As a bibliophile and as a Catholic, I have spent my life searching for the best Catholic fiction. Not books that are necessarily explicit in their Catholicism, but good books. Books that are beautiful and that elevate one’s heart to the Good and Beautiful Himself.
Fiction Books Every Catholic Should Read
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
Brideshead Revisited: The Sacred & Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder follows the life and romances of Charles Ryder over a twenty year period. This includes his friendship with the Flytes, a family of wealthy English Catholics who live in a mansion called Brideshead Castle. Brideshead movingly shows the ways in which grace can affect different people and the many ways in which God can draw souls, even those undeserving, to Himself. The novel is gorgeously written, the story haunting, and a book that has left me better for having read it.
The Complete Stories by Flannery O’Connor
Is a list about Catholic Fiction even complete without Flannery? Flannery O’Connor is a Catholic Southern-American writer known for her sass and violent tales of grace. While O’Connor also has two novels, her short stories really represent her as a writer (and bonus, some you can read in one sitting!) She writes dark and oftentimes bizzare stories full of ironic humor—making them a bit difficult for some to stomach. However, O’Connor’s works spins powerful tales of redemption. O’Connor believed that violent, or extreme situations, reveals our essence revealing the Truth in things. Her stories are reminiscent of the Cross, in that violence brings about healing for the characters.
The Brothers Karamozov by Fydor Dostoevsky
If you are like me, the thought of reading a 700+ page Russian novel might overwhelm you. But The Brothers Karamozov is worth it. Some of the greatest thinkers of all time lauded the novel (Einstein called it “the supreme summit of all literature”) and our three most recent popes referenced it in homilies and encyclicals. Considered by many the greatest book ever written, The Brothers Karamozov is a family drama centered on a coarse and vulgar father and his three sons. It tackles the fundamental question of how to live best one’s life in an engaging way. The Brothers Karamozov contains a wealth of beauty, making it a must read!
The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
As a new mom, it’s been awhile since a book has kept me up late reading. But this novel is a real page-turner! The Power and the Glory tells the story of one of the last priests living in Mexico during the 1930s when being a priest was considered an act of treason. The priest is hunted both by the sins of his past and a paramilitary group wanting his execution. With no other priest to hear his confession, our main character—the unnamed “Whisky Priest”—fears death. This book powerfully and timelessly scours the depths of the human soul and of God’s mercy. Do yourself a favor and read it.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
When we think of Frankenstein’s monster (yes, that is actually what he is called), we think of a bumbling, grunting, square-headed creature. And when we think of his master, Dr. Frankenstein, we think of a mad scientist hidden in a lab somewhere. But this couldn’t be further from the truth in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. In this novel, the mostly sane Dr. Frankenstein obsesses over the progress of humanity; while Frankenstein’s monster has intelligence and personality, and a sincere desire to please his creator. Frankenstein’s monster shows us what life would be like to have a creator who didn’t care for his creation, illustrating to us the gift we have in a Creator who loves and delights in us.
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
You may have read Of Mice and Men or The Grapes of Wrath in high school, but may be less familiar with this title by author John Steinbeck. East of Eden retells and reshapes the Book of Genesis. Set in Salinas Valley, California, this story follows two families—the Trasks and the Hamiltons—who have reenacted the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel for generations. It centers around the idea found in Genesis 4:7 that, “You may turn away from evil and do good.” East of Eden presents humanity in all its radical freedom, freedom given by God, and illustrates that this freedom has dire consequences. It shows how the way you use your freedom affects, not only yourself, but those around you for generations to come.
Have you read any of these books? Which has been your favorite? And what’s next on your list?!Fiction Books Every Catholic Should Read #BISblog // Click To Tweet
Carissa Pluta is a wife, mother, bookworm, and blogger currently living as a missionary in Birmingham, Alabama. She has Bachelor’s Degrees in English and Communication Arts and has a deep desire to create and cultivate beauty in everything she does. Carissa enjoying hiking, Paul Simon, and drinking copious amounts of herbal tea. You can learn more about her here.