Interested in Unity? What to Read First
Are you new to Unity or interested in learning more? Unity began as a publishing house, so naturally we have books for you! There’s a century’s worth of material to read, but I’ll refrain from listing it all here.
The foundational teachings of Unity were established by founders Charles and Myrtle Fillmore, who were intrigued by the power of thought, including prayer. They and a few others poured everything they were learning into the earliest books and magazines Unity published, starting in the late 1800s.
Eventually you’ll want to read their work, but the language is dated and the concepts abstract. The books I’m going to recommend put the same teachings in today’s language, so they make a better introduction to a belief system that you could explore for a lifetime.
To become familiar with Unity, you need to know about two main facets of the movement: (1) its spiritual teachings and (2) the history of its founders, which includes the growth of Unity Village.
Here are some books to get you started, with links to the Unity bookstore where you can read longer descriptions. Most are also available on Kindle.
The Five Principles
This is a book often handed to newcomers because it is a short synopsis of the ancient and profound spiritual principles that are the basis of Unity teachings. Nearly everything you hear in Unity about God, human beings, prayer, or spiritual laws will boil down to one of these five principles. (Also available in Spanish.)
Discover the Power Within You
Oprah says this book changed her life. Rev. Eric Butterworth was a revered minister and author in Unity who died in 2003. You can’t go wrong reading any of his books, but this one explains the Unity view of Jesus. If you have a Christian background, you will be especially interested in knowing how Unity interprets Jesus’ life and teachings in terms of our own divinity, the Christ presence within every person.
Also by Butterworth, this book is designed to help you develop a prosperous attitude about money, health, and love. In straightforward language, Butterworth describes the spiritual principle of abundance and how we can work within it. This book has been studied all over the world and could change your understanding of true wealth.
In the Flow of Life
There are so many inspiring books by Butterworth. This one has been meaningful to many people new to Unity. It’s about living in the divine flow and seeing yourself as an expression of God. Altering your outlook allows you to experience health, abundance, guidance, and hope for any situation.
How to Pray Without Talking to God
This intriguing book will brief you on what Unity calls affirmative prayer. God is no longer an old man in the sky keeping tabs on our behavior. We are divine beings at one with All That Is. Rather than praying to a distant supreme being and asking for favors, you will learn to look within to your own spiritual nature. Author Rev. Linda Martella-Whitsett, who now heads the Unity Prayer Ministry, offers new language for traditional prayers and suggests ways to deepen your own prayer practice.
Adventures in Resilience
Probably sooner than later, you will hear people in Unity talk about the 12 powers. Cofounder Charles Fillmore taught that we are each born with 12 innate, divine attributes that we can develop to live in higher consciousness. This book by Unity minister Sharon Connors updates the concepts around these inner faculties and includes lively, true stories of how they can be applied in daily living.
The Story of Unity
Written by the beloved Unity poet James Dillet Freeman, this book tells legendary stories of the Unity founders and the early years, such as Charles and Myrtle Fillmore and their three boys starting a farm to grow produce for their vegetarian cafeteria in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, the first books and magazines to be published, the beginnings of the Unity Prayer Ministry, and the Fillmores’ unwavering faith in God for this fledgling enterprise. These are stories you will hear referenced again and again in Unity.
“To become familiar with Unity, you need to know about two main facets of the movement: (1) its spiritual teachings and (2) the history of its founders.”
When You’re Ready to Go Deeper
Reading some of the introductory books will prepare you for the original teachings from the founders. You might start with these:
Lessons in Truth
The first book Unity ever published in 1903 is a tiny but powerful overview of the foundational principles. Author H. Emilie Cady was a homeopathic doctor in New York City who befriended the Fillmores by letter and wrote some of the earliest lessons for Unity magazine. This book offers some of the original concepts on which Unity was built.
Note: These book links are to the Unity online store. If you buy from Amazon instead, make sure you get a version of the book published by Unity so you’ll have the full, authentic text. This is true for any of the classic books.
Myrtle Fillmore’s Healing Letters
In the early days of Unity, people wrote letters to cofounder Myrtle Fillmore asking her to pray with them or give them spiritual guidance. These are some of the letters she wrote in response with advice on healing of all kinds. After her own conscious healing using the power of mind over body, she taught the principles to others, insisting no disease is incurable and aging is only the result of error thinking.
The Essential Charles Fillmore
When you are ready to tour the mind of an American mystic, start with this anthology of Charles Fillmore’s articles and talks. Editor Rev. James Gaither has added commentary that beautifully sets up what you are about to read in each section. He includes history and context for what Fillmore was thinking and also points out a few areas where Unity teaching has changed since Fillmore’s day. A bronze winner in the Coalition of Visionary Resources Awards.