My Book Recommendations

“Beware the man of a single book.” -St. Thomas Aquinas

I am constantly asked for book recommendations, especially by young Catholics. This hunger for continuous learning that exists among today’s believers is greatly edifying, a promising sign that the Church is indeed alive and well underneath all the soot of scandal and sin.

Below is a reading guide for Catholics who wish to develop their intellectual chops. If you ask me (I’ll pretend you are) I think this is a necessary pursuit for every Catholic—to learn your faith.

You must do deepen your religious knowledge, first, because you cannot love what you don’t know. If you want to love deeper, learn deeper. The more you learn about Christ and his Church, the more you can love about them. The more you learn about the human person, the better you can love your neighbour.

Second, you must become a well-read Catholic because you will be able to more confidently share the Gospel with an increasingly secular culture.

Third, you must build up your mind through reading good Christian books because life’s biggest questions are fundamentally religious—and to be a rational creature (which you are) who does not think about life’s biggest questions is both a pity and an absurdity.

Fourth, you must study the Faith to deepen your conviction that Catholicism is true. The books below will have served their purpose if all they have done is made you a more rock-solid believer in Jesus Christ.

Now onwards! I hope these books bless you as much as they’ve blessed me. Happy learning!

NOTE: This guide is in no particular order (except for 1 & 2). Read these books in any order you wish according to your immediate needs or interests.

1. Begin reading the Gospels daily.

Even 2 minutes per day in the beginning is a good place to start. I recommend getting the Ignatius Press New Testament Study Bible. This Bible has footnotes by the renowned theologian, Dr. Scott Hahn and his co-annotator, Curtis Mitch, another Steubenville theologian. I can’t recommend this study Bible enough.

Also make sure you’ve got a complete Bible on hand as well. I strongly suggest the RSV (Revised Standard Version) version from Ignatius Press.

Some further recommendations:

Put tabs in your Bible for easy sifting. Mark it up with footnotes and cross-references. Underline key passages and write notes in the margins. God’s Word must be “chewed” on before it can be digested.

To supplement your reading of the Gospels, I especially recommend:

To Know Christ Jesus by Frank Sheed

The Lord by Romano Guardini

Life Of Christ by Fulton Sheen

2. Begin reading the Scriptures with the Catechism.

Once you’ve gone through the Gospels slowly and attentively, you can start to unpack the writings of St. Paul, St. Peter and the rest of the NT authors. Supplement your Scripture study with the Catechism.

St. John Paul the Great called the Catechism of the Catholic Church (free online version here) a “sure norm for teaching the faith.” As a compilation and summary of two thousand years of official Church teaching, this resource is indispensable for all New Evangelists. It is a great companion to the Scriptures as well. As a companion to the Catechism, I recommend Catholic Christianity: A Complete Catechism by Dr. Peter Kreeft.

3. Begin reading great conversion stories.

Conversion stories are easy to read, and if you read the right ones, they can be a fantastic introduction to Catholic apologetics as the authors detail how they uncovered the fullness of religious truth in Catholicism. They also serve as great “give-away” evangelization resources for the creative apologist.

I recommend:

Rome Sweet Home by Scott and Kimberley Hahn

Something Other Than God – Jennifer Fulwiler

Crossing The Tiber by Steve Ray

Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic by  David Currie

Surprised By Truth I, II & III (3 books) by Patrick Madrid

4. Begin reading practical books on spirituality/evangelization/apologetics.

First read at least one of these:

Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales

Soul of the Apostolate by Don Chautard

Knowledge can approach being useless, even dangerous, if a person doesn’t know how to use it properly. These books will help you to understand the “process” of doing apologetics and evangelization with clarity and charity.

My book Just Whatever: How To Help the Spiritually Indifferent Find Beliefs That Really Matter was written for this purpose, to equip the modern Catholic evangelist practically and intellectually.

I also recommend:

Search and Rescue: How to Bring Your Family and Friends Into or Back Into the Catholic Church by  Patrick Madrid

The Seven Deadly Sins Of Apologetics by Mark Brumley

How to Share Your Faith with Anyone: A Practical Manual for Catholic Evangelization by Terry Barber

Catholic Evidence Training Outlines by Frank Sheed and Maisie Ward

The Church and New Media: Blogging Converts, Internet Activists, and Bishops Who Tweet by Brandon Vogt

To Light a Fire on the Earth by Bishop Robert Barron

ancient-bible15. Begin reading philosophy (and writings by philosophers).

Philosophy helps a person to see things through a “sane” lens. That is, philosophy helps the thinker to see the world as it really is, with logical clarity. By thinking clearly and logically, an apologist can hear arguments and determine whether they are sound or not, and can (even more importantly) make sound arguments himself. This is an essential quality of a good apologist.

To start your reading in the philosophy genre, I recommend reading Dr. Peter Kreeft. Which books? All of them.

