The greatest 20th century Catholic novels

The great Anthony Esolen has posted his suggestion for the 10 greatest Catholic novels in English of the 20th century.

How’s his list?

1. Sigrid Undset, Kristin Lavransdatter – UK HERE
2. J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings – UK HERE (If you’ve only seen the movies, you know nothing of joy.)
3. Francois Mauriac, Vipers’ Tangle – UK HERE
4. Riccardo Bacchelli, The Mill on the Po – UK HERE
5. Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited – UK HERE
6. Graham Greene, The Power and the Glory – UK HERE
7. Georges Bernanos, Diary of a Country Priest – UK HERE
8. Sigrid Undset, The Master of Hestviken – UK HERE
9. Flannery O’Connor, The Violent Bear It Away – UK HERE
10. Heinrich Boll, The Clown – UK HERE

I have read most of them.  I have NOT read The Mill on the Po… a riff on a another famous book.

I might also suggest Eugenio Corti, The Red Horse – UK HERE
Some might suggest Shusaku Endo, Silence – UK HERE I read it recently and found it deeply depressing, in an uplifting way.  There will soon be a film released by Martin Scorsese.  Off the top of my head I can also think of Rumor Godden, In This House Of Brede – UK HERE.  Perhaps novels by Michael O’Brien, Father Elijah (or maybe better the trilogy that flows around it) – UK HERE.

Please share!

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69 Responses to The greatest 20th century Catholic novels

  1. Mariana2 says:

    Ah, several books I haven’t read here. Can anyone give me their opinion on The Master of Hestviken, is it as good as Kristin Lavransdatter?

  2. michael says:

    Kristin lavransdatter is top of my list too! Just read it for the second time; along with my wife and daughter…

  3. pelerin says:

    I wonder what Catholic novels the present century will bring? I have recently read a most moving novel published last year, set in Ireland, entitled ‘The Rural Gentleman’ by Delia Maguire. It beautifully captures life in rural Ireland today and is definitely one which I found impossible to put down until I had finished it. (Kleenex needed at the end!) The enigmatic rural gentleman referred to is an English Priest who finds himself in an Irish parish. ..

  4. JonPatrick says:

    Robert Hugh Benson’s “Lord of the World” ?

  5. ckdexterhaven says:

    If you enjoy the history of the American Southwest,Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather is good.

    I want to like Brideshead Revisited, and have tried many times to read it, but I feel like I am lost/missing something.

    Thanks for the heads up, I may try the one by Flannery O’Connor.

  6. wmeyer says:

    Much as I like Robert Hugh Benson’s Lord of the World, and though it is essential reading for our time, I don’t think it qualifies as among the greatest.

    Not yet having read all the titles on the list, I am reluctant to challenge Anthony Esolen, but will add my vote for Michael O’Brien’s Father Elijah, and point out that it seems richer with each reading.

  7. Neal says:

    Graham Greene, The End of the Affair
    Muriel Spark, The Girls of Slender Means

    I’ve never understood the love for The Power and the Glory.

  8. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    All but no. 10. I would add a Walker Percy, probably Love in the Ruins.

  9. albinus1 says:

    “10 greatest Catholic novels in English” — didn’t Sigrid Unset write in Norwegian? If we’re including translations, or if the list is meant to be “10 greatest Catholic novels *available* in English,” fine; but then “in English” seems like a meaningless qualification.

  10. Nathan says:

    I’m with ckdexterhaven. WIlla Cather’s Death Comes For the Archbishop grows on me every time I read it. In Christ,

  11. Augustine Thompson O.P. says:

    Albinsu1,

    Il mulino del Po is also not originally in English. An imitation of Mazoni, whom I honestly prefer. 2000 pages is a lot of novel. Nor written in English was Le Nœud de vipères; nor was Journal d’un curé de campagne; nor was Ansichten eines Clowns.

    I also personally prefer the War Trilogy to Brideshead. Fr. Elijah badly needed an editor (I teach it in a course on apocalyptic), but it is head and shoulders about his other novels.

    Since Patrick O’Brian always claimed to be a Catholic (I once hear him do so in person), does he count for Catholic novels? And they were also actually written in English.

    If not, I would add Muriel Spark’s Memento Mori, or one of her others (but not The Abbess of Crewe, amusing set-up of Watergate as it was).

