Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Summer can be a great time to catch up on some reading. Whether we’re at the beach, on an airplane, or just relaxing at home, it’s the perfect time to kick back with a good book. Sadly with the internet and television today, reading has fallen from popularity, but it’s a great way to not only deepen our intellectual lives, but also open our minds in new ways. So often we get caught up in our own particular concerns and interests, and we don’t realize that broader horizons can often help us think with a fresh perspective.
And this isn’t just true of non-fiction reading, but fiction as well. While I am partial to fantasy and adventure stories like The Lord of the Rings, I don’t think I would be alone in arguing that there is a great value to reading good literature, particularly good Catholic literature. In a good story, we are able to enter into a new world, meet all sorts of characters, walk through all sorts of situations, and come out transformed. We are given a glimpse of the true, the good, and the beautiful, which all reflect God, and this helps us gain insight into our own lives. Models of heroes and examples of villains are put into our minds to help us interpret reality. Of course this is only true of good literature, and that’s something that’s becoming harder and harder to find. In a world where values are so corrupted, all too often we find stories that are built on an incomplete and stunted view of the world, and where evil is deceptively glorified. Even fairy tales, once used to instill children with a healthy Christian view of the world, are used to normalize sin.
I would like to share then with all of you a short reading list of good Catholic novels that you might consider checking out this summer. Most are written by a person of faith and express themes which I hope will resonate with you as they have with me. It is not an exhaustive list, but rather a cross section of authors I have come across and whom I know many others have enjoyed.
The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Leaf by Niggle, by J.R.R Tolkien
Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
The Power and the Glory, The Heart of the Matter, by Graham Greene
The Lord of the World, by Robert Hugh Benson
Lost in the Cosmos, by Walker Percy Father Elijah, by Michael O’Brien
The Great Divorce, Til We Have Faces, by C.S. Lewis
A Canticle for Leibowitz, by Walter Miller
The Complete Stories, by Flannery O’Connor The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The Man Who Was Thursday, Father Brown Stories, by G. K. Chesterton
Diary of a Country Priest, by Georges Bernanos
The Keys of the Kingdom, A. J. Cronin
In the fall I hope to start a reading group, so please let me know if you enjoy any of these and would like to discuss.
Yours in Christ,