You may want to start with:

Fundamentals of the Faith: Essays in Christian Apologetics

Jacob’s Ladder: Ten Steps To Truth

Between Heaven and Hell: A Dialog Somewhere Beyond Death With JFK, C.S. Lewis and Aldous Huxley

The Philosophy of Tolkien: The Worldview Behind the Lord of the Rings (First you should read The Lord of the Rings trilogy. If this is not yet on your bookshelf, shame on you.)

Another philosopher —and one who profoundly influenced Kreeft — whose works should permeate your lifetime reading is the Oxford atheist-turned-Christian, C.S Lewis. For the beginning apologist, I especially recommend Mere Christianity and The Abolition of Man as your launching point.

For an introduction to Lewis’ philosophy and apologetics, read Richard Purtill’s C.S. Lewis’ Case for The Christian Faith and Kreeft’s C.S. Lewis For The Third Milennium.

I also recommend introducing yourself to the work of two esteemed Christian philosophers: Drs. Ed Feser and William Lane Craig. Begin with Feser’s The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism and Craig’s On Guard: Defending Your Faith With Reason And Precision. Once you’ve read those, read Feser’s Five Proofs for the Existence of God and Craig’s Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics.

For a classic work of philosophy, start with The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius.

For insightful commentaries, both critical and fair, that discuss the interrelationship between medieval and modern philosophy, read Etienne Gilson’s The Unity of Philosophical Experience and Ralph McInerny’s Characters in Search of Their Author.

You will also want to get acquainted with the medieval heavyweight, St. Thomas Aquinas. To get started, I recommend getting a copy of the St. Thomas’s great Summa Theologiae. Get A Summa of the Summa by Peter Kreeft (A Shorter Summa is also available).

Then I recommend starting with any/all of these:

The One Minute Aquinas by Kevin Vost

Thomas Aquinas: Spiritual Master by Bishop Robert Barron

Aquinas: A Beginner’s Guide by Ed Feser

The Thought of Thomas Aquinas by Brian Davies

St. Thomas Aquinas: The Dumb Ox by G.K. Chesterton

Guide to Thomas Aquinas by Josef Pieper

St. Thomas Aquinas by Ralph McInerny

6. Begin steeping yourself in salvation history.

As I have already said, you must read your Bible—Old Testament and New Testament—every day. But the following books will make the entire Bible come alive for you in a way you could never anticipate.

I especially recommend for starters:

A Father Who Keeps His Promises by Scott Hahn

Making Senses Out of Scripture: Reading the Bible as the First Christians Did by Mark Shea

7.  Begin reading Frank Sheed’s stuff.

Francis J. Sheed, the great English soap-box orator, apologist, and founder of Sheed & Ward Publishing, is as good as Catholic teachers in print come. For the best popular introduction to Catholic theology, read the following four books in order:

I. A Map Of Life

II. Theology For Beginners

III. Theology And Sanity

IV. Society And Sanity

8. Get to know the arguments of today’s best Catholic apologists.

Read the writings of Karl Keating, Patrick Madrid, Karlo Broussard, Trent Horn, Tim Staples, and Steve Ray to name a few. You may want to start with:

Catholicism by Bishop Robert Barron

Where Is That In The Bible? by Patrick Madrid

Prepare the Way by Karlo Broussard

Why We’re Catholic by Trent Horn

The Case for Catholicism by Trent Horn

The Protestant’s Dilemma by Devin Rose

Catholicism and Fundamentalism by Karl Keating

I also highly recommend the Catholic Answers 20 Answers series. This series covers a wide range of topics, ranging from abortion to the papacy, with each booklet authored by one of the Church’s leading apologists.

9. Begin reading the early Church Fathers.

This will be one of the most important parts of your study. When disagreements arise regarding biblical interpretation, we can test these things as St. Paul exhorted us to (1 Thess. 5:21) by turning to the writings of the earliest Christian leaders who were, as is evident in their writings, undeniably and unambiguously Catholic.

To get started, I recommend:

The Fathers Know Best by Jimmy Akin

Church Fathers: From Clement of Rome to Augustine by Pope Benedict XVI

Catholicism: Christ and the Common Destiny of Man by Henri De Lubac

The Fathers of the Church: An Introduction to the First Christian Teachers by Mike Aquilina

Early Christian Writings: The Apostolic Fathers by Penguin Classics

Why Is That In Tradition? by Patrick Madrid

10. Focus your reading on the “big issues”.

With Protestants, it’s Mary and the saints, the Eucharist, Salvation and the question of authority are the place to start.

