Recommended Reading

Oftentimes, at the end of Veritatis Praeco articles, there are a few books, encyclicals, or articles recommended for further reading.  Here you will find a list of the absolute essentials, the best of the best, the books that not only every Catholic, but every individual ought to read.  Where possible, links will be provided to more information or to a place from which you may purchase these books.  Some of these books are for the more intense, some for the casual reader; but, as our dear friend Mortimer J. Adler posthumously reminds us, no one should ever read without the intention of making himself better and smarter by the endeavor; no book ought to be read without the intent to expand the mind, which is not a painless process by any means.  The following divisions are based, more or less, upon a core cirriculum of the Catholic Liberal Arts.  Consequently, in addition to whatever is listed, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Holy Bible are essential throughout.  For the latter, the Douay-Rheims translation is recommended, particularly the Catholic Treasures edition with the Reverend George Leo Haydock’s notes; these are a quick reference to much of the sapient commentary of Church Fathers and other Biblical scholars.  The literature sections are divided according to genre, the philosophy according to complexity of thought (although recursive and frequently recovering topics in a sort of hermenuetic structure), the history more or less chronologically (if anyone has suggestions for good works of history, please contribute), and the last section is miscellaneous Catholic thought with a general overarching coherence.

Works of the Western Intellectual Tradition, Part 1:

Homer – The Iliad, The Odyssey
Virgil – The Aeneid
Anonymous – Beowulf
Dante Alighieri – The Divine Comedy
John Milton – Paradise Lost

Plato – The Republic, Apology
Aristotle – Nicomachean Ethics
St. Augustine – Confessions
Fr. Norris Clarke, S.J. – Person and Being
St. Thomas Aquinas – Treatise on the Divine Nature
Reverend Msgr. Robert Sokolowksi – The God of Faith and Reason

Herodotus – The Histories
Thucydides – The Peloponnesian War
Tacitus – Annals
H.W. Crocker III – Triumph

Pope St. Pius X – Editae Saepe
G.K. Chesterton – Orthodoxy, Heretics
Very Rev. George J. Moorman – The Latin Mass Explained

Works of the Western Intellectual Tradition, Part 2:

Aeschylus – The Oresteia (Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, Eumenides)
Aristophanes – The Clouds
Sophocles – Ajax, Oedipus Rex, Antigone, Oedpius at Colonus
Christopher Marlowe – Doctor Faustus
William Shakespeare – As You Like It, The Henriad (Richard II, Henry IV Part 1, Henry IV Part 2, Henry V),  Othello, Macbeth, Hamlet, The Tempest

Aristotle – The Poetics
St. Thomas Aquinas – Summa Contra Gentiles, Disputed Question on Evil (On Human Choice, q.6), Disputed Question on Truth (The Meanings of Truth, q.1), On Being and Essence
Scott Sullivan – An Introduction to Traditional Logic:  Classical Reasoning for Contemporary Minds

Plutarch – Lives (Themistocles, Pericles, Aristides, Alcibiades)
Tacitus – The History
Christopher Dawson – The Formation of Christendom, Medieval Essays
Hilaire Belloc – The Crusades
Henry Kamen – The Spanish Inquisition: A Historical Revision

Pope Leo XII – Rerum Novarum
Pope St. Pius X – Pascendi Dominici Gregis
G.K. Chesterton – The Everlasting Man, The Outline of Sanity, What’s Wrong with the World
Rev. Dom Prosper Gueranger – The Holy Mass
Joseph Pieper – In Defense of Philosophy
Pope Benedict XVI – Without Roots, Christianity and the Crisis of Cultures,  Values in a Time of Upheaval

Works of the Western Intellectual Tradition, Part 3:

