As an Orthodox catechumen, I often find myself in conversation with friends who would like to know more about the Orthodox Church. I’m thankful for that, yet I hesitate to recommend many of the offerings available. Too many of the books coming out in English are geared toward persuading converts into the faith. There’s nothing wrong with such books, but I find they aren’t always appropriate for what my friends need or want to read. Often, what I’d rather recommend is a book that is decidedly more devotional in nature–something that communicates the heart and essence of Orthodoxy without polemics or vast history lessons. Rather than a catechetical selection, I want to give something inspirational and stirring. So far, I’ve found the books of Metropolitan Anthony Bloom (“Beginning to Pray” and “Courage to Pray”) to be along these lines. Vigen Guroian’s books about theology and gardening are also a good match. But the others in my library are either conversion books or are too academic.
So, dear readers, I turn to you. Do you know of any books that fit the bill of what I’m looking for? What books do you recommend to curious non-Orthodox friends? (If anyone has insight into the writings of Matthew the Poor or Mother Raphaela, I’d love to hear from you about those.)