Saturday, August 6, 2011

Recommendations for your Catholic library!

Finally, I have begun my promised (preliminary) list of book recommendations! This page is a work in progress, and it will change over time. When it is all done being a regular post, I will permanently link it to the top of my blog, and I will alert you to any important changes or additions as they happen.

Here we go….


 Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic

This is the book I constantly recommend for Protestant evangelicals who are thinking of becoming Catholic, or for Catholics who desire to speak to Protestant evangelicals about Catholic beliefs. It's simple and thorough, written to members of Currie's own dismayed family upon his conversion to Catholicism, in language that they could understand.

The chapter on "Authority Focused" is worth the price of the book, as it historically illustrates (with charts and stories, in a way I've never seen before) the breathtaking protection from heresy that the Holy Spirit has provided to the Bishop of Rome (the Pope) throughout the centuries.


Any Friend of God's Is a Friend of Mine: A Biblical and Historical Explanation of the Catholic Doctrine of the Communion of Saints

By far the most common questions I get from Protestants are question about the Communion of Saints: Praying to saints (more accurately, asking them to pray for us), statues vs. idols, relics, prayers for the dead and Purgatory, honoring Mary, etc. Anything and everything about the saints and their connection to us is discussed, and common Protestant objections are addressed with Scripture, history and logic.

I love, love, love that this book is short and clear and easy to read. Excellent resource!


Handbook of Christian Apologetics, by Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli

Handbook of Christian Apologetics

This is that book you need when answering atheists, secularists and skeptics on the big issues of God and Christianity. Using Aristotelian logic, Kreeft and Tacelli (philosophy professors) bring clarity to questions such as:

Do faith and reason conflict?
Does God exist?
How can God allow evil?
Is there life after death?
Was Jesus raised from the dead?
Is Christianity the only true religion?
... and more.

If you love sound reasoning, clarity, the Socratic method, and intellectual rigor, you'll love reading through the chapters of the book (which can be read in any order). It's especially helpful when you have teenagers in the house! 

Handbook of Christian Apologetics was written from a "mere Christianity" (Protestant and Catholic) perspective; later the authors produced Handbook of Catholic Apologetics, and from what I've heard, it's quite similar to the first book, but with some Catholic specifics. Get either one as a staple for your library.


The Spirit of Catholicism (Milestones in Catholic Theology)

A classic (first edition was in 1924), a personal favorite, and one of the only books I've read twice. Absolutely beautiful presentation of the Catholic Faith, almost poetic. I really cannot say enough about it. 


The Prove It! books for teens, by Amy Welborn

Prove It! God: Revised EditionProve It! JesusProve It! Church
Prove It! PrayerProve It! You

If your teens are asking the bigger questions about the Catholic Church (or God and Jesus in general), send one or more of these books their way. No nonsense, to the point, just the kind of clarity their seeking minds crave in this era of fuzzy thinking. Adults who need answers will get a lot out of the series, too.


The Ordinary Path to Holiness, by R. Thomas Richard

The Ordinary Path to Holiness

I described this earlier as a book that changed my life. Why don't Catholics know about the three traditional stages of holiness anymore? Well, now you have no excuse. It cleared up so much for me, and suddenly, the path to holiness was visible -- even somewhat linear -- and made sense. I could get my bearings and identify where I was (not too far on that path, ha ha) and where I needed to go. I'm not even close to the goal, but at least I see the road and all the signposts.


The Way of the Disciple, by Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis

The Way of the Disciple

When young, serene, beautiful cloistered nuns get positively schoolgirl-giddy while recommending a book to me, I listen! I immediately bought and read this great work and was as enthralled as they were. In this book, the reader is placed as an unseen witnesses in the midst of six familiar gospel scenes and is given new insight into what it means to be a disciple of Christ. The chapter on the woman at the well ("The Abandoned Pitcher") has never left me. I imagine it leaves most Christian women swooning. Little book, huge impact.


Gut Check: Confronting Love, Work, and Manhood in Your Twenties, by Tarek Saab

Gut Check: Confronting Love, Work, & Manhood (2nd Edition)

Anyone who knows me in real life has heard me decry the catastrophic "crisis of manhood" that has befallen our men and our culture. Tarek Saab (a former contestant on The Apprentice who is also supernaturally handsome incredibly wise) has written the story of his own crisis, in a brutally honest manner that young men (late teens and up) will appreciate. Tarek went on a humbling journey from confused college kid to materially successful businessman to devout Catholic. The parents of sons will also benefit from reading his story.


Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, edited by Scott Hahn

Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: New Testament

As the wonderful Gayle Somers told me a few months back: No Catholic apologist should be without this study Bible on his shelf. Enough said.


Books I have reviewed previously on the Bubble (and which I will incorporate more neatly into this page when it becomes a permanent fixture at the top of my blog), include:

Architects of the Culture of Death, by Donald DeMarco and Benjamin Wiker (guest post by my husband)

The Kristin Lavransdatter Trilogy, by Sigrid Undset (best Catholic novels, ever! Get the Tiina Nunnally translation)

What We Can't Not Know, by J. Budziszewski (which I recommend as the one book you should read this year)

If Protestantism is True, by Devin Rose (clarity, logic, big-picture apologetics)

The Church and New Media, edited by Brandon Vogt (a must for Catholic bloggers, with 100% of proceeds going to the developing world)



  1. Ah, a woman after my own heart... there can never be too many books!!! I can't wait to read those you've suggested that I haven't yet... especially 'The Ordinary Path to Holiness' and 'The Way of the Disciple'.

    'Born Fundamentalist...' is an all-time favourite of mine... we read it in my book club when several members realized that they were beginning to buy into the the faith evident in the Christian novels we were reading, and that they didn't really understand how their Catholic faith differed. I recommend it to everyone. I have Scott Hahn's study Bible on my ereader, and I love it, too.

    Thank you, again, Leila! I can't tell you how gratifying it is to be following in your footsteps on this journey into a deeper and more gratifying faith.

  2. What a great list,I have some reading to do! I am always looking for great Catholic fiction as well. I highly recommend "Fatherhood" by Brian J Gail. I also gobbled up all of Katherine Valentine's novels. They are gentle Catholic fiction. You can check out her website for all the titles and read about her,she is lovely.

  3. I treated myself to the Handbook of Catholic Apologetics this spring, and I love it!

  4. I'm definitely going to make "The Path to Holiness" my next book and work my way down the list! I'm especially drawn to Tarek Saab's book (though I can't say I remember him, though I used to be an avid viewer of the Apprentice). He reminds me of my brother, who is a good Catholic who is wrapped up in his business. I think he will like this book!

  5. Another excellant book, is "Rome sweet Home" by Scott Hahn.
    And...for those who donot believe in miracles.....this one is about a priest who has a tatoo of the Greatful dead on his shoulder
    "No turning Back" by Father Donald Calloway MIC

  6. I gave Currie's book to my Protestant friend and he didn't like it very much. ;) Right now I'm reading, Theology for Beginners by Frank Sheed. Don't let the "Beginners" fool you. Sheed is awesome and he also wrote, To Know Christ Jesus, which is another favorite of mine. And have you read, Introduction to the Devout Life, by Francis de Sales? So many good Catholic books out there!! I don't have time to read fiction anymore :)

  7. My Amazon wish list is overflowing! I think I'd better renew Amazon prime. The Way of the Disciple will be my first purchase. Thanks for the list!

  8. I've never heard of the Spirit fo Catholicism by Karl Adam. With such a high review from you, I'll definitely check it out!

    My best friend went through RCIA in college, but was very much put off by Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic. It was too arrogant for where she was at the time. I haven't read it myself, but keep her opinion in mind when recommending books to protestants.

    Great list!

  9. Born Again Catholic was the book that really pushed me into the Catholic faith. (I was an evangelical).

    I really like Upon this Rock by Steve Ray.

  10. LOVED the Prove It series when I was a teenager!

    You definitely have me intrigued to read The Spirit of Catholicism. And all of them really.

  11. Nice list. Few I like are:
    Controversies; High Level Catholic Apologetics – Karl Keating
    Philosophy 101 By Socrates- Peter Kreeft
    Answering the New Atheism – Hahn/Wiker

  12. What a wonderful list of books! When I was converting I devoured everything by Scott Hahn I could get my hands on.
    I've got to get those "Prove it" books for my teens.

  13. I really enjoy Matthew Kelly's works especially Rediscovering Catholicism. He is super passionate about his faith and through all his books, his desire is to help people become the best version of themselves.

  14. Does anyone have a good book recommendation for an evangelical fundamentalist who goes around telling people that the Earth was made in 6 literal 24 hour days, is around 10000 years old, and evolution is absolutely untrue because, "that's not what the bible says?"

