Brandon Vogt

Building a Catholic eBook Library on the Cheap

Kindle

I recently listed the best Catholic books of all-time as named in Fr. John McCloskey’s ‘Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan.’ All the links I provided were to paperback and hardcover books, which tend to be somewhat expensive.

But one of the things I’ve discovered since getting an Amazon Kindle is that you can find so many Catholic classics in eBook format either for free or for fairly cheap.

Before I received a Kindle for my birthday, I had been saving up to purchase the five-volume, hardcover set of St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica (current Amazon price: $245!) But after I received a Kindle I was thrilled to discover that you can get the entire Summa–in digital, searchable format–for only $0.99 in the Kindle Store. The savings from that purchase alone covered the cost of my Kindle.

So I decided to see how cheaply you could build a solid, Catholic eBook library. I quickly found that more than 60 books from the ‘Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan’ are available in Kindle format, and many were cheap or free! From there I browsed through the millions of books in Amazon’s Kindle store and found many other low-priced Catholic classics. I thought it would be a big help to other eBook fans to list out the best buys in one location, so here you go.

Before you read the lists, though, three things should be noted. First, I’ve only included the Kindle versions of each eBook. Many titles are available in other eBook formats like “.epub” at similar or lower prices. But since the Kindle format is the most popular, I decided to link to that.

Second, you don’t necessarily need a Kindle to read these eBooks (though it does make the e-reading experience more enjoyable). Amazon provides free programs which let you view Kindle eBooks on your PC, Mac, smartphone, iPhone, iPad, or other device all for free.

Finally, the cheaper an eBook costs, the more likely it is to have formatting issues, textual errors, or a missing table of contents. A good rule of thumb is that the cheaper an eBook costs, the more problems you’ll find.

Most eBooks are available in different versions at different prices (e.g. free, $0.99, $1.99, etc.) and for many titles the free versions are excellent. But for others, it’s worth paying a couple extra dollars for better quality. The best way to determine which version to get is to download a free sample of each and determine which is best.

With all that said, on with the lists!


Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan eBooks

FREE – Benson, Robert Hugh – Lord of the World
FREE Chesterton, G.K. – Orthodoxy
FREE – de Caussade, Jean – Abandonment to Divine Providence
FREE – de Cervantes, Miguel – Don Quixote
FREE – Newman, John Henry – Apologia Pro Vita Sua
FREE – Newman, John Henry – Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine
FREE – Newman, John Henry – The Idea of a University
FREE Sienkiewicz, Henryk – Quo Vadis
FREE – Thérèse of Lisieux, St. – Story of a Soul
$0.95 – Augustine, St. – The City of God
$0.99THE HOLY BIBLE (Douay-Rheims Version)
$0.99 – A’Kempis, Thomas – The Imitation of Christ
$0.99 – Alighieri, Dante – The Divine Comedy
$0.99 – Aquinas, St. Thomas – Summa Theologica
$0.99 – Augustine, St. – Confessions
$0.99 – Catherine of Genoa, St. – A Treatise on Purgatory
$0.99 – Catherine of Siena, St. – Little Talks with God
$0.99 – Chesterton, G.K. – St. Thomas Aquinas: The Dumb Ox 
$0.99 – John of the Cross, St. – Dark Night of the Soul
$0.99 – Liguori, Alphonso – Uniformity with God’s Will
$0.99 – Manzoni, Alessandro – The Betrothed
$0.99 – Teresa of Avila, St. – Interior Castle
$1.99 – de Sales, St. Francis – Treatise on the Love of God
$1.99 – Teresa of Avila, St. – The Way of Perfection
$2.25 – de Montfort, Louis-Marie – True Devotion to Mary
$2.95 – Martinez, Luis – True Devotion to the Holy Spirit
$2.99 – Chesterton, G.K. – St. Francis of Assisi
$2.99 – de Sales, St. Francis – Introduction to the Devout Life
$5.99 – Scupoli, Lorenzo – Spiritual Combat
$6.36 – Escriva, Jose Maria – Christ is Passing By
$6.36 – Escriva, Jose Maria – Friends of God
$6.36 – Escriva, Jose Maria – The Way
$6.36 – Escriva, Jose Maria – The Furrow
$6.36 – Escriva, Jose Maria – The Forge
$6.98 – Chesterton, G.K. – The Everlasting Man
$7.16 – Escriva, Jose Maria – The Way of the Cross
$7.79 – Eliot, T.S. – Christianity and Culture 
$7.95 – Sheen, Fulton – Three to Get Married
$9.68 – Waugh, Evelyn – Brideshead Revisited
$9.89 – Percy, Walker – Lost in the Cosmos
$9.89 – Percy, Walker – Love in the Ruins
$9.99 – Bernanos, George – The Diary of a Country Priest 
$9.99 – Boylan, Eugene – This Tremendous Lover
$9.99 – Hahn, Scott – Rome Sweet Home
$9.99 – Lewis, C.S. – Mere Christianity
$9.99 – Lewis, C.S. – The Problem of Pain
$9.99 – Lewis, C.S. – The Screwtape Letters
$9.99 – Rice, Charles – 50 Questions on the Natural Law
$9.99 – Sheed, Frank – Theology and Sanity
$9.99 – Teresa, Bl. Mother – Meditations from a Simple Path
$9.99 – von Hildebrand, Dietrich – Transformation in Christ
$12.99 – Undset, Sigrid – Kristin Lavransdatter I: The Wreath
$12.99 – Undset, Sigrid – Kristin Lavransdatter II : The Wife
$12.99 – Undset, Sigrid – Kristin Lavransdatter III: The Cross
$13.99 – Sheen, Fulton – Life of Christ
$14.99 – Crocker III, H.W. – Triumph
$14.99 – Weigel, George – Witness to Hope
$18.98 – Newman, John Henry – Parochial and Plain Sermons
$18.99 – Tolkien, J.R.R. – The Lord of the Rings


More Free or Cheap Catholic eBooks

FREE – Chesterton, G.K. – What’s Wrong With the World
FREE Chesterton, G.K. – Eugenics and Other Evils
FREE More, St. Thomas – Utopia
$0.99 – Anselm, St. – Book of Meditations and Prayers
$0.99 – Anselm, St. – Proslogium and Monologium
$0.99 Athanasius, St. – On the Incarnation
$0.99 – Aquinas, St. Thomas – Summa Contra Gentiles
$0.99 – Augustine, St. – Handbook on Faith, Hope, and Love
$0.99 Augustine, St. – On Grace and Free Will
$0.99 – Bernard of Clairvaux, St. – On Loving God
$0.99 – Benedict, St. – The Holy Rule of St. Benedict 
$0.99 – Bonaventure, St. – The Journey of the Mind Into God
$0.99 – Chesterton, G.K. – Heretics
$0.99 Early Christians – The Didache
$0.99 Francis de Sales, St – Treatise on the Love of God
$0.99 – Gregory the Great, Pope St. – Saint Benedict
$0.99 – Ignatius of Loyola, St. – Spiritual Exercises
$0.99 Julian of Norwich, St. – Revelations of Divine Love
$0.99 – Lawrence, Brother – Practice of the Presence of God
$0.99 – Leo XIII, Pope – Rerum Novarum
$1.00 – Pascal, Blaise – Pensées
$1.99 – Anselm, St. – The Devotions of St. Anselm
$1.99 – Chesterton, G.K. – The Catholic Church and Conversion
$1.99 – Chesterton, G.K. – The Innocence of Fr. Brown
$1.99 – Chesterton, G.K. – The Wisdom of Fr. Brown
$1.99 – Ugolino, Brother – The Little Flowers of St. Francis
$2.25 – Butler, Alban – Lives of the Saints
$2.99 – Anonymous – The Cloud of Unknowing
$2.99 – Aquinas, St. Thomas – Catena Aurea-Gospel of Mark
$2.99 – Aquinas, St. Thomas – Catena Aurea-Gospel of Matthew
$2.99 – Aquinas, St. Thomas – Catena Aurea-Gospel of Luke
$2.99 – Augustine, St. – On Christian Doctrine
$2.99 – Chesterton, G.K. The Man Who Was Thursday
$2.99 – John of the Cross, St. – Ascent of Mount Carmel
$2.99 – Rose, Devin – If Protestantism Is True
$2.99 – Teresa of Avila, St. – The Life of St. Teresa of Jesus
$2.99 – Thérèse of Lisieux, St. – Poems of St. Teresa
$3.99 – Aquinas, St. Thomas – Catena Aurea-Gospel of John


Catholic Publishers Offering Cheap Catholic eBooks

 

Update #1: Another great source for free Catholic eBooks–though you won’t be able to download them to a Kindle–is the fantastic Why I Am Catholic Bookshelf. Frank Weathers over at the Why I Am Catholic blog has culled over 850 eBooks into this great collection. Check it out!

Update #2: In addition to my original list of the best Catholic books, I have another follow-up post where I list more of the best Catholic books and eBooks.
 
 

  • Gustave

    A number of these are now dead links.

  • andia

    I think I am in love with this list.

  • There is a 99 cent edition of Frank Sheed’s Theology and Sanity: http://amzn.to/1gB6sm1

    • Athanasius

      Check out Lex De Leon Publishing in Amazon Kindle Store. They are all 99c and old classics.

  • Google books has an almost endless supply of free “scanned” books. The one I have on my tablet now: The Glories and Privileges of St. Joseph, A Short History of the Papacy, The Mass and Vestments of the Catholic Church, City of God, Little Manual of the Sacred Heart, The Sinners Guide, The Life of Saint Pius V, Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, The Golden Manual, History of the Council of Trent, The History of the Heresies, Mystical City of God, Pictorial Lives of the Saints, Introduction to the Devout Life……

  • Brandon, thanks for sharing this list. I just finished reading Benson’s “Lord of the World” last night and I loved it. The only fiction I’ve read in years.

  • Grdnsouthern

    Hi Maria – You can get daily Mass readings and all of the hours of the Liturgy of the Hours on the internet – google Universalis. There are also sights where you can access the CCC indexed and various encyclicals and other documents from the Holy See. I access all of these on my Kindle (3G) and have obtained very many of the great spiritual classics with fine navigation. Also, you can download many Iganatius Press books from Amazon onto your Kindle.

    Let me know if you want more details.

  • Maria

    I have a question for Brandon or anyone else who may know. I’m thinking of getting an e-ink reader… possibly a kindle 3?? I welcome recommendations. I am a lay missionary and would like to have the books I read more compact. I have the ipieta app on my android phone, which has some GREAT books. But can I download an app on any e-ink reader?? I also have downloaded the Mystical City of God by Maria of Agreda onto my PC free, but would I be able to download that onto my kindle, etc?? It is in adobe acrobat format?
    I would also like to have the Divine Office. Is this easily able to be downloaded? Would I do it weekly? I pray the 4 volumne.
    Thanks so much for any help. I’m very new to all of this.
    Maria

    • Maria I use Kindle and it’s great. You can get many of the classics for free and you can also download your own files onto it. So your PDF, DOC, etc can be read on the Kindle. There are also monthly subscriptions that automatically download for you each month. I would definitely recommend the Kindle.

      • Maria

        thanks much Ricky :)… what kindle to you have?

        • I have the Kindle Touch that came out last year right before Christmas.

  • Hey Brandon,
    Project Gutenberg has thousands of free books, and probably close to a hundred of them are Catholic classics. I spent an evening downloading about 25 free Catholic spiritual classics for my friend onto his ipad. They have almost all of Chesterton, Story of a Soul, Ascent of Mount Carmel, some Newman, and tons more. It’s all free to download too.

    The only drawback is I haven’t found a way to browse the Catholic books, you have to know what you are looking for and search for it manually to check if they have it.

    Check it out:
    http://www.gutenberg.org/

    +JMJ
    God Bless

  • Wolf Paul

    Brandon,

    The link to the “Compendium” is no longer valid.

    Wolf Paul

  • Leaella Shirley

    For those who want to read Kristen Lavransdattar, there is a Kindle edition of the entire trilogy for $18.99. http://www.amazon.com/Kristin-Lavransdatter-Penguin-Classics-ebook/dp/B002GEDEKG/ref=pd_sim_kstore_1

  • Thank you so much for this post. Just got a Kindle and was thinking what I should have on it! God bless you.

    • Grdnsouthern

      Hello Fr Joseph. If you go to Home Page, click menu, then experimental, then launch browser you access the internet. There are many fine Catholic sources but here are some exceptional ones which you can bookmark simply by clicking menu and bookmarks once you access the net:

      St Charles Borromeo Catholic Church
      Catholic Encyclopedia
      Papal encyclicals – exhaustive!Vat.Ecum.Council II – Table of Contents
      Universalis – all the hours of Divine Office daily plus Mass readings

      Ignatius Press Plain and Parochial Sermons of Bl J H Newman and Collected Works of St John of the Cross are wonderful value and I don’t think mentioned above.

      I have just bought the Logos CCC etc for $49.90 and it is brilliantly put together. I am using it with Ignatius Press Companion to the CCC which I bought on Amazon.

      What wonderful resouorces for the new evangelization.

      Happy reading!

      Gordon

  • johnnyc

    Hi Brandon,

    I got my Kindle last Christmas and found a lot of what you listed but there are others that I was not aware of and will be checking out so thanks for the resource. My favorites from what you have listed and that I have read are ‘The Imitation of Christ’, Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the ‘Didache’ and ‘Story of a Soul’. Of course, some I have read in book form (Theology and Sanity by Frank Sheed….fantastic!). Here are some favorites that I have read this year on the Kindle that I recommend but are not listed. ‘The History of the Catholic Church’ by Phillip Hughes is free usually in pdf format. You can convert it for Kindle. These are not free but I think the average price was 9.99….The Hidden Mana by Father James O’Connor, The Gospel of Mark (Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture) by Mary Healy also the Gospel of Matthew in the sames series by Curtis Mitch and Edward Sri. I also found this that some may be interested in….The Bible Cheat Sheet for Catholics at http://thecatholicconvert.webs.com/biblecheatsheet.html
    Again you would need to convert it to be able to read it better on Kindle.

  • Sarah

    I have a nook and have found many free ebooks. All the books at Project Gutenberg are available in both ePub (nook, ibooks) and kindle formats. Google digitized all the books in their google books library and made them available for nook for free through Barnes and Noble. However, there has been no proofreading of the digitized copies and the quality of the original printing and of the scan makes a great difference in how much deciphering the reader must do. Project Gutenberg books have been proofed by volunteers. A few mistakes make it through proofing, but they are few and infrequent. If a book is available both through google books/b&n partnership and through Project Gutenberg, it is well worth any extra downloading hassle to get them from Project Gutenberg.

  • Mibsy

    Thanks so much, a wonderful resource…and free, too! 🙂

  • Bill Meyer

    As to .epub vs. .mobi, there's no need to pick and choose. Just get Calibre (free) and convert from one to the other. Also note that many of the titles on Amazon can be had for free from Gutenberg.org. Finally, in many cases, the free and very cheap volumes on Amazon have problems. The main one I have seen is the deletion of indented and italicized quotes from the originals. So if you're reading along, and something seems off, it may well be.

  • Victoria

    I would much prefer to read a real book but postage to Australia makes any book very expensive and so I took adavantage of the free Kindle for PC. I have recently purchased Bede's Ecclestiastical History and Cardinal Gibbon's Faith of Our Fathers for under one dollar each.

  • Brandon Vogt

    Melissa: I personally haven't downloaded the LotH yet, but you might consider this link from Universalis:

    http://www.universalis.com/n-ebooks.htm

    I don't see anything in the Kindle store, though. I know the iPad has a wonderful, cheap, easy to use app for that, but the Kindle is a little behind the curve.

  • Melissa G

    I've heard you can download the Liturgy of the Hours on a Kindle. Do you know anyone who has done this and how it works?

  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous

    THE CATECHISM OF THE COUNCIL OF TRENT IS AVAILBLE FOR 1.99.

  • Anonymous

    Don't forget Clementine Vulgate for $0.99.

  • The Masked Chicken

    Prof. Alvin Plantigna's, Christian Classics Ethereal Library, CCEL, should be a first stop in anyone looking for general Christian Literature. It includes many Catholic sources, as well.

    There are also many other sources of free literature which informed Catholics should know about. The entire works of Aristotle are available, free, on-line as well as the Church Fathers.

    The Chicken

  • Ian

    You can also get properly formatted and edited copies of several Catholic classics at Aquinas and More as well as dozens of other Catholic titles.

    We are the only Catholic store selling e-books.

  • Blog Goliard

    Some Project Gutenberg texts are excellent; some are unreadable. Distributed Proofreaders (http://www.pgdp.net/c/) is a volunteer organization working steadily towards improving that. Search their list of completed projects…or sign up and start working on uncompleted ones!

    My favorite search tool for ebooks is Inkmesh (http://inkmesh.com/). For popular titles, multiple free options will pop up; I would recommend trying the ones from MobileRead and FeedBooks first.

  • Rodrigo

    You can get the complete Penguin Classics edition of Kristin Lavransdatter at an even more affordable $18.99 here.

  • VINCENT

    there is a book that is grossly missing from the list of life time books to read:THE CONSOLATION OF PHILOSOPHY, by Boethius!!

    has the breviary(Divine office) been softened(put is soft copy)?

