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One Hundred Great Catholic Books: From the Early Centuries to the Present Paperback – September 1, 2007

3.3 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Brophy, who assembles short, 300-word reviews of the best books ever written by Catholics, asserts that people are Catholic, books are not. As a longtime editor at the Catholic book publisher Paulist Press and author of The Story of Catholics in America, he is eminently qualified for the job and carries it out beautifully. In the introduction, Brophy spells out what qualifies a book for his list. First, it must have nourished Catholic Christians and many other seekers over the centuries. Second, the book must be of interest to general readers, meaning that professional theologians like Karl Rahner were disqualified. Reviews are arranged chronologically, beginning with the Sayings and Stories of the Desert Fathers and ending with Paul Elie's contemporary classic, The Life You Save May Be Your Own. Brophy acknowledges the arbitrariness of his endeavor, but it's a judicious collection. Some choices will be familiar to readers while others will be unexpected; for example, some readers may not know that Black Elk (the Sioux spiritual leader) was a Catholic convert. Brophy approaches his reviews as a believer, so that in the end any person of faith who is passionate about books will find a kind of spiritual catechism. (Oct.)
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Review

"The succinct considerations address the historical or contemporary context of the work, explain the significance of the author, and contain a brief synopsis of the actual title."  —Library Journal



"For Catholics who have forgotten, or never discovered, treasured books of their own tradition, Don Brophy deserves applause for his brief but knowing introductions to a hundred of them."  —Kenneth L. Woodward, author, Making Saints


"This is the work of a man who loves both books and the Catholic tradition. Don Brophy speaks to head and heart in this gentle guide to Catholic books, with choices both classic and surprising." —Jane Redmont, author, When in Doubt, Sing


"This is the most congenial history of Catholic thought one could ever hope to find. On every page, I found some new connection to be made or an intriguing insight to be savored."  —Phyllis Tickle, author, The Divine Hours
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: BlueBridge (September 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933346086
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933346083
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.7 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,908,984 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Don Brophy grew up in Connecticut and lives in New York City. For more than thirty years he served as an editor and managing editor of Paulist Press. He is the author of One Hundred Great Catholic Books and Catherine of Siena: A Passionate Life.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The Catholic Church fascinates many people. This is not a new phenomenon. It fascinated people in the past and no doubt will continue to do so. On the one hand it is an authoritarian, hierarchical Church with many rules and regulations. On the other, it's also the same Church that has produced some of the world's greatest writers, artists, musicians, and forward thinking people. James Joyce's famous expression "Here Comes Everybody" from FINNEGAN'S WAKE applies to the Catholic Church. Catholic thought is far more diverse than many realize and when this is discovered, a new level of fascination with the Church often emerges.
Don Brophy's ONE HUNDRED GREAT CATHOLIC BOOKS includes titles which demonstrate the diversity of Catholicism and what is often called "the Catholic imagination." His list of great books includes what any reader should expect to find, titles such as THE CONFESSIONS of St. Augustine, Pope John XXIII's JOURNAL OF A SOUL, St. Benedict's RULE, Dante's DIVINE COMEDY, Thomas Merton's SEVEN STOREY MOUNTAIN, Georges Bernanos's DIARY OF A COUNTRY PRIEST, and Dorothy Day's THE LONG LONELINESS to name a sampling. While his selections of what could be termed Catholic "classics" are what should be expected, he also has some interesting contemporary choices. Sr. Helen Prejean's DEAD MAN WALKING, Robert Ellsberg's ALL SAINTS, and Gustavo Gutierrez's WE DRINK FROM OUR OWN WELLS immediately come to mind. Some are surprising. Thomas Cahill's HOW THE IRISH SAVED CIVILIZATION and Alice McDermott's CHARMING BILLY would not be immediate choices of mine, but certainly both make sense. Some are controversial selections. My guess is that more than a few eyebrows are raised when authors such as Richard McBrien and James Carroll are included.
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Format: Paperback
If you'd like a good list of Catholic Christian classics published before the twentieth century, then please consult the first 36 titles of these alleged "One Hundred Great Catholic Books."

Additionally, some of the remaining 64 titles are also modern Catholic "classics." However, it is quite unfortunate that, mixed with so many great books that raise the mind and heart to the Living God, the author chooses to feature prominently many titles, which are neither "great," nor even orthodoxly "Catholic."

The father of Liberation Theology (which in many forms has been severely challenged by the Magisterium) and Hans Küng (a public dissenter who publicly rejects the infallibility of the Papacy, supports contraception, the ordination of women, among many other dissenting positions) with many others stand strangely (but largely) on this list.

Bottom line: When a list of the best of 2000 years of Catholic Christianity is dominated by very recent dissenters to the Church's teaching and Traditions, it's time to wonder how much this book is a collection of the Great Western Canon, or rather the author's pet list of recent "innovators."

I'm sorry but a list of the Fathers of the Church, St. Bonaventure, St. Ignatius, St. Thérèse de Lisieux, and other giants of Christian thought and spirituality should not occupy a minority position to the favor of all the top dissenters to the Catholic faith in the last 50 years.
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Format: Paperback
What if you had a dear friend who was able to recommend one hundred great books in the Catholic tradition for you to read? That is the service Don Brophy provides in "One Hundred Great Catholic Books." What makes a book "Catholic?" For Brophy's purposes, the primary criteria was that the author be Catholic because as he correctly states, "people are Catholic, books are not." In a couple of instances, Brophy does include books whose authors were not Catholic because they wrote about Catholics or collaborated with Catholics.

Of course, there is a danger whenever one tries to make a list of one hundred great anything. There are always going to me some favorites that are left out and some included that people feel shouldn't be. Brophy is to be given credit for taking on the challenge. In addition, he includes a list of fifty other books at the end that come highly recommended as well. Brophy has chosen wisely, including most of the great classics of spirituality such as St. Augustine's "Confessions," "The Cloud of Unknowing," St. Teresa's "The Interior Castle," and St. Therese's "Story of a Soul." He has attempted to also include a broad spectrum of works, including history, apologetics, autobiography, and fiction. In these entries, one becomes acquainted with works by Flannery O'Connor, J.R.R. Tolkien, Maria Montessori, and Gerard Manley Hopkins. For each book, Brophy provides a two-page synopsis and indication of why this book was important. One can learn much about Catholic thought simply by reading these capsules. Hopefully, however, " One Hundred Great Catholic Books" will inspire you to go out and actually read some of these classics. A reader ambitious enough to read all of them would have a strong understanding of Catholic thought.
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Many of the books listed are great Catholic books, but when this PC author gets to the 20th Century he includes many written by Catholic in-name only authors, includes 2 that are basically about The Historic Christ and he says Vatican very much opposed to both yet he includes them, feminist books, one his says is more political than theological, and many other books with his new age, glowing review where he tries unsuccessfully to hide his obvious ambivalence to church teaching. Many of the books would be on best seller list for organizations like Catholics for a Free Choice, etc. I luckily only paid 1 cent for this used book, an ex-library copy that was like new. So if you can get for 1 cent worth it to read about the great books and to know what books to stay away from. I hope Pat is still "fretting" about what his next book will be about, and we can only pray either he gets terminal writers block or goes new age where he belongs.
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