To start, I actually don’t read that many books. I much more prefer to read online articles. Over the years I have come up with marvellous ways to digest and organize online content using a program called evernote. That program allows you to save online articles to the program as a note, to highlight and annotate in it and also to classify the note. I’ve deeply digested tonnes and tonnes of online articles this way.
I can also very very very easily retrieve sections of things I’ve read using the search feature of evernote, which allows me to post it on social media and share it with others. You can also download evernote on your phone and hence I can see what I’ve saved on my phone too along with my highlights and comments. Additionally by reading online articles this allows me to not get bored by reading an entire book.
Books usually go into too much extra details and sometimes repeat concepts and lessons. With articles, I can finish one article, move to another, and another. Hence this variety keeps me sane and happy, whereas a single can get boring and tiring. Also, I have more time to search for other articles about the same topic, so I can get a broader, more holistic and diverse opinion on certain concepts. We should always find multiple views on the one thing, so we don’t one-sidedly believe and act on one thing alone as that can be dangerous.
There are tonnes of extremely well-written and detailed books to read of the lives of Russian and Greek saints as well as their teachings. I haven’t read too many of them. You can check out St Nektarios press or find a local Russian or Greek Orthodox bookstore.
I recommend you take a look at my articles section first and if an article takes your fancy, you can then go look on amazon for a book about the life of that saint if you are reading an article about a saint’s life; or find a book written by the saint or author who wrote that article if you are reading an article written by a saint or a particular good author.
If you want help finding a particular book, please use the contact form on the home page of my blog and I’ll try to help you get it.
Ascetics & martyrs
You might be able to find some of these in a bookstore of a local Coptic Church. If you live in Sydney Australia, the best 3 bookstores I believe are St Mark’s church, St Abu-Seifein and St Shenouda’s monastery. Check over there if you want any of these.
> Books 1 – 6 of the Coptic nun Mother Erini (-2006) which you might be able to order online from here
> The life and saying of Elder Mettaous St Mary (2008) available for order here.
> A Prodigal Saint: Father John of Kronstadt and the Russian People (Penn State Series in Lived Religious Experience) by Nadieszda Kizenko can be found on amazon here or otherwise google it. This is a very very thorough historical study done on St John of Kronstadt.
> Blessed John the Wonderworker: A Preliminary Account of the Life and Miracles of Archbishop John Maximovitch by Fr Seraphim Rose: life story of St John Maximovitch. Check amazon here or google it.
> Father Seraphim Rose: His Life and Works: amazon link
> PDF biographies about a few saints can be found here including Coptic saints such as Fr Faltaous El Sorianny, Bishop Makarios of Qena and St Kyrillos VI and other ascetics such as Fr Seraphim Rose.
> The Arena: Guidelines for Spiritual and Monastic Life by St Ignatius Brianchanninov: I think this is perhaps the best introductory book in existence on Orthodox asceticism/spirituality. You can get it on kindle, order a hardcopy or probably find it in an Eastern Orthodox bookstore. Google it.
> The Art of Prayer: An Orthodox anthology by Igumen Chariton: mainly uses the superb writings of St Theophan the Recluse to teach us about prayer and the Jesus Prayer. Read it ages ago, it’s really helped me. You can get it on kindle, order a hardcopy or probably find it in an Eastern Orthodox bookstore. Google it.