Books any Catholic should read

First, I’m sorry if this would fit better into a different subforum.

I’m looking for books to read to strengthen two things: my knowledge of the Faith, and my ability to defend Her (from Protestants and non-Christians).

I’ve only been Catholic for 2 years now, so what I’ve read is quite limited. I’ve read at least some of:
The Bible (most of it)
CCC (some of it, need to read more)
Catholicism for Dummies (cover to cover)
Catholicism (cover to cover)
Mere Christianity (cover to cover, and this is what converted me from agnosticism to Christianity)
Faith and Reason (halfish of it)
The Catholic Verses (almost done with it)
If Protestantism is True (most of it, and in fact this is what converted me to Catholicism)
Rome Sweet Home (most of it)

And… that’s all that comes to mind. I’m about to join the Liturgical Council and, to be honest, I don’t feel quite, well… Catholic enough. I’ve only memorized a couple dozen key verses (open to suggestions there!).

I’m also open to history books.

Thanks in advance!

Most Catholic bookstores have Apologetics which can help you. I’ve seen them based on specific subjects.

One book I had (it seems to have disappeared on me) that I think is a good one is “150 verses every Catholic should know.”

A book on apologetics is “Catholicism and Fundamentalism” by Karl Keating.

I am a Catholic from birth, and I learned so much from this book!

One well-known and often recommended book in this area is Karl Keating’s book, “Catholicism and Fundamentalism.”
If you want to know more about this book, you might want to go to and see reader’s responses to this book.

Some that occur to me off the top of my head (I may add more later on in another post if I can’t edit this one :D):

*]The Fathers Know Best – Jimmy Akin (good resource for a lot of Catholic beliefs and practices from rather early writers)
*]The Imitation of Christ – Thomas à Kempis (good book on learning how to become more like Jesus :thumbsup:)
*]Pretty much any Scott Hahn book (I see you’ve read Rome Sweet Home, good stuff!), though I’d recommend you to be careful with Answering the New Atheism for reasons I’d get into in private message if you’d prefer, as that isn’t the topic of this thread :stuck_out_tongue:
*]Rediscover Catholicism – Matthew Kelly
*]Double Standard: Abuse Scandals and the Attack on the Catholic Church – David F. Pierre Jr (good book to answer typical pedophile priest accusations :rolleyes:)
*]These Are the Sacraments – Fulton J. Sheen
*]Those Terrible Middle Ages: Debunking the Myths – Regine Pernoud (tired of people claiming the Church sucked the life out of everyone in the Middle Ages? Give this book a read)

I have to add my praise for “Imitation of Christ”. It was written for cloistered individuals so keep that in mind but, for a little book that was written hundreds of years ago, it is so relevant and spirit-changing!

A book that I’d encourage anyone to read is Searching for and Maintaining Peace. This recommendation doesn’t really fit either of your criteria, but it may help you in other ways while you’re defending the Church, and learning more about Her. :thumbsup:

Yes it is relevant! And we can apply it to our particular vocation in life. (Most of us don’t live in cloisters!)

I read Imitation of Christ many times and after a while I threw it in the garbage.

The cloistered monks I know scoff at it - nothing but contrition and groveling. Unlike the monks I know, Kempis must have been without a drop of joy in his life. Either that or we only have part of the picture.

The monks I know are men of great freedom, joy and peace. Imitation of Christ is anything but.


I hope the original poster will consider flipping through “Imitation of Christ”. As with most things I read, I took what “spoke to me” in this book and I found in to be profound. I will look at this book from the perspective the previous poster spoke about the next time I read it, though, and enjoyed his personal insight.

That is a rather peculiar point of view. :stuck_out_tongue: I never really saw any sadness or depression in The Imitation of Christ; perhaps what you noted was a call to “fasting” and training the mind to not follow the body on its every whim.

This is not some old idea that only consecrated hermits follow – Matthew Kelly also recommends it as one of his 7 pillars of Catholic spirituality.

