Skip to main content

Inspiring Books

Religion + Spirituality

Calhill, Susan. Wise Women, Over two thousand years of spiritual writing by women. W. W. Norton & Company 1997.

A pathbreaking anthology representing a tradition of the prophetic and practical wisdom of women's spirituality.
Spiritual experience is a liberating source of women's identity and their resistance to oppression. Moving from the Native American tale "The Creation of Spider Woman" and the poet-nun of Mexico Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz to the contemporary African American thinker Marian Wright Edelman and the Buddhist shaman Joan Halifax, these visionaries see justice and love, loss, aging, and freedom. It inspires them to artistic expression and political action. This deeply moving collection of memoirs, stories, poetry, letters, prayers, and theologies is a source of empowering and uplifting thought for women in any time, at any age.


Frankel, Ellen. The Five Books of Miriam, a Women's Commentary on the Torah. Harper One 1997.

Weaving together Jewish lore, the voices of Jewish foremothers, Yiddish fable, midrash and stories of her own imagining, Ellen Frankel has created in this book a breathtakingly vivid exploration into what the Torah means to women. Here are Miriam, Esther, Dinah, Lilith and many other women of the Torah in dialogue with Jewish daughters, mothers and grandmothers, past and present. Together these voices examine and debate every aspect of a Jewish woman's life -- work, sex, marriage, her connection to God and her place in the Jewish community and in the world. The Five Books of Miriam makes an invaluable contribution to Torah study and adds rich dimension to the ongoing conversation between Jewish women and Jewish tradition.


Harris-Perry, Melissa V. Sister Citizen; Shame, Stereotypes and Black Women in America. Yale University Press 2011.

In this groundbreaking book, Melissa V. Harris-Perry uses multiple methods of inquiry, including literary analysis, political theory, focus groups, surveys, and experimental research, to understand more deeply black women's political and emotional responses to pervasive negative race and gender images. Not a traditional political science work concerned with office-seeking, voting, or ideology, Sister Citizen instead explores how African American women understand themselves as citizens and what they expect from political organizing. Harris-Perry shows that the shared struggle to preserve an authentic self and secure recognition as a citizen links together black women in America, from the anonymous survivors of Hurricane Katrina to the current First Lady of the United States.


Lesser, Elizabeth. Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow (Villard, 2008).

In this beautifully written, often funny, and always inspiring book, Lesser has gathered together true stories about ordinary people who by design or disaster decided to step boldly into a fuller life. Here are profoundly moving narratives of fears overcome and risks taken; of hard times and difficult passages; of betrayal, divorce, sickness, and death; and of the day-to-day challenges of raising children, earning a living, and growing older. By sharing her own most human traits, Lesser helps us feel less lonely in our own struggles, and more optimistic about the possibility of transformation.


Lesser, Elizabeth. Marrow: A Love Story (HarperCollins,2016).

A mesmerizing and courageous memoir: the story of two sisters uncovering the depth of their love through the life-and-death experience of a bone marrow transplant. Throughout her life, Elizabeth Lesser has sought understanding about what it means to be true to oneself and, at the same time, truly connected to the ones we love. But when her sister Maggie needs a bone marrow transplant to save her life, and Lesser learns that she is the perfect match, she faces a far more immediate and complex question about what it really means to love—honestly, generously, and authentically.


Lesser, Elizabeth. The New American Spirituality: A Seeker’s Guide (Ballantine Books, 2008).

Lesser synthesizes the lessons learned from an immersion into the world's wisdom traditions and intertwines them with illuminating stories from her daily life. Recounting her own trials and errors and offering meditative exercises, she shows the reader how to create a personal practice, gauge one's progress, and choose effective spiritual teachers and habits. 


Varday, Lucinda. The Flowering of the Soul. Beacon Press 2002.

A unique collection of one thousand prayers by women from ancient times to the present day "Shall we keep silent, or shall we speak? And if we speak what shall we say?" These questions of Dorothy Day's have rung in the ears of spiritual women for centuries. Silence has been the usual response, precipitated often by doubts, fears, and isolation. Now, in The Flowering of the Soul, Lucinda Vardey traces the voices of all those women who have used the written word to share their experience of God.



←  Go back                                                  Next page