Ye lovers of the printed word! Here are 10 books for which I can enthusiastically vouch. They are not all books on theology, but all have had their respective impact on my thinking, habits, and self-perception as a Christian who’s also a perpetual student (discipulus being Latin for pupil or learner).
If you are looking for practical wisdom, engaging prose style, and real-world growth, I can heartily recommend the following, in no particular order:
- Theology and Sanity by Frank Sheed. For my money, simply the best overall explication of the mysteries of Christianity with a view to understanding and internalizing the truths of the Faith. Special mention goes to the chapter on the Blessed Trinity.
- Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life by Nir Eyal. Just right for anyone with ADHD traits such as starting projects but not finishing them, a tendency toward daydreaming, a lack of focus, and dreaming without doing. Here is my recent interview with the author.
- Will Many Be Saved?: What Vatican II Actually Teaches and Its Implications for the New Evangelization by Dr. Ralph Martin. This book is the antidote to the deeply problematical theory popularized by Hans Urs Von Balthasar that suggests that hell might be empty. Here is my interview with the author.
- Essentialism The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. This modern classic has helped me drop the things I don’t need to be doing so I can devote my energy and attention at the things I do need to be doing. McKeown shows you the difference.
- Consecration to St. Joseph: The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father by Father Don Calloway. We live in an age of St Joseph and we don’t even know it. The foster-father of Jesus and head of the Holy Family goes through the New Testament without saying a word: but constantly acting like a real man, strong and silent. I will be doing the consecration to St. Joseph this year as crafted by Father Calloway. Look for my March interview with the author.
- Poems Every Catholic Should Know edited by Joseph Pearce. Face it: school taught you to hate poetry. Well, it’s not too late to start loving it and sharing it with people you love. The English language is uniquely suited to the elegance and power of poetry. This fine collection gathered together by my friend Joseph Pearce, to borrow from Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca, will be the start of a beautiful friendship—with classic Catholic-themed poems.
- The Name Above the Title: An Autobiography by Frank Capra. This 1971 memoir by the inimitable director of such cinema classics as It’s a Wonderful Life, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Lost Horizon, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, Meet John Doe, and many others feel like Capra is in the room with you, regaling you with anecdotes galore about his remarkable life as a director, Catholic revert, and mentor to two generations of movie-makers.
- After the Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the ’90s by Hunter Madsen and Marshall Kirk. In their own words, gay activists Madsen and Kirk give us their game plan to execute the book’s subtitle, using outright lies (“10% of the population is homosexual”), manipulation of facts, capturing the courts, bringing in celebrities, Hollywood writers and athletes as allies, and (key point) never discuss the behavior that characterizes the lifestyle. Now, what’s our game plan? (The Catechism is not a game plan, btw.)
- Life of Christ by Ven. Fulton J. Sheen. In a field of over 60 books, Life of Christ is a great place to start if you wish to understand why Archbishop Sheen is at once a literary master, a magnificent teacher, and a media prophet. This classic also reveals why Sheen doesn’t exactly fit in with the current crop of Pachamama-supporting Church leaders.
- An Introduction to Philosophy: Perennial Principles of the Classical Realist Tradition by Daniel Sullivan. Don’t let the dry sounding title put you off! This is a terrific overview of the history of philosophy, the classical realist stream from Aristotle to St. Thomas Aquinas, proofs for God’s existence, and sundry insights into the relationship between faith and reason.
I would love to hear your comments. All the very best to you and your family for 2020. Happy reading and Happy New Year!