Continuing our five-part follow-up to the essay “Forming Adults in Faith Through Fiction,” here are the next ten recommended books for use in adult faith formation.
21) Patricia Hample, Virgin Time: In Search of the Contemplative Life
This spiritual memoir describes one woman’s search for the spiritual depth for which she longs. Her description of her experience provides a practical and illuminating account of the reality of prayer.
22) Ron Hansen, Mariette in Ecstasy
A novel about a religious sister’s religious experience which carefully raises questions about the relationship between physical and spiritual health, and the possible congruence with and confusion between instability and holiness.
23) Marjorie Holmes, Two From Galilee and
Three From Galilee
Holmes provides an imaginative meditation on the day-to-day experience of the Holy Family as they lived life between angelic apparitions and divine confirmations of their roles in salvation history. Two From Galilee begins with the Annunciation and concludes with Jesus’ birth; its sequel, Three From Galilee, takes up the boyhood of Jesus.
24) Victor Hugo, Les Misèrables
This classic nineteenth century of novel tells the story of former convict Jean Valjean, who is given the opportunity for a new life through the mercy of a bishop. Spanning the whole of Jean Valjean’s from that point on, the novel looks deeply of questions of justice, love, social equality, and faith.
25) Imaculee Ilibagiza, Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust
Imaculee recounts the story of her survival of the Rwandan genocide and the power of faith to sustain her through one of the worst horrors in human history.
26) Mary Karr, Lit
This memoir looks at the author’s relationship with her family, her drinking, and her own vulnerability. Her conversion at the depth of brokenness recasts it all in a light of hope and joy and makes possible the sharing of her story.
27) Tracy Kidder, Mountains Beyond Mountains
Kidder’s biography of Dr. Paul Farmer portrays the amazing extent to which Farmer goes to provide medical care for his patients—the rural poor in Haiti. Farmer’s unblinking acknowledgment of the dignity of each human person stands in stark contrast to dominant understandings of the right to medical care, and by extension, to a decent quality of life.
28) Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies
Writer and adult convert Anne Lamott offers vignettes of the significance of faith, in particular for those who believe in their own self-sufficiency. Her blend of comedic irreverence and tender gratitude to God offer an opportunity for considering the tone with which we might compose vignettes of the significance of faith in our own lives.
29) Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
Another classic work, this story of Atticus Finch, his two children, and Boo Radley speaks to the power of conscience and conviction.
30) Primo Levi, If This Is A Man
An atheist Jew who survived Auschwitz, Levi opens his book with a poem that asks the reader if those in the death camps—those who experienced the most extreme dehumanization possible—were indeed human beings. He continues to probe this question, asking what we can know of human beings in light of the atrocities of the Shoah.
For books 1–10, click here.
For books 11–20, click here.