Can you recommend some Good Books for my dad?
August 25, 2008 10:02 AM   Subscribe

My dad recently read The Shack and really liked it. Can you recommend other books with a spiritual leaning (not necessarily Christian) that he might also like?

A bit of background: Metroid Dad lost both his father and his younger brother earlier in the year, and for the past several months he's been fighting an uphill battle with cancer. We're not sure how much time he's got left, but he's been in remarkably good spirits.

As might be expected in this situation, Dad's been waxing a bit ontological lately. Give him a free ear and he'll talk to you about his thoughts on God and the afterlife, on relationships and love and how we'll all meet again. He prefaces a lot of this with "I'm not sure how, but I believe…" or "Now, I don't go to church that much…" or "I know this might sound kinda flaky, but…" In other words, he's not dogmatic or judgmental, but appears to be approaching these questions with gentleness and an open mind. He was raised Protestant, but believes that all religions are really working towards the same thing and concedes that religion doesn't have to be a central part of anyone's life.

He read The Shack a month or two ago and, though he thought parts were kind of lame, on the whole it really spoke to him. Really, a whole lot. (I read it at his urging, and my reaction was more "hmm, okay.")

Given all of the above, I'd really like to find more reading material in a similar vein – stuff that might also speak to him, comfort him, or get him thinking. Fiction, nonfiction, religious texts, any or all of the above. Doesn't have to be Christian, doesn't necessarily have to have religion or God or spirituality as the main focus. I'd like stuff that’s intelligent but accessible (and readable while in the hospital and woozy), so nothing too dry or too schlocky. And I'd like to avoid proselytizing, Kool-Aid, and scary REPENT SINNERS!!!1! type stuff.

He loved the history books I got him for Christmas at your recommendations, and I'm hoping you guys will have some good ideas yet again.

(I doubt it'll be an issue, but just in case: please, no hurf durf Shack reader or hurf durf God believer here. Dad's not reading this thread, and I'm not going to engage him in any metaphysical arguments, so there's not really any point in it. He'd respect your beliefs, so please respect his.)

Thank you in advance, as always.
posted by Metroid Baby to Religion & Philosophy (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
"Teaching a Stone to Talk," by Annie Dillard. Really amazing stuff - in a brief collection of short stories she really covers a lot of ground.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 10:29 AM on August 25, 2008

posted by Baby_Balrog at 10:29 AM on August 25, 2008

A Bend in the Road by Nicholas Sparks.
posted by bjgeiger at 12:38 PM on August 25, 2008

Maybe Eat Pray Love?
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 2:06 PM on August 25, 2008

Desert Ascent by Simon Parke and Peace Like a River by Lief Enger.
posted by belladonna at 5:35 PM on August 25, 2008

The Pulitzer Prize winning Gilead, which by the way sounds quite appropriate considering your personal circumstances. It deals with a dying father's memories and the legacy he wants to leave his sons.

Anything by Anne Lamott. These are not fiction, but rather "reflections on faith" written in a very engaging, funny and modern way.

Disclaimer: I'm an atheist, but it didn't stop me liking these books.
posted by Mephisto at 7:09 PM on August 25, 2008

Seconding Gilead. And maybe take a look at Annie Dillard's Holy the Firm, too. Also, Karen Armstrong's The Spiral Staircase is sometimes a little dark, but focuses on her leaving nun-hood and subsequent emotional struggles and personal spiritual growth. Armstrong also writes wonderfully intellectual and rigorous histories of religion.

Best wishes to your dad.
posted by lillygog at 6:47 AM on August 26, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks so much, guys! I'm going to check out a few of these books at the library to see if they're something Dad might like. I'm hoping at least one of them will be something we can both relate to.
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:56 AM on August 28, 2008

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