Brandon Vogt

Best Catholic Books of All-Time

As a Catholic bibliophile I’m always hunting for the next must-read book. But with a religious tradition spanning two millennia, thousands of saints, and millions of titles, where to begin?

One place I often turn is a list composed by Fr. John McCloskey. He’s an Opus Dei priest and fellow book-lover, and he’s put together what he calls the “Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan” including the best Catholic books of all time (the late Fr. John Hardon has a book with the same name.) From biography to literature, history to spirituality, the list includes something for everyone.
If you’re looking for a new book to read, check out one of these best Catholic books of all time:

Theology and Basics of Catholicism

Adams, Karl – The Spirit of Catholicism
Bouyer, Louis – Spirit and Forms of Protestantism
Catholic Church – Catechism of the Catholic Church
Guardini, Romano – The End of the Modern World
Guardini, Romano – The Lord
Hahn, Scott – Rome Sweet Home
Kreeft, Peter – Christianity for Modern Pagans
Newman, John Henry – Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine
Newman, John Henry – Parochial and Plain Sermons
Ott, Ludwig – Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma
Pieper, Josef – The Four Cardinal Virtues

History and Culture

Belloc, Hilaire – The Great Heresies
Belloc, Hilaire – How The Reformation Happened
Belloc, Hilaire – Survivals and New Arrivals
Carroll, Warren – Christendom I: Founding of Christendom
Carroll, Warren – Christendom II: The Building of Christendom
Carroll, Warren – Christendom III: The Glory of Christendom
Carroll, Warren – Christendom IV: The Cleaving of Christendom
Crocker III, H.W. – Triumph
Dawson, Christopher – Christianity and European Culture
Knox, Ronald – Enthusiasm
Leclercq, Jean – Love of Learning and the Desire for God
Walsh, William – Our Lady of Fatima

Holy Men and Women

Chesterton, G.K. – St. Francis of Assisi
Chesterton, G.K. – St. Thomas Aquinas: The Dumb Ox
Day, Dorothy – The Long Loneliness
John XXIII, Pope John – Journal of a Soul 
Merton, Thomas – The Seven Storey Mountain
Muggeridge, Malcolm – Something Beautiful for God
Newman, John Henry – Apologia Pro Vita Sua
Suarez, Federico – Mary of Nazareth
Trochu, F. – The Cure of Ars
Wegemer, Gerard – Thomas More: A Portrait of Courage
Weigel, George – Witness to Hope

Literary Classics

Alighieri, Dante – The Divine Comedy
Benson, Robert Hugh – Lord of the World
Bernanos, George – The Diary of a Country Priest
de Cervantes, Miguel – Don Quixote
Eliot, T.S. – Christianity and Culture
Endo, Shusaku – Silence
Hopkins, Gerard Manley – Poems and Prose
Newman, John Henry – The Idea of a University
O’Conner, Flannery – The Complete Stories
Percy, Walker – Lost in the Cosmos
Percy, Walker – Love in the Ruins
Sienkiewicz, Henryk – Quo Vadis
Tolkien, J.R.R. – The Lord of the Rings
Undset, Sigrid – Kristin Lavransdatter I: The Bridal Wreath
Undset, Sigrid – Kristin Lavransdatter II : The Wife
Undset, Sigrid – Kristin Lavransdatter III: The Cross
Waugh, Evelyn – Brideshead Revisited

Spiritual Classics

Aquinas, St. Thomas – My Way of Life/Summa Theologica
Augustine, St. – The City of God
Augustine, St. – Confessions
Catherine of Siena, St. – Little Talks with God
Chesterton, G.K. – The Everlasting Man
Chesterton, G.K. – Orthodoxy
John of the Cross, St. – Dark Night of the Soul
Lewis, C.S. – Mere Christianity
Lewis, C.S. – The Problem of Pain
Lewis, C.S. – The Screwtape Letters
Oursler, Fulton – The Greatest Story Ever Told
Teresa, Bl. Mother – Meditations from a Simple Path
Teresa of Avila, St. – Interior Castle
Teresa of Avila, St. – The Way of Perfection
Therese of Lisieux, St. – Story of a Soul

