Suggested Reading for Orthodox Youth & Young Adults

Download the Word file with clickable links for future reference here…>>>

Crazy John by Dionysios A. Makris

John, an ordinary bakery worker who died in the 1990s, was considered what Orthodox Church defines as a “Fool for Christ.” A saint who has the title Fool-for-Christ is one who is known for his apparent, yet holy, insanity. Foolishness for Christ refers to behavior such as giving up all one’s worldly possessions upon joining a monastic order. It can also refer to deliberate flouting of society’s conventions to serve a religious purpose — particularly of Christianity. Such individuals were known as both “holy fools” and “blessed fools.” John did those things and more besides. Such sainted people were very common in the old days, but are considered rare in modern times. This book is a compilation of stories from various people in the neighborhood of Athens, Greece where John lived.

Tamama: The Missing Girl of Pontos
by Georgios Andreades
This is the story of a girl ‘Tamama’, lost during the persecution of Pontic Greeks in Turkey during the years 1916-1923.  Starving refugees who wandered aimlessly found homes in neighbouring Turkish houses. The Turkish families that made them their own, and the Greeks who had lost them, didn’t talk about these incidents for years. And so in 1916, Tamama found refuge in a Turkish family, but in her old age she began to speak her native tongue and yearned to return to her ancestral village, which only proves that identity isn’t lost even until death.

Royal Monastic: Princess Ileana of Romania
by Bev Cooke
The life of a princess is not all glamour, handsome princes, and beautiful clothes. It is also devotion to duty, sacrifice for your people, and a lot of just plain hard work. And if your country happens to suffer two world wars and a communist takeover in your lifetime, it means danger and suffering, exile and heartache as well. Princess Ileana of Romania endured all this and more. But her deeply rooted Orthodox faith saw her through it all, and eventually led her in her later years to the peaceful repose of monasticism. But that life included sacrifice and hard work as well, because as Mother Alexandra she was called to build the first English-language Orthodox women’s monastery in the United States: the Monastery of the Transfiguration in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania. Princess Ileana’s story is a thrilling tale of love and loss, danger and rescue, sacrifice and reward. Her inspiring life stands as a beacon of faith and holiness for young women of all times and nations to follow.

Voyage to the Rock by Father Matthew Penney
“To be like St. Herman of Alaska!” These words – only a family joke once, were now turning Martin’s world upside down. Catapulted from his ideal teenage existence in Boston to Newfoundland, Canada – a place affectionately called “The Rock” by its inhabitants, he doesn’t want anything to do with his father’s missionary dreams. Accompanied by his parents and his all-too-perky younger sister, a dismal summer of hard work and early mornings is all that awaits Martin. Or so he thinks… But all that changes the day he finds a bronze cross at the site of the historic Viking settlement, L’Anse aux Meadows. A whole new world opens to Martin then, one of trans-Atlantic voyages, unanswered clues, suspicious antique-dealers, narrow escapes, mysterious deaths, and at the center of it all is an ancient cross and a manuscript poem. A burning question begins his search: Is the cross Viking, or could it be from the fabled voyage of St. Brendan the Navigator? Now with the help of his sister, Brigid, and a local Newfoundland boy, Ashley, the three of them race to unlock the mystery of an ancient Christian treasure. But with the Old Wolf, Sullivan O’Connell hunting them, it isn’t just about treasure anymore… It’s about survival.

A Trace in the Sand: A Tale of the Early Martyrs
edited by Lawrence Damian Robinson
It is A.D. 274. Emperor Lucius Domitus Aurelianus rules the Roman Empire with the belief that no one is mightier than he and his gods. Kings tremble before him, and his subjects worship him as a new Jupiter, who holds the lives of men and nations in his hand. The “Roman Peace” means prosperity, security and happiness to the noble families of Rome. And all should be content in their lives of luxury and ease. But not everyone is … Alexamenos, the teenage son of the powerful Senator Poplius, wants to know what the purpose of his perfect life is. Handsome and rich, haughty and cruel, Alexamenos fears nothing and respects no one-until the day his life is saved by the slave boy Milvius. Finally, Alexamenos has met someone who possesses something that he cannot attain: an otherworldly peace. Soon the slave’s secret to happiness is revealed with a simple trace in the sand: Milvius is a Christian. The power of his Christian Faith wakens the Senator’s household to the call of God, but little do they know that the eyes of the Imperial Palace are on them. Before long the former pagans are facing danger, persecution, and even martyrdom.