Here are some recommendations to get you started:

Hail Holy Queen by Scott Hahn

Refuting the Attack on Mary by Father Matteo

Behold Your Mother by Tim Staples

Any Friend Of God Is A Friend Of Mine by Patrick Madrid

Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist by Brant Pitre

This is My Body: An Evangelical Discovers the Real Presence by Mark Shea

The Drama Of Salvation by Jimmy Akin

By What Authority? An Evangelical Discovers Catholic Tradition by Mark Shea

Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger by Gary Michuta

Where We Got The Bible: Our Debt To The Catholic Church by Rev. Henry G. Graham

Pope Fiction by Patrick Madrid

Jesus, Peter and the Keys by Butler, Dahlgren and Hess

catholic book rosary11. Go deeper with the Mass.

At the centre of our faith as Catholics is the Holy Mass. As an apologist defending Catholicism, you will need to know the Mass and the common objections against it.

For reading I recommend:

Mass Revision by Jimmy Akin

The Lamb’s Supper by Scott Hahn

The Mass of the Early Christians by Mike Aquilina

12. Begin learning the real facts about Church history.

Our society is awfully confused about historical events such as the Crusades, the Inquisition and the Reformation, for example, and what really happened there. There has never been a more necessary time for Catholics to brush up on their historical facts regarding these significant events in Church history.

To get started, I recommend:

The Real Story of Catholic History: Answering Twenty Centuries of Anti-Catholic Myths by Steve Weidenkopf

The Glory of the Crusades by Steve Weidenkopf

Seven Lies About Catholic History by Diane Moczar

How The Catholic Church Built Western Civilization by Thomas E. Woods

Inquisition by Edward Peters

13. Read up on Catholic social teachings and how to defend them.

For a general overview from a philosophical and theological perspective I would point back to Society and Sanity by Frank Sheed. IAlso, A Refutation Of Moral Relativism by Peter Kreeft and Relativism: Feet Firlmly Planted in Mid-Air by Francis Beckwith and Greg Koukl.

Also to get you started in this vast area:

Persuasive Pro Life: How to Talk About Our Culture’s Toughest Issue by Trent Horn

Theology of the Body for Beginners by Christopher West

Good News About Sex And Marriage: Answers To Your Honest Questions by Christopher West

What Is Marriage?: Man and Woman: A Defense by Sherif Girgis, Ryan Anderson & Robert George

The Seven Big Myths about the Catholic Church: Distinguishing Fact from Fiction about Catholicism by Chris Kaczor

The Unaborted Socrates by Peter Kreeft

If You Really Loved Me by Jason Evert

Delivered by Matt Fradd

Sex Au Naturel by Patrick Coffin

Humane Vitae by Blessed Pope Paul VI (free online version)

14. Begin learning how to handle common objections against Christianity and/or the existence of God.Reasonable Catholic: Matt Nelson

First, get Answering Atheism: How to Make the Case for God with Logic and Charity by Trent Horn and Ed Feser’s Five Proofs of the Existence of God.

Then get Brant Pitre’s The Case for Jesus: The Biblical and Historical Case for Christ.

This is a vast area with many sub-groups of recommended reading. I will recommend some big titles that I think are really helpful for getting started in the area of Christian apologetics (in no particular order):

Making Sense Out Of Suffering by Peter Kreeft

Handbook of Catholic Apologetics by Peter Kreeft and Ron Tacelli

Christianity For Modern Pagans by Peter Kreeft

The Godless Delusion by Patrick Madrid and Ken Hensley

On Guard: Defending Your Faith With Reason And Precision by William Lane Craig (see #5)

God?: A Debate between a Christian and an Atheist by William Lane Craig

The Case For The Resurrection of Jesus by Gary Habermas and Michael Licona

The Resurrection of the Son of God by N.T. Wright

New Proofs For The Existence Of God by Fr. Robert Spitzer

The Historical Reliability of the Gospels by Craig Blomberg

Faith and Certitude: Can We Be Sure Of The Things That Matter Most To Us? by Fr. Thomas Dubay

The Evidential Power Of Beauty: Science And Theology Meet by Fr. Thomas Dubay

When Mormons Call: Answering Mormon Missionaries At Your Door by Isaiah Bennett

Answering Jehovah’s Witnesses by Jason Evert

For an even more complete list of great recommendations in the area of Christian apologetics, go to

15. Start getting to know the great British apologists.

G.K. Chesterton, Arnold Lunn, Frank Sheed, Maisie Ward, Hilair Belloc, Blessed John Cardinal Henry Newman and C.S. Lewis to name a few. These folks are articulate, intelligent and a force to be reckoned with. Their writings are a challenge at first but stick with them; suddenly and without warning they seem to burst into life leaving you begging for more. These people and their writings make it exciting to be an apologist (and, especially, a Christian!).

To get started, try:

Orthodoxy by G.K Chesterton

The Everlasting Man by G.K. Chesterton

Miracles by C.S. Lewis

Apologia Pro Vita Sua by John Cardinal Henry Newman

An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine by John Cardinal Henry Newman

The Third Day by Arnold Lunn

Also, you can check out the Word on Fire Classics here.


For more book recommendations, check out:

A “Back to Sanity” Book List

C.S. Lewis for Beginners: A Guide