Books have been changing hearts and minds since the first written words were given form. With the invention of the printing press, books were able to reach the masses and from there, the world has used books for teaching and learning and sharing knowledge, experiences and insight. Whether read as a traditional book or on a modern-day e-reader, spiritual insight continues to be a popular theme among people looking to a higher wisdom for guidance and assurance.
Rhonda Byrne, author of the best-selling self-help book "The Secret" wrote her thoughts down after a series of personal tragedies. Based on the law of attraction, "The Secret" sold more than 21 million copies and was successful around the world with its message that positive thinking can change a person's life in every aspect, which Byrne says was her intention from the beginning. A movie of the same name was released before the book and shared the same message. Since then, a number of other "Secret" books have been written for various age groups.
"The Purpose Driven Life" was written following the success of "The Purpose Driven Church" by Rick Warren, pastor and founder of the Saddleback Church. The book's message centers on finding God's purpose in life and strives to help readers create a lifestyle for themselves based on eternal, Bible-based principles. The 40-day devotional book topped best-seller charts when it was first released in 2007.
"The Peacegiver" by Latter-day Saint author James L. Farrell is a parable-style telling of the journey of a man who struggles to answer questions about his faith, specifically the Atonement. In the book, the characters learn about the Atonement in a unique but relatable way as they work through issues common to all people — relationships, feelings and human desires — and strive to find lasting peace.
"Joshua," written by the Rev. Joseph F. Girzone, is a modern-day parable that tells the story of a man who causes a stir when he moves to a small town and lives and acts in many ways that the Bible records Jesus did, although the people in the town are suspicious. Girzone self-published the book in 1983, and it was mostly through word of mouth that it grew in popularity until the book eventually was considered to have tremendous spiritual insight and has been read by millions.
Expanding on the ideas first introduced in the best-selling "The Power of Now," spiritualist Eckhart Tolle's latest book, "A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose," discusses finding lasting happiness through transcending the attachment to the human ego. Striving to encourage a more enlightened humanity in people through spiritual awakening, Tolle's latest book has been acclaimed as a major spiritual influence in the world at large.
When "90 Minutes in Heaven" first hit the market in 2004, it was a quick success, hitting best-sellers lists for the New York Times, Publisher's Weekly and USA Today, among others. The book details the true story of author and pastor Don Piper, who was pronounced dead for 90 minutes following a 1989 car accident. When Piper awoke, he vividly recalled his time in heaven and shared the stories, images and experiences while in heaven in his book.
When former president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Gordon B. Hinckley wrote "Standing for Something: 10 Neglected Virtues That Will Heal Our Hearts and Homes," he stated that his intent was to cross faith lines and reach out "to people who may not be interested in our theology but would be interested in our position and stance on some of these values that are of everlasting benefit to this nation and people across the world.” The best-selling book stresses the importance of commonly held values like civility, forgiveness and integrity in daily life.
Christian fiction author Frank Peretti wrote "This Present Darkness" to provide insight into the biblical exercise of spiritual warfare and the important and role of prayer in the life of a Christian. Following the story of a small town being overtaken by thinkers in the New Age movement, Peretti's angels vs. demons story was a best-seller and was considered a strong influence on what young evangelicals believed regarding the spiritual realm.
"Mystical Dimensions of Islam" by Annemarie Schimmel, a former professor of Indo-Muslim studies at Harvard University, is considered to be "the best and most comprehensive study on Islamic mysticism in the English language." The book explores Sufism, a mystical branch of Islam, in a way that no other book had done before, being considered thoroughly authentic because of her understanding of Arab and Persian culture, scripture writings and languages.
Author Richard Bushman's 2005 biography of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints founder Joseph Smith titled "Rough Stone Rolling" combines both faith and scholarship with an honest look at the life of Joseph Smith, including some controversial aspects. However, the book attempts to explain Smith in the context of life in the 19th century, rather than through modern eyes.
"The Tibetan Book of the Dead: The Great Book of Natural Liberation Through Understanding in the Between" is a 1993 modern English version of the ancient manuscript of "The Tibetan Book of the Dead." Blessed by the Dalai Lama, author Robert Thurman's book remains true to the Tibetan Buddhist concepts of death and dying but adds commentary such as the Tibetan conception of postmortem existence to help Westerners better understand.
"Mere Christianity" is a Christian theology book by former atheist C.S. Lewis, who is most famous for "The Chronicles of Narnia" series. Lewis' book, based on a series of BBC radio discussions in the 1940s, is considered one of the most modern influential books for evangelical Christians and sets out a rational basis for Christianity of "free will, an innate sense of justice and the grace of God."
Robert M. Pirsig's "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values" is a philosophical novel that follows the journey of a father and son who take a cross-country motorcycle trip and have a number of philosophical discussions on life's fundamental questions. According to the author, the mega best-seller is "a study of the art of rationality itself. Working on a motorcycle, working well, caring, is to become part of a process, to achieve an inner peace of mind."
Deepak Chopra's "The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success" is a spiritual guidance book designed to downplay happiness through materialism and focuses on finding true success through well-being, the expansion of happiness and peace of mind. Inspired by Hindu principles, the seven laws that Chopra lays out are said to be applicable to all areas of life.
"My Utmost for His Highest" is a compilation of sermons by Oswald Chambers who was a little-known teacher of the Bible. His classical devotional book, compiled and published almost 20 years after his death, made his name famous around the world and is a long-standing best-seller for the simplicity of its message and profound spiritual insights. It offers 365 short devotionals and has been republished numerous times. In 1995, a Christian album inspired by the book was released.