  15. Thank you for this list Leila! I can't wait to start reading!

    I have to second Margo's recommendation for "Rediscovering Catholicism". Such a fantastic book. Our parish handed out free copies at all the Easter masses this year. I devoured the book in about a week, and I want to go back and read it again soon. Really, really good.

  16. Thanks for the great and informative comments, everyone! And anonymous, that's a tough one! Devin Rose's book might help him see a new perspective, and realize that the tenets of fundamentalism Protestantism are not what the apostles or the ancient Church ever taught. He needs to immerse himself in history. The writings of the Church Fathers would be a good start. But I doubt he's be open to any Church history, if he's "sola scriptura". (Though the question would remain, where did he get the Bible, how does he know that what is in it is right, and who has the authority to interpret it? Among other questions...)

  17. Great choices! I would add "Discerning the Will of God" by Timothy Gallagher, especially for folks in their 20s and 30s who have choices to make (um, all of us...). And for the intellectual women out there, "Women in Christ" ed. by Michele Schumacher.

  18. Wow, I read so many books but haven't heard of all these! I have to chime in with Rome Sweet Home by Scott Hahn - keep a copy for yourself and one to share (ours is always being loaned out!). Scott Hahn is so readable - and I love anything by C.S. Lewis also. I re-read books all the time - it's like revisiting an old friend. Also, my daughters are enjoying the Surprised By Truth conversion stories gathered by Patrick Madrid - they help them speak to others of differing denominations....

  19. For anonymous (the one who asked for a book about creation) I have found that Hugh Ross's "The Genesis Question" is really good. Their website is called "reasons to believe" and its absolutely packed with information and articles.

  20. I just bought "Arise from Darkness: What to Do when Life Doesn't Make Sense" by Fr. Groeshel. It literally (ok, not literally) jumped off the shelf into my hand yesterday ;)

    I also recommend "Making Sense out of Suffering" by Peter Kreeft.
    Obviously my book choices revolve around the particular topic of suffering, but I know I'm not the only Catholic out there who suffers!


  21. I'm terrible about reading books but have really wanted to dive into some good Catholic books - so thank you for this list. I will have to check some out.

  22. Where are your classics??????

    The Imitation of Christ?

    The Way of Perfection?

    Introduction to the Devout Life?

    Oldies (from the 15th Century) but goodies!!!!! :-)

  23. I hope my local public library has some of these books.


  24. I have to agree with Abigail--LOVE The Imitation of Christ! Also The Imitation of Mary which is by the same author.

    The Imitation of Christ and the Bible were the only two books that St.Therese ended up reading on a regular basis.

    And of course, you know I have to say it Leila, The diary of Elisabeth Leisur! The Diary of St.Faustina is also amazing. I could go on and on...

  25. Thanks for the recs! I really liked your first rec, so did my husband and it helped him put into words why he converted.

    I am reading "The Dialougue" by St. Catherine of Seina, excellent! I also recommend "Humilty of Heart," "The Three Marks of Manhood," and "Theology of the Body for Beginners," by Christopher West. :)

  26. 'Morning, Leila! Since we're talking about books, I thought it would be alright to offer this here (I've tried every way I can think of to email you privately, and I can't get anything to work!):

    "[O]nline religious dialogue almost always evokes detractors... Instead of worrying about whether detractors will arise, however, [Catholic] leaders should assume they will, and then prudently decide how to best engage them. What they shouldn't do is let the fear of detraction prevent any type of discussion.

    If dialogue is practiced in full awareness of these dangers, it can flourish. Dialogue is at the heart of growth and community, both securely -- see Socrates -- and religiously -- see Jesus. Discussion gives the Church a human element, revealing her to be a living organism rather than a static institution.

    Through prudent New Media dialogue, leaders can help people develop a closer relationship to the Church, and therefore to Christ."

    --Brandon Vogt, The Church and New Media, Our Sunday Visitor, 2011.

    This passage reminded me of YOU, and what you offer us here, and I am so very grateful for the example you've set ... I pray I can do at least half as well!

    ...and I've got 'The Church and New Media' on order, too!

  27. Leila -

    Was Ordinary Path to Holiness the book you recommended to me this weekend?


  28. Tattoos on the Heart by Fr. Greg Boyle, SJ
    Story of a Soul by Therese of Lisieux
    The Interior Castle by Teresa of Avila
    Dark Night of the Soul by John of the Cross

  29. Ah, I love book recommendations!!! Thank you!

    I do have to say, I read the Christian Handbook to Apologetics and it was waaaaay over my head... very philosophical. So I think it's a great resource but it really requires a lot of thinking.

