One perk of being a book reviewer is that publishers regularly send emails, catalogs, and a steady stream of advanced review copies.
I try to review as many as I can, but I can't get to them all. So each month I highlight a few new and upcoming books that I'm particularly excited about.
(The descriptions below are either from the publisher or from Amazon.)
by James Martin, SJ
HarperOne, 528 pages, hardcover
Released on March 11, 2014
James Martin, SJ, gifted storyteller, editor at large of America magazine, popular media commentator, and New York Times bestselling author of The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, brings the Gospels to life in Jesus: A Pilgrimage, and invites believers and seekers alike to experience Jesus through Scripture, prayer and travel.
Combining the fascinating insights of historical Jesus studies with profound spiritual insights about the Christ of faith, Father Martin recreates the world of first-century Galilee and Judea to usher you into Jesus's life and times and show readers how Jesus speaks to us today. Martin also brings together the most up-to-date Scripture scholarship, wise spiritual reflections, and lighthearted stories about traveling through the Holy Land with a fellow (and funny) Jesuit, visiting important sites in the life of Jesus of Nazareth.
The person at the heart of the Gospels can seem impossibly distant. Stories about his astonishing life and ministry—clever parables that upended everyone's expectations, incredible healings that convinced even skeptics, nature miracles that dazzled the dumbstruck disciples—can seem far removed from our own daily lives, hard to understand, and at times irrelevant. But in Jesus you will come to know him as Father Martin knows him: Messiah and Savior, as well as friend and brother.
by Brant Pitre
Image, 208 pages, hardcover
Released on March 11, 2014
In Jesus the Bridegroom, Brant Pitre once again taps into the wells of Jewish Scripture and tradition, and unlocks the secrets of what is arguably the most well-known symbol of the Christian faith: the cross of Christ. In this thrilling exploration, Pitre shows how the suffering and death of Jesus was far more than a tragic Roman execution. Instead, the Passion of Christ was the fulfillment of ancient Jewish prophecies of a wedding, when the God of the universe would wed himself to humankind in an everlasting nuptial covenant.
To be sure, most Christians are familiar with the apostle Paul’s teaching that Christ is the ‘Bridegroom’ and the Church is the ‘Bride’. But what does this really mean? And what would ever possess Paul to compare the death of Christ to the love of a husband for his wife? If you would have been at the Crucifixion, with Jesus hanging there dying, is that how you would have described it? How could a first-century Jew like Paul, who knew how brutal Roman crucifixions were, have ever compared the execution of Jesus to a wedding? And why does he refer to this as the “great mystery” (Ephesians 5:32)?
As Pitre shows, the key to unlocking this mystery can be found by going back to Jewish Scripture and tradition and seeing the entire history of salvation, from Mount Sinai to Mount Calvary, as a divine love story between Creator and creature, between God and Israel, between Christ and his bride—a story that comes to its climax on the wood of a Roman cross.
In the pages of Jesus the Bridegroom, dozens of familiar passages in the Bible—the Exodus, the Song of Songs, the Wedding at Cana, the Woman at the Well, the Last Supper, the Crucifixion, and even the Second Coming at the End of Time—are suddenly transformed before our eyes. Indeed, when seen in the light of Jewish Scripture and tradition, the life of Christ is nothing less than the greatest love story ever told.
by Scott Hahn
Our Sunday Visitor, 192 pages, hardcover
Released on May 21, 2014
You can't keep the faith unless you give it away. That's a fact. To be a Christian is to be an evangelizer. When the Catholic Church calls us to a "New Evangelization," that's simply a reminder us of what has always been true.
The good news is: you can do it - you can evangelize - and Scott Hahn shows you how.
