A wish list panic attack

June 23, 2007 | 21 comments

Do you ever have a wish list panic attack?

Sometimes when I look through my wish list at Amazon I have this panic-stricken moment of, “I CANNOT DIE UNTIL I HAVE READ EVERY ONE OF THESE 298 BOOKS!” I’m having one of those moments right now.

I’m about to finish up the last of a stack of books we got earlier this year, and it’s finally time to order some new ones. But, looking through my Wish List, I just don’t even know where to start. It’s so long, and they all look so good!

I’m definitely going to get Hold on to Your Kids by Gordon Neufeld because regular commentor Steve G. raves about it, and because it fits in well with my recent decision to homeschool. But what else? Assuming I can find some good deals on used copies, I’d like to get another couple of books.

So what should I read next? Below is a selection of the books from my main list that I have ranked “highest priority”. (I know, it’s ridiculously long, but I just couldn’t cut anything out.) Has anyone read or heard good things about any of these? Is there something on there that I simply must drop everything and read right now? Also, for those of you who are also looking for good stuff to read, all the books on this list come highly recommended from people whose opinions I respect (you may recognize some from some of the book memes that were going around recently).

Tell me what to read next! Here are the candidates:

Deep Conversion/ Deep Prayer by Thomas Dubay

Architects of the Culture of Death by Donald De Marco, Benjamin D. Wiker

An Infinity of Little Hours: Five Young Men and Their Trial of Faith in the Western World’s Most Austere Monastic Order by Nancy Klein Maguire

Rosary: Mysteries, Meditations, and the Telling of the Beads by Kevin Orlin Johnson

The Hiding Place (Corrie Ten Boom Library) by John Sherrill

In My Father’s House by Corrie Ten Boom

The How-To Book of Catholic Devotions: Everything You Need to Know but No One Ever Taught You by Mike Aquilina

Controversies: High-Level Catholic Apologetics by Karl Keating

Hail, Holy Queen: The Mother of God in the Word of God by Scott Hahn

Love and Responsibility by Pope John Paul II

The Way of a Pilgrim by Walter J. Ciszek

Sacrament of the Present Moment, The by Jean-P De Caussade

The Practice of the Presence of God, and The Spiritual Maxims by Brother Lawrence

Faith and Certitude by Thomas Dubay

Behold the Beauty of the Lord by Henri J. M. Nouwen

The Evidential Power of Beauty: Science and Theology Meet by Thomas Dubay

Mystics & Miracles: True Stories of Lives Touched by God by Bert Ghezzi

Our Lady Of Guadalupe: And The Conquest Of Darkness by Warren H. Carroll

Swear to God: The Promise and Power of the Sacraments by Scott Hahn

Introduction to the Devout Life by Francis De Sales

Four Witnesses: The Early Church in Her Own Words by Rod Bennett

Christianity for Modern Pagans: Pascal’s Pensees by Peter Kreeft

To Know Christ Jesus by F. J. Sheed

No Wonder They Call It the Real Presence: Lives Changed by Christ In Eucharistic Adoration by David Pearson

Modern Physics and Ancient Faith by Stephen M Barr

An Exorcist Tells His Story by Gabriele Amorth

Hostage to the Devil: The Possession and Exorcism of Five Contemporary Americans
by Malachi Martin

The Lamb’s Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth by Scott Hahn

Truth And Tolerance: Christian Belief And World Religions by Pope Benedict

The Mind on Fire: A Faith for the Skeptical and Indifferent by Blaise Pascal

My Life With the Saints by James Martin

Great Heresies by Hilaire Belloc

Stumbling Blocks or Stepping Stones: Spiritual Answers to Psychological Questions
by Benedict J. Groeschel

There are No Accidents: In All Things Trust in God by Benedict J. Groeschel


  1. Kate

    Wow, what a great list! I haven’t read most of those yet myself. I just bought a copy of Introduction to the Devout Life, which is one of the most accessible and yet challenging spiritual guides I’ve read yet. Love and Responsibility is a must-read if you want to understand the basis of JPII’s thinking about sex and marriage, but it is heavy, dense stuff. I would love to see the blog posts you would write while reading it though. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Adoro te Devote

    What a list!

    Here’s my advice…print the list out, take it with you to adoration, and pray about it. I still have books I bought when in panic mode, and I still haven’t read them because I ended up being drawn to something else…something that I ended up needing just at that time.