  12. A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter Miller

  13. Augustine Thompson O.P. says:

    Also, one might include something by David Lodge, perhaps The Picturegoers. But I like his “Campus Triology” better.

  14. un-ionized says:

    O’Brien’s best is his very first, A Cry of Stone. Much better than the Elijah type books. It has a depth of characterization that is greater than in most of his other books. It is one of the best books about the Catholic view of suffering that I have ever read.

    A Canticle For Liebowitz is an odd book and I would include it.

  15. Thomas Sweeney says:

    This is really a great post and the comments are very enlightening. I have read the Diary of a Country Priest. A great lesson in humility and perseverance in the face of human indifference, pride and arrogance. Perhaps my favorite. because it was so poignant and easy to read, was A.J. Cronin’s The Keys of the Kingdom.
    I will print this post for my winter reading list, thank you.

  16. Maldon says:

    I think Waugh’s Sword of Honour trilogy is a much better and more Catholic novel than Brideshead, though I also like Brideshead.

    Also, I think Tolkien’s The Silmarillion is a better work than LOR. The very beginning can sound a little overdone, but after that, it is really fantastic.

  17. Agathon says:

    I’d add A Canticle for Leibowitz, too.

  18. PTK_70 says:

    Walker Percy wrote in English and I too would like to see him on this list….The Moviegoer.

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  20. mthel says:

    Here’s another supporter for A Canticle For Leibowitz. Truly a fantastic and fully Catholic novel. I’m really surprised it did not make the top 10.

  21. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    A Canticle for Leibowitz is a terrific read and tons of insightful fun. But it is not a “great” novel.

    [Thanks for the distinction. Some books are fun or great reads, but they aren’t great novels in the deeper sense.]

  22. Sliwka says:

    I read Silence and then The Samurai and preferred the latter. I am willing to admit I may not have “got” Silence. It was only in the interview with Endo in the back of The Samurai did I learn that it really was Christ in the fumi-e and not just the priest rationalizing the sin.

  23. mibethda says:

    The Leopard by Giuseppe di Lampedusa might also be considered.

  24. Cranky Old Man says:

    As usual from Dr. Peters (and PTK_70), “lucida tela diei.” I might suggest The Last Gentleman instead of The Moviegoer or Love in the Ruins, but one will not go wrong with any Walker Percy novel. While The Moviegoer is and surely always will be my favorite novel, the Catholic themes of The Last Gentleman are compelling. Walker Percy was a physician, and Eudora Welty said at his memorial service that the physician and the writer have similar roles: to listen to the patient’s heart and say, Thou ailest here, and here.

  25. Poor Yorek says:

    Cat’s Cradle (1925) by Maurice Baring (a convert)

  26. WVC says:

    I would actually vote for Cancitcle for Leibowitz and I’m not sure that I would agree that it isn’t great. The themes that it tackles are profound, and it does so in an amazingly delicate, intricate, and artistic way. The double-use of two-headed mutants. Knowledge vs. temptation. Holiness and Grace vs. Practicality and Survival. This book is entertaining, yes, but there is much more depth to it than typical run-of-the mill sci-fi stories. Enough depth for Walker Percy to not only laud it but use its characters and themes for his great “Lost in the Cosmos.” Leibowitz is the type of book that will resonate more than a hundred years from now.

    What about The Gulag Archipelago? Or does that not count because it’s not a novel and more of a “literary experiment”? Same question for The Screwtape Letter – ineligible because it’s not a novel?

  27. WVC says:

    And what about the Little World of Don Camillo? Or at least Comrade Don Camillo? (My favorite of the series!)

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  29. Poor Yorek says:

    Oh, as for Tolkien putting his hand to theological anthropology in the context of his milieu, try the essay: Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth. It is found in Morgoth’s Ring, vol. 10 of Christopher Tolkien’s History of Middle-Earth series. The entire work is worth a careful read, particularly given the analogy to Original Sin; the Fall; and such (which was discussed in a recent post here). “All of Middle-Earth was Morgoth’s Ring.”

  30. Mike says:

    Old School, by Tobias Wolff.

    The narrator is a lapsed Catholic; it’s a novel about becoming a writer, about the way we fashion a self-image, and about home-coming to the truth and the Father, all without being explicitly didactic.

