#BookBingoNW2020: Philosophy or spirituality

In this year’s Book Bingo, the philosophy or spirituality square gives us a chance to explore. For philosophy, we can seek aspects about the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence that interest us.  And, for spirituality, it can be how to look more deeply, or less, into our soul or inner life.  To me during this pandemic, these are even more serious subjects and it was first a bit hard to focus on looking up titles to recommend.  Yet the research has made me think more open-mindedly about people and their lives, which has been a positive experience.

A colleague created this Book Bingo NW 2020: Philosophy or spirituality reading list.  It has 20 titles which range from covering about joy and tragedy, general and beginner reads, and taking us from medieval to current day.  This is a great place to start looking, especially for those titles available now for downloading.  So, my approach has been to look for a few other titles in the catalog to recommend.

Who do we think we are?  How do identities define us?  Anthony Appiah, a British-Ghanaian philosopher, cultural theorist, and novelist, in his book called The Lies that Bind: Rethinking Identity, Creed, Country, Class, Culture asks us these questions and more.  He goes back to historical events that have shaped our own and the world’s identities in religion, race, nationality, class and culture.  These are influenced by how identities work, that there are conflicts between identities, and the identities are created by conflicts.  Appiah gave an author talk at the Central Library in 2018 and here’s a link to the podcast.

A Benedictine nun and a voice for women’s rights for over 50 years, Joan Chittister provides short essays in The Time Is Now: A Call to Uncommon Courage that invites a spirituality of activism.  Encouraging people to be modern change agents, she shares about historical and modern people who struggled against institutional oppression. Sister Joan challenges the reader towards better creating a world of justice, freedom, peace and empowerment.


A leader, pastor, writer and Bible teacher, Ashlee Eiland, in Human(kind): How Reclaiming Human Worth and Embracing Radical Kindness Will Bring Us Back Together, shares her compelling story of being a black woman living on two sides of the fence: as the token black girl in majority-white spaces, and as the “whitewashed” black girl in majority black spaces.  Eiland uses family stories and personal experiences to show how she discovered her strength through a Christian-centered approach and encourages people to practice “radical kindness” to themselves and towards others.

Ayn Rand was a Russian-American writer and philosopher and her last work before her death in 1982 was a collection of essays called Philosophy: Who Needs It, published in 1984. In it, she summarizes her view of philosophy and deals with a broad spectrum of topics, including education, morality, censorship, and inflation. According to her, “the choice we make is not whether to have a philosophy, but which one to have: rational, conscious, and therefore practical; or contradictory, unidentified, and ultimately lethal.”


Sasha Sagan, daughter of Ann Druyan and Carl Sagan, is a writer and television producer and has a debut book called For Small Creatures Such as We: Rituals for Finding Meaning in Our Unlikely World.  She blends science and spirituality to encourage readers to reflect on both together, as well as with the rest of our lives, including past and present.



Resources for finding more titles and digital materials on philosophy or spirituality include:

For more ideas for books to meet your Summer Book Bingo challenge, follow our Shelf Talk #BookBingoNW2020 series or check the hashtag #BookBingoNW2020 on social media. Book bingo is presented in partnership with Seattle Arts & Lectures.

~posted by Marion S.

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