A New Platonic Dialogue? Great Books for American Catholics

This is a slighlty edited real dialog in which I participated on a friend’s Facebook page. She is not a public figure nor or her friends and so I have concealed their identities here and edited out some machine generated junk:

Frank Summers Wed, Jun 1, 2011 at 3:21 PM
To: Frank Summers
My Friend the Hostess (MFTH): If you were going to compile a list of 25 spiritual classics for your growing son to take with him through his high school career and into his adult life, what books would you be sure to include, assuming he’s been sufficiently introduced to Sacred Scripture, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and Imitation of Christ?
Sunday at 7:58pm
MFTH: My initial thoughts: The Story of a Soul, Confessions of St. Augustine, Introduction to the Devout Life, The Screwtape Letters, G. K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy….
Sunday at 8:01pm
Friend 1: Crazy .love by francis chan, My Utmost for His Highest
Sunday at 8:08pm ·
GK Friend 2: may be hard to find but “The Courage to be Myself,” Carlos Valles, SJ
Sunday at 8:14pm ·
GK Friend 2: anything by Henri Nouwen
Sunday at 8:14pm ·
MDE Friend 3: What about The Hiding Place? or Left to Tell? They could be “modern classics.”
Sunday at 8:50pm
SGF Friend 4: Honestly, talk with me about a book called Dateable. Not a spiritual classic but definitely an important part of a modern Christian high school “Marriage and Family” class.
Sunday at 9:02pm ·
Genie Summers (my mother) Chronicles of Narnia, The Cross and the Switchblade, Set All Afire (?) about St. Francis Xavier, my boys loved it. Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Little Flowers of St. Francis, Practicing the Presence of God,This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness, Damien the Leper, What Does God Want (michael scanlan), A Concise History of the Catholic Church (Allen Schreck), Models of the Church Avery Dulles, Butlers Lives of the Saints….
Sunday at 9:31pm · Unlike · 1 person
Frank Wynerth Summers III Sands of Tamanrasset, Confessions of