  31. Gregg the Obscure says:

    Both Love in the Ruins and A Confederacy of Dunces should be added.

  32. Henry Edwards says:

    “Some books are … great reads, but they aren’t great novels in [any] sense.”

    E.g., Malachi Martin’s “Windswept House”.

  33. The Masked Chicken says:

    Dr. Peters wrote:

    “A Canticle for Leibowitz is a terrific read and tons of insightful fun. But it is not a “great” novel.”

    Define great.

    According to Wikipedia:

    “Appealing to mainstream and genre critics and readers alike, it won the 1961 Hugo Award for best science fiction novel.

    Inspired by the author’s participation in the Allied bombing of the monastery at Monte Cassino during World War II, the novel is considered a masterpiece by literary critics. It has been compared favorably with the works of Evelyn Waugh, Graham Greene, and Walker Percy, and its themes of religion, recurrence, and church versus state have generated a significant body of scholarly research.”

    There are other Catholic works that are not novels that deserve to be read, widely. The Quest for St. Aquin, by Anthony Boucher (a loyal Catholic and famous mystery and science fiction critic), is considered one of the best science fiction short stories of the twentieth-century.

    Another novella would be, The Song at the Scaffold, by Gertrud von le Fort, the basis for the opera, The Dialogue of the Carmelites, considered by many to be the best Twentieth-century opera written.

    Everyone knows, In this House of Brede, by Rumer Godden (how do you pronounce her last name?), but an almost equally sublime work is, Take Three Tenses: a Fugue in Time, which was the basis for a movie, Enchantment (1948).

    Another group of short stories that deserve a mention, although not strictly Catholic, are The People stories of Zenna Henderson.

    I don’t know of any mysteries that are strictly Catholic that are high enough caliber to make the list (although there are many Catholic mystery novels and short stories). There is a best Jewish mystery novel that deserves such accolades, however.

    I was thinking of, In the Shoes of the Fisherman, by Morris West, but that is not great, in an enduring sense

    The Chicken

  34. Supertradmum says:

    The Moviegoer, by Walker Percy

    Passage to India by E. M. Forster

    Til We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis

    The Chosen by Chaim Potok

    My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok

    Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor

    The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L. Sayers, which is a true novel and not merely a mystery story

    Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, a Dickensian sort of novel imho

    and I agree with most on the list above..I taught many of these on both the list above and my own list. Unsted’s triology is awesome and I think Walker Percy should be read by Catholics who do not understand the world in which we live…..Brideshead is great and also overlooked…

    I have two more novels coming out this winter, one on the anti-Christ and another true sequel to the first…not great novels, but fun to read, like my mentor, Robert Hugh Benson.

  35. Supertradmum says:

    sorry about typos…I have a sprained wrist……………………

  36. DcnJohnSaturus says:

    If an Orthodox deacon can make a suggestion, how about “The Cardinal” by Henry Morton Robinson?

  37. Thorfinn says:

    While defining “great”, we might as well define “novel”. The modern realistic novel in the narrow sense would exclude even Tolkien.

    I propose:
    The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe
    <i<Wind, Sand, and Stars, Antoine de Saint-Exupery

    I’m not sure which Greene would be best…The Power & the Glory, The Heart of the Matter, Brighton Rock and A Burnt-Out Case all deserve consideration. It’s tough to exclude Chesterton entirely; objection based on length seems frivolous.

  38. lairdangusmcangus says:

    Windswept House by Malachi Martin.

    Though as a roman a clef, it straddles the line between fact and fiction.

  39. Sonshine135 says:

    I am a bit taken aback by the lack of C.S. Lewis novels. I do rather enjoy the Screwtape Letters.

  40. stuart reiss says:

    Benson’s come rack come rope….

  41. DeGaulle says:

    Since when did Lewis become a Catholic?

    What about GKC?

    Has anyone read Piers Paul Read?

  42. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Hi Chicken. “Great” is much, much better than “good”. Lots of things won awards 50-60 years that no one can remember now. Don’t get me wrong. I love CL, have read it at least 3 times, and recommended it to dozens. But, great? Sorry. Same for A Confederacy of Dunces, and “C”. I love CofD, and like C, but neither is great.

