Top 10 Required Books

Discussion in 'Media' started by Jenn, Jan 13, 2010.

  1. Jenn

    Jenn Established Member

    Dec 30, 2009
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    So we have a top 10 required movies thread ... but I didn't see a top 10 required books thread and figured I needed to do something about that!

    What are your top TEN books (note: on religion, spirituality, humanity, life, philosophy, etc) that have influenced your faith/path and that you think others should read? I'll allow fiction as long as it has a spiritual or philosophical connection. ;)

    For myself, I'm always interested in learning about other religions and spiritual traditions, or other ideas and approaches, so my hope is that this thread will provide a long-running list of books from a variety of different perspectives ... !

    Happy sharing.
  2. Jenn

    Jenn Established Member

    Dec 30, 2009
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    Figured I'd post my top 10 separately. Here they are in no particular order with a little blurb about each:

    1. Nature and the Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World, by Bill Plotkin

    Has got to be one of my all-time favourites as he speaks a great deal of sense. This is a book that sets forth a model on how we can as individuals and as a society move beyond patho-adolescence and self-destruct mode, from an ego-centric worldview towards an eco-centric worldview that re-establishes right relations between us and soul, as well as us and nature. In my own life, the stages he talks about are bang on with my own experiences--particularly in how he mapped the "Wandering" stage and the "Soul Apprentice" stage.

    2. The Practice of the Wild: Essays, by Gary Snyder

    If you want to read a book that will profoundly alter your views of nature and the wild, and your relationship to it, then this is the book to read. It is practical ecology (thus the 'Practice of the Wild'), from an ethical and spiritual point of view. Gary Snyder I see as one of those trail blazers, fluidly and fluently pointing us in the direction of the future. This collection of essays ranges on numerous important topics relating to our relationship to nature and to life itself.

    3. The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World, by David Abram

    Another mind-blowing book. On the surface, this book examines exactly how we perceive the world and how language shapes those perceptions, but it really is so much more! In examining the nature of human perception and language, he also branches out into some very tough subjects like "where the past and future exist, the relationship between space and time, and how the written word serves to sever humans from their primordial source of sustenance: the earth." A very well-researched, academic work. (quote from Amazon reviews)

    4. An Emerald Earth: Cultivating a Natural Spirituality and Serving Creativity in Our World, by Felicia Norton and Charles Smith

    Rooted in Sufi mysticism, this book is a well-rounded, grounded approach to understanding the "self" and "God"--and connecting this understanding to the natural world and our "natural being". It has a number of meditations and at times resonated greatly with different Eastern traditions like Buddhism and Daoism.

    5. The Salmon in the Spring: the Ecology of Celtic Spirituality, by Jason Kirkey

    Not really a book about ancient Celtic religion--instead a modern approach to the Celtic mythos and landscapes, as a way of orienting ourselves in the cosmos and finding ways to heal and transform our lives and our societies. Although "Celtic"-focused, there is a lot of Buddhist influence and I appreciate his honest and humble approach. A pretty rare work.

    6. The Spiral of Memory and Belonging: A Celtic Path of Soul and Kinship, by Frank MacEowen

    My favourite of Frank's three books. It also is a modern approach to Celtic story and place, but is also just as much about shamanism and the process of soul-initiation. His model of the spiral of initiation makes a lot of sense to me, and helped me when I was at a very bad place. My other favourite part is his focus on the role of the dead and the Ancestors in our lives--and how our understanding of Death directly influences how we live today.

    7. Nothing Special: Living Zen, by Charlotte Joko Beck

    Wow. What can I say. This book showed me a whole other way of being in the world. This was the book that finally got me meditating every day, and her basic, didactic explanations on meditation, the mind, zen, the nature of reality, unconscious judgments and thoughts, "now", etc are worth every second you read them.

    8. A Brief History of Everything, by Ken Wilber

    I couldn't *not* mention Ken Wilber. Sometimes he aggrevates me and other times I adore him, but I think everyone should read at least one of his books and have an understanding of what it means to be "integral". This particular book is--well--like it says--a brief history or examination of everything as we know it, the universe.

    9. Wild Love, by Gill Edwards

    Although on the surface, this book may appear shallow, but to my surprise it is far from it. Her ideas about wild (unconditional) love versus tame (full of expectations) love are pivotol--tying our concepts of love to our understanding of God. She examines ego-filled, need-based co-dependent relationships and discusses how we can heal ourselves through -- love. This is probably the most "New Agey" book in my library, but I think that once you begin to read it, you may see your own patterns of relating to others and yourself--and such a realisation is not one to miss because it could dramatically change how you approach both romance and spirituality.

    10. The Idea of the Holy, by Rudolf Otto

    Last but not least, this translation is the book where Rudolf Otto first discusses the concept of the sacred or holy, and where he coined the term "numinous". This is an important work which I think will deepen any beliefs or path.
  3. NiceCupOfTea

    NiceCupOfTea Pathetic earthlings

    Dec 22, 2009
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    Hi Jenn

    I dont really have a top 10, I have probably read so many books and forgotten about most of them.

    These stand out for me.

    Holy Bible
    By God.

    By Frank Herbert

    Hitchikers Guide to Galaxy
    By Douglas Adams

    Autobiography of a Yogi
    By Paramhansa Yogananda
  4. steph.gclef

    steph.gclef Member

    Jan 8, 2010
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    I haven't quite read 10 books like this yet, but the ones that I have read and that stand out to me are:

    Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah (Richard Bach)

    This book was really interesting - it gets you thinking. One of the main ideas brought up by the main character is that we're all an "illusion," which basically means that what we live is like a dream, and once you stop dreaming, then you're in the Real Place, wherever that is... (note: the Real Place is a thing I made up - I don't remember what Bach calls it.)

    The Heavenly Village (Cynthia Rylant)

    This book is really short - only about 100 pages long - but I have read it again and again. It's basically a collection of short stories about this halfway-point between Earth and Heaven, called "the Heavenly Village." My favorite story is the last one, about a potter and his similarities to God. It's a really great story, and just warms the heart. :)

    That's pretty much all i can think of now... those are both fiction, by the way. I'll add more (nonfiction?) if I happen to think of them later.

  5. Jenn

    Jenn Established Member

    Dec 30, 2009
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    Thanks, NiceCupofTea.

    And a warm welcome, Steph! Looks like two interesting books, especially the latter.
  6. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

    Jul 15, 2003
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    The Glass Bead Game - Herman Hesse

    Encyclopedia Brittanica - so much information, potentially inspiring!
  7. greymare

    greymare Well-Known Member

    May 20, 2007
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    The Shack.
    (probably the only book for the above topic that I have read apart from the Bible)
  8. Dream

    Dream Well-Known Member

    Feb 18, 2008
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    He Came To Set the Captives Free -- Rebeka Brown (pen-name)
    This is about demon possession, Satanic influences in churches, and its about expunging demons. Weird stuff, but it was one reason I left the church I grew up in.

    Christendom Astray -- Robert Roberts
    Here is the classic 19th century founding of the original zionist movement in the US and Great Britain. Its sole purpose is to logically deduce in what ways Christianity has strayed from Bible fundamentals. It falls far short of its purpose, however its really a great book both theologically and historically.

    The Spiritual Man -- Watchman Nee
    This is probably the main theological work to explain charismatics, non-denominationals and anyone who believes in speaking in unintelligible glossolalia, that the body is a trinity of body, soul & spirit 'Literally', and its especially for anyone interested in literal 'Spiritual warfare' against Satan through prayers, vigils, and exorcisms.

    The Lonely Man of Faith -- Joseph B. Soloveitchik
    Really nice discussion about some lessons obtainable from Genesis where it appears that there are two different Adams. He takes the point of view that the difficulty in the text is there to point out some things.

    The Family Seder -- edited R. Alfred J. Kolatch
    Interesting and helpful for understanding Christianity. Know your roots! Who would have thought it?

    Brethren in Christ -- Alan Eyre
    Important historical work. Alan Eyre did a lot of original research all over Europe searching through ancient records of the original protestors against the RC. Captures aspects of the conflict elsewhere hard to find and you can see some of the Christianity as well as the humanity underneath the conflict. It is a bit one sided in favor of the Protestants, but that is to be expected. The best Historians always express their point of view. Its better that way.

    one Bu-jillion sermons
    I mention this, because it really did have a major impact on me especially after the first time I read through the Bible.

    one Bu-jillion movies
    I once thought movies were a waste of time, but now I think they are an important way of communicating.

    Lots of hymns and Psalms.
    These will always be special, even the ones that make me angry.

    Living in the USA has been a book on its own.
    I have lived in amazing times in the shadow of extraordinary people, and my nation has shared the friendship of such allies as no nation has ever had before. I don't know if I can repay the people who made this life possible.
  9. Sancho

    Sancho Well-Known Member

    Mar 18, 2009
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    Ten underappreciated brilliant books.

    call it sleep. Henry Roth
    A Strange Manuscript found in a Copper Cylinder. James DeMille
    Good Morning, Midnight. Jean Rhys
    The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. Carson McCullers
    The Vimalakirti Sutra
    Hope against Hope. Nadezhda Mandelstam
    Pierrot Mon Ami. Raymond Queneau
    Tay John. Howard O'Hagen
    Kokoro. Natsume Soseki
    Six records of a floating life. Shen Fu
  10. Snoopy

    Snoopy zennish

    Sep 25, 2006
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    I'll have a look...

    I'm sure others read too...

  11. Snoopy

    Snoopy zennish

    Sep 25, 2006
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    I’ve had to be rather mean to get it down to ten. I can't say any book is "required" but here goes>

    Much better stuff will be said about these books on the net I’m sure than I can say.

    The Method of No-Method. Sheng Yen.

    Cultivating the Empty Field. Taigen Dan Leighton.

    The Heart Sutra (Translation and Commentary). Red Pine.

    The Diamond Sutra (Transforming the Way we Perceive the World). Mu Soeng.

    Trust in Mind (The Rebellion of Chinese Zen). Mu Soeng.

    Between Heaven and Earth. Michael Eido Luetchford.

    Eihei Dogen (Mystical Realist). Hee-Jin Kim.

    Realizing Genjokoan. Shohaku Okumura.

    Moon in a Dewdrop. Ed. Kazuaki Tanahashi.

    To Meet the Real Dragon. Gudo Nishijima.

  12. China Cat Sunflower

    China Cat Sunflower Nimrod

    Oct 27, 2005
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    Propaganda, The Formation of Men's Attitudes, Jacque Ellul

    This book made a bigger dent on my consciousness than anything I've read in my life.

    The Denial of Death, Ernest Becker

    The Birth and Death of Meaning, Ernest Becker

    Essential to understanding existential angst. These two books guided me through my mid-life crisis.

    Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond

    The gold standard on anthropological origins.

    The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts, Neil Asher Silberman and Israel Finkelstein

    Want to know the real story of the Old Testament? Solid archaeological analysis.

    A Beginner's Guide to Constructing the Universe, Micheal S. Schneider

    Mathematical archetypes found in natural structure.

    Language and Myth, Ernst Cassirer

    Understanding how language and mythology arise together.

    The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand
    I know, I know...much more than a glorification of predatory capitalism- although that's there too. This book had a huge impact on me as a young man. I'm a solid lefty and I still recommend it. Helped make me the iconoclastic sociopath I am today. The implied counter-reasoning is essential.

    Man and His Symbols, Carl Jung

    Jung in a nutshell.
  13. Snoopy

    Snoopy zennish

    Sep 25, 2006
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    Thnx for your list Chris. The only one i've read is the Diamond which I too thought was good, quite all-encompassing as I recall. Will check out your others, especially the Becker books.

  14. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

    Jul 10, 2003
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    namaste all.

    in no particular order:

    1. Nature of Spacetime - Hawking/Penrose - this is a series of debates between Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose and requires a fair bit of grounding in the subject matter but is still widely accessible in it's broader aspects.

    2. The Great War for Civilisation - Robert Fisk - wanna know why things are the way they are all over the Arab world?

    3. Art Theory - Williams - well... it's about art theory :)

    4. Guns, Germs and Steel - Diamond - a broad look at how and why civilizations developed how they did, where they did and why it is that some cultures are dominant while others are not.

    5. Meeting the Buddhas - Vessantara - lucid and authentic, i highly recommend it for the serious students of the Dharma.

    6. Bodhichiyavaratara - The Way of the Bodhisattva - Shantideva - a more thorough and penetrating insight into the practice of the Vajrayana i've yet to find.

    7. A Flash of Lightening in the Dark of Night - H.H. The 14th Dalai Lama - exposition and commentary on the aforementioned Way of the Bodhisattva.

    8. A Brief History of Time - Hawking - the 20th anniversary revised edition.

    9. Science as a candle in the Darkness/Demon haunted World - Carl Sagan

    10. The Ethical Slut - Easton and Litz - the practical aspects of loving more than one person and making it work.


  15. Sam Albion

    Sam Albion akaFrancisKing:ViveLeRoi!

    Jun 17, 2010
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    I wouldn't read anything about religion. Most of it's crap. Stick to fiction. At least it's fun.
  16. Saltmeister

    Saltmeister The Dangerous Dinner

    Jul 23, 2005
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    Are you serious?
  17. kiwimac

    kiwimac God is NOT about Fear

    Aug 30, 2003
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    Rich Christians in an age of Hunger by Ronald J. Sider.
    Shalom by Perry Yoder.
    The Bible
    The Gathas
    Thus spake Zarathustra by Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche.
    When bad things happen to Good people by Rabbi Kushner.
    The Path less travelled by M. Scott Peck.
    Any of Robert Farrar Capon's many books.
    Any of Andrew Greeley's many books.

    Robert Heinlein
    Andre Norton
    et al.
  18. Servetus

    Servetus Well-Known Member

    Jul 24, 2011
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    They are not necessarily required reading, but these works have profoundly affected and at times unsettled my view and are thus some of my favorites.
    The King James Version of the Holy Bible

    Helena Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine

    Alan Watts, Beyond Theology, the Art of Godmanship

    Friedrich Nietzsche, The Antichrist

    W.B. Yeats, The Second Coming

    René Guénon, Reign of Quantity

    Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism

    George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four

    Arnold J. Toynbee, Civilization on Trial

    Eugene O’Neill, Long Day’s Journey Into Night
  19. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

    Oct 17, 2005
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    Bump so I may contemplate
    Ahanu likes this.
  20. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

    Jul 20, 2007
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    A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
    In terms of spirituality, this novel is influenced by Dogen. Time plays a big role. A young teenager named Nao, the main character, informs the reader she will commit suicide. Why? You have to read it. There are many life lessons here.

    The Book of Certitude by Baha'u'llah
    Baha'u'llah's response to questions posed by the Bab's uncle. My mind was blown away when I first read this.

    The Jewish Annotated New Testament
    edited by Amy-Jill Levine and Mark Brettler
    The New Testament with commentaries and essays from leading Jewish scholars.

    The Study Quran: A New Translation and Commentary by Seyyed Hossein Nasr
    The Quran as read by Muslims over the centuries. Provides some much-needed perspective.

    Rumi: The Book of Love by Coleman Barks
    I usually keep this book beside my bed for daily inspiration.

    Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life by Thich Nhat Hanh
    This was my first introduction to Buddhist teachings. Simple but profound.

    When the Past is Present: Healing the Emotional Wounds that Sabotage our Relationships by David Richo
    This psychology book introduced me to psychological transference from a Buddhist perspective. Very powerful for those living in the past.

    Walden by Henry David Thoreau
    This book makes me question what life's essentials are. Timeless classic in my opinion.


    Basic Writings of Nietzsche
    I first picked up Nietzsche to better understand the philosophical background of my old roommate. But then I became totally hooked on simply understanding Nietzsche's approach to morality and religion. Unlike Richard Dawkins, Nietzsche is a powerful voice for atheism.

    Plato at the Googleplex by Rebecca Goldstein
    Plato reappears in the 21st century (don't ask how), and he engages in discussions with neuroscientists, programmers, educators, everyday people, and more. Quite entertaining.

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