You will not see anyone who is really striving after his advancement who is not given to spiritual reading. And as to him who neglects it, the fact will soon be observed by his progress.
Only God knows the good that can come about by reading one good Catholic book.
St. John Bosco
The harm that comes to souls from the lack of reading holy books makes me shudder… What power spiritual reading has to lead to a change of course, and to make even worldly people enter into the way of perfection.
St. Padre Pio
It can be difficult to decide to begin reading any book, much less decide on which book to read. The purpose of this page is to provide recommendations of books which can serve to strengthen your spiritual life, your character, and your understanding. Of course, not every book will do all of these things equally -nor do they need to. Accordingly, the lists below are categorized by type of book. Each list contains not only the title and author of each recommendation, but also a summary of its content, a comment on its accessibility, and a quote which in some way encapsulates the tone or the theme of the book.
Many of these books might serve as good gifts for religious occasions. In general, books are organized by age group to help decide what might make a good gift—or what would be good to read for yourself. That said, many of the books labeled for adolescents (and even some labeled for children) are by no means unsuited to adults.
An exception to the organization is the list of theological/spiritual reading, which is not organized by age, but rather by progress in the spiritual life. In general, these books will be helpful only to adolescents and adults, according to the progress that they have made. Here, the books categorized under “Beginner” would be generally appropriate for those preparing for confirmation and older. “Advanced” recommendations assume that some form of spiritual life is already lived and there is a foundation of knowledge of the faith.
If you are looking for religious recommendations for children, please look at the “Lives of the Saints and Biographies” list or the “Fiction” list. Children should, of course, also be taught to grow in their spiritual lives, but will learn this from parents and from experience much better than they can from a book (yet).
In no way are any of these lists intended to be complete or exclusive. Nor is it guaranteed that all or even most of these books will be fruitful reading for any individual person. Spiritual reading especially is a very individual exercise and should be fostered through books that are actually helpful to the person reading them, not just through books that are considered great or classic, as true as those descriptions may be. At the same time, we can have a tendency to settle—when it comes to spiritual reading especially—for works that do not challenge us or move us forward in the spiritual life, but rather simply affirm what we believe about God. The problem with this is that, in the spiritual life, there is no standing still. As with any love, if we are not advancing in our relationship with God, we are falling back. If books and other resources do not in some way challenge or teach us, but simply make us feel better about where we are, then they are undoubtedly harmful to us, no matter how Catholic their content may seem to be.
Often people will equate any reading to growth in maturity. But, like any art, literature can lead our hearts either in good or in problematic directions: and even among books which are good, there are those which simply give us a nudge and those which truly change our lives. It is my hope that this list will help you to discover and draw fruit from some of the gems of this art.
BOOKS BY CATEGORY
Note that not all lists are up yet. Lists will be added as they are completed. Current lists may also be updated/added to over time. Thanks for your patience!
Encyclicals and other Magesterial Documents
Other Non-Fiction by Category