  43. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Supertradmom, you did see “Catholic” as a criteria of great Catholic novels, right? Else, you’d have my vote.

  44. WVC says:

    Catholic based on author or content?

    Regarding Chesterton, it’s hard to point to a single novel of his that could be considered great. As a whole, his many, many stories are like a rapid fire barrage of good to very good, and as a whole it makes an overall impression that is much greater than any particular piece. And I say this as one who very much loves reading Chesterton.

  45. The Masked Chicken says:

    There is a certain dismissal of genre literature, such as science fiction, when discussing the canon of, “The Great.” It is a bit like jazz, in that respect. Exactly, why is, The Violent Bear it Away, a great novel? It is a religious novel, but not a Catholic novel.

    The Chicken

  46. Agathon says:

    I am familiar with the distinction between fun, gripping, good, etc. reads and the great books. I have spent my adult life — formally, informally, and for a short time professionally — immersed in the great books and reading those who comment on them.

    When we discuss our opinions of what counts as “great” literature, the gravity is not lost on me.

    With that said, I still respectfully maintain that A Canticle for Leibowitz deserves its place among great 20th century Catholic novels.

  47. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    CHICKEN: “Exactly, why is, The Violent Bear it Away, a great novel?” I don’t think it is. Good. Very good, insightful, but, no, it’s not great. The Grapes of Wrath is great, Brideshead is great, Brothers Karamazov, a few others, these are great.

  48. jaykay says:

    I’m wondering whether “Earthly Powers” by Anthony Burgess (1980)would qualify as a Catholic novel? I think it does, on balance. It’s ribald, sprawling and perhaps a bit too verbose in places (albeit not as much as some of his other novels – “Kingdom of the Wicked” degenerates into a sub-Joycean mess at the end)- but it’s a damn good read, complete with exorcism scenes, one in a packed Italian Cathedral involving a Mafioso, the other in Malaya involving a witch doctor (who has a, ummm, distinctive, name). And cannibalism. And many major literary figures. Oh yes, and the central character, apart from the actual narrator, is… the Pope. Then there’s also a certain mid-20th century Council, the results of which don’t turn out quite as planned.

    It’s a cracking read, anyway.

  49. capchoirgirl says:

    I love In This House of Brede. I can’t believe this didn’t make the top 10!
    C.S. Lewis wasn’t Catholic, so maybe that’s the omission? I will say I love anything he writes. Til We Have Faces is sadly overlooked.

  50. Anne C. says:

    “A Canticle for Leibowitz” was one of three books assigned to us by our Philosophy professor when I was attending a Presbyterian college in the ’70s. The course was “A Study of Evil,” and one of the questions he wanted us to answer is whether we believed in a “personal devil.” One of the others he assigned was C. S. Lewis’s “That Hideous Strength” (from his Space Trilogy). (I don’t remember the other.) If C. S. Lewis can be counted, even though he himself was not Catholic, I would recommend almost anything by him!

  51. Jim in Seattle says:

    The Silmarillion and Lord of the Rings – Tolkien. I read them for the first time almost 40 years ago and did not appreciate the strong Catholic themes in them. As the river of time as flowed on, I grew to see the depth and breathe of Tolkien’s world. Along with his letters, these books will strengthen the faith of anyone who is interested in allegory (except for Tolkien, who said his books were definitely not allegory!).

    Children of the Sun series – Michael O’Brien. Spanning 100 years of North American history, these books illustrate the increasing suppression of ‘tolerance’ of the governments coupled with the loss of religious belief. Chilling and yet hopeful.

    Brideshead, as mentioned previously. Kristin L – yes. Maybe to add a new twist I would suggest the Masterful Monk series by Owen Francis Dudley, with the book by that name as my favorite.

  52. Mr. Graves says:

    Late to the game here, but wanted to add my $0.02. “The Devil’s Advocate” by Morris West is fantastic. Some object to MW because he edged away from orthodoxy in his later years, but TDA was an important read for me after my conversion to Catholicism.

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  54. Ben Kenobi says:

    “A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter Miller”

    As for a ‘Great novel’. What does Canticle lack? It won a Hugo.

  55. WVC says:

    Grapes of Wrath is not what I would call Great.