In this this very practical "mission manual" Dr. Hahn equips you with:
- A guide to understanding what the New Evangelization is, and who it's really for
- A roadmap that leads you to where it all happens (hint: it's closer than you think)
- A simple, beautiful message to share - in words and actions
You don't need esoteric knowledge. You don't need to master a new set of skills. Evangelization, for Catholics, is simply friendship raised up to the highest level. Enter a deeper friendship with Christ, and you'll want to share his companionship more and more with a wider circle of friends.
by Joseph Pearce
St. Augustines Press, 280 pages, hardcover
Released on March 20, 2014
Beauteous Truth explores the inextricable connection between the Good, the True and the Beautiful. It is a book that makes the necessary connections between faith and reason and between theology, philosophy, history and literature. It presents a panoramic overview of Western Civilization, from Homer to Tolkien, and highlights the importance of the great figures of the Catholic cultural revival, including Newman, Wilde, Chesterton, Belloc, and C.S. Lewis. Ranging from Shakespeare to Solzhenitsyn, Beauteous Truth celebrates the marriage of sanity and sanctity, which is the fruit of the indissoluble union of fides et ratio.
"What we have here is a glorious and compendious portmanteau of – well – of Everything, as it were. We have all long since discovered that Joseph Pearce is a polymath. But he has outdone himself with this volume. The subtitle is the cue: “Faith, Reason, Literature, and Culture.” And the text fulfills that promise. Readers are in for a bracing itinerary that will take them from Greek classicism through the Middle Ages, the Counter-Reformation, the Romantic Movement, and into modernity. The presiding factor in the whole thing is a robust Catholic orthodoxy. The author/guide speaks with both authority and brio. This book qualifies for the 'Highly recommended' slot." — Thomas Howard (St. John’s Seminary, Boston)
by Charles M. Murphy
Ave Maria Press, 160 pages, paperback
Released on March 10, 2014
As Pope Francis continues to call for the rebuilding of the Church, Msgr. Charles M. Murphy, author of The Spirituality of Fasting and Eucharistic Adoration, offers a timely look at what today's Church can learn from St. Francis of Assisi about evangelization and renewal.
When Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio chose the name Francis, a renewed sense of hope and energy swept through the Church. In this timely book, Msgr. Charles M. Murphy examines the correlations between the two Francises and shows why St. Francis is an ideal model for today. Just as in St. Francis's time, today's Church can only be rebuilt and reinforced by a spiritual renewal that comes from within itself, a vision that Pope Francis carries forward in the New Evangelization. Pope Paul VI, the first modern pope to focus on evangelization, once said, "People today listen more to witnesses than to teachers." Pope Francis knows that St. Francis is just such a witness and Murphy enlivens them both for his readers.
What new and notable books are you looking forward to?
Most people know C.S. Lewis through his fiction—the The Chronicles of Narnia, The Screwtape Letters, or the Ransom trilogy—or through his apologetical writings, like Mere Christianity or The Problem of Pain. Yet in the academic community, Lewis is best remembered for his literacy criticism and expertise in medieval English literature. In fact, he contributed a seminal volume titled "English Literature in the 16th Century, Excluding Drama" to the famed Oxford History of English Literature, which Lewis affectionately shortened to "OHEL."
If you haven't sampled Lewis' literary writings, I have some good news. For a limited time, HarperCollins is offering some of his best but underrated essay collections for just $3.99. They include:
The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature
In The Discarded Image, C.S. Lewis paints a lucid picture of the medieval world view, providing the historical and cultural background to the literature of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. It describes the "image" discarded by later years as "the medieval synthesis itself, the whole organization of their theology, science and history into a single, complex, harmonious mental model of the universe." This, Lewis’s last book, has been hailed as "the final memorial to the work of a great scholar and teacher and a wise and noble mind."
Image and Imagination
Image and Imagination presents some of C.S. Lewis's finest literary criticism and religious exposition. This selection gathers together forty book reviews—never before reprinted—as well as four major essays which have been unavailable for many decades, and a fifth essay, “Image and Imagination,” published for the first time. The essays and reviews substantiate Lewis's reputation as an eloquent and authoritative critic across a wide range of literature, and as a keen judge of contemporary scholarship, while his reviews of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings will be of additional interest to scholars and students of fantasy.
