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My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer

Christian Wiman (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

In his book of essays, Wiman is the consummate poet, wrestling with God, mortality, and faith—in exquisite language destined for savoring.

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When We Were on Fire: A Memoir of Consuming Faith

Addie Zierman (Convergent)

Zierman’s memoir of growing up in a religiously zealous way stands out in a crowded field as modest, thoughtful, and illuminated with well-selected detail; it’s also delicate in its portrait of a young and changing life.

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Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth

Reza Aslan (Random)

Aslan admits that he breaks no new ground in Jesus studies with this exploration of the life of Jesus Christ, but it is a model of engaging exposition that vivifies the dusty events of 2,000 years ago, and it has certainly ignited the kind of cultural conversation that more scholars should seek to start.

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The Historical David: The Real Life of an Invented Hero

Joel Baden (HarperOne)

All praise be—again—to those biblical studies scholars who can make ancient history matter and can shed light on long-held beliefs. In clear prose and with a documented command of what others have said before him, Baden offers a provocative reinterpretation of one of Western culture’s heroes.

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Vatican Waltz

Roland Merullo (Crown)

Merullo understands the power of faith, and he understands even better the power of story in shaping belief. His novel of a pious young Catholic woman who addresses what she thinks is a call to the priesthood sings with detail, surprise, and imagination.

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