Do you want to read more in 2017? Do you want to broaden your Catholic perspective and read some authors that you might not pick for yourself? If so, I have a reading challenge to share with you guys: The 2017 Catholic Reading Challenge (which I shared on my blog a couple of weeks ago.) Here's the deal. There are 12 categories. I'm giving you the authors (with a few exceptions), and you get to pick the specific books. I have also included a mix of literary works and theology/spirituality. Oh, and by the way, you certainly don't need to be Catholic to enjoy this reading challenge.
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Here's the list:
A book by Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger)
Some heavy hitters would include Introduction to Christianity or Eschatology: Death and Eternal life, which a couple of priests have told me might be Benedict's best work. If you want to start small, his book on Marian theology, Daughter Zion, is a quick read.
A short story by Flannery O'Connor
O'Connor is a master at her craft. Her writing will shock you . . . but that's the point of her style. If you are new to her, you might enjoy a recent Fountains of Carrots podcast where Haley and Christy discuss "Why We Love Flannery O'Connor and Why You Should Too."
A novel by a Catholic author
A book by C. S. Lewis or G. K. Chesterton
Two quick points: (1) I almost gave both these men their own category...so if you want an extra challenge, read both! Orthodoxy and Mere Christianity make a lovely pair. (2) No, Lewis is not Catholic, but that is entirely irrelevant. You must read him, for he is wonderful.
A book by Scott Hahn
Hahn is an accessible theologian, gifted Bible scholar, and delightful teacher. He reads his own books on Audible too, which is how I recently read The Lamb's Supper.
A book by Bishop Robert Barron
Barron's Catholicism video series had a big impact on our journey to Catholicism, and he has a book by the same name. He has many great titles. My husband has been recommending his book on Thomas Aquinas to me.
A Catholic memoir or autobiography
Again, lots to choose from here. This could be anything from Augustine's Confessions or St. Therese's Story of a Soul to Fulton Sheen's Treasure in Clay or Thomas Merton's The Seven Storey Mountain. I'm going to read Dorothy Day's The Long Loneliness.
An encyclical from one of the last three popes (Francis, Benedict XVI, or John Paul II)
Obviously you are going to be educated and exhorted by reading any of these popes. However, it might be good advice to pick an encyclical from the pope you know least.
A book by one of the 33 Doctors of the Church
This is a pretty exclusive list, and these men and women have tremendously blessed the Church with their writing. Some might be easier to read than others, but all of them have contributed important things. Here again, you might want to pick an author you don't know very well.
Something written by one of the early Church Fathers
If you have no idea who to pick, then flip to the index of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and start looking up some names. You might get inspired when you discover what these Church Fathers have contributed to church doctrine and tradition.
A book on Catholic spirituality written more than 100 years ago
Catholicism has such a rich history of spiritual writing and practices, and we are often missing out on it because we don't read enough old books. One I would strongly recommend is Fr. De Caussade's classic Abandonment to Divine Providence; it is short and so very applicable to our lives today.
A book by a female saint
I included this category so that you don't miss out on some of the greats: Teresa of Avila, Catherine of Siena, Edith Stein, St. Therese, etc.
Okay, that's the list! Here's a printable of it, if you'd like. Please post some of your own recommendations for these categories in the comments.
From time to time throughout the year, I may be blogging on a book I'm reading from each of these categories; be sure that you are signed up for my emails so that you don't miss those posts. Happy reading in 2017!
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Be sure to check out our Book Notes archive.
Copyright 2017 Jessica Ptomey
About the Author
Jessica Ptomey is a Catholic convert, wife, mom, writer, communications scholar and professor, and homeschooler. She blogs at JessicaPtomey.com. She is the author of Home in the Church: Living an Embodied Catholic Faith, and her research in inter-faith dialogue has been published in the Journal of Communication and Religion (JCR). She is also the co-host, with her husband Mike, of The Catholic Reading Challenge podcast.