    So that’s my advice. Let the Holy Spirit be your guide, even in reading.

  3. Jeff Miller

    Well anything you list by Fr Dubay would be great.

    Introduction to the Devout Life by Francis De Sales should be a priority.

    To Know Christ Jesus by F. J. Sheed is such a great book it should certainly be at the top of the list along with anything he has written especially Theology and Sanity.

    My Life With the Saints by James Martin is another great read.

    Benedict J. Groeschel is always a good author and the book you mention is very useful.

    Though you list so many good authors that a priority list is difficult. Peter Kreeft and Scott Hahn are always worth reading.

    The book by Fr. Amorth is interesting, but he tends towards exaggeration. Hostage to the Devil
    by Malachi Martin is a interesting read, but the subject of exorcism while fascinating does not do much for the spiritual life.

    Though I am not a good one for suggestions on this subject because my own Amazon wish list grows logarithmically.

  4. Mahsheed


    Here are my suggestions regarding the few books I know about, hope they help.

    The Rosary book by Kevin Johnson, I find rather dry and looks and feels like a text book. It’s more like a reference book.

    The How to Book of Catholic Devotions is also a reference book, it’s not something that would be a “good read”.

    Scott Hahn books, only if you like his style. His writing is jam packed with information so I find it slow-going and not always easy to absorb.

    4 Witnesses, very good.

    To Know Jesus Christ, VERY GOOD.

    The exorcist books, very good reads, and scary.

    Thomas Dubay, if you like his writing style.

    Great Heresies–not bad but anything by GK Chesterton I’d prefer personally.


  5. Bekah

    Here’s my solution. Since my book budget is nil, I write up a list and give it to my librarian to request through interlibrary loan. Because books often come from completely different locations, the system orders my reading list for me. I read as they come. ๐Ÿ™‚ Now, if I read it, and simply must own it, then a title may find it’s way to my purchase list. But I’ve already got way more books than my current bookshelves can hold.

    You’ve got a great list there.

  6. beez


    I’m waiting for my copy of Deep Conversion/Deep Prayer while I read Prayer Primer by Thomas Dubay. It came highly recommended by a priest who is also Vicar for the Clergy!

  7. yofed

    I know none of these books… but there is a story that I liked, the memoirs of the daughter of a missionary couple…. “child of the jungle” by Sabine Kuegler… I was amazed at how that couple ended up doing their missionary job without even having to preach!

  8. Big Tex


    Maybe this is what you need, in light of your recent visitors and all.

  9. tb

    I’ll second the library idea… I’ve read just about everything our very limited county library carries.

    I do own several copies of “The Lamb’s Supper” which I purchase anytime I find it at the used book store so I can give it to RCIA participants who are interested.

  10. Paul

    I’m not personally familiar with any of these titles, but Kreeft is bound to be good — he has a skill for illustrating complex moral precepts in humorous and easy-to-understand ways, reminiscent of Lewis or Chesterton. Belloc as well is sure to be a treat, if you don’t mind circumlocutions, tangents, and a wide host of delightfully un-PC opinions from the author. But honestly, would it be worth reading at all otherwise? And of course, anything by a saint is sure to please and enlighten.

  11. SteveG

    To a word, I agree with Jeff’s assessment.

  12. Stephanie

    I loved The Lamb’s Supper, I read it right at the beginning of my conversion, and as a “bible only” Christian at the time, it absolutely knocked me off my feet and made me realize how biblical the mass is, and that it is truly a piece of Heaven on Earth.

    But it was one of those “just happened to be the perfect book at the perfect time” type things, too ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I’ve recently been ordered by a friend to drop everything I’m reading and read Pope Benedict’s Jesus of Nazareth IMMEDIATELY. She said it is just amazing.

  13. Amber

    Wow, what a list! I definitely second Hold On To Your Kids, btw – I keep meaning to write a review on that one. It is a fantastic book.

    As for the rest… well, I haven’t even heard of half of them! ๐Ÿ™‚ I think I need to take a look at some of these as well. My next book up is Jesus of Nazareth, and then I’ll be looking for something else too. I’ll keep this post in mind!

  14. Lindsay

    I’ve read maybe a third of those and was debating until I saw “Love and Responsibility” was on the list and because it’s my favorite book I have to root for it. It’s amazing.

