It all started around the beginning of January when I wanted to do some planning for my reading for the year. I’d been pretty feckless lately, reading this and that with no clear goal in mind. The problem was, I was certain I’d forgotten the titles of some books that were good, i.e. classics in one way or another, and so I began looking for reading lists to serve as a reminder of good titles I should consider in my plan.
Of course, the first place I went was the web. The results were somewhat limited; my searches revealed two primary sources for listings of good Catholic books, Fr. C. John McCloskey’s Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan and Fr. John Hardon’s list by the same name. There are also partial lists of good books made up by Fr. Schall but these are quite limited, probably for copyright reasons.
The problem with the first two lists is, perhaps of necessity, they are very long, perhaps containing more books than I could read in the next 5 years, much less the next year. Also, to my mind, they contain some unusual choices, omitting some I thought truly deserved a place and including others that I thought didn’t. Those in the latter category appear mostly on Fr. John McCloskey’s list especially and were of very recent vintage. I thought those were excluded because I wanted a list of classics, books that have stood the test of time, and books that are less than 10 or 15 years old can’t claim to have met that test.
In the end, I’ve taken those two lists and modified them to come with the initial books on my Classic Catholic Reading List page. I’ve been working on this for a while and really struggling with what has turned out to be a sisyphian task of whittling them down to no more than 20 or 25 key titles. I’m not there yet, by any means, but in the interest of having something to work with I have the list presented on the first edition of the new page.
This is very much a work in progress, in terms of the length of the list, books to be removed and books to be added, and the organization of it. In the end, I’d like to have a list of key books, classics, that any Catholic, any Christian, should be familiar with. If you have suggestions for books that should appear on the list, or feel strongly about any books now on the list which you think shouldn’t be, I’d be very happy to hear from you. This should be, to some extent at least, a collaborative project.