Growing up, I went to Catholic school, so Lent was always a big deal. We spent weeks talking about it, learning about the Bible stories, preparing for a school Passion play about the Easter story, and choosing what we’d want to give up for 40 days. Back then, I’d try to give up something, usually candy or soda.
As I’ve grown older, Lent has evolved from giving up something I liked to making a conscious effort to work on areas of myself where I can be better, in my personal life and in my faith life—and that might still mean giving something up, like a bad habit.
Lent has always felt like a time to deepen my faith through action and sacrifice. In recent years, I’ve done everything from performing one random act of kindness each day to giving up sugar to working out every day.
This year, I’m focused on doing more inner work, and one of the ways I’m doing that is by reading books that are focused on spirituality, faith, personal growth and introspection.
Here are a few books I’ll be reading this Lent. Hopefully, they’ll inspire you, too:
“Give Up Worry for Lent” by Gary Zimak
I’ve always been a worrier, so I’m hoping this book will help me become a “recovered worrier” instead. There’s a mix of daily Scripture readings that help me remember the big picture and not get caught up in my own thoughts, practical tips to follow, and simple action steps to take to help the reader learn how to worry less throughout Lent. I’m really curious to see if my anxieties about different areas of my life are able to shift by Easter.
“Wondrous Encounters: Scripture for Lent” by Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM
I love everything Fr. Richard Rohr writes, and I listen to his podcast every Sunday. I’m excited to read this one because he goes into the duality of life and faith: how everything we do is important while also remembering we are just here for a short time and a small part of a larger world. He explains how Lent is about both taking yourself seriously and surrendering to a higher power. Very excited to read this one!
“The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself” by Michael Singer
This is a book I return to over and over again. It’s about exploring your inner world and putting an end to habitual, unconscious patterns that might be holding you back in life. Singer talks about our relationship with our thoughts and emotions—and shows a pathway to freedom in our innermost world. It’s deep and makes me really evaluate how I process the world, especially showing me the importance of slowing down. I’ve read it twice before and still feel like there’s so much more to learn, each time I pick it up.
“The Way of the Rose: The Radical Path to the Divine Feminine Hidden in the Rosary” by Clark Strand and Perdita Finn
When I first read this book, I found myself highlighting almost every paragraph. When I was in school, we were made to say the Rosary as a punishment for misbehaving, so I developed a natural aversion to it. But I was so wrong and I’m happy I gave this book a try, mostly because my grandmothers used to say the Rosary; I figured if they did it, there had to be something soothing and important in the practice. There’s so much wisdom to help explain the importance of the Rosary and its significance throughout history. I’ll be re-reading it again (and saying more Rosaries) during Lent.
“The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom” by Don Miguel Ruiz
This is, by far, my favorite personal growth book. I first read it as a teenager and have returned to it countless times since. It’s all about the four agreements we can make with ourselves that will prevent needless suffering and increase joy. Based on Toltec ancient wisdom, it lays out a code of conduct that can help us improve in every area of our life, from our work to our relationships to our health. It usually only takes me an afternoon to read and it’s such a good reminder of what’s truly important. And it’s a perfect book for Lent because it gives clear guidelines for how to walk in faith and integrate spirituality into my everyday life!
Originally published March 3, 2020.