the big book list (non-fiction edition)

I love books.

Give me a cup of coffee and an old-fashioned bookstore and I’m happy for the afternoon. (If it’s a used bookstore? All the better.)

I’ve lived a multitude of lives through novels and so much of my spiritual exploration has come through the reading of books.

I decided to create some book lists.

Big book lists.

They’re going to be long - there’s just no way around that. I hope they will also be helpful.

Here’s a list of nonfiction titles I recommend

These are the books that have educated my mind, opened my heart, and been my companions on my path.


The Wisdom Jesus by Cynthia Bourgeault. You’ve probably heard me say The Wisdom Jesus changed my life. This was the book my priest recommended to me when I first returned to church and was struggling with belief - mine and other people’s. Bourgeault gave me a vision of Jesus and his teachings that finally made sense to me and resonated in my heart. Her book The Meaning of Mary Magdalene is also wonderful.

The Universal Christ by Richard Rohr. Is it the most important book every written? I’m willing to state that claim. I love everything about Richard Rohr and his teachings. There’s a companion podcast for this book called Another Name for Everything, which I highly recommend.

Love is His Meaning: Understanding the Teachings of Jesus by Keith Ward. I had the pleasure of studying with Keith Ward in the summer theology program at Oxford and he is brilliant.

The Gospel of Mary Magdalene. The Jean-Yves Leloup translation is the one Cynthia Bourgeault recommends, so that’s the one I have. In this vein, The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels is a must read.

Untie the Strong Women: Blessed Mother’s Immaculate Love for the Wild Soul by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. I know Women Who Run With the Wolves gets all the press, as well it should. Everyone should read it, but Untie the Strong Women is my favorite of her writing. It blooms my heart open.

Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible’s View of Women by Sarah Bessey is a lovely book, especially if you are recovering from being raised in fundamentalism. Along those same lines, I suggest Faith Unraveled by Rachel Held Evans.

Where Two Worlds Meet: How to Develop Evidential Mediumship by Janet Nohavec. If you are interested in what mediums do and how they do it, this book is grounded, clear, and fascinating. A born medium, Janet Nohavec also spent five years as a Catholic nun.

The Art of Psychic Reiki: Developing Your Intuitive and Empathic Abilities for Energy Healing by Lisa Campion is a new one, but maybe my favorite explanation of what Reiki is and how it works. Hands That Heal by Echo Bodine and Hands of Light by Barbara Ann Brennan were both influential to me when I first started learning about the human energy field. Wheels of Life by Anodea Judith is a great book about the chakra system. Along these same lines, The Empath’s Survival Guide by Judith Orloff is a rich resource for sensitive people.

Still, Small Voice: A Psychic’s Gudie to Awakening Intuition by Echo Bodine is a good and gentle resource for understanding what intuition is and how to open to it.

Be Here Now by Ram Dass is obviously a classic. It had, and continues to have, a huge influence on me. I’m also very much in love with the podcast Here and Now, which plays Ram Dass lectures with a bit of commentary.

Longing for Darkness: Tara and the Black Madonna by China Galland is a gorgeous book. I also highly recommend The Black Madonna: Mysterious Soul Companion by Stephanie Georgieff.

Out on a Limb by Shirley MacClaine was one of the first books I read that pushed at the spiritual boundaries, if you know what I mean. I love her brand of brave truth-telling and also enjoyed The Camino.

Wild Mercy: Living the Fierce and Tender Wisdom of the Women Mystics by Mirabai Starr is new to my collection and absolutely brilliant.

The Vein of Gold: A Journey to Your Creative Heart by Julia Cameron is a great resource for expanding into your creative self. Obviously, she’s best known for The Artist’s Way. The Right to Write is also great. Naming the World and Other Exercises for the Creative Writer edited by Bret Anthony Johnston is another valuable resource for the writer.

Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott is so warm and affirming and funny and good. It’s a wonderful entrance into theological memoir. Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis by Lauren F. Winner is also so smart and accessible, as well as Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith by Barbara Brown Taylor.

Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg is an essential resource for writers, just like Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott. I was also captivated by Natalie Goldberg’s Long Quiet Highway: Waking Up in America, her journey of awakening.

The Book of Stones: Who They Are and What They Teach by Robert Simmons and Naisha Ahsian is my go-to source for working with crystals.

Sacred Space: Clearing and Enhancing the Energy of Your Home by Denise Linn is my favorite Feng Shui guide.

The Angelspeake Book of Prayer and Healing: How to Work With Your Angels by Barbara Mark and Trudy Griswold may seem a little simple, but I have such a warm place in my heart for this book. I saw the authors on Oprah then immediately started using the journaling technique they outline here to communicate with the spiritual world. It’s a sweet book and process.

Holistic Tarot: An Integrative Approach to Using Tarot for Personal Growth by Benebell Wen. If you’re interested in the tarot, the is a great place to start.

Animal Speak: The Spiritual & Magical Powers of Creatures Great & Small by Ted Andrews is a bible for interpreting signs in nature.

The Interior Castle by Teresa of Avila. She’s my favorite mystic and this is my favorite mystical writing, unless of course my favorite is Revelations of Divine Love by Julian of Norwich. Oh, but then there’s Hildegard of Bingen: Scivias.

Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hanh because his soul is so beautiful and his heart so wise.

The Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need by Joanna Martine Woolfolk is a good solid resource if you want to learn to cast charts the old-fashioned way. I’m also a fan of Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs.

Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered: The Definitive How-To Guide by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark is a memoir so good it made me cry. It’s the companion book to the podcast, which I also love.

Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini is honest and fascinating.

Member of the Family: My Story of Charles Manson, Life Inside His Cult, and the Darkness That Ended the Sixties by Dianne Lake is an account told by the youngest member of the Manson family. It’s an amazing story.


I know I’ve left some things out.

I’ll probably have to post an additional list soon, but this one is pretty good.

I may not agree with everything in these pages, but these books have worn little grooves in me.

I hope you find something here that’s helpful or enlightening or relevant to the path you’re walking.