Hi Little Dragon!
I’m discerning too! I once read a list of books every Catholic should read, and it had Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales listed. I happened to see it in a Barnes and Noble, so I picked it up—if you want a practical, easy-to-read book to help you grow in holiness, this is it.
In it, St. Francis de Sales guides his fictional directee Philothea in everything from proper Mass attendance to mental prayer. If only for his section on prayer, this book is worth getting. St. Francis is easy to understand, and anyone can start practicing his “in the world” spirituality. That’s what I like so much about St. Francis; he believed a devout life and true holiness was for everyone, in every station of life, and his advice is applicable not only to religious, but also to the common lay person. The translation by John K. Ryan is my personal favorite.
St. Francis de Sales is one of the founders of the Visitation of Holy Mary, an order of contemplative religious. The Visitation is unique, because the sisters do not practice severe penance; in place of traditional practices, the sisters are called to interior mortification, renouncing personal preferences and striving to live in “humility before God, and in great gentleness towards neighbor.” The sisters strive to live in simplicity and charity, practicing the “little virtues.” St. Francis founded the order because he didn’t want to prevent the more frail or physically disabled from pursuing religious life.
Another great book is The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas a Kempis; it’s great for meditation. St. Therese of the Little Flower loved this book; the other sisters said she always had a copy on her person.