Following the success of Angela's Ashes, the publishing market was inundated with memoirs. The running joke among editors and writing professors was, "Quit navel-gazing. It's not all about you."

I agree and disagree. True, some memoirs seem outrageously self-absorbed. The inner character of the writer stays the same from the beginning to the end of the book, which is infuriating to me, the reader. (What was the point of this excursion?) Kyoko Mori's The Dream of Water is a case in point. But it was Mark Twain who said, "I read to know I'm not alone." This is also true for me. I love other people's stories.

Thankfully, there's been a shift in spiritual memoirs—I'd say in the last two years—to include not only an author's ruminations but her conclusions as well. Not that she has solved the twisting and turnings of her life, just that she has gone from place A to place B in a thoughtful sort of way. Nora Gallagher's Practicing Resurrection: A Memoir of Work, Doubt, Discernment, and Moments of Grace and Lauren Winner's Girl Meets God: On the Path to a Spiritual Life come to mind.

Wendy Murray Zoba, a senior writer for Christianity Today and author of seven books, writes of her year-long struggle with "the Dark Night," a term coined by St. John of the Cross—"the dark night of the soul." Within the space of a few months, her pastor-husband divorces her, her friends abandon her, her then-grownup boys leave home, her home sells, her car is rear-ended, and she undergoes gall bladder surgery. Through it all, Zoba finds comfort in the mundane—taking friends' girls to school, putting a doll's head back on, feeding a baby bird, and snapping pictures of dinosaur prints. She talks of "rendering obedience" to a color-coded ...

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