Mix the Lowcountry’s summer saunas with a little vacation down time, and what do you get? Extra time to chill out with novels that inspire the faithful and nonfiction that delves into the divine.
The Post and Courier asked local authors, teachers and religious leaders what books they love enough to recommend to Faith & Values readers.
Check out their recommendations and then head to your favorite bookstore or library:
The Charleston teacher is the best-selling author of “Grace at Low Tide,” “The Wedding Machine,” “Moon Over Edisto” and others.
“The Wedding Dress” by Rachel Hauck
A delightful tale about Charlotte Malone, a bridal boutique owner who discovers a vintage wedding gown in a battered trunk she buys at an estate sale. The gown has been worn by three brides: Emily from 1912, Mary Grace from 1939 and Hillary from 1968.
Each woman has a story of hope, heartbreak and destiny to share with Charlotte who is unsure about her own family history, not to mention her upcoming nuptials. For those who enjoy Christian symbolism, it will not disappoint.
“The Passion of Mary-Margaret” by Lisa Samson
A would-be nun, raised in a convent, is surprised when God calls her to love an extremely wounded man living with the consequences of his remarkably sordid past. The result is redemption, a theme that can never, in this reader’s opinion, be exhausted.
“Peace Like A River” by Leif Enger
Chosen as one of Time magazine’s top five novels, this story of a sickly, fearful 11-year-old boy in need of a miracle as he chases his older outlaw brother across the country, will not only restore your faith in the unseen, it will also restore your faith in the art of storytelling.
He is community liaison, Yaschik/Arnold Jewish Studies Program at the College of Charleston.
“Superman: The High-Flying History of America’s Most Enduring Hero” by Larry Tye
This book chronicles Superman’s journey, notably through the story of his creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, Jewish teenagers eager to distance themselves from their immigrant parents.
Larry Tye, journalist and New York Times bestselling author of “Satchel,” looks at the myriad people who created the Man of Steel and makes the case of a Jewish superhero.
Wentworth is S.C. poet laureate.
“Seeking: Poetry and Prose Inspired by the Art of Jonathan Green,” edited by Kwame Dawes and Marjory Wentworth
The Seeking project was inspired by a painting Jonathan Green did for Mepkin Abbey that was greatly influenced by his own seeking experience within the church (Gullah tradition) This book embodies many voices, each like different a bell tone that articulates the essence of that writer’s spiritual journey. Something universal in the painting inspires such response.
The Mount Pleasant resident is the author of faith-based books including “Beyond Molasses Creek,” “The Spirit of Sweetgrass” and “Trouble the Water”
“Happy, Happy, Happy: My Life and Legacy as the Duck Commander” by Phil Robertson and Mark Schlabach
I’ll admit that “Duck Dynasty” is one of my veg-out, feel-good shows. This book is an honest memoir about a life from a simpler time that winds its way through life’s complexities, and then finds its way back again, never losing its humor.
“Praying for Strangers: An Adventure of the Human Spirit” by River Jordan
River Jordan took on the challenge of praying for a stranger every day. Did it make a difference in the world? Yes, and often in a surprising way.
Warning: This book may make you care for total strangers, but the biggest impact is on the one doing the praying.
“When God Winks at You: How God Speaks Directly to You Through the Power of Coincidence” by Squire Rushnell
This is a great book to remind you of the awesome power of God, and how He cares about all the little details in life. A worthwhile and inspiring book.
Dixon is pastor of Summerville Christian Fellowship.
“This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness” by Frank E. Peretti
Ashton is a typical small town. But when a skeptical reporter and a pastor compare notes, they find themselves fighting a plot to subjugate the town and the entire human race.
Although the insights in these companion books are profound in their spiritual applications, they are written in a lighthearted fictional format that make both easy to read and enjoyable.
The Mount Pleasant resident is the author of the new teen Christian novel, “Dreamer,” and Seacoast Church bookstore director.
“The Spirit of Sweetgrass” by Nicole Seitz
Essie May Jenkins weaves her stories as well as she weaves a sweetgrass basket. “The Spirit of Sweetgrass” is rich with local charm and captures the strength and character of the Gullah culture. A must-read for anyone living in the Lowcountry.
“Moon Over Edisto” by Beth Webb Hart
Beth Webb Hart uses Edisto Island’s irresistible lure to engage the reader in the Bennett family’s life. Once there, you don’t want to leave.
The character’s emotions are so real you will find yourself wanting to jump into the pages and comfort them as if they were your own family
Sister Clare Stephen Kralovic
She is with Pauline Books and Media in Charleston.
“The Locket’s Secret” by K. Kelley Heyne
Fantasy and reality come together as Carrie Adams, a 13-year-old girl, struggles to make sense of loss and new beginnings. This novel mixes reality with some fantasy elements, so it’s exciting for middle and high school students.
“Walk With God” by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen
We recommend anything by Bishop Sheen. His books have short chapters and are inspirational. Many people are familiar with him because of his TV show years ago that was popular with all denominations.
“Pope Francis” by Matthew Bunson
This new book offers an overview of Pope Francis. Given the media coverage, people of various faiths are interested in him.
Carter is dean of students at Charleston Southern University.
“The Principle of the Path” by Andy Stanley
I often meet students who are seeking direction in life. This practical book from mega-church pastor Andy Stanley gives great advice.
The subtitle of the book sums it up well, “How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to be.” This is a must-read for people who want to get on the right path to success.
Geshe Dakpa Topgyal
He is the spiritual director of the Charleston Tibetan Society and author of “Essential Ethics.”
“Beyond Religion” and “Advice On Dying: And Living a Better Life” by His Holiness the Dalai Lama
The Earth does not need more successful people but, instead, desperately needs more peacemaking, ethical and compassionate people. The Earth is crying due to the lack of this.
These books can help and genuinely motivate us to be more compassionate, ethical and peaceful contributors to the world.
Scott D. Yarbrough
Yarbrough is English department chairman at Charleston Southern University.
“Gilead” By Marilynne Robinson
“Gilead” is one of the best novels of the past decade and won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize.
Set in the late 1950s, it tells of an aging minister and his relationship with his late-life family of a younger wife, as well as difficulties endured by his troubled godson, Jack Boughton.
The novel and its companion, “Home,” offer a sublime commentary on grace, salvation and forgiveness.
“Man in the Blue Moon” by Michael Morris
Set in Apalachicola, Fla., during World War I, this novel tells of a woman trying to keep food in her children’s stomachs and a roof over her head after her husband ran up debts before deserting his family. The novel combines the Southern literary tradition with aspects of the thriller, all told from a Christian worldview.
The Rev. John Zahl
He is associate priest, Grace Episcopal Church in Charleston, and author of “Grace in Addiction: The Good News of AA for Everyone.”
“Theophilus North” by Thornton Wilder
Wilder’s last novel, this offers a brilliant analysis of the pastoral encounter, told through the life of a saintly tutor who spends a summer in Newport, R.I. He is approached by various locals (of all socioeconomic stripes), in each case with a presenting need.
But in each instance, a deeper problem is actually at play. Theophilus brings the needed (actual) cure using wit, humor, humility and seemingly supernatural insight.
“The Mockingbird Devotional” edited by Ethan Richardson & Sean Norris
The best daily devotional book on the market! It views the Bible through the Gospel’s message of grace, thereby enabling readers to connect the good news side of faith with the realities of daily life as it surveys the entire Old and New Testaments.