What are the catholics "must reads"?


To me, the obvious choices are an “approved” catholic bible and the CCC.

Are there any other books that you feel should be required reading for a good catholic? Thomas Aquinas? St. Ignatius of Loyola?


Catholic Controveries by St. Francis DeSales.


The Early Christian patristic writings, of course!

St. Augustine’s Faith, Hope, and Charity, the Didache, anything by Justin Martyr in my opinion, Ignatius of Antioch’s epistles, and Eastern apocryphal works are always good to know.

As for modern works, I highly recommend the Pope’s book Jesus of Nazareth. It’s supremely beautiful and made me grateful God has granted us so wise (and brilliant) a Papa!

Faith, trust, and pixie dust


This is so hard to say “must reads” as the depth of Catholic writing is so large, broad, and diverse. Additionally, each Catholic’s needs can be equally broad and diverse. However, these are some that I think hit different “needs” in no particular order:

The Delorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ: Puts greater detail on the Passion of Jesus to better allow us to enter in the Passion. For me, just the description of the Agony of the Garden makes this book life-changing.

Why Do Catholics Do That?: A Guide to the Teachings and Practices of the Catholic Church: Gives an explanation of various practices of Catholics to make those practices more meaningful.

The Imitation of Christ: After the Bible, this is known as the second most read book in history. It gives us personal insight into one trying to live a life for the Glory and Love of God vs. being saved out of self interest.

One of the following: Dark Night of the Soul, Interior Castle, The Little Way. They each both draw on each other but give a different glimpse into discerning truer Holiness.

Something by a Doctor of the Church. Personally, I think Confessions by Augustine is good as it covers so many areas: Conversion, Praise, and theology. And, who can’t identify w/ the words of this prayer: “Too late have I loved you, O Beauty so ancient, O Beauty so new. Too late have I loved you!”

Something by Henri J. Nouwen, GK Chesterton, Bishop Sheen or Thomas Merton.

As much as possible on a person’s partron saint. If you have a perpetual prayer partner, you probably should know something about him/her. :smiley:

Something by Pope JPII or BXVI. Because they write in contemporary language and about contemporary issues, they are easier to grasp relevance. Pope Benedict’s “Introduction to Christianity” is amazing. He took over 100 pages to just explain what it means to say “I believe” in the Creed.


The Confessions of Saint Augustine

Summa Theologica (at least the entire first part and the part about law)

Two absolutely essential reads. It is also worth reading The Ethics and the Politics by Aristotle to help you understand Aquinas.

And most everything that I have read from JPII and Benedict have been great reads.

Seriously though, if you can read and understand Augustine and Aquinas, you will be able to argue and refute the claims of any protestant or atheist.


If you only have time to read one book, read This is the Faith, by Canon Francis Ripley.

If you want to go deeper, or if you want to zero in on specific topics, pretty much anything by Scott Hahn, Mark Shea, Steve Ray, Peter Kreeft, Patrick Madrid, Jeff Cavins, and any others from that group that I may have forgotten about - not so much “required reading” as, have at least a few of these around, for reference, and to get a sense of what the New Evangelization is up to, these days.

I wouldn’t buy every single book they’ve ever written, unless I were stocking a Church library, but get one or two of each author, on subjects of interest to yourself, to get a sense of what’s going on out there.

If you want to go hard-core, get and read Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma by Dr. Ludwig Ott, The Church Teaches, by the Jesuit Fathers of St. Mary’s, The Sources of Catholic Dogma, by Denzinger, the Sunday Sermons of the Early Fathers, and The Faith of the Early Fathers, by Jurgens. And Theology for Beginners, by Frank Sheed. :smiley:

PS: edit - And Karl Keating. How on earth did I forget about Karl Keating? :blush:


I agree with you. I also find that praying is very important in getting a book for the Holy Spirit will guide us what book we should read at a certain time on our faith journey. A very spiritual book might mean not much to us at one time, but later we find it so important.


The two things I intend to read when I get the chance are St Irenaeus’s Against Heresies and St Cyprian of Carthage’s Unity of the Catholic Church. Though can’t say for definite til I read them the excerpts I have read are very good. St Ignatius’s Epistles though are very good and you can read all 7 in a few hours no problem


Thank you all for taking the time to reply.

I believe I should have been more clearer as to what my intent was by saying “must read”.

I wanted to differentiate between books that are highly recommended, or extremely beneficial and those that are absolutely required reading. My thoughts were that if I was isolated with limited literary accessibility, what should I not be without.

Think of it this way. We’ve all heard that age-old question “if you were stranded on a desert island, what book would you want”. My goal is to see if there are one or two tomes that unanimously fulfill this ideal.

Thank you all again and God Bless!


It is my opinion that there are no “must read” anything. I can be a good and faithful Catholic, walking this life the way Jesus showed us without reading a thing. All I need to do is follow the Church’s faithful teachers.


I think you were plenty clear. And, I think so was everyone else. The depth of Catholic literature is broad and diverse. And, because of this diversity, what is right for you now can’t be discerned by us. I think you need to take the list we have provided and do some research at what meets your needs today. If you reexamine your needs in a year, as water says, your “must reads” will change.

Several of the books on my list were recommended by a confessor/spiritual director. He recommended them because he knew they would speak to me at that point in my life. Even if I had not read them at that time, I don’t think he’d recommend them today. My needs have changed.


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