  56. Supertradmum says:

    Dear Mr. Edwards,, a novel with Catholic morals and a Catholic philosophy and point of view may be called Catholic…hence, even the Jewish ones I mentioned, as they are part of our own heritage. As to Walker Percy, I consider him the best American Catholic novelist in the second half of the 29th century.

    As to Chesterton, no his novels are far from great. As to my own, all are very, very Catholic, and I write for the Catholic niche audience.

  57. Supertradmum says:

    PS and remember that Scarlett O’Hara’s family was Catholic, and her world was Catholic…albeit, full of sinners, like our own Catholic worlds.

  58. PTK_70 says:

    Have to agree with albinus1’s sentiments. There should be two lists: greatest 20th century Catholic novels written in English and greatest 20th century Catholic novels translated into English.

    For the latter I cannot disagree with including Silence by Endo, a book that a missionary priest recommended to me when I had fewer years. But I also knew a Japanese priest who disliked it. In any case, it is not jingoistic fare. Knowing of Pope Francis’s affinity for Japan, I would be surprised if the Holy Father has not read it.

  59. roseannesullivan says:

    I believe Brideshead Revisited is among the greats, just about perfect

    Power and the Glory seemed to me a weird over-lengthy book about an immoral whiskey priest who agonizes over the fact that he is likely to die unconfessed, ignoring the fact that the Church teaches that sincere contrition can save a person from hell when it is not possible to confess to a priest. I always thought that lack of understanding by Greene may have been part of what was behind the Vatican’s criticism of the book.

    I either don’t agree with or don’t remember reading the rest.

    I’m in the ranks of supporters of Canticle for Liebowitz. I experienced it as a revelation, a great work of fiction with Catholicism embedded in it without preaching and with great originality. It’s weird in a different better way than Power and the Glory, and the whole plot is unprecedented and humourous in parts. It embodies some great Catholic truths without violating the rules of fiction and art. More than thirty years since I read it, I’ll never forget the scene where the priest tried to defend the Church’s teaching against euthanasia to a mother and child injured by a nuclear blast who were in line for a euthanasia clinic. And my heartbreak when he did not succeed.

    Come to think of it, the bizarre ending with the one surviving head of the two-headed woman refusing Baptism and giving the priest the Eucharist make move Canticle off the “Catholic” list with its la la land theology.

  60. Frank Gibbons says:

    Here is my list of ten greatest Catholic novels written in any language:

    1) Diary of a Country Priest – Georges Bernanos
    2) Silence – Shusaku Endo
    3) The Cypresses Believe in God – Jose Maria Gironella
    4) Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
    5) Viper’s Tangle – Francois Mauriac
    6) The Samurai – Shusaku Endo
    7) Mouchette – Georges Bernanos
    8) Under Satan’s Sun – George Bernanos
    9) The Unbroken Heart – Robert Speaight
    10) The Mandelbaum Gate – Muriel Spark

    Honorable Mention:

    Thérèse Desqueyroux – François Mauriac
    Woman of the Pharisees – François Mauriac
    Postcards From the Volcano – Lucy Beckett
    Love in the Ruins – Walker Percy
    Morte D’Urban – J.F. Powers
    The Wheat That Springeth Green – J.F. Powers
    An Instance of the Fingerpost – Iain Pears
    The Dry Wood – Caryll Houselander
    Lying Awake – Mark Salzman
    The Island of the World – Michael D. O’Brien
    Mariette in Ecstasy – Ron Hansen

    And even though he hated Roman Catholicism, perhaps the greatest Catholic Novel is:

    The Brothers Karamazov – Fyodor Dostoevsky

    [That’s quite a list!]

  61. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    I wondered whether someone would mention Cypresses. And no “honorable mentions”. That’s cheating.

  62. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    A daunting number of comments to catch up with!

    Starting in reverse chronological order, I’m pleased to see Frank Gibbons listing Under Satan’s Sun – George Bernanos: I’ve been wondering how that is, and if I should try it!

    Has anyone (I ask, lazily) discussed the (possible) distinctions between Literary and – whatever we might call it (‘Popular Literature’?), and where someone like the (seriously) delightful Monsignor R.H. Benson fits in?

  63. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    (Having ranged further up the chronological list): Hmm… perhaps sets of Lumen gentium chapter 15 and Nostra Aetate Top Tens would be a way of working with some of the suggestions?

