Jen’s community bulletin board

January 2, 2011 | 37 comments

I am drowning in requests to mention stuff on my blog. I get at least one email per day that ask me to link to something, and my P.O. box is often packed with books. I’ve always been torn about this because a lot of the things people send me are really great and I’d love to give them a plug…but there’s no way I could do a post about every single one.

So I’m going to try something new: below I’ll post a list of some of the best stuff people have sent me recently. If it’s helpful to others, I may do it more regularly, like once a month or once a quarter. Here we go!


~ 1 ~

I had the pleasure of receiving a copy of the new book Breakfast with the Pope by Susan Vigilante. Though I haven’t read the whole thing yet, I did skim it, and it looks delightful. Vigilante’s voice is honest and authentic as she talks about her struggles with infertility, feelings of failure, unrealized dreams and chronicles the events that led to her having breakfast with Pope John Paul II. It’s on my list to read as soon as I get a chance.

~ 2 ~

Theresa Doyle-Nelson let me know about her book Saints of the Bible: Exploring Scripture with Holy Men and Women. Especially on the heels of my work on the Saint Generator, this looks like a fantastic book. In it she chronicles the lives of saints who are specifically mentioned in Scripture. It gets great reviews on Amazon, and I have a feeling that it’ll be a welcome addition to our family library.

~ 3 ~

If you’ve read Abbot Joseph’s blog, you know that any book he writes is going to be fantastic. So I can’t wait to dig into his latest work, A Place Prepared by God: Through the Virgin Mary, the New Eve, Paradise Will Not Fail Twice. From the product description:

Mary is offered to us by God not merely for our admiration or veneration, but as a real, living Mother with whom we can personally relate, in whose loving company we can walk on the way to the Kingdom of Heaven. Through these pages, you will discover a Woman whom you have perhaps not sufficiently understood before, who shines through the pages of Scripture and the whole experience of the Church, and who invites you to a richer spiritual life.

I need to hurry through my current reads so that I can get to this one as soon as possible!

~ 4 ~

Here’s a gem that’s both inspiring and informative: Set Free to Love: Lives Changed by the Theology of the Body by Marcel Lejeune (whose excellent blog is here). As a convert on TOB-related issues (abortion, contraception, etc.) I was delighted to see this book. I think that the format, a series of individual personal essays, is perfect for making the subject personal and accessible. And it doesn’t shy away from the tough issues: its writers talk candidly about personal struggles with everything from pornography, same-sex attraction, abortion, celibacy and the trials of married life. A really excellent book.

~ 5 ~

A reader sent me a copy of Kimberlee Conway Ireton’s book, The Circle of Seasons: Meeting God in the Church Year. I admit that at first I skipped over it: I’d received a lot of other books that week, and already have quite a few books about celebrating the Church year. However, when I had a moment to flip through this one, I was very impressed. Its part memoir, part how-to format makes it an enjoyable book to read for entertainment over a cup of tea. Also, I’m pretty sure the author is not Catholic, Anglican or Orthodox, so this might be a good intro to the Liturgical Year for Christians from denominations that do not traditionally observe it.

~ 6 ~

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not big on fiction, but John Eklund’s book The Third Testament does look interesting. It’s the story of a widower who ends up in a web of intrigue after being called in a dream to record the next testament of the Bible. Author Eklund is a faithful Christian (he clarifies in an attached interview that he does not think there really could be a Third Testament as the canons are closed), but wrote the book to convey a rich story with themes about the dangers of secularization that will strengthen believers in their faith. Sounds intriguing!

~ 7 ~

“It seems like you and your readers are interested in discernment, ” Chris Pham of Catholic TV writes. Yes! So what does he have for us? A free online TV series on discernment (scroll down to see a list of all the episodes). It’s led by Fr. Tim Gallagher, author of Discerning the Will of God. I’ve only had a moment to glance at some of the videos, but I’ll definitely be back to watch them in full. What an excellent resource!

~ 8 ~

Here’s a blog to add to your reading list: the Hendrick family’s stories of living in Haiti. I first heard about it from one of my readers, and I’ve been eagerly reading their archives ever since. Check out this post and this post to see what kind of content you can expect from their blog. Challenging. Touching. Eye-opening. Great stuff.

~ 9 ~

This Christmas I got some of my gifts from Christian mom Melanie Gillespie of Trendy Traditions, and I was once again blown away by the quality of her products. The heavy, glistening rosary I got for a family friend included custom beading with her name, and a handy card with the Mysteries of the Rosary on it. From the details in the jewelry itself to the careful packaging, you can feel the love Melanie puts into each product. If you’re looking for a religious gift, I sincerely recommend Trendy Traditions.

~ 10 ~

I originally met the folks at Faith Calendars after writing them to tell them how much I love their Catholic day planners, and we’ve been in touch ever since then. This year they were kind enough to send me the gift of a 2011 day calendar. It is perfect for my needs as a busy mom. (You should see my one from last year — every page is filled.) I loooove this little calendar, and highly recommend it if you’re in need of a weekly calendar/planner that incorporates the Faith into each day.


I have tons of other books and links waiting in the wings, but I’ll stop for now so the list doesn’t get too overwhelming. What do you think? Is this sort of thing useful/helpful?


  1. Em the luddite

    Thanks for this post, Jen! As a baby Catholic still (just came into the Church at Pentecost), it’s quite helpful for me to get an exposure to a broad range of resources and conversations out there… and as a graduate student this is much more approachable than full reviews would be. I’m all for you doing posts like this from time to time.

    • Defend Us In Battle

      I agree… I like lists a ton! I would rather have a smattering of things rather than an extensive review. Some things need a review, like a specific product, but lists in general do what they need to:

      Introduce you to something new.
      Give you a quick review.
      Expose you to something you might not have time to read about, but can visit when convenient.

  2. Dorian Speed

    Yes, I like this format – lots of mini-reviews in one post.

    I just got the LeJeune book and am going to review it for Tiber River. It really looks excellent.

    I go back and forth on the paper-versus-digital planner question. I love my new Droid but I also need something I can scribble notes on. Would be interested to hear how others use smartphones, etc. in conjunction with paper planners. The one you have recommended is calling to me…

  3. Lily

    Love it! Fr. Tim Gallagher’s series looks like exactly what I’ve been waiting for!

  4. Judy @ Learning To Let Go

    Useful and helpful–absolutely! In fact, what strikes me right now is that generally I have to read all over the Catholic blogosphere (sorry, I feel a little queasy using that term) to find the sorts of things you’re providing all in one place. Book possibilities, interesting blogs, useful items–yes, I’m up for all of that and whatever more comes along. Thanks, Jen!

  5. Tootie

    Yes! I always enjoy hearing about good books, blogs, etc.

  6. Candace

    I love this kind of post!! Keep them coming. 🙂

  7. Tammy

    I love this idea! Will be watching for more reviews of some of the items you mention also.

  8. Leila

    I love this! What a great idea!! Thanks, Jen! (That discernment video series will be valuable to so many.)

  9. Maureen

    I love this idea and find most everything you post helpful. BUT, I don’t want this to take away from your book writing because I plan to buy a copy for everyone I know once it is published!

  10. Lenetta

    Yup! Thanks!

  11. Judy

    I received Breakfast with the Pope from my daughter for Christmas and read it all over the weekend – very good!

    I also received (for my Kindle) Holy Ghosts, which I believe was recommended on Aggie Catholics. Pretty creepy!! Apparently true and written by a practicing and devout Catholic.

    Thanks for the links to discernment series (I sent the link to my Bible Study friends) and Trendy Traditions. I recently learned my best friend from high school and her husband are in RCIA and have enrolled their son in CCD!

    I hope you have a wonderful 2011.