The idea is to use that fasting to obtain freedom, joy and peace, as you see in the monks you know.

Though I am interested to know what makes you think Imitation of Christ is anything but a book that encourages freedom, joy and peace. :smiley:

I have to agree with you. It is one book that can depress a person very quickly and discourage them. I know others have sung it’s praises, and like any book, there are some good points, but the overall spirituality is morose and one big exam of conscience. Everything is a sin, it is just a matter of how big or how little the sin is. And if it is a little sin it will grow into a big one as you keep reading. And the reader should remember how terribly awful they are in the sight of God and not worthy of anything even tho God said he loved us before we were conceived.

Thanks Tim, for warning people. And I don’t mean to step on anyone’s toes, but if you are reading it, you might try St Theresa (Little Flower) for some refreshing thoughts. She says it is about what are heart says. Nice ideas. Helpful ideas.

These two classics should be at the top of any list:

The Everlasting Man - GK Chesterton
The Belief of Catholics - Ronald Knox

I really loved my Ronald A. Knox translation of The Imitation of Christ. I loaned it out-- and then the person I loaned it to gave it to someone else as a birthday present-- and promised to replace my copy. We’ll see. :stuck_out_tongue: There was a thread earlier where we took a handful of different translations of the Imitation, and compared how the different translators expressed the same thoughts. Translation certainly is an art.

I’ve found that I get so much out of the writings of the saints, any time I pick one up. They all have more advice and information jam-packed into a chapter than I could ever accumulate in a lifetime. I’d say go into a Catholic bookstore, and pick up whatever book written by a saint jumps out at you… that’s how I found Teresa of Avila’s “The Interior Castle”, St. Gertrude’s “The Life and Revelations of St. Gertrude the Great”, and Bl. Maria of Agreda’s “The City of God.” I have some Augustine I’m gearing up to try… I was all ready to read his “City of God”, and then the preface told me to go read his “Confessions” first. :stuck_out_tongue:

So many of them are available in ebook, text, or some other public-domain form, I really need to save them to my phone, and read a little in idle moments. They’re so chock-full of good stuff, just a paragraph or two is enough to get your mind working.

I suppose it depends on what you’re looking for. Of books not yet mentioned, I’d volunteer St. Augustine’s Confessions–it’s an all-time classic; very readable, very moving, and very spiritual (it’s essentially a long, coherent prayer–it begins (first 9 books) with the autobiography of St. Augustine–then switches gears, discussing more philosophical, spiritual generalized concerns, building on the backdrop of his conversion). This book will stick with you for years.

I also loved Imitation of Christ, mentioned by several readers above–but that’s more of a devotional, intended to be digested piecemeal, daily (not really to be read straight through, as Confessions; in this sense, it is more like the Catechism–which I also loved–especially the end–seemed to build up to it; but by the time I had read it, I had a very well developed understanding of Catholicism, and it seemed to speak to that). The imitation of Christ is challenging, and spiritually moving–but well worth the journey.

My advice (FWIW)–read the Confessions actively, straight through;

At the same time, read Imitation of Christ, passively–a section each day or so, when you can. Take your time. Digest it; meditate on it; live it. You can probably read a few works, while working your way at a casual pace, through Imitation of Christ.


Self Abandonment To Divine Providence ; Fr. J.P. De Cuassade, S.J.

How about Bokenkotter’s A Concise History of the Catholic Church along with his Essential Catholicism.

All of the books listed by everyone above.

I would add:
The Imitation of Christ by Thomas Kemphis
Apologia Pro Vita Sua by John Henry Newman
A Path to Rome by Hillaire Belloc
Heretics and Orthodoxy by GK Chesterton
Catholic Christianity by Peter Kreeft
Good Pope, Bad Pope, by Mike Aquilina.
Why Catholicism matters by William Donahue
Witness to Hope by George Weigel

Frankly, any book by Patrick Madrid, Scott Hahn or Peter Kreeft is worthwhile reading for Catholics.

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