Young People Recommend Books for their Spiritual Growth

 In Voices of Young People

We’re just a couple months away from our release of The State of Religion & Young People 2023 report, which is focused on how young people experience the sacred. Our data show that young people’s religious and spiritual experience is both complex and uniquely tailored, especially when it comes to what enriches their religious or spiritual growth. Our Springtide Ambassadors weighed in on elements that have made the biggest impact on their spiritual journeys, including the books that delivered the biggest aha moments. Read below to see what affected them.

What book(s) has had the biggest impact on your spiritual life, your sense of meaning-making in the world?

Claire, 21

Life after Life, by Raymond Moody, and Strength to Love, Martin Luther King Jr.  
Life after Life has given me a glimpse of Heaven as well as a better understanding of God, and Strength to Love has given me permission to forgive in a culture that prefers to estrange. 

Tabatha, 20

The Bible 
[This impacts me] because all Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. 

Anthony, 22

Searching for Sunday, by Rachel Held Evans 
In this book, Evans tells her story of wandering within American Evangelicalism in a way that validates the experience of anyone who has questioned, wrestled with, or been challenged by their faith. 

Anna, 21

Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense, by Francis Spufford 
Unapologetic presents the basics of Christianity and an argument for belief from a raw and honest perspective, focusing on the emotional aspect of faith rather than large-scale theological concepts. 

Noah, 14

Heretics Anonymous, by Katie Henry 
The main character is an atheist, and I really vibed with him so the book amplified my atheism. 

Christian, 24, and Guillermo, 17

The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley, by Alex Haley and Malcolm X 
Christian: I never learned about Malcolm X in middle-school and unfortunately, I understand why. 
Guillermo: I really saw Malcolm X as an important figure in history and wanted to read more about him and his ideologies. 

Lensa, 16

The Sealed Nectar (Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum) : Biography of the Noble Prophet, by Sheikh Safi-ur-Rahman al-Mubarkpuri
I selected this title because it was awarded first prize by the Muslim World League in a worldwide competition on the biography of the Prophet Muhammad (saw) because of the way the author captures the brilliant life of Prophet Muhammad (saw)… It moves your heart, and you’ll be remembering everything it contains.   

Anonymous, 15

The Bhagavad Gita 
This book has provided many valuable insights on topics I can relate to such as selfrealization.

Gabrielle, 24

The Anthropocene Reviewed, by John Green 
The author reminds us of the immense power of humans but also our incredible smallness in the face of a universe we know little about, all through reflecting on some of the most mundane and some of the grandest facets of our existence. 

Cyrus, 17

Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, by Stephen King 
[This impacted me] because one of the characters in the book was wronged in every possible way but he never gave in to what was going on around him. 

Brandon, 23

Pilgrimage of a Soul, by Phileena Heurtz 
[This book] taught me to identify where I’m [denying my own interests for the sake of others] in the name of religion. 

Mia, 18

Queerology: A Podcast on Belief and Being, by Grace Semler Baldridge a.k.a. Semler 
Semler is a queer, Christian music artist with a podcast that I heavily relate to as it has impacted my sense of spirituality. 

Viva, 21

Shortest Way Home: One Mayor’s Challenge and a Model for America’s Future, by Pete Buttigieg 
Pete tells his life story through the lens of someone who thought he knew what he wanted in life, only to find that life had a very different plan for him, and how he made meaning and success from his circumstances. 

Grace, 23

The Bible and the Bible Recap (podcast) by Tara-Leigh Cobble 
After reading though the entire Bible with the guidance from the Bible Recap, I grew so much in my relationship with God as I learned about His neverchanging character.

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