Carol Price Spurling, owner and manager of BookPeople of Moscow, Moscow, Idaho, offers a ringing endorsement of a new book by a writer with a bookselling background who works on Sundays at BookPeople:
Corinna Nicolaou, author of A None's Story: Searching for Meaning Inside Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and Islam (9780231173940, just published by Columbia University Press), was raised with absolutely no religion whatsoever. As an adult she remains a "none," as in, "religious affiliation: none." She is the spiritual equivalent of a political undecided, and a member of an ever-growing group in our society.
Take note: nones are not necessarily atheist or agnostic. Perhaps as a result of her lack of religious upbringing, Nicolaou is refreshingly curious about spirituality and faith. She incorporates spiritual practice into her life deliberately--from all four of the traditions mentioned in her subtitle.
An experienced journalist and writer, Nicolaou began the project that became her book in the wake of the events of 9/11. Her old private personal pain, in the context of this new social turmoil, created in her a deep need for healing, clarity, and understanding. She turned to religion, partly to understand her new husband's Jewish background. But in reading widely on the subject of religion, she was surprised by how little she found that satisfied her need for objective, factual guidance and comparison. Very few accepted "experts" on religion seem to have made an effort to actually try any of them out. Nicolaou bravely steps into this breach.
Published by an academic press, A None's Story is intelligent and well-researched but has no academic pretensions whatsoever. First and foremost a memoir, Nicolaou's quest to find inner peace through in-depth participation in Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and Islam is not only informative in a remarkably even-handed and clear-headed way, but also compelling, inspiring, insightful, moving, and often funny.
For a stranger, entering into an established group for the purpose of worshipping God demands a lot of inner strength. So it is hard to imagine that Nicolaou, a bright spark of a writer, could ever have personal demons to overcome. How wonderful for us that she tames them by writing a book that could, I think, heal almost the entire world, if only the entire world could read it.