  12. Theresa in Alberta

    YES!!! I enjoy it when good blogs like yours recommend other blogs or books. I have now seen Breakfast with the Pope book recommened on a couple of catholic blogs, and I have now caved and have ordered it. If you are browsing thru books, I keep “tripping” over another one call “Unplanned” by Abby Johnson who is a former executive of planned parenthood. so I haved just ordered both…..from Amazon. Happy new year to me eh 🙂

    • David Bereit

      I just finished reading a pre-release copy of Abby Johnson’s book, “Unplanned,” and it is stunning! Her conversion story — from abortion industry insider to pro-life advocate — is filled with hope and compassion. I think this is the best book of the new year!

  13. Mary

    I’d like to see this kind of list again; I like the format, also. Keep it simple and keep it coming! Thank you and happy new year!

  14. Meredith

    Great idea!

    At least you’ll have lots of reading for all those doctor visits and sleepless nights ahead–with 3 visits a week, I’m reading more than I have the last 3 years!

  15. Rachel

    Yes, very useful!

  16. Sonya

    Yes, definitely love the list. I am not Catholic (Anglican in fact), but I find great info and insight on your blog (my kids particularly love the scorpionator posts – no scorpions where we live). I read across the range of Christian denominations and have found that you and I have similar tastes and perspectives on many things. Keep the lists coming!

    P.S. Looking forward to your book too!

  17. Martha

    Thank you so much. I love the idea.

  18. Kaitlin @ More Like Mary

    I like this!

    I bought a rosary from Trendy Traditions for a gift this year. It was beautiful!

  19. glamazini

    Thanks for this post, what a great idea to get the pressure off of posting ALL the things bloggers are sent. Thanks for sharing the jewelry link 🙂

  20. Susan Haggerty

    Fabulous idea–Love It!

  21. Marcelina

    I am so thankful to God that I some how stumbled upon your BLOG..I like this idea of great catholic books, links, jewelry etc. make it a monthly thing ..

  22. Susan Vigilante

    Thanks so much for the kind words about “Breakfast with the Pope.” I cannot tell you what it means to me that people are enjoying it so much!

    -Susan V.

  23. Marie

    Very helpful! Thank you and keep ’em coming!

  24. Sister Lynn

    Super helpful! I have noted 2 books I want to read and shared the link to the videos with 2 others! Great idea!

  25. priest's wife

    yay! More books to read!

  26. Lisa

    Hi Jen,
    This post has been exceptional. While your writings have frequently pointed me in the direction of resources that have supported and strengthened my (questioning, cradle) Catholic faith, the series on Discernment is literally the answer to fervent prayer for…help with discernment. Earlier, I was “matched” with St. Ignatius using the Saint Finder. One episode down, and I have a feeling this will be quite a journey.
    Keep up the great, inspired work.

  27. Marcel LeJeune

    Jen – thanks for the plug for my book. I am glad you enjoyed it.

  28. Carolina

    Very helpful! Thanks! I just order the Saints of the Bible book…only 6 more left!

  29. Kimberlee Conway Ireton

    Hi Jen,

    Thanks so much for highlighting and recommending my book, The Circle of Seasons, on your blog. I hope you get a chance to read more of it over a few more cups of tea. And you’re right: I’m not Catholic, Orthodox, or Anglican. I worship at a Presbyterian church, which I guess makes me Presbyterian (sort of).

    Warm wishes for the new year,
    Kimberlee Conway Ireton

  30. Karen

    Yes, this is very helpful!! Please continue to do it. I am an avid reader and always have a tone of books waiting in the wings but that doesn’t stop me from looking for more great reading material. Thank you for squeezing this into your already overloaded schedule. You have my admiration and prayers!!

  31. Elizabeth

    Yes, this is helpful! Please continue!

  32. Melanie

    Many thanks for including me on your list! And I love my Catholic day planner too! The book recommendations are very helpful, a great post all-around.

  33. Amie Chan

    Thanks so much for highlighting and recommending my book, The Circle of Seasons, on your blog. I just got the LeJeune book and am going to review it for Tiber River.

  34. Kendra Farrell

    You have my admiration and prayers!! Keep it simple and keep it coming! Love it!

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