  • Brandon Vogt

    Chad: Yes, you can learn how to get the CCC in Kindle format here:

    http://cooltoolsforcatholics.blogspot.com/2010/12/how-to-get-catechism-of-catholic-church.html

  • Chad

    Excellent resources. Is there a free version of the Catechism in an epub or other format? I looked, but I could not find it.

  • Hoser

    One of the hardest parts of having a Kindle And keeping both religious books and secular novels on the unit is when your at adoration reading St. Thomas and you remember that the novel you read last night needs to be read. That is an evil that can't be tolerated so I leave my Kindle at home leaving the temptation at home as well.

  • Richard Grebenc

    A good way to find free and cheap Kindle books is to use Advanced Search using Format "Kindle Books" for and Sort Results as "Price: Low to High".

  • Brandon Vogt

    Anonymous: The links I listed for each book are for the Kindle version, but many of these titles are available for the Nook at similar prices.

    The Nook e-reader uses the ".epub" eBook format, while the Kindle uses the ".mobi" format. Neither device will read both formats, so you kind of have to pick and choose.

  • Anonymous

    Would the same availability be true for the BN Nook?

  • Brandon Vogt

    Annoymous: Any version of the Kindle versions will work. Though here are the differences:

    $114 Kindle – This one has Wi-Fi only (meaning you can only download books if you have a wireless internet connection) along with advertisements in leiu of screen savers. I have this model and, quite frankly, don't even notice the ads.

    $139 Kindle – This one is Wi-Fi only but has no advertisements.

    $164 Kindle – This one has both Wi-Fi and 3G capabilities (meaning you can download books basically anywhere you can pickup a cell phone signal) and it also has advertisements.

    $189 Kindle – This one has both Wi-Fi and 3G capabilities with no advertisements.

  • Anonymous

    I sound pretty dumb but which of the three models is suited for this ebook library? I want to buy the right one without having to overspend. Thanks.

  • George

    Thanks for posting! I've downloaded a couple of these for the Kindle, but now I have a longer list from which to work. Thanks for taking the time…

  • Craig

    Great list Brandon

  • Therese Z

    My Kindle has been my Chesterton connection: I was too cheap to pay for ANOTHER Catholic book to add to the pile I have to catch up on, but I knew I had to read more Chesterton, and found them at just a couple of bucks.

    Before anybody leaps to get a Project Gutenberg free copy of any book, make sure you compare the $1.99 one to the free one: the free one may not have chapter links, or a table of contents, where that's what added the cost to the cheap one.

  • Lisa M. Hendey

    Great list Brandon! Thanks for sharing and inspiring me to load up my kindle with some new titles!

  • Anonymous

    Anyone on an iPhone or such, head into the app store and grab ipieta. This cheap app (3.99?) has a lot of these titles plus papal encyclicals, calendars, and a bible. Check it out.

  • Frank

    Brandon, thanks for the "shout out." You know, YIMCatholic is available on Kindle now. I wonder if the link to the YIMCatholic Bookshelf will work from the KIndle platform. Sign up for a trial and let me know! 🙂

  • Jeff Miller

    Many of the charged items even at low prices our not real bargains. For example Project Gutenberg has all the G.K. Chesterton titles mentioned for free in multiple ebook format. I most cases the non-free versions do note add value.

  • Brent Stubbs

    thank you for this…I've added a few of the titles to my kindle reader tonight

  • Brandon Vogt

    ellen: I've been hearing good things about The Creed In Slow Motion for some time. I'll definitely have to give it a read.

    Frank: Ah! It slipped my mind–and it shouldn't have because I've used it plenty of times before. Check the post for an update!

  • Frank

    And, you know, there are the Google free e-books you can find waiting for you (865+) over at the YIMCatholic Bookshelf too. 😉

  • ellen

    Yes, I have a few of the free or inexpensive Catholic titles from Fr. McCloskey's list on my Kindle. I have found that the free books aren't formatted as nicely as the more expensive titles, and are harder to read. But, I enjoy having these classics at my fingertips.
    Two of my favorite ebooks cost around 10 bucks. One is Knox's THE CREED IN SLOW MOTION. I can't praise that highly enough, and to find a hardcover edition of it is difficult if not impossible. The other one is an Ignatius title, MARY IN THE MIDDLE AGES. The ebook is less expensive than the print edition.

© 2016 Brandon Vogt