An Experiment in Criticism
Why do we read literature and how do we judge it? C. S. Lewis's classic An Experiment in Criticism springs from the conviction that literature exists for the joy of the reader and that books should be judged by the kind of reading they invite. He argues that "good reading," like moral action or religious experience, involves surrender to the work in hand and a process of entering fully into the opinions of others: "in reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself." Crucial to his notion of judging literature is a commitment to laying aside expectations and values extraneous to the work, in order to approach it with an open mind. Amid the complex welter of current critical theories, C. S. Lewis's wisdom is valuably down-to-earth, refreshing and stimulating in the questions it raises about the experience of reading.
Studies in Words
Language—in its communicative and playful functions, its literary formations and its shifting meanings—is a perennially fascinating topic. C. S. Lewis's Studies in Words explores this fascination by taking a series of words and teasing out their connotations using examples from a vast range of English literature, recovering lost meanings and analyzing their functions. It doubles as an absorbing and entertaining study of verbal communication, its pleasures and problems. The issues revealed are essential to all who read and communicate thoughtfully, and are handled here by a masterful exponent and analyst of the English language.
The Allegory of Love
The Allegory of Love is a study in medieval tradition—the rise of both the sentiment called "Courtly Love" and of the allegorical method—from eleventh-century Languedoc through sixteenth-century England. C. S. Lewis devotes considerable attention to The Romance of the Rose and The Faerie Queene, and to such poets as Geoffrey Chaucer, John Gower, and Thomas Usk.
Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Literature
This entertaining and learned volume contains book reviews, lectures, and hard to find articles from the late C. S. Lewis, whose constant aim was to show the twentieth–century reader how to read and understand old books and manuscripts. Highlighting works by Spenser, Dante, Malory, Tasso, and Milton, Lewis provides a refreshing update to medieval and Renaissance criticism, and equips modern readers to understand these works in a new way.
Selected Literary Essays
Selected Literary Essays includes over twenty of C. S. Lewis’s most important literary essays, written between 1932 and 1962. The topics discussed in this volume range from Chaucer to Kipling, from "The literary impact of the authorized version" to "Psycho-analysis and literary criticism," to Shakespeare and Bunyan, and Sir Walter Scott and William Morris. Common to each essay, however, are the lively wit, the distinctive forthrightness, and the discreet erudition which characterize Lewis's best critical writing.
I love books, which is no secret to anyone who knows me. I'm an admitted and unabashed bibliophile. Since starting this blog five years ago, I've encountered many people like me, people who like to read, review, recommend, and—most of all—receive good books.
That's why back in July 2010 I started giving away free books each week. It started slow with just one book per week, usually from my own personal library. But since then it's grown into an amazing stream of giveaways. Now, each week I giveaway several books, usually donated by gracious Catholic publishers, and they've become the most joyous part of blogging. Few things delight me more than connecting good books with good people.
After more than three years of giveaways, today marks an important milestone: I'm giving away my 500th book! And to celebrate, I've decided to host the largest Catholic book giveaway the Internet has ever seen.
This week I'm giving away over 100 free books to 13 different winners. One winner will receive the Mega Grand Prize Package, a collection of fifty Catholic books from my own personal library. Another twelve winners will each receive a prize pack including five books from a major Catholic publisher. All winners will receive the books free, no strings attached. (Scroll down to see all the books I'm giving out.)
I'm using Rafflecopter to help with the giveaway, which is great because it gives you multiple entries for commenting, posting on Facebook, sharing on Twitter, etc. Just click below to enter:
(If you're reading this through email or RSS and don't see the giveaway widget, click here.)
NOTE: By entering the giveaway, you agree to receive occasional emails from me in the future. I will never spam or sell your email address. I'll just alert you with exciting news about new books or projects.
MEGA Grand Prize Package!