Spiritual Reading

A’Kempis, Thomas – The Imitation of Christ
Aumann, Jordan – Spiritual Theology
Baur, Benedict – Frequent Confession
Baur, Benedict – In Silence with God
Boylan, Eugene – Difficulties in Mental Prayer
Boylan, Eugene – This Tremendous Lover
Burke, Cormac – Covenanted Happiness
Chautard, Jean-Baptiste – The Soul of the Apostolate
de Caussade, Jean-Pierre – Abandonment to Divine Providence
de Montfort, Louis-Marie – True Devotion to Mary
de Sales, St. Francis – An Introduction to the Devout Life
de Sales, St. Francis – Treatise on the Love of God
Escriva, Jose Maria – Christ is Passing By
Escriva, Jose Maria – Friends of God
Escriva, Jose Maria – The Way, Furrow, The Forge
Escriva, Jose Maria – The Way of the Cross
Faber, Frederick – All for Jesus
Garrigou-Lagrange, Fr. Reginald – Three Ages of Interior Life
Liguori, Alphonso – The Great Means of Salvation and Perfection
Liguori, Alphonso – Uniformity with God’s Will
Louis of Grenada, Venerable – The Sinner’s Guide
Lovasik, Lawrence – The Hidden Power of Kindness
Manzoni, Alessandro – The Betrothed
Martinez, Luis – True Devotion to the Holy Spirit
More, St. Thomas – The Sadness of Christ
Perquin, Bonaventure – Abba Father
Rohrbach, Peter – Conversation with Christ
Scupoli, Lorenzo – Spiritual Combat
Sheed, Frank – Theology and Sanity
Sheed, Frank – Theology for Beginners
Sheed, Frank – To Know Christ Jesus
Sheen, Fulton – Life of Christ
Sheen, Fulton – Three to Get Married
Tanqueray, Adolphe – The Spiritual Life
von Hildebrand, Dietrich – Transformation in Christ


John Paul II, Bl. Pope – Crossing the Threshold of Hope
Masson, Georgina – The Companion Guide to Rome
Monti, James – The King’s Good Servant but God’s First
Rice, Charles – 50 Questions on the Natural Law
Sertillanges, A.G. – The Intellectual Life
Stein, Edith – Essays on Woman

I’ve read a number of books from this list already, and I try to always be in the middle of at least one of its titles. My personal goal is to finish the entire list by the time I turn 35. Being 25, that shouldn’t be too difficult–about one book per month.

Which of these have you read? Which are your favorite and why?



I have two more follow-up posts where I explain how to build a Catholic eBook library on the cheap and list out of more of the best Catholic books.


  • Nick

    The literary classics list is woefully lacking. James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner. He doesn’t even have the chronicles of narnia, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, the poetry of TS Eliot, Shakespeare (many think he was Catholic, all think he was Christian)! You need Gene Wolfe and Tim Powers for the sci-fi side too. These are just the big names that should certainly be included.


    Love the list, Brandon!

    I posted my 25 favorite Catholic books (six of which are by my favorite author, Peter Kreeft) on my webpage for anyone interested:

    Brandon, hope it’s okay, but I linked to your list at the above link as well. Keep up the great work!


  • Matt

    Fantastic list! Thank you! A good addition to the list could be some of St.Bonaventure’s work….. Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit, The Life of St.Francis, and the Souls Journey into God. Peace and all good ~

  • John Rose

    For Dante, my students and I use Anthony Esolen’s version:

    Esolen’s three volumes have everything: Powerful new translation (lightly rhymed), Italian on facing pages (to keep everybody honest), DorĂ© illustrations, sparse footnotes and thorough chapter notes, masterful interpretive essay (from a sympathetic world-view), and generous primary source appendices, including Aquinas and Dante himself. For the general reader or undergraduate, no other edition comes close.

  • Margaret

    Why don’t you have anything by Matthew Kelly?

    • Dorothy Krietemeyer

      Yes, Margaret, my question, too. Several years ago my home parish, Saints Peter and Paul in Collinsville, Illinois, started a reading program with a Christmas gift to each one beginning with Matthew Kelly’s REDISCOVERING CATHOLICISM. THE FOUR SIGNS OF A DYNAMIC CATHOLIC came later. Now I’m reading one of his earlier books A CALL TO JOY. As a member of his Dynamic Catholic Institute, I have acquired and read his Confirmation material DECISION POINT. Have I missed any? Alan Hunt’s CONFESSIONS OF A MEGA CHURCH PASTOR was another Christmas gift my husband and I enjoyed. When I locate in Atlanta permantly, I will miss these treasures.

  • George Mathew


    Brandon, this is a great list…. With your permission, I’m putting this list in my blog giving due credit to you and your blog site address. I believe all Christians — even non-Christians — should read them.
    Thanks in advance.
    George Mathew
    Mumbai, India.

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