Bibliophiles, a question for you…

Leah Libresco asks, “… what’s the first book you’d recommend to someone on the other side to open up a conversation to get them to eventually switch teams?”

Ms. Libresco’s question is open to all religions affiliations but for the sake of my Papist sensibilities lets remain focused on Catholicism. And you only get to chose one. Also, I would be interested to know what the first book the converts and reverts read about the Church that sent them swimming the Tiber.

I’ll go first. I recommend…

Jesus wants you to buy this book

Fr. Robert Barron, Catholicism- A Journey to the Heart of the Faith

Why this one over, say, something written by Chesterton? I chose it for it’s simple clarity. He not only discusses all that is good and true, he delves into what is beautiful about the Church as well. This one book touches on all aspects of Catholicism; Mary, the sacraments, tradition, the saints, and prayer. It is impossible to read it and not have very clear insight into the Church and all She professes.

The very first Catholic book I read was “Why Do Catholics Do That“. I picked it up in the parish library and it seemed like the easiest and most straight forward thing on the shelves. I wanted to know why Catholics do some of the weird stuff they do and the title matched my curiosity. It was an easy read with basic information. Perfect for where I was in my understanding of Catholicism.

Your turn.

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  • Michael

    Saints Behaving Badly: The Cutthroats, Crooks, Trollops, Con Men, and Devil-Worshippers Who Became Saints to prove that being Catholic can be “fun”. Also I think some of the Fr. James Martin SJ books.

  • Peony Moss

    “Christianity for Modern Pagans”, Peter Kreeft’s edition and commentary of Pascal’s Pensées

  • Werner

    As a starter — C.S. Lewis’ “Mere Christianity” —     It can overcome some of the protestant upbringing reactions that many American’s have since it isn’t a Catholic-only book.  Since it only scratches the surface, then I’d move to other titles…but that is a different question 😉


  • Guenevere Eckert

    Hi! Local Heretic here! Not planning on swimming anywhere, but my other half is of the RC persuasion and we’ve been watching the dvd set of CATHOLICISM over the past few months. I very much enjoy it and Robert Barron is a fantastic speaker. I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for more information! ^_^

  • Andrew

    I think Rome Sweet Home by Scott and Kimberly Hahn is great to go along with a book like “why do catholics do that” Mostly because he speaks in an easy and clear way. 

  • Fuquay Steve

    Orthodoxy by Chesterton

  • Brian Walden

    Catholicism for Dummies. If you can get past the title it’s a great book, and if you can’t you probably don’t have the humility to hear the truth anyway.

  • Royston

    If it’s someone from a non-catholic Christian background, I go with ‘orthodoxy’ by Chesterton, or ‘the belief of Catholics’ by Ronald Knox (the later particularly if they have a slight knowledge of the classics). For people totally unfamiliar with the faith, some fiction like ‘the end of the affair’ by Greene can be a good subtle first hook, or something by Waugh like the ‘Sword of Honour’ trilogy, maybe even Brideshead. I think it should be something that makes them want to look into the church further of their own volition. This would be more aimed at a British target though

  • Fr Longenecker

    Wot! No books by Fr Longenecker? I’m so hurt.

    • OMG! The Gargoyle Code! I have 2 copies of this as a matter of fact. I’m going to let my dad read one copy and will note his reactions. But G.C. is definitely funny and not blatantly Catholic in a way that might offend the anti-Caths out there.  Perfect for covert conversions. 

  • Jeanette_martin

    I absolutely love this book, and the video series!  Great purchase!

  • KarenElissa

    “On Being Catholic” by Thomas Howard is one of my favorite recommendations.  It really shows the beauty and joy of being Catholic instead of some of the more apologetical type books which tend to turn me off.

    I think choosing  one book is hard though because it really depends on the person and situation.  One of the most important books for me was “Swimming with Scapulars” by Matthew Lickona because it was one of the first books I read and really felt hey, I can be a Catholic like that guy.  But it isn’t a book that is in any way related to conversion and probably won’t be “the” book for most people.

  • David_William

    Unfortunately, you ask for a choice…

    This (2012) is my Year of Christian Endeavour Reading (and yes, I spelled it Brit fashion — what got me started was 2011 being the 400th year of the KJV, and all the comments by modern millenial atheists about how hokey religion is.), so I have been immersing myself in as much as I can from Athanasius to Father Barron (for whom, God Bless — his work is amazing).  But, to the question.  And… you ask for only one (only, only).

    Ok, _The Seven Story Mountain_ by Thomas Merton.  Only because his journey went into so many places, it is possible that a great many folk could relate to his meanderings.

    Depending on the other person’s sensibilities, perhaps _The Imitation of Christ_, or Chesterton’s _The Everlasting Man_ (more substance than _Orthodoxy_).  Of course, for a good conversation starter, Sheed’s _Theology for Beginners_.

    This being the 21st Century, with shades of Buck Rogers, some people may not be into reading the old-fashoned codex, but might do YouTube, in which case, by all means direct them to Father Barron’s short (mostly less than 10 minutes) videos on all sort of pertinent topics (verryyy interesting, and very good!)

    (Surely, you can’t address “bibliophyles”, and expect only One answer [only, only] can you?)

  • Rome Sweet Home by Scott and Kimberly Hahn.  Scott Hahn’s conversion testimony on cassette tape was instrumental in my return to the Catholic Church.

  • Craig Callan

    I’m going way out and suggesting “A Canticle for Leibowitz” by Walter M. Miller. I reread it every few years, and am always impressed by its outlook on sin and the Christian response to it.  It’s funny and irrevent, in the right way, refusing to give reverence to worldly things. Sometimes you can do better with imagination than logic.

    • Excellent. One of my favorite all time books and one I revisited every year as well.