The Baltimore Sun

Summer often brings vacation days, trips to flee the routine and extra "me" time.

It can be a season to rest the body. It also can be a time to renew the mind and refresh the spirit - through reading.

But where to start? Here are some suggestions.

Gandhi, the Man: The Story of His Transformation by Eknath Easwaran Nilgiri Press / 1997 / $16 paperback

This is a fairly short and easy-to-read book, with lots of pictures and stories, but it is loaded with spiritual wisdom and power. In showing how Gandhi got to be such a great spiritual being, it inspires its readers to some of the same greatness. You will come away from reading this book full of Gandhi's energy and insights, challenged and changed for the better.

Rediscovering the Kingdom by Myles Munroe Destiny Image / 2004 / $20

This book unlocks the revelation of "kingdom living." As we rediscover the kingdom, we find that the methods we have been using to solve age-old problems of government, religion and failed systems can all be solved only by rediscovering the kingdom of God. This is about God's way of doing things, God's way of government and God's way of thinking.

My Life With the Saints by the Rev. James Martin Loyola Press / 2007 / $16 paperback

The saints can be our friends and role models par excellence as we go about our daily lives and summer vacations looking for God. One or more of the author's sometimes surprising selections may affect your life more than many long days on a sun-drenched beach.

Awareness: The Perils and Possibilities of Reality by Anthony de Mello Zondervan / 1990 / $15 paperback

This modern spiritual classic by a Jesuit from India is a little gem. It helps you see yourself and reality in new ways through the insights of Eastern spirituality and Western psychology. This book, teaching us how to be aware and free, was a best-seller before "living in the moment" became popular.

Martin Luther King, Jr.: Spirit-Led Prophet - A Biography by Richard Deats New City Press / 2003 / $14 paperback

Coretta Scott King, in her foreword, praises Deats for producing an "invaluable spiritual portrait" and "unique biography." With much of his life devoted to the Fellowship of Reconciliation, an organization influential in King's nonviolent actions, Deats is in touch with the Christian commitment that motivated King, well-explained in a very readable book.

Reflections of a Peacemaker: A Portrait Through Heartsongs by Mattie J.T. Stepanek Andrews McMeel / 2005 / $17

Mattie Stepanek, a Maryland boy who died of a neuromuscular disease before he reached age 14, produced books of extremely insightful poetry and saw himself as "a poet, a peacemaker and a philosopher who played." This book is a child's amazingly mature faith-based perception of what is important in life, unfettered by "adult" experiences that tend to distract one from basic values.

Forgiveness: A Legacy of the West Nickel Mines Amish School by John L. Ruth Herald Press / 2007 / $11 paperback

Many people were surprised by the response of an Amish community to the shooting deaths and wounding of their schoolchildren in 2006. Forgiveness is basic to their Christian tradition and is described and clearly discussed by a Mennonite writer who relates it to other religions as well.

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