The Other Side of the Bonfire
by Melinda Johnson
When Jewel finds herself out on the sidewalk, desperately hoping the taxi will arrive before her cheating boyfriend gets home, she knows it’s time to make a new life. But how? She’s never lived alone, and she’s never loved a man she could trust. With the help of a childhood friend, a bonfire, a chance encounter, and a leap of faith, Jewel discovers a world of creativity and love in the last place she ever dreamed of looking, a faith founded in an ancient tradition.

Keeper of the Light: Saint Macrina the Elder, Grandmother of Saints
by Bev Cooke
The road to sainthood takes a lifetime to travel. Late in the fourth century, Christians are labeled enemies of the Roman Empire–hounded, arrested, tortured, and executed. Macrina and her husband Basil, once-wealthy Christians, flee with their small son to the mountainous forests south of the Black Sea. There, Macrina embarks on a seven-year journey of unexpected tests and trials that will take her through a harsh and hungry wilderness pilgrimage, only to plunge her into poverty and danger on the streets of Neocaesarea. So begins Macrina’s adventure in faith, as she undertakes the process of becoming one of the most influential women in sacred history, the mother and grandmother of saints. Readers of all ages will be fascinated by the story of St. Macrina the Elder, who had a profound influence on her grandchildren, St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and St. Macrina the Younger. She is truly a great confessor of the Orthodox Christian faith.

Everyday Saints and Other Stories
by Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov)
In Communist Russia in 1984, five youths from non-religious backgrounds joined a monastery. This is the story of what they experienced and some of the “everyday saints” they met. The author says, “In this book I want to tell you about this beautiful new world of mine, where we live by laws completely different from those in ‘normal’ worldly life – a world of light and love, full of wondrous discoveries, hope, happiness, trials and triumphs, where even our defeats acquire profound significance: a world in which, above all, we can always sense powerful manifestations of divine strength and comfort.”

Letters to Saint Lydia
by Melinda Johnson
Lydia’s life is turning upside down. Her family has converted to Orthodox Christianity without her, she’s just about to leave home for college, one of her friends is pregnant, and soon she’ll be facing all the trials and temptations encountered by every young adult who’s on her own for the first time. Lydia needs a friend badly—and she finds one in the most unexpected place: an icon of St. Lydia. Young Lydia pours out her troubles in letters to St. Lydia, who (invisibly to Lydia) answers, guiding her through her time of troubles with deep love and compassion.

Bearing the Saint
by Donna Farley
Edmund is just an ordinary fisherman’s son from the island of Lindisfarne, whose one great talent and joy is running as a messenger for his bishop. But when Viking invaders threaten the holy island and its great treasure, the relics of St. Cuthbert, Edmund’s life changes forever. Along with his whole village, he must accompany their beloved saint on a perilous pilgrimage that will carry him across England, through adventure, heartbreak, miraculous deliverance, and budding love, all the way to manhood. Bearing the Saint brings to life the late ninth century in Northumbria, a turbulent period of invasion and conquest that concluded with an uneasy peace between Saxon and Dane. This gripping story, infused with the holy breath of St. Cuthbert, will hold readers of all ages spellbound.

Basil’s Search for Miracles
by Heather Zydek
In Basil’s Search for Miracles, Basil, an ordinary 12-year-old who dreams of being a reporter, is on a quest-he must find and report on true, modern miracles for his school paper, St. Norbert’s News. After Basil sees a real weeping icon, meets with people who have been miraculously healed of deadly illnesses, and more, he begins to understand his faith and put it in motion in his own life. He struggles to get along better with his single mom, and befriends the social outcast of the school, a silent boy named Anthony. Throughout his first year at a private parochial school, Basil not only researches a new miracle for each issue of the News, but also learns that everyday miracles can happen even in his own life.

From Conception to Redemption: The Path of Salvation
by Father Dragan Petrović
This book abounds with useful advice for every stage of life and the temptations which one faces. The writer, referring to each of the stages, starting with conception, shows why the Church is the healer and why life in her assumes a new meaning and purpose which are portrayed in the examples and advice featured in the book. Pointing out this aspect of the church life, and through a style of writing in which one undoubtedly feels the pastoral live, the author unnoticeably but steadily strengthens our faith, delivers hope that repentance is possible at any stage of our life, while self-awareness and a personal experience of that transformation turns a dumb despair into a quiet joy in which one gradually grows on the path to salvation.