  64. “Fides et Ratio”

    (it’s the length of a novel…)

  65. dupledge says:

    I agree with the comments about “A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter Miller”. Surely what makes a great novel is subjective. Canticle satisfies this for me as does (though the author was not Catholic) The Space Trilogy by C.S. Lewis. “That Hideous Strength” is chilling in parts – quite terrifying. “Lord of the World” is also great in my book. “Father Elijah” was good but lacked something to make it great.

    I thought Hilaire Belloc’s “Path to Rome” was also a great read. I will concede it may not be construed as a “novel” per se; never-the-less a good read.

    “Ne supra crepidam tutor judicare” is my motto

    God Bless

  66. Frank Gibbons says:

    “And no ‘honorable mentions’. That’s cheating”

    The following weren’t on the “Ten Best” or “Honorable Mentions” lists. Some are very good, some are mediocre and a few are clunkers. I leave it up to you to guess how I view each of them.

    “Edge of Sadness” – Edwin O’Connor
    “Keys of the Kingdom” – A.J. Cronin
    “The Song of the Scaffold” – Gertrud von Le Fort
    “A Handful of Dust” – Evelyn Waugh
    “The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold” – Evelyn Waugh
    The Final Conclave – Malachi Martin
    Windswept House – Malachi Martin
    “The Clowns of God” – Morris West
    “The Death of a Pope” – Piers Paul Read
    “Earthly Powers” – Anthony Burgess
    “The Red Hat” – Ralph McInerney
    “The Imposter” – Georges Bernanos (man, is this dark)
    “Exiles” – Ron Hansen
    “Lord of the World” – Robert Hugh Benson
    “Voyage to Alpha Centauri” – Michael D. O’Brien
    “The Father’s Tale” – Michael D. O’Brien
    “Father Elijah” – Michael D. O’Brien
    “Plague Journal” – Michael D. O’Brien
    “Eclipse of the Sun” – Michael D. O’Brien
    “Theophilos” – Michael D. O’Brien
    “Elijah in Jerusalem” – Michael D. O’Brien
    “The Exorcist” – William Peter Blatty
    “The Society of Judas” – C. Theodore Murr (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform)
    “The Mystery of Things” – Debra Murphy (Idylls Press)

  67. Jenson71 says:

    Great thread, with some very good leads. I want to throw in a mention for “The Last Catholic in America,” though I don’t know of any means in which it could be considered “great” literature.

    So, now that we have a list of 20th century Catholic novels, how about a top-ten list of 20th century Catholic theological works (e.g., Card. Ratzinger’s “Introduction to Christianity”)?

  68. Imrahil says:

    Since Heinrich Böll is on the list, I’d throw my full weight, little as it is (in the non-literal sense), behind Berlin, Alexander Square by Alfred Döblin. (with a “written before Conversion” tag, of course.)

    Otherwise, I’d love to see some Chesterton on the list. Admittedly he self-identified as a journalist, and journalism, though it be first-class journalism of an educational level unbelievable to us modern people, does not usually produce novels that are considered “great literature” just taken by themselves (which Chesterton’s opera omnia as such undoubtedly is); nor does detective-fiction; but even so, works like The Man who was Thursday. A Nightmare (though the author seemed to be less than happy about the way it was understood), The Ball and the Cross and his probably most many-sided one (which however goes into the details of Distributist theory), The Return of Don Quixote could really be considered.

  69. Imrahil says:

    As for the theological works,

    1. The Belief of Catholics by Msgr. Knox,
    2. St. Thomas Aquinas by G. K. Cesterton,
    3. Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, by Fr. Ludwig Ott,
    4. Eschatology, by Pope Benedict XVI,
    5. The Everlasting Man, by G. K. Chesterton,
    6. Introduction to Christianity, by Pope Benedict,
    7. Jesus of Nazareth, by Pope Benedict,
    8. Orthodoxy, by G. K. Chesterton,
    9. The Christian’s Path to God by Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange (hearsay, have not read),
    10. a couple of Papal encyclicals such as Quas primas, Divini illius magstri, Quadragesimo anno, Ardenti cura, Meditor Dei, Humani generis, Haurietatis aquas, Veritatis splendor (especially Veritatis splendor) and perhaps Spe salvi.