Favorite Titles?

TalkWorld Religions

Join LibraryThing to post.

Favorite Titles?

This topic is currently marked as "dormant"—the last message is more than 90 days old. You can revive it by posting a reply.

Feb 10, 2007, 2:25pm

'World Religions' is a pretty expansive category. There is just so little theory, practice or philosophy that doesn't come under its umbrella even just a little. But I think once you get into the subject, even though it's enormous and you know you'll never get your brain wrapped around it...ever...you're hooked. You just have to know more.

So I was wondering--what was the book (fiction or non) that hooked you? Was there some reading you did, or something that happened that made you want to know more, made you grab a book and read it. Was there a book that catalyzed this process?

I'm not sure there was for me...but the book Chop Wood Carry Water comes to mind. I never owned it. Never really properly read it. I just flipped through it at a friend's house, and it got me thinking...


Feb 10, 2007, 2:41pm

My family had an old book,This Believing World, which I pulled from the shelf when old enough to take an interest. Many books (and philosophy courses) later, I haven't read one that gives a better explanation of the origins of religions.

Feb 10, 2007, 5:46pm

I'm reading The Illustrated World's Religions for my World Religions class and it is excellent. I'm also enjoying World Religions for the beautiful pictures of religious art more for than its text.

Edited: Mar 7, 2007, 11:54am

I have had an interest in mythology, fable, archetype and alegory for years, and I suppose Riane Eisler's The Chalice and the Blade was the first serious scholarly work on religion as a social force.

One book which really revolutionized a lot of my thinking was The Changing Face of Jesus by Geza Vermes. Actually all of his work on early Christian thought and development is excellent. As a source for historical analysis of the bible, he's one of the top scholars.

Another landmark reading was Reinventing Paul by John Gager. And of course, Letter to a Christian Nation was a wake-up call as well.

Mar 13, 2007, 12:51pm

Raven! Welcome, and I can absolutely relate to The Chalice and The Blade as a book that packed some power. When I picked it up, it was unlike anything I had been exposed to before. I loved it. It made me ask questions and search for answers. You know....I haven't read that book in a loooong time. lol. I think it might be fun to revisit. Thanks for the reminder!

Apr 26, 2007, 2:11pm

There have been a couple. The first was probably Autobiography of a Yogi. Which is the autobiography of Paramahansa Yogananda one of the first hindu yogis to come teach exclusively in the west. The next is a set called Life and Teaching of the Masters of the Far East, about a trip a group of scientists and other seekers made in, if I remember correctly, the '40's, to visit a group of Yogis in India who called themselves "the Masters."

Apr 26, 2007, 2:23pm

I like flipping through Merriam-Webster's encyclopedia of world religions. It always gives me ideas for research projects that I really don't have time for!

May 23, 2007, 1:16pm

Welcome fleela! I hear you about how valuable the quick reference can be. Once you have a basic understanding, the reference can help trigger your memory. A good reference is also instrumental in giving you a starting place. Once you know the general concept, and key names, words, and ideas, you can find more information much more easily.

I have a number of handy references. I feel so lucky to live in a time where so many specialists have contributed so many ideas! (Now if I only had time to soak it all up...)

May 25, 2007, 9:22am

I second both of Darrol's recommendations. Campbell's The Masks of God is just outstanding, exploring anthropology, psychology, and the histories of religion and literature.

Jun 25, 2007, 1:31am


Maybe a French speaking one ?
Une autre histoire des religions par Odon Vallet
It is an introduction which gives to the beginners wings to go on.

Jun 25, 2007, 11:27am

Although I confess I've not read anything else she wrote, Karen Armstrong's A History of God, combined with an amazing Classics professor in college, was what got me interested in comparative religion. My impression of her book might change if I were to re-read it now (so much else to do....), but as a freshman in college who had grown up thinking of these religions as so separate and different (Central MN will do that to you), Armstrong's book helped me see the connections between them. Since then, my studies have primarily focused on Judaism and Islam. Now I am looking to learn more about the "Eastern" religions that I did not have so much exposure to in my academic studies.

Edited: Jun 27, 2007, 9:44am

Another French speaking one ?
*André Gounelle Le dynamisme Créateur de Dieu which is an open tour among the Process theology authors and to go on through this tour :
*Alfred North Withehead Procès et réalité, the title translation doesn't give the same idea than in English
*John B. COBB Thomas pris de doute
and an English speaking one in the same way :
Charles Hartshorne Omnipotence and other theological mistakes

Edited: Jan 13, 2009, 12:13pm

Peacemover, just wanted to say I was at Powell's last weekend, and bought volumes 1&2 of Mircea Eliade's a History of Religious Ideas series. Haven't started reading it yet, but I flipped through them both in the store and I'm intrigued. Would have bought all three, but they didn't have the third volume. :(

Feb 18, 2009, 10:55pm

I would recommend two of Diana L. Eck's books, A New Religious America: How a "Christian Country" has become the world's most religiously diverse nation and Encountering God: a spiritual journey from Bozeman to Banaras. The latter is very well told and I ended up going to a lecture and book signing for the former.

Feb 18, 2009, 11:36pm

Encountering God is an excellent book. Read it for a Religious Studies class last year or the year before and enjoyed it immensely. I have A New Religious America, haven't gotten around to reading it yet though. For books on Buddhism I just finished Buddha for Beginners, and highly recommend it. Its a short read at about 150 pages, with a relatively small amount of text on each page as there are cartoon illustrations on every page. However Dr Asma does an excellent job of introducing philosophic Buddhism. This is the kind of book that I would hand to a teenager interested in the dharma, but could also be enjoyed by a more advanced student or practitioner.

Mar 12, 2010, 3:48pm

>12 fannyprice: Fanny, Having read most of what Ms Armstrong has written, except her newest book, and the one she wrote on fundamentalism, I would definitely recommend reading anything by her you can get your hands on.