Lyric Poetry, pre-Modern:
Anonymous – Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Sir Philip Sydney – Desire
William Shakespeare – Sonnets
John Donne – A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning, The Sun Rising, the Canonization, Holy Sonnet XIV
John Dryden –  A Song for St. Cecilia’s Day
Alexander Pope  – The Rape of the Lock
Thomas Gray – Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard
William Wordsworth –  Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, A Beauteous Evening, Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood
Samuel Taylor Coleridge – The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
John Keats – On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer, Ode on a Grecian Urn, To One Who Has Been long in City Pent
Alfred Lord Tennyson – The Lady of Shallot, Ulysses, The Lotos-Eaters, The Palace of Art, Locksley Hall, Maud, In Memoriam
Robert Browning – Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister, My Last Duchess, Porphyria’s Lover, Karshish, Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came, Cleon
Matthew Arnold – Dover Beach, The Buried Life, Stanzas from the Grand Chartreuse
Thomas Hardy – Hap, The Darkling Thrush
Gerard Manley Hopkins –  The Wreck of the Deutschland, God’s Grandeur, Carrion Comfort

Aristotle – Nicomachean Ethics (Books V., VIII., & IX.), The Politics
St. Augustine – The City of God
St. Thomas Aquinas – Treatise on the Virtues, Treatise on Happiness, Disputed Question on Truth (On the Teacher, q.11)
Jacques Maritain – Man and the State, Person and the Common Good
Yves Simon – The Great Dialogue of Nature and Space
Rev. William Wallace – The Modeling of Nature
Pope John Paul II – Love and Responsibility

Hilaire Belloc – How the Reformation Happened
Christopher Dawson – Dynamics of World History
Paul Johnston – A History of the American People

Pope St.Pius X – Editae Saepe
Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman – The Idea of a University
Rev.  Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange – Christian Perfection and Contemplation

Works of the Western Intellectual Tradition, Part 4:

Novels and short-stories:
Miguel de Cervantes –  Don Quixote
Leo Tolstoy – War and Peace, Anna Karenina, The Death of Ivan Ilyich
Fyodor Dostoevsky – The Brothers Karamazov, Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, The Possessed
Evelyn Waugh – Brideshead Revisited
Graham Greene – The Power and the Glory
Oscar Wilde – The Picture of Dorian Gray
Flannery O’Connor – A Good Man is Hard to Find, Parker’s Back, Good Country People, Wise Blood, The Violent Bear It Away
Joseph Conrad – Heart of Darkness, Lord Jim
Aldous Huxley – Brave New World
George Orwell – 1984
Victor Hugo – Les Miserables
Charles Dickens – A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield, Bleak House
Mary Shelley – Frankenstein
Theodore Dreiser – An American Tragedy

Immanuel Kant – Critique of Pure Reason
St. Thomas Aquinas – Summa Theologiae, Q. 84-86
Jacques Maritain – The Degrees of Knowledge
Louis Marie Regis – Epistemology
Msgr. Robert Sokolowski  – Phenomenology of the Human Person

More to be added…

This page is a continual work in progress.  It will be updated continually.  Please check back for more books and more links.  If you have any suggestions, e-mail  Also, please understand that the categories sometimes overlap, and to avoid redundancy, works will be placed in only one category.

  1. Ben C.
    June 21, 2009 at 7:59 am

    Also Christopher Dawson Dynamics of World History and Medieval Essays. Jacobus de Voragine’s The Golden Legend. Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron. C.S. Lewis The Great Divorce and Screwtape Letters. Johnathan Robinson’s Spiritual Combate Revisited. John Saward’s The Beauty of Holiness and the Holiness of Beauty. George Orwell’s 1984

  2. Jeff R.
    June 21, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    Perhaps one small suggestion for a book that is not within my primary field of interest:

    Le Morte d’Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory

  3. Idler
    February 18, 2010 at 11:56 am

    Please not Triumph. Not on the same page as Belloc and Dawson, you’re killing me. How about Daniel-Rops instead?

    • February 19, 2010 at 11:57 pm

      I’ve not read Daniel-Rops; and the idea behind this page is not that all of the works are truly great, but that they will be a heuristic to greater things. Not everyone can immediately appreciate Belloc and Dawson. Baby steps.

  4. George
    April 21, 2010 at 10:23 am

    The canon of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

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