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.