  30. Eli, yes it is!

    Ramona, thank you! I truly appreciate it! And, please email at

    Liesl, I take it in bits and pieces, whatever I need at the moment, ha ha!

    Abigail, yes, the spiritual classics are a given! I wanted to throw some of my "regular" less-classic stuff out there first. I hope to get a more thorough list when it gets a permanent spot on my blog. I work at a snail's pace these days. :)

    Thanks to everyone for those great recommendations!

  31. I admit, I had to laugh when I read this list. Not because it isn't good, but because it shows the vastly different choices between the everyday apologist and the theologian.

    The only book my husband had of your list was The Church and New Media, because, as I mentioned before, he's quoted in it and got a copy because of that.

    Of course, my husband, being a theologian, relies more on primary sources and classics in his library -

    C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity,
    St. Augustine's City of God, Chesterton's Orthodoxy,
    Aquinas's Summa Theologica,
    Pope Benedict's Caritas in Veritate or Jesus of Nazareth

    and of course he says no Catholic library is complete without good classic Catholic fiction, think Flannery O'Connor's Wise Blood or Everything That Rises Must Converge and the like.

    He'd probably have more books by Saints, but I honestly can't remember what all he does have, most of his theology books are at his office.

    I guess, if I'm going to start being a little more "apologetic" with my blog, I ought to pick up some of the books you've recommended. They might help me get my point across better than I can.

  32. Bethany, ha ha, yes I am definitely the poor-man's apologist! It's the "harried housewife" version of educating oneself in the Catholic Faith. It's gotta be quick and easy. Thank goodness there are men like your hubby who can take things to the deeper level when people need it! I'm the "milk", he's the "meat"! I love the Church! ha ha!

  33. Leila, I'm so glad i stopped by today. I'm here from Christine's Buibble, where she lists you in her side bar. I always love reviews on Catholic books, and I stumbled on your great collection of reviews. I'm jotting the titles down! thanks. God bless and nice to meet you.

  34. Another great place to turn, and this is the most shameless of self-promotion, are these two Catholic book lists I compiled. The first includes about 100 books from Fr. John McCloskey's "Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan", and the second is a list of free and cheap classic Catholic eBooks:

  35. Brandon, thank you for those lists! Especially the Kindle list!

    I'm surprised that there isn't more by Fulton Sheen on the list of best books- but I suppose a mention of a couple of his will lead one to many more! I read just a bit of The Priest Is Not His Own and thought it was wonderful. I also wish his works for Kindle were available at the super-low prices!

    I have read True Devotion, and made my consecration, but does anyone know of a book that explains the concepts? I came across one once but haven't seen it since and can't remember the title.

  36. G.K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy is a good one as well, and I LOVE his fiction works -- the Father Brown mysteries, Manalive, The Man Who Was Thursday.

    And yes, C.S. Lewis "Mere Christianity" is a must-have. I own this book and it's a fabulous addition to our library.

    For anyone who enjoys audiobooks, you can get them for FREE at -- they basically have volunteers record works that are in the United States public domain, which means you can get a lot of Chesterton, Aquinas, Augustine, St. Therese of Liseux, St. Catherine of Siena, etc. It's a terrific resource.

    Anonymous@2:20 - I don't know about books, but Joe Heschmeyer's blog posts Why I'm Not a Young Earth Creationist and Young Earth Creationism, and the Danger of Needless Barriers to the Faith might be a good start.

  37. Oh my gosh Brandon, thank you!!! Now I need to go charge my kindle! Love it.

    Great list Leila! My wish list is getting longer and longer and longer...

  38. I realized yesterday that my comment may have come across rather condescending, which is not how I intended it.

    I think my point was more that even though my husband has studied... and studied and studied and studied... theology (even his concentration is in moral theology), he doesn't consider himself an apologist. Because of such, he has no real reference as to the types of books for that niche of theology and what the rest of us usually read to keep up.

  39. Bethany, not condescending at all! No worries! You and Abigail and Brandon and the others made me realize that I was not too clear on what I was offering here on my list, ha ha!! I will clarify in the Quick Takes, and I am so grateful for what you said! It made me smile and I loved it!!!

  40. Can someone just read these books to me? :) sew

  41. Thanks for posting these -- Several I've read, others I'm writing down to check out. Always fun to see what other people are recommending, especially to their protestant friends! :)


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