    For a quicker read I liked “the Lamb’s supper”

  15. John Seymour

    I cannot offer any suggestions for your list, but thought I should let you know you have now doubled the length of mine.



  16. Ash

    Brother Lawrence. Everyone should read him. Short, devotional, not a big commitment on time, but it will change your view of doing the stuff of ordinary life. I re-read him every couple of years.

    I just found your blog and am really enjoying it!

  17. Emily (Laundry and Lullabies)

    Brother Lawrence is pretty awesome. I recommend that one.

    I don’t recommend Christianity for Modern Pagans: Pascal’s Pensees by Peter Kreeft. Rather, I’d suggest reading Pascal’s Pensees. Then if you think you need more explanation, read Kreeft’s book. I have read both, and I thought the Pensees themselves were better. It was a little jarring to try to read both Pensees AND Kreeft’s commentary intermingled.

    Also, for what it is worth, I didn’t like Way of the Pilgrim.

    Your list is full of what I call “hard books”. Do you ever read fluffy “for fun” fiction? ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Martin

    You couldn’t go wrong with any of those. I’ll ditto those who said “To Know Christ Jesus” by Frank Sheed. I read that years ago and am now 2/3rds the way to finishing it again.

    Sometime when you get through your current list, you really would appreciate Sheed’s “Theology and Sanity”.

  19. Darwin

    Not to be accused of friendly fire, but there are a couple of these I’d specifically suggest skipping, at least while you have so many other good things on your reading list to get through. I’d skip:

    Architects of the Culture of Death — I’ve read a fair amount of stuff by one of the authors (Wiker) and I haven’t been impressed with his thoroughness. His heart is very much in the right place, but he tends to focus on an overall moral story while brushing over a lot of the facts of the actual subject at hand. (And he’s enough of a generalist in the topics he’s tackled that I imagine it’s hard to actually be up on all of it.)

    Our Lady Of Guadalupe: And The Conquest Of Darkness — A lot of people I know really like Dr. Carroll’s writing, and I agree witht he importance of not falling to the belief that the conversion of the Americas was a bad thing, but it’s easy to get too reactionary when countering a prevailing view.

    Hostage to the Devil: The Possession and Exorcism of Five Contemporary Americans — Others might disagree, but I think Martin got rather flakey after a while, and I tend to see stories of possession and exorcism as stuff that’s best left well enough alone. It’s not that I doubt that such things happen occasionally, but rather that I think focusing on them too much can actually be an opening of sorts.

    The Evidential Power of Beauty: Science and Theology Meet — I read some excepts of this (I think I was asked to look at doing a review, though I didn’t in the end) and while it’s not bad, I’d recommend Barr’s book instead if you want to cover this topic, as he strikes me as much more solid in his science.

    On the more positive side, I’d suggest bumping the following to the top:

    Love and Responsibility by Pope John Paul II

    Introduction to the Devout Life by Francis De Sales

    The Lamb’s Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth by Scott Hahn

    Truth And Tolerance: Christian Belief And World Religions by Pope Benedict

  20. Travis

    Deep Conversion Deep Prayer is good. Brother Lawrence’s book should probably be done mostly for prayer and devotional, not just as something to “read through”.

    All of Scott Hahn’s books are good and must reads.

    I would prioritize it in the order that you feel you need to address.

    If you feel you would benefit most from a growth in your spiritual life, read Deep Conversion Deep Prayer. I actually need to re-read this one soon ๐Ÿ˜€

    If you feel you would benefit more from the apologetics, go for Hahn’s books.

    Also, I recently launched a new vlog called Catholic Tube. There is a channel on it for the “Singing Sisters” who do vlogs about Catholic Book reviews. Check it out if you have some time.

    In Christ,


  21. P

    Step #1 – read all things ever written by St. Francis de Sales

    Step #2 – do it again

    Step #3 – read other stuff

    St. Francis is the best spiritual writer of all time.

    I would also recommend Hostage to the Devil from your list. But that’s really just literary candy – fun to read, somewhat informative, but it isn’t going to advance your understanding of theology or your spiritual life any.

Connect With Me On Social Media or Explore My Site



The "THIS IS JEN" podcast is on Facebook & all podcast apps


- Subscribeย on iTunes or Google Play (audio)

- Get weekly bonus episodes on Patreon

- Sign up for my email list to be the first
to know about new tour dates