To Read in 2018: 50 “Spiritual” Memoirs

I’m writing a spiritual memoir (or perhaps it’s more a series of articles of faith; a 60,000-word theological position paper).

I hope that I have something interesting to say. I hope can say it in an interesting way.

I’ve started this work here and there.

Of course, such a project is not new. In fact, spiritual memoirs might be the oldest forms of “self writing,” starting (at least in the western Canon) with Augustine’s Confessions.

So in preparation for this project, I’ve set out to read one spiritual memoir/autobiography–and I define this term loosely–each week in 2018.

Some of the books I have read before (a few I teach portions of almost each term).

But reading them for their content and writing style to help me write my own will allow me to approach them with new eyes (here, I hope to follow Edward Said’s notion of itjihad, which Debjani Ganguly has explained as “a term that connotes deep personal commitment to finding one’s truth in reading the holy text. It valorises individual interpretation, rigorously executed but with a responsibility towards the interpretive community.”

Many of these books are “sacred texts” for me and for many other readers).

If all goes to plan and purpose, I will write a response to each one of these books. No one needs a review of them from me. After all, I’m reading them selfishly, or perhaps more fairly, with specific purposes in mind. So, I’ll record lessons–writerly, spiritual, humane–that I find in these (narrated) lives, some lived and others still living.

Here’s the list, subject to change.

(hat tips to Liz Boltz Ranfeld, Elizabeth Jarett Andrew, for inspiration).

(Observant readers–probably just my mom–might note that there are only 46 listed. I welcome any and all suggestions!).

Note: For some reason, I’m starting with Didion (well, because she was on my bookshelf and wanted to reread her closely. I’ll have more to say about (hopefully) this weekend.






(I just looked at the Amazon pre-reviews of this book and they–ironically–prove the thesis of this book).


























[Note: this is a bit of a tough one… Surprisingly, no enterprising Saint or scholar (or both) has put out a one volume reader of Smith’s histories together in a readable, while also annotated for their complexity, form].


















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