Since then my next reads were:
1. A Reason For God - a nonfiction book advocating Evangelical Christianity
2. Why I Became an Atheist - also nonfiction, the antithesis to the prior work
3. The Life of Pi
This series ended up to be quite the harmonious medley. Geek Love told the harrowing tale of the potential self-destructive horror of cults. The two nonfiction pieces were rich in spiritual/mental brain food, and were equally inspiring (more on that later). The Life of Pi was my anchor and it brought everything together as it presented religion as rich, colorful, and beautiful part of life.
Back to the nonfiction pieces. I had a little writer's epiphany.
NonFiction can strengthen FictionI'm sure there have been articles on this. In this series however, there are arguments layered in the fiction pieces that are presented in much more depth and rigor in the nonfiction. I think that if in a piece of writing you are going to explore a controversial issue, you want your character's point of view to be credible. Being well versed in the current debate, whatever that may be, and what the opposition may argue, will help add rich, substantive and controversial content to your tale.
Other books that do this well that come to the top of my head:
State of Fear by Michael Chrichton
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne