Recommendations for the Vacation Book Bag

What reading material do you like to pack in your bag for the beach, the mountains, or the pool? Serious or light? A little of both? Here are some suggestions no matter what your taste. First for the serious reader who likes nonfiction and enjoys reading about the Church.

American Church: The Remarkable Rise, Meteoric Fall, and Uncertain Future of Catholicism in America by Russell Shaw

If you ever wonder how we got to the situation we’re in today in the United States with a culture gone so mad it seems bent on suicide; where even Catholics, who should be an anchor of truth, seem perfectly comfortable with moral evils that would have been unthinkable 75 years ago, this book explains it. Shaw paints a serious picture of Catholic America in decline, but in the final chapter, “Faith of Our Fathers” offers strategies for “creating a new Catholic subculture.” Despair is not an option and Shaw offers hope and a call to action. “Believing, practicing Catholics” are the key to Church renewal. Paperback: $14.41 at Ignatius Press.

Robert Cardinal Sarah: God or Nothing - A Conversation on Faith with Nicolas Diat

Do you like biography? This autobiographical interview gives the reader an up close and personal look at one of the most important men in the Church today. Prior to the papal conclave that elected Pope Francis, Cardinal Robert Sarah’s name was on the short list of papabili. He was a sane voice at the two Synods on the Family. Nicolas Diat describes his experience interviewing the cardinal as the “obvious fact of being with a man of God…an extraordinary spiritual master.” This is a rags to riches story about a child from Guinea raised in a tiny village in the African bush who, when named bishop by Paul VI, was the youngest in the world. Today, head of the Congregation for Divine Worship, he is an important shepherd whom Catholics should know. Reading his own words about his upbringing in poverty and his call to serve God is an inspiring tale of humility and sacrifice. Paperback $15.26 at Ignatius Press.

If you prefer fiction for those lazy days, here are a few suggestions – one for adults and another for young readers:

The Masterful Monk by Owen Francis Dudley, from his series on Human Happiness. Originally published in 1929, this exciting novel follows a young disaffected Catholic socialite, Beauty, captivated by a handsome atheist who takes London by storm with his message of free love and human independence from the moral law. The story explores the battle between good and evil, reason and passion, and the redemptive value of suffering. Fr. John Hardon recommends Dudley’s books in his Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan. The five-volume hardcover reprint of the series (ultimately nine volumes) is available at St. Bonaventure Books for only $35 – worth every penny!

Stories of the Child Jesus from Many Lands by A. Fowler Lutz, an abridged version of an 1895 classic. These charming morality stories will hold your child spellbound whether read independently or as read-aloud bedtime stories. Perfect for the First Communicant, even adults will enjoy these tales. Sophia Institute Press – Paperback, on sale for $5, a great gift for children and grandchildren.

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