The Purple Mantle
by Aliki Kafetzopoulou
Set in the Roman Empire during the reign of the notorious persecutor of Christians, Emperor Diocletian, The Purple Mantle is a moving story of faith and heroism amidst a society rife with confusion and fear. Author Aliki Kafetzopoulou has skillfully woven a rich historical tapestry full of spiritual depth, presenting a vivid picture of the intense circumstances in which the ancient Christians lived, and a close-up, immediate view of the exploits and contests of the early martyrs, through which the faith of Christ triumphed. Although written especially for young adults, this historical novel has enthralled people of all ages with its riveting narrative. Carefully tracing the spiritual awakening and growth of a young man and woman, it places in striking relief the ultimate choice faced by all of us – between the ephemeral comforts and grandeur of this world and the eternal joy and glory of the world to come.

I Saw the Holy Light by Archimandrite Sawa Achilleos
Many things have been told and have been written about the Holy Light. However, no matter what has been recorded, the Holy Light still remains on enigmatic phenomenon. This mysterious Light spontaneously and inexplicably pours forth every Holy Saturday from the Most Holy and Life-giving Tomb of the Resurrected Savior Christ. This book gives the background and history of how the Holy Light came to appear on Holy Saturday in Jerusalem and how one monk’s skepticism was trumped by this great miracle.

The Scent of Holiness: Lessons from a Woman’s Monastery
by Constantina Palmer
Join Constantina Palmer as she makes frequent pilgrimages to a women’s monastery in Greece and absorbs the nuns’ particular approach to their spiritual life. If you’re a woman who’s read of Mount Athos and longed to partake of its grace-filled atmosphere, this book is for you. Men who wish to understand how women’s spirituality differs from their own will find it a fascinating read as well.

Four Great Saints
translated by Leo Papadopulos
Full-length lives of four of the greatest of the Desert Fathers of the early church. They lived in the deserts of Egypt or Palestine in the fourth and fifth centuries. Each was a monastic pioneer of sorts, and each made a lasting contribution to the development of the monastic life in the Orthodox Church. Hundreds of men were so inspired by their wisdom and holiness that they followed them to remote desert locations to form monastic communities, some of which are still alive in the 21st century.

Nearly Orthodox: On Being a Modern Woman in an Ancient Tradition
by Angela Doll Carlson
From Catholic schoolgirl to punk rocker to emergent church planter, Angela Doll Carlson traveled a spiritual path that in many ways mirrors that of a whole generation. She takes us with her on a deep and revealing exploration of the forces that drove her toward Orthodoxy and the challenges that long kept her from fully entering in.

by St. Nikolai Velimirovich
Cassiana is an exceptional spiritual writing of the Holy Bishop, which will help readers along the path to spiritual perfection. Cassiana, translated by Hieromonk Serafim Baltić, is often published in Book II of the Missionary Letters of St. Nikolai Velimirovich. “Whatever one might want to learn about Christian love, he will be able to learn it from this wondrous book.”
*Suggested for college-age students

The Orthodox Study Bible
The Orthodox Study Bible is the fruit of over twenty years of labor by many of the best Orthodox Christian theologians of our time. This long-awaited single volume brings together an original translation of the Old Testament from the Septuagint with the classic Orthodox Study Bible: New Testament and Psalms. Here, by the grace of God, you will find the living water of His Word with comprehensive study guides and teachings that bring to our modern world the mind of the ancient Christian Church.

Hear Me: A Prayer Book for Orthodox Teens
compiled by Annalisa Boyd
Hear Me is a prayer book designed to address the unique challenges Orthodox youth experience in their walk with Christ. This user-friendly manual communicates the importance of both corporate and personal faith. Prayers for school, friendships, and family give teens tools for successful relationships. A topical section offers encouragement as teens face daily challenges. The Q & A section answers practical questions the youth themselves may find challenging. Hear Me gives teens direction in using the tools Christ has given us – Holy Scripture as the map, and the Church and Her Traditions the compass, helping our youth find their own path toward God.