Our Favorite Books

Just in case we can't get to everything on the podcast!

Books About Jesus

  • Jesus: A Pilgrimage by Father James Martin — Part travelogue, part life of Jesus. Fr. Martin describes a pilgrimage he took to the Holy Land and, inspired by the holy sites he visits, writes in detail about the life of Jesus. (Scott)
  •  Jesus of Nazareth by Joseph Ratzinger (a.k.a. Pope Benedict XVI) — There are three parts to this: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration; Holy Week: From the Entrance Into Jerusalem To The Resurrection; and The Infancy Narrative. Pope Benedict wrote these to help him find Jesus' face and to help us fix our eyes firmly on the real Jesus shown in the Gospels. He takes us back to Scripture in order to show us Jesus Christ clearly, as well as providing much good material for meditation. (Scott/Julie)
  • The Lord by Romano Guardini —  A synthesis of the Gospel stories, Guardini explores the life and words of Jesus in the gospels with clarity and depth that often turns our view upside down to show the deep meaning of Jesus' words and actions. (Julie)
  • To Know Christ Jesus by Francis Sheed — Also a synthesis of the Gospel stories, looking at the life of our Lord as a whole in the context of his times and environment as well as of religion. Fresh and modern feeling despite being written in 1962. (Scott)
  • When the King Was Carpenter by Maria von Trapp (yes, the one The Sound of Music was about) — Unable to answer questions from her children about what Jesus ate for breakfast, von Trapp began asking priests and collecting books to find out about daily life for the Holy Family. She then wrote this account which, although simple, I find strangely riveting and inspirational. Available on the Kindle. (Julie)

Basics of Catholicism

  • A Biblical Walk Through the Mass by Edward Sri — For whatever reason, a piece of "common knowledge" among non-Catholics is that the Catholic Church isn't biblical or that the Bible is not that important to Catholics.  In this short book, Edward Sri shows us that Mass, the center of the Catholic faith, is as biblical as it is beautiful. (Scott)
  • Catholicism for Dummies by Rev. John Triglio, Rev. Kenneth Brighenti — This is more reliable than you might think when seeing the "Dummies" series label. It has the Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat (official declarations that a book is free of doctrinal or moral error). This is your go-to for any basic questions about Catholicism (including what Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat mean). (Julie)
  • How-To Book of Catholic Devotions, The by Mike Aquilina and Regis J. Flaherty — Often people have questions about the devotions that Catholics participate in, various ways that some choose to pray, and the items we often have around us. This book is an informative yet concise introduction to many of these practices, including rosaries, novenas, Holy Hours, fasting, and lots more. (Scott, Julie)
  • Letters to a Young Catholic by George Wiegel — This remarkable set of essays form a Catholic travelogue that act as George Wiegel's jumping off place for examining the beliefs that have shaped Catholicism for two thousand years. Both informative and inspiring, it examines the foundations of Catholic faith and explores the topics of grace, prayer, vocation, sin and forgiveness, suffering, and love. (Julie)
  • We Believe: A Survey of the Catholic Faith by Oscar Lukefahr — Like the subtitle says, this is a survey of the Catholic faith. It is very well written and full of references to the Catechism where an interested person can explore further.  I have given this book to many people. (Scott)

Commentaries on Scripture

  • A Catholic Introduction to the Bible: Old Testament by John Bergsma and Brent Pitre when reading the Old Testament, I look to this collection of introductions. It's very accessible and opens a great deal in each book. The chapters look at the books themselves from a historical and cultural perspective and also look at how things in the Old Testament relate theologically to the New. (Scott)
  • Ancient Christian Commentary on ScriptureThis series is a recent discovery for me. I own only two volumes, both on the Gospel of John. The Ancient Christian Commentary contains the results of a deep look and a "vast array of writings from the church fathers" for their comments on Scripture. The books are beautiful, both physically and in how the text is presented. (Scott)
  •  The Hebrew Bible by Robert Alter — Alter, an acclaimed Hebrew linguist and professor, wanted a version that was truer to the original literary style in Hebrew. The commentary is his, often amended by another knowledgeable source which is often rabbinical.  This translation and commentaries bring the Old Testament alive in a new way. (Julie)
  • Ignatius Study Bible by Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch - it may be a stretch calling this a "commentary", but I've spent a lot of time with this Bible the past few years. The footnotes are at times extensive, with specific notes on content and unity of Scripture, living tradition, and "analogy of faith", which is a focus on "how the mysteries of our faith unlock and explain one another". At this writing, the New Testament and most of the Old Testament is complete. (Scott)
  • Navarre Bible — The Navarre commentaries are consistently excellent and have a lot of thoughts from Church Fathers, Popes, saints, and the Catechism. They add wisdom from the 2,000 years of Church contemplation on scripture since Jesus. They are scholarly yet readable and were the first "deeper" commentaries I ever used. (Julie)
  • NIV Application Commentary — a   series which is very good at explaining the ancient context and then showing how to apply it to modern life. It can go deep but is aimed at the regular person's study. It is a Protestant study but they just focus on study without wasting time worrying about denominations. (Julie)


  1. I just got the Sheed book for Christmas, it will be Lenten reading this year. I often read The Sadness of Christ by Thomas More, a reflection on Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, for Lent.

    1. I'm going to have to look for the More reflection!