Last week I asked if my followers would be interested in a political reading list, and you all responded my requesting a Catholic summer reading list! With the help of @Nonjeneregrette here are a list of books for all sorts of readers (beginner to advanced). Please share this list so it gets seen, one of these books may be just what someone needs right now.
1) Tattoos on the Heart, Fr. Greg Boyle, SJ. This book is perfect for readers of any faith and reading level. It is especially appropriate for Latinos as there is much “spanglish” throughout the text. This book is an incredibly moving account of Fr. Greg’s ministry to the Latino gangs and at-risk youth of Los Angeles. You will cry. My parents read this book and both raved about it (and my dad hardly ever reads books), they now support Homeboy Industries when they can in LA area supermarkets.
2) Searching for God at Ground Zero, Fr. James Martin, SJ. This is a short book at ~90 pages. But it is a moving and poignant account of Fr. James’ ministry to the First Responders in the days immediately following the attack. It is very deep, and yet can easily be read in one sitting.
3) This Our Exile, Fr. James Martin, SJ. This book is the fruit of Fr. Martin’s (then Br. Martin) work with refugees in East Africa for two years. I believe it is also what began his writing career as he got sick towards the end of his time there and began writing. If you have ever thought about what it would be like to be a missionary in Africa, or the vibrant life of the Church there, this book is for you.
4) Priestblock 25487: A Memoir of Dachau, Mr Jean Bernard. Many people do not know that thousands of Catholic priests were sent to Nazi death camps by the Nazi regime for speaking out against their crimes against humanity. This memoir is told through the eyes of a priest from Luxembourg, who describes in harrowing detail the trials, humilitations, and inhumane conditions that all, but especially the priests, were forced to endure. This book is graphic and will challenge you in many ways as you encounter the great evils endured by the men of these camps.
1) My Life With the Saints, Fr. James Martin, SJ. Easily his most popular book, this is a must read for any Catholic of every reading level. Get introduced to over 20 saints in a moving and funny spiritual memoir. Everyone I have given this book to has loved it, and it was the catalyst that inspired a young mom to become Catholic.
2) The Interior Castle, St. Teresa of Avila. Teresa is a Doctor of the Church and this is her most influential work. This book is for advanced readers.
3) The Story of a Soul, St. Therese of Lisieux. Also a Doctor of the Church, this is the only book we have written by The Little Flower. The work only spread after her death at 23 years old, and captivated readers around the world with her account on her relationship with God and her “Little Way”. I recommend this book especially to young Catholic women.
Life of Christ, Venerable Fulton Sheen. This is my favorite book on Jesus. Fulton Sheen is the Shakespeare of Catholic literature, and I highly recommend it especially to those who studied English Lit, poetry, etc. There is a story that Bl. Mother Teresa carried this book with her at all times. It is probably the book the Fulton Sheen is most well known for.
The Future Church, John Allen Jr. In my opinion, John Allen is the best American Catholic journalist in the business today. This is his book on ten major trends that he sees in the Church today, and how they will play out in the Church generations from now. If you enjoy political or social commentary, this book is for you. It would also make a great book club book with another friend or two, discussing a chapter or two at a time.
How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization, Thomas Woods, Jr. This is the perfect book for any Catholic history geek. Mr. Woods details and charts the growth of Western Civilization and how it was nurtured and encouraged by the Church through monasteries, universities, and seminaries.
Hail Holy Queen, Scott Hahn. The perfect book on Mary for Catholic readers of all reading levels. This is probably my favorite book by the author. This book is great for sharing with anyone who has a devotion to Mary or wants to learn more about her.
The World’s First Love: Mary, Mother of God, Venerable Fulton Sheen. Sheen reports in the foreword of this book that this is his personal favorite work. Using the fullness of his literary and artistic skill, Sheen weaves a master work of love in honor of Our Blessed Mother. Reading level: moderate to advanced.
The True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, St. Louis de Montfort. For those with an intense love of Mary and devotion to the rosary, this book is probably central to most traditional Catholic devotion to Mary. I would recommend reading this under the guidance of spiritual direction.
Catholic Fiction and Other
Sinner, Lino Rulli. This is a book for the men in your life. Your boyfriend who is Catholic but not really into his faith, or your dad who’s gone to Church his whole life but has never read a Catholic book before. They will love this book. It’s all about Lino and his life trying and screwing up at being Catholic. It isn’t preachy. I led a parish group through this in a book club, and some of the women didn’t like him and others loved him. I think it’s really because he writes from a male perspective. I shared this with my Catholic roommate who fit the “dad” description above last year and he really loved it. The perfect gift for any Catholic guy in your family.
The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoevsky. For advanced readers and lovers of literature, one of the best books on the beauty and ugliness of life. The masterwork of one of Russia’s best authors. Not “Catholic” perse but the book has multiple religious themes, especially in regards to the search for God a midst the great suffering we encounter in our lives.
When the Well Runs Dry and Drinking From a Dry Well, Thomas Green, SJ. I am adding these books here for anyone who is active in their faith but is struggling to hear God in their life. These books are written through Fr. Green’s experience as a spiritual director in a Filipino Seminary and various religious sisters and their struggles in finding God. I recommend reading it with the guidance of a spiritual director.