Spirituality is the word we use to talk about those invisible forces that shape our lives in real and tangible ways. It covers a wide range of ideas and figures that include deities, spirit, ancestors, and what some see as simply life force. For readers interested in exploring African writing on spirituality, these 11 books make a great starter kit.

Like all our other book lists, this list is diverse and covers a range of genres, national traditions, and historical periods. Cheikh Hamidou Kane’s Ambiguous Adventure was originally published in France in 1961. It is a classic work that fuses elements of sufism, existentialism, and traditional west African religious ideas. In contrast, Against Heaven by Kemi Alabi was published a few months ago and explores spirituality through a black, queer lens. Of Water and Spirit is a riveting memoir about an initiation experience while Yaa Gyasi’s Transcendent Kingdom is a brilliant exploration of the ideological clash between science and the Christian Faith. In Ben Okri’s Astonishing the Gods, spirituality is a kind of psychedelic journey through portals while in Akwaeke Emezi’s Freshwater gods navigate the tension of being spirit life inhabiting human flesh. Each book will open up different facet of spiritual thought. We hope you find them engaging.