One grand prize winner will receive 50 (FIFTY!) new and popular Catholics books from my own personal library, including:
- The Wisdom of the Saints by Jill Adels
- The Apostles by Pope Benedict XVI
- A School of Prayer by Pope Benedict XVI
- How Not to Share Your Faith by Mark Brumley
- Pope Francis by Matthew Bunson
- Real Men Pray the Rosary by David Calvillo
- Vatican II: The Essential Texts by Catholic Church
- Render Unto Caesar by Archbishop Charles Chaput
- Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton
- Aquinas by F.C. Copleston
- The Secret of the Rosary by St. Louis De Montfort
- Mystics and Miracles by Bert Ghezzi
- The Power of Daily Prayer by Bert Ghezzi
- Covenant and Communion by Scott Hahn
- First Comes Love by Scott Hahn
- The Lamb's Supper by Scott Hahn
- Rome Sweet Home by Scott Hahn
- On Being Catholic by Thomas Howard
- The Gospel of Life by Pope John Paul II
- Love and Responsibility by Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II)
- Veritatis Splendor (Splendor of Truth) by Pope John Paul II
- The Seven Big Myths About the Catholic Church by Christopher Kaczor
- Catholicism and Fundamentalism by Karl Keating
- The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic by Matthew Kelly
- Heaven, the Heart's Deepest Longing by Peter Kreeft
- Jesus Shock by Peter Kreeft
- Prayer for Beginners by Peter Kreeft
- Dangers to the Faith by Al Kresta
- Louder Than Words by Matthew Leonard
- Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
- The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis
- The Romance of Religion by Fr. Dwight Longenecker
- Surprised By Truth by Patrick Madrid
- The Jesuit's Guide to (Almost) Everything by Fr. James Martin, SJ
- The Catholic Church at the End of an Age by Ralph Martin
- John Paul II and the New Evangelization by Ralph Martin
- Let God's Light Shine Forth by Robert Moynihan
- Lovely Like Jerusalem by Fr. Aidan Nichols
- Three By Flannery O'Connor by Flannery O'Connor
- C.S. Lewis and the Catholic Church by Joseph Pearce
- Strange Gods by Elizabeth Scalia
- Theology for Beginners by Frank Sheed
- Life of Christ by Fulton Sheen
- A Biblical Walk Through the Mass by Edward Sri
- Come Be My Light by Bl. Teresa of Calcutta
- Story of a Soul by St. Therese of Lisieux
- New Evangelization by Cardinal Donald Wuerl
- The Cube and the Cathedral by George Weigel
- Evangelical Catholicism by George Weigel
- Witness to Hope by George Weigel
In addition to the Mega Grand Prize Winner, twelve other winners will each receive one of the book packages below:
Ave Maria Press Package
One winner will receive FIVE new books from Ave Maria Press, including:
- Tiny Blue Lines by Chaunie Marie Brusie
- Rebuilt by Michael White and Tom Corcoran
- Tools for Rebuilding by Michael White and Tom Corcoran
- Reclaiming Francis by Charles Murphy
- Atchison Blue by Judith Valente
Catholic Answers Package
One winner will receive FIVE new books from Catholic Answers, including:
- The Truth is Out There (Graphic Novel) by Amadeus
- Answering Atheism by Trent Horn
- The Protestant’s Dilemma by Devin Rose
- Not Peace but a Sword by Robert Spencer
- Memorize the Reasons by Kevin Vost
Dynamic Catholic Package
One winner will receive FIVE new books from Dynamic Catholic, including:
- The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic by Matthew Kelly
- Rediscover Catholicism by Matthew Kelly
- Jesus Shock by Peter Kreeft
- Made for More by Curtis Martin
- Finding True Happiness by Fulton Sheen
Franciscan Media Package
One winner will receive FIVE new books from Franciscan Media, including:
- Stories of Jesus
- The Last Words of Jesus by Dan Horan
- Christ Our Compass by Alfred McBride
- Table of Plenty by Susan Muto
- Prayer by Ronald Rolheiser
Ignatius Press Package
One winner will receive FIVE new books from Ignatius Press, including:
