Memorial Day marked the unofficial start to summer across the United States, so it’s the perfect time to put together a CatholicsRead summer reading list.
This is my own personal summer reading list, a look at what you’d find stacked on my bedside table or in my travel bag. I drew up this list from all of the titles that have appeared on CatholicsRead since August 2021. This is a completely unscientific and totally subjective list of recommendations, and a glimpse into my “why” for choosing them.
Let’s start with the “big” topics impacting our Church and our world.
Racism is a topic that has been at the front of my mind for some years now, and I feel drawn to go deeper. Though the summer of George Floyd fueled intense interest in racism in America, both past and present, the bit of distance that time has afforded us has cultivated a deeper hunger in me to understand racism in our world and our Church.
Two books make my list: Recollecting America’s Original Sin: A Pilgrimage of Race and Grace by Alison M. Benders from Liturgical Press, which focuses on anti-black racism, and Ave Maria Press’s A White Catholic’s Guide to Racism and Privilege, by Daniel P. Horan, O.F.M. I am sinful. I am a white Catholic and relatively privileged. I expect to see myself in both books—and hope to see a path of conversion, too.
As a Catholic “lifer”—born, raised, educated, employed—Church issues fascinate me, especially when it comes to leadership. I am ready to dive into Massimo Borghesi’s Catholic Discordance, published by Liturgical Press. I have watched the growth of neoconservatism and witnessed the clash with Pope Francis’ “field hospital” approach. I am intrigued to read another renowned author’s perspective on this.
The next two titles reflect the reality of where I am in my life, accompanying aging parents in these later and potential last years of their lives. As I muddle through this, it brings a sigh of relief to read the understanding words of author Noreen Madden McInnes, who has gone through the same thing, in Keep at It, Riley! Accompanying My Father Through Death into Life from New City Press. This will be an early summer read as I anticipate and prepare for our annual trip to spend time with my family later this summer.
Since the start of CatholicsRead in August, I have been fascinated with the amazing array of topics covered in Catholic children’s books. The next title appeals to the child in me that still loves metaphor and story, How Grandfather Tree Forgot His Stories from Paulist Press. This beautiful storybook, written by Lorenza Farina and illustrated by Manuela Simoncelli, captures the loving care of the young trees who tell back to Grandfather Tree the stories he gave to them. My copy will eventually find its way to my grand niece and nephew to help them as their older relatives age.
I confess: at least once a year, I watch the four-part, PBS miniseries version of “Pride and Prejudice” with Colin Firth. I am a committed Jane Austen fan, so, no surprise, Jane Austen’s Genius Guide to Life by Haley Stewart and publisher Ave Maria Press has a reserved place of honor in my summer reading stack.
My last two choices reflect my undying need to believe in hope and redemption. Thomas Vozzo’s The Homeboy Way from Loyola Press and Christy Wilkens’s Awakening at Lourdes from Ave Maria Press are the dose of medicine that my sometimes frustrated soul needs. Don’t we all need reminders of the incredible power of God when we are tempted to dwell on God’s apparent absence?
There’s a little window into my reading list for the next few months. If any of these capture your interest as they did mine, read it! Or, if you know someone who might benefit from a particular selection, buy a copy and send it to them. Summer is a good time for feeding the soul—yours and others. Enjoy!
Therese Brown is the Executive Director of the Association of Catholic Publishers. She holds a master of arts degree in youth and liturgy from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. She previously served as senior marketing specialist at United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Publishing Office. She is the author of Graced Moments: Prayer Services for the Lives of Teens (World Library Publications). She resides in the Baltimore area.