Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Hidden Treasure: The 10 Best Spiritual Books You've Never Read

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Hidden Treasure: The 10 Best Spiritual Books You've Never Read

Article excerpt

Spiritual books are hot sellers. But among the more than 2,000 titles published each year, how do you find the pearls of wisdom beneath the glittering baubles?

You're a book lover. You enter a Borders or Barnes and Noble superstore, and your mind boggles. It's like you've just said "Open Sesame!" but instead of finding a cave glimmering with gold and jewelry, you've discovered a treasure house of ideas and inspirations.

You hardly know where to begin. You're interested in spirituality, so you go to the religion or inspiration section. Rows of books attract you like the scent of fresh bread in a bakery, but how do you tell the wheat from the chaff? Which books deliver what they promise? Which ones have the ingredients to nourish you?

You could ask a store manager, but she may not be as informed about her books as Meg Ryan was in the movie You've Got Mail. So you could leave the superstore and rush to an intimate Catholic bookstore where you may find the equivalent of Meg Ryan as well as some of the best spiritual books available today.

But chances are you'll have a hard time finding that little shop around the corner. Things change. What's a seeker to do?

After all, more than 50,000 new books come out each year. More than 2,000 of them are spiritual. Their average shelf life is a few months at best. They're like wise men who journey long to Bethlehem but leave before the shepherds get a chance to say hello. What is a seeker to do?

You could read the authors of national best-sellers--people like Marianne Williamson, Deepak Chopra, and Richard Carlson--who appear on Oprah. They're good. That's one reason why their books are best-sellers. Another is that their books generally come from huge houses with the reach and clout to get the attention of a general public.

You could also read the top authors of spiritual books who come from smaller Catholic houses, authors whose names you've heard of but whose books rarely get piled in stacks like little skyscrapers at the superstores. You can't go wrong by reading Henri Nouwen, Joyce Rupp, and many others. In fact, you can't do better.

But you know that you'll still be missing gems from the cave, jewels from the treasury, spiritual gold that will never grow old. You know that there are many wonderful books you've never read, written by authors you've never heard of, that come from little publishing houses you never knew existed. That's why you're reading this article.

So without further ado, here are 10 of the best spiritual books you've never read but, if you do, may never forget:

1 Gift of the Red Bird by Paula D'Arcy (Crossroad, 1996). A spiritual teacher once told me that we come to God or find enlightenment through one of two ways: suffering or wisdom. Unfortunately, for most of us it's through suffering. You suffer, I suffer, we all suffer. That's why this book is number one on my list. You will identify with D'Arcy and, best of all, come through with her to the other side.

In the Gift of the Red Bird D'Arcy shares a remarkable spiritual adventure. After losing her husband and baby in a car crash, she does her best to love God and help others but is hungry for understanding and for a faith that is stronger than fear.

Years later she journeys alone into the wilderness, determined to encounter God in his creation. D'Arcy surrenders herself to the love of God and something wonderful and wordless happens. A red bird appears and ... I won't tell you more. This is a book you'll give to friends and tell them, "I won't tell you more!"

2 And There Was Light by Jacques Lusseyran (Parabola, 1998). Talk about suffering. The author was blind and in Buchenwald, the Nazi death camp. But unlike most of us who have eyes to see but see not, he beheld a joyful vision of life that can awaken us all. This diamond of a book has been around since 1963 but chances are you've never seen it, let alone read it. …

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