation, Values/Ideas: Religion & SpiritualityTags History: World, Religion / Spirituality, Politics / Government, Philosophy

Publication year 1838Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Natural World: Environment, Values/Ideas: Beauty, Values/Ideas: Religion & SpiritualityTags Philosophy, Transcendentalism, Religion / Spirituality

Publication year 1930Genre Poem, FictionThemes Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Values/Ideas: Religion & SpiritualityTags Lyric Poem, Grief / Death, Religion / Spirituality, American Literature