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The Twentysomething Soul: Understanding the Religious and Secular Lives of American Young Adults

By Tim Clydesdale and Kathleen Garces-Foley (Click here to order from Oxford University Press and use promo code “AAFLYG6” to save 30%)

“Through its clear presentation of the findings and insightful analysis, this is a timely book that answers questions in both the public and academic minds. The Twentysomething Soul is an exciting new addition to the sociological literature on religion and young adults and is a must-read for those working in campus or young adult ministry.” Maureen K. Day, Featured Book Review, Sociology of Religion, Vol 81, Issue 2, Summer 2020, Pp 230-234.

“Clydesdale and Garces-Foley offer a wealth of granular data on American twentysomethings’ religious and secular lives …. The most significant insights stem from those who do not affiliate with religious institutions or beliefs.” Hester Oberman, Book Review, Religion, Vol 51, Issue 1, November 2020, Pp157-160.

See other reviews from the  Washington Book ReviewAssociation of Religion Data Archives Blog, Religion Unplugged, Baptist News Global, Christianity Today, TGC Blog by Trevin Wax, ReligionWatch, Engage Blog, SoWhatFaith Blog, InAllThings Blog, GetReligion Blog, StephenRankin Blog in 1, 2, 3, 4 Parts, Salisbury Post, and starred review in Publisher’s Weekly.

From the Dust Jacket:

“Reading this marvelously engaging and well-researched book, I am impressed more than ever that America’s twentysomethings are seriously grappling with the hard issues of faith and spirituality as well as the challenges of living in a technologically changing and economically uncertain world. I especially encourage the naysayers among us to read it and learn from it.” –Robert Wuthnow, author of After the Baby Boomers: How Twenty-and Thirty-Somethings Are Shaping the Future of American Religion

“For anyone interested in America’s twenty-something Christian and spiritual-yet-unaffiliated young adults, this book is a must. The authors approach interviewees with sympathy and a desire for true understanding, as well as a sense that there is more to these twenty-somethings—more empathy, more care for community, more struggle—than our culture gives them credit for. The book is filled with individual portraits, allowing readers to meet a diverse array of America’s twenty-somethings, whose commitments to religion and spirituality are much more passionate than we’ve been led to believe.” –Donna Freitas, author of Sex and the Soul: Juggling Sexuality, Spirituality, Romance, and Religion on America’s College Campuses

“Clydesdale and Garces-Foley take a fresh look at American twentysomethings, offering a trove of rich and original data on their beliefs, behaviors, and values. The authors argue convincingly that young people are intentional about their commitments, be it to religion or secularism, and are able to live purposeful and reflective lives in a society that often does not support them.  While particular interpretations of the data will surely inspire debate, no serious discussion of this generation can ignore this book.” –Christel Manning, author of Losing our Religion: How Unaffiliated Parents are Raising their Children

Today’s twentysomethings have been labeled the “lost generation” for their presumed inability to identify and lead fulfilling lives, “kidults” for their alleged refusal to “grow up” and accept adult responsibilities, and the “least religious generation” for their purported disinterest in religion and spirituality. These characterizations are not only unflattering — they are wrong.

The Twentysomething Soul tells an optimistic story about American twentysomethings by introducing readers to the full spectrum of American young adults, many of whom live purposefully, responsibly, and reflectively. Some prioritize faith and involvement in a religious congregation. Others reject their childhood religion to explore alternatives and practice a personal spirituality. Still others sideline religion and spirituality until their lives get settled, or reject organized religion completely. 

Drawing from interviews with more than 200 young adults, as well as national survey of 1,880 twentysomethings, Tim Clydesdale and Kathleen Garces-Foley seek to change the way we view contemporary young adults, giving an accurate and refreshing understanding of their religious, spiritual, and secular lives.