Great novels and stories?


I am interested in reading any great novels or short stories there are. I mostly read nonfiction but I love good stories, characters, plots, etc and would like to expand my reading more into profound storytelling.

What suggestions do you have for great novels or stories to read? While the suggestions don’t have to be necessarily Catholic stories, I am interested in any novels with theological or spiritual themes.

Thanks for any recommendations you have.
God bless you. Amen.


Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset


I still read “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” by Betty Smith at least once a year. I don’t know about the themes you’re looking for, but it is a story about a young girl’s struggle to grow and survive in turn of the (last) century Brooklyn.

Other novels (or rather, novelizations of biographies) are the books by Louis de Wohl. Start with “The Spear”!


We Die Alone by Jan Baalsrud. It’s the story of the author’s experiences in World War II. His boat was attacked, making it necessary for him to swim to shore. It retells his (I think) several month run from the Nazis searching for him.

I just recalled it when I saw this thread. It was my favorite book in middle school.


Mary Higgins Clark novels. Nora Roberts novels. Danielle Steele, Joan Lowery Nixon, and Stephen King.

Dust Devil is one I Love



The Borthers Karamazov by Dostoevsky.

It’s quite good! (according to my taste and opinion, anyways)

I enjoyed Tolstoy’s War and Peace very much. Talk about a long novel!!

As of late, I’m a few chapters into Emma by Jane Austen. The character development and psychological insights into the human person are very fascinating.

It goes without saying that you must read Dante’s Inferno if you haven’t done that yet.


[QUOTE]Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset[/QUOTE]

I adore this book!

I also highly recommend “In this House of Bread” by Rumer Godden. Follows a woman who gives up her career to become a Benedictine nun. What I love is how REAL all the sisters are. A lesser author would have either written them as plaster saints or as scandalous gossip mongers, but Godden doesn’t do either. The nuns are human, with all the good and bad that entails. I felt like I knew them all by the end.


-Anything from Flannery O’Conner is good if you like a Southern twist on Gothic. Good Catholic too. Being from the South myself I can see where she gets her ideas on people.

-G. K. Chesterton’s Father Brown stories are marvelous for short reading.

-You can’t go wrong with Shakespeare. Macbeth is my favorite but Hamlet is gold as well. Be warned. The Bard can get bawdy. :wink:

-A beautiful book is Wind, Sand, and Stars by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. It’s not fiction. It is more of an autobiography mixed with contemplation. Truly wondrous and if you are a person who delights in how simple wonders like a big open field can become insanely beautiful, you will love it. Those romantic types.

-And, as JamalChistophr says, it goes without saying you must read The Divine Comedy. One must never leave this world without reading it.


What English translation of Dante would you recommend? I actually have read the Divine Comedy, but would like to read it again. Wondering what translation would be best?


Benedict Flynn … I may have vetted translations. Usually, I do, but I’ve forgotten in this case.

I often listen to unabridged books on audible. Maintains the oral tradition, and it is generally easier due to my a.d.d.

Most people don’t hear the stories any longer, but I think it adds something.

It could be helpful to have a commentary with the Divine Comedy


I have the John Ciardi version and it has a bit of commentary before each chapter. I haven’t vetted translations like JamalChristophr but I like my version.


I really liked Watership Down by Richard Adams. (I will always be a kid at heart.) The story is well told.


Haven’t read it yet, but I have heard good things about the Anthony Esolen translation of The Inferno.


you are not going to go wrong w/ Fyodor Dostoyevsky; (imo) the best novelist/short storieist that ever lived :slight_smile:


House of Brede is a beautiful book…
Godden and Undset were both converts to Catholicism…


I cried at the warren scene–don’t want to give spoilers, though (there was more than one scene that took place in a warren)


Definitely Dorothy L. Sayers. Forget the prose translations, unless you’re intending to read the Italian original and need the English text as guidance. Dante in verse is fun, Dante in prose is dull. Sayers has produced a jaunty, entertaining light verse which keeps pretty close to the spirit of Dante. If you’re in doubt, I suggest you compare the description of Mohammed in different translations — Inferno, Canto 28, somewhere around lines 25 to 30 (the exact numbering of the lines will vary, of course, from one translation to another).

Sayers’ own notes in the Penguin edition are the best I’ve seen, as well, at least for the general reader. They give you just enough information for you to make sense of all the characters and allusions, but without rambling on too long. Not too little and not too much.


foucaults pendulum


I second the suggestion for Flannery O’Conner.

I also recommend Short Stories by Anton Chekhov, “who is considered to be among the greatest writers of short fiction in history.”

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