What constitutes a Catholic book? This is the question I asked myself when choosing today's entry, One Hundred Great Catholic Books: From the Early Centuries to the Present (BlueBridge, 240 pages, $16).
Don Brophy, who is former managing editor for the Catholic book publisher Paulist Press, has put together this collection, which begins with the Desert Fathers' Sayings and Stories and ends with Paul Elie's The Life You Save May Be Your Own...
In between, in chronological order of publication, are works of fiction, biography, spirituality (duh), history, poetry and mystical writings.
Brophy acknowledges that his list is somewhat arbitrary:
"This volume names one hundred books that have nourished Catholic Christians and many other seekers over the centuries," he writes in the book's introduction. "There is no claim being made that these are the one hundred 'best' books or the one hundred 'most important' Catholic books."
He then goes on to mention that the majority of the books are those whose authors are Catholic, because "people are Catholic, books are not."
Without further ado, here are a few titles you might expect:
Bonaventure's The Soul's Journey Into God
Dante's The Divine Comedy
Ignatius Loyola's Spiritual Exercises
Pope John XXIII's Journal of a Soul
Helen Prejean's Dead Man Walking
And a few you might not expect:
Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales
Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness
Graham Greene's The End of the Affair
Tolkien's Lord of the Rings
Though I'm not sure the content lives up to the title — some of his reasonings and interpretations didn't convince me — it's breezy reading, and educational.