I’m a huge historical fiction fan. I have loved to read my entire life and always seem to have a stack of to-be-read books on my nightstand. Sound familiar?
And you might also be able to relate to the fact that there was something missing from my reading life. While I was all about the fiction, even throwing in some biographies or memoirs, there really wasn’t much (or anything) from the spiritual realm on my ever-growing TBR list. That seemed crazy to me! So, I set out to change things up.
Narrowing Down the Search
Now, personally, I am not a big theology buff. I’ve tried a few times, but I always end up putting the book down before I’m even halfway through. For whatever reason, those just aren’t my jam. Devotionals and journals are fabulous to work though, but I still wanted the feel of reading a book. Do you know what I mean?
I realized that what I wanted was something formed and inspired by the Catholic life. Something that I could relate to on a personal, everyday sort of level. And if it could be written by a woman? Even better!
Social Media Inspiration
Thankfully, I’m a big podcast listener and an Instagram junkie. Did you know that you can find endless fodder for reading material that way?
These outlets have exposed me to all sorts of Catholic authors to follow. An added bonus is that by getting to “virtually” know these authors, I already had something invested in them and their material. I knew their voices before I even cracked open their book.
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New Titles for Your Catholic Bookshelf
Here’s my tried-and-tested list of five new(ish) books from some amazing Catholic women. Stories about life and love, motherhood, body image, home organization, and our place in this world. Sound intriguing?
Let’s take a look.
Death by Minivan by Heather Anderson Renshaw
Each morning, coffee in hand, I’d read one chapter of this book before my kids woke up. The chapters cover different virtues and fruits of the Holy Spirit and include quotes from Saints, Scripture, and stories from Heather’s life. Truthfully, I never thought I could laugh so hard at a book on virtue and the fruits of the Holy Spirit! Heather has a genuine knack for storytelling and a deep faith, both of which make reading this book an absolute delight. She makes lofty ideas relatable and sublime aspirations seem achievable.
Each chapter concludes with a prayer and space for reflection, which would make it a perfect book for a moms’ group or book club.
Lovely: How I Learned to Embrace the Body God Gave Me by Amanda Martinez Beck
A few months ago, I heard Christy and Haley of the Fountains of Carrots podcast interview this author. I enjoyed their conversation immensely and—as this was before the book had actually been released—preordered the book before the episode even finished.
Like most women, I have a love/hate relationship with my body. I’ve read other books on the subject of body positivity before and follow several Instagram accounts based on the subject. But never have I felt like I was reading what would truly help my soul until I read this book.
Amanda writes beautifully, almost poetically, about her own relationship with her body by examining all of the various ways she encounters her physical self. Chapters such as My Good Body, My Sacramental Body, and My Neighbor’s Body guide the reader to see themselves, others, and their physical bodies in a kinder, more loving, and more God-centered way.
Girl, Arise! by Claire Swinarski
Do you listen to The Catholic Feminist Podcast? I’ve been a follower of Claire’s and the podcast’s since its beginnings about two years ago. In each episode, she interviews women from all walks of life about how they live their lives as Catholic feminists. In other words, their feminine genius.
This book is simultaneously hilarious and inspiring. Claire walks through many difficult areas of women’s lives—places where our situations or our opinions may make us feel at odds with Church teaching—and reminds us of the Truth and calls us to be and do better. As the cover says, this book is “an invitation to live boldly, love your faith, and change the world.”
And you can even hear Claire on a recent episode of The Gathering Place with Beth Davis and Jenna Guizar!
Make My Life Simple by Rachel Balducci
I was so excited to find this book. First of all, Rachel Balducci is one of the funniest ladies on Instagram. Also, her role as long-time wife and mother to kids ranging from college to elementary school is something I can really relate to! It was awesome to read something that was pertinent to my current phase of motherhood.
In this book, Rachel gives us tons of practical solutions to how we can create (and find!) order and peace in our everyday lives. She guides us as we examine how we arrange our schedules, our house-cleaning, and laundry routines. Even how we take care of our own bodies and spirituality.
“Maintaining order in our lives means keeping our priorities straight. It’s having an understanding of what God has asked me to do, and then doing it. Order means giving the proper amount of attention to what truly matters. This takes a lot of work.”
Does that sound like something you could use help with? Then grab a copy of this book.
Be Brave in the Scared by Mary Lenaburg
Truth be told, this book isn’t out yet. It’s release date is set for May 11 and preorders are being taken now. However, thanks Mary’s generosity, I was able to read the manuscript of this incredibly important book late last month.
This book is unlike anything I’ve read in the Catholic world. It covers everything from pornography addiction and eating disorders to the life and death of Mary’s severely handicapped daughter, Courtney. With wit, humor, and grace, Mary shares her and her husband’s story of doubt, difficulty, trust, and the goodness of God. It’s a tearjerker that will make you laugh out loud. How awesome is that?!
Mary also invites the reader to dive deep into her own journey with Jesus as they read this book. Space to journal, questions that prompt reflection, and a hearty dose of laughter through tears will make this a book you will turn to again and again.
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Beth Williby is a regular contributor to the BIS blog. She is a mom of four pretty amazing humans and has been married to her college sweetheart for almost twenty years. She does her best praying through singing and feeding the people she loves. Having grown up in the Midwest, she now calls Northeast Florida home. You can find out more about her here.