I didn’t get much reading done from August through November. The beginning of my pregnancy this time around was particularly rough, and the idea of merely finding the remote while I was plastered to the couch–let alone crack open a book–proved to be incredibly taxing. However, what little I was able to read I really enjoyed!
“Heaven Starts Now” by Father John Riccardo is intended for all of us trying to reach the heights of heaven. In the book, Father covers a wide range of topics, such as suffering, prayer, anxiety, greed, surrender, proper praise, and love. He also offers suggestions for developing a plan for becoming a saint. I found it particularly enjoyable because it was short and to the point, yet extremely helpful and thought provoking. I really liked this one and think it’s a great book for either individual or group study.
“How The Catholic Church Built Western Civilization” by Thomas E. Woods, Jr.
It took me quite a while to get through this book–not because it wasn’t enjoyable–but because it is jam-packed with history. I was forced to chew on the information provided longer than I had anticipated when I first picked up the book. However, considering the historicity of the Church and the impact the many men and women of the faith had on Western Civilization, this book is a great read. I encourage you to read this book if you fall under any of the following categories: if you are someone looking to appreciate the beauty of the Catholic faith more deeply; you are someone aspiring to learn more about the impact Catholicism has had on the world today; or if you are someone who is skeptical of the Catholic Church in any way.
“The Simplified Life” by Emily Ley
I flew through this book. I consider myself a sort of addict of organization and order (though don’t quote me on that if you come to my house and find it a messy mess), and have flown through several books on the topic. Emily’s book wasn’t far in concept from Marie Kondo’s book, or Tsh Oxenreider’s “Organized Simplicity,” but I particularly liked “A Simplified Life” because it was beautifully packaged and neatly inspiring.
“The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise” by Robert Cardinal Sarah
This is probably the most influential book I read in 2017. I picked up this book at the recommendation of a friend, and am SO glad I did. This book came at the perfect time—right when my phone was stolen from my car. While I was dealing with the realization that I was maybe more than a bit addicted to technology, Cardinal Sarah was teaching me the importance of silence and calling to mind my lack thereof. While losing my phone provided ample time for reflection, this book moved me to consider how living a life of prayer and communion with God is not only a superior option to the noise of our world, but one which requires me to take a step back and actively enter into the silence of God’s love. This book was both motivating and challenging, and one I think everyone in our world today could benefit from. [Side note: If you really want to hack away at any addiction you might have to noise, pair this reading with “The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains”]
“Joy to the World” by Scott Hahn
Scott Hahn’s “Joy to the World” couldn’t have come at a better time. Joe and I went to see him speak on the day before Advent, which was a real treat for me. Seeing Hahn upclose was basically equivalent to me seeing a favorite rock star. Hahn is top tier in the theological world and I greatly admire him. Aside from that admiration, “Joy to the World” was a joy to read. Scott Hahn’s book brings so much insight into what we all celebrate at Christmas; particularly that it is both a time for joy and a time for the family. This is a great book for anyone preparing their hearts for Christmas during Advent, as well as anyone who wants to grow in their Christian faith and develop their sense of truth and love.
“To Light a Fire On the Earth: Proclaiming the Gospel in a Secular Age” by Robert Barron with John L. Allen, Jr.
This was a great book to end the year with, because I am a really big Bishop Barron fan and because we had a lot of time on the road–perfect for reading. I admire Bishop Barron in so many ways, but particularly in his emphasis on the via pulchritudinis (“the way of beauty”). Bishop Barron preaches on the beauty of the faith and refuses to dumb down the intellectual richness of Catholicism. This book touched on all aspects of the faith, particularly shining light on Bishop Barron’s approach to his preaching in the New Evangelization. I really enjoyed it.
I haven’t developed a reading list for 2018, but have a ton of books in my “wish list” on amazon that I’ve been holding off on purchasing. I’m trying to be more conscious about my book-hoarding habit, and am forcing myself to only purchase books as fast as I read them.
I’m so happy I made it a resolution of mine for 2017 to quit reading five books at a time. Developing the habit of finishing the books I put in my hand before starting another has done wonders for me. I’ve enjoyed so many books this year and look forward to what 2018 brings me!
My absolute favorites of the year:
Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton
Life of Christ by Archbishop Fulton Sheen
Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith by Bishop Barron
Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton
The Power of Silence by Robert Cardinal Sarah
The books that positively influenced my actions in 2017:
A Mother’s Rule of Life by Holly Pierlot
The Temperament God Gave You by Art and Larrain Bennet
No Greater Love by Saint Teresa of Kolkata
Organized Simplicity by Tsh Oxenreider
The Story of a Soul by St. Therese of Lisieux
I’d love any book recommendations you have to offer! Please comment below!