- The Source of Life by Christoph Cardinal Schoenborn
- Into All Truth by Milton Walsh
- The Layperson's Distinctive Role by Francis Cardinal Arinze
- The Relevance and Future of the Second Vatican Council by Marc Cardinal Ouellet
- Bountiful Goodness by Thomas a Kempis
Image Books Package
One winner will receive FIVE new books from Image Books, including:
- Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen
- Come Be My Light by Mother Teresa
- Jesus of Nazareth by Pope Benedict XVI
- On Heaven and Earth by Pope Francis and Rabbi Skorka
- The End and the Beginning by George Weigel
Our Sunday Visitor Package
One winner will receive FIVE new books from Our Sunday Visitor, including:
- The Sinner’s Guide to Natural Family Planning by Simcha Fisher
- New Beginning, New Hope by Pope Francis
- The Catholic Women’s Bible
- A Journey to the Heart of Jesus by Archbishop Peter Sartain
- Forming Intentional Disciples by Sherry Weddell
Pauline Books and Media Package
One winner will receive FIVE new books from Pauline Books and Media, including:
- Saints Alive! The Faith Proclaimed by Marie Paul Curley
- Inspiration from Pope Francis by Pope Francis
- Ten Commandments for Kissing Gloria Jean by Britt Leigh
- My Baptism Remembrance Book by Mary Martha Moss
- Martyred: The Story of Saint Lorenzo Ruiz by Susan Tan
Servant Books Package
One winner will receive FIVE new books from Servant Books, including:
- Embracing Edith Stein by Anne Costa
- Fighting Mad by Dr. Ray Guarendi
- The Miraculous Medal by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle
- 150 North American Martyrs You Should Know by Brian O’Neel
- Epic Food Fight by Fr. Leo Patalinghug
Saint Benedict Press Package
One winner will receive FIVE new books from Saint Benedict Press, including:
- Imitation of Christ by Thomas a'Kempis
- A Year with the Angels by Mike Aquilina
- A Year with the Church Fathers by Mike Aquilina
- A Year with the Bible by Patrick Madrid
- A Year with the Saints by Paul Thigpen
The Word Among Us Package
One winner will receive FIVE new books from The Word Among Us, including:
- Conversing with God in Lent by Stephen Binz
- Praying for Our Adult Sons and Daughters by John and Therese Boucher
- Sharing the Faith You Love by John and Therese Boucher
- Pope Francis Speaks to our Hearts by Pope Francis
- The Light Is On For You by Cardinal Donald Wuerl
Word on Fire Package
One winner will receive FIVE new books from Word on Fire, including:
- Catholicism by Fr. Robert Barron
- Eucharist by Fr. Robert Barron
- Word On Fire by Fr. Robert Barron
- The Strangest Way by Fr. Robert Barron
- Thomas Aquinas by Fr. Robert Barron
Thanks to all the generous publishers for donating books and thank you for reading and supporting this blog over the years!
The winners will be randomly selected next Friday and the books will be sent out, free of charge, shortly thereafter.
(Since I'm covering the shipping costs, only residents within the continental United States are eligible to win.)
I recently helped Fr. Robert Barron launch a new digital campaign called #AskFrBarron. Each month, he solicits questions through his blog and Facebook page and then selects a few to answer using video. He then shares one video answer per week on his Facebook page.
In this week's answer, he covers one of our favorite topics here: books. One inquirer asked what his five favorite books were, and Father responded with his favorites in five different genres:
(If you can't see the video above, click here.)
His favorites include:
- Summa Theologiae by Thomas Aquinas
- The Divine Comedy by Dante
- The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton
- Moby Dick by Herman Melville
- Macbeth by William Shakespeare
In addition to those, you might enjoy these other book lists: