I love to read. In fact, I love to read so much that I generally read around 100 books each year. This is not so much a tribute to my character as an indication of my obsession.
I usually have 2-3 books going at the same time, and one of them is always a spiritual book. A few years ago my priest encouraged me to add spiritual reading to my reading life, and I am so glad that he did. There are so many wonderful books that can encourage our faith, inspire our living, and draw us closer to God.
Recently I posted a question on the Orthodox Motherhood Facebook page (if you haven’t already followed it, we would love to have you!):
Name one book you think everyone should read. The results were so fantastic that I had to share them!
Here are some of the responses that I received. As a quick note, I have not read all of these myself, but they do come highly recommended!
10 Must-Read Books for Orthodox Christians
Orthodox Christians gain strength for our journey of faith through daily reading of the Scriptures. The Orthodox Study Bible is an invaluable tool, as it gives commentary from saints of the Church and explanation of Orthodox practices and traditions.
2. Everyday Saints by Archimandrite Tikhon
This is my current spiritual read, and I cannot say enough good things about it. Each chapter in the book tells of a different spiritual elder in Russia, or relates a story of God’s work during the time of Soviet persecution, or gives encouragement by showing how God transforms the life of everyday saints. I am finding it so encouraging, inspiring, and humbling.
3. Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives by Elder Thaddeus
I just finished reading this lovely book a few months ago. A collection of sayings, sermons, and thoughts by Elder Thaddeus, the book will challenge readers to consider their thoughts and actions. I was also incredibly interested in the section that retold Elder Thaddeus’s life, as it is an inspiring story of the synergy of God’s faithfulness and man’s faith in the midst of difficult times.
4. The Way of a Pilgrim translated by Olga Savin
The Way of a Pilgrim is a classic in Orthodox spirituality, which tells the story of a pilgrim who longs to learn how he can fulfill St. Paul’s command to “Pray without ceasing.” He begins a journey that takes him to dozens of spiritual fathers and leads him to learn The Jesus Prayer. The Jesus Prayer is a simple prayer that one can learn in a minute, but also a profound prayer that one can pray for a lifetime.
“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have mercy on me, A sinner.”
5. The Ascetic Lives of Mothers by Annalisa Boyd
Motherhood brings a new set of joys and challenges to a woman’s life. Annalisa Boyd has created a beautiful prayer book that provides prayers for mothers for a myriad of situations that occur in daily life. If your soul needs spiritual refreshment, a vehicle to help you pray, or even just encouragement to know that you are not alone, this is the book for you.
6. Beginning to Pray by Met. Anthony Bloom
A spiritual classic published in 1970, Metropolitan Anthony Bloom’s work on prayer has encouraged and inspired millions of people. A small, easy-to-read book about contemplative prayer with interesting illustrations and practical examples.
7. Father Arseny, 1893-1973: Priest, Prisoner, Spiritual Father translated by Vera Bouteneff
A compelling narrative that gives glimpses into Father Arseny’s experiences in prison camp. It also tells of people whose lives were touched and transformed by the priest and his example of love in the midst of suffering.
8. The Mountain of Silence by Kyriacos C. Markides
A fascinating look into Orthodox spirituality as seen in the Greek Orthodox monasteries in the Trodos Mountains of Cyprus.
9. Icon: A Novel by Georgia Briggs
I read Icon this past summer, and, honestly, I can’t get it out of my head. That is always the sign of a good book! A dystopian novel for teens (though adults will certainly enjoy it, too), Icon tells the story of a young girl who lives in a futuristic America where tolerance is king and religion is anathema. The storytelling is gripping, the character development gentle but honest, and the incorporation of Orthodoxy seamless. I cannot recommend this book highly enough! Icon would make for a wonderful book club for teens or young adults in your church.
10. Wounded by Love by Elder Porphyrios
Elder Porphyrios (now Saint Porphyrios) was an Orthodox monk and priest who died 25 years ago. This is a compilation of his writings with deep spiritual truths showing his love for Christ, meditation on Christ’s love for mankind, humility, repentance, and life lived in service and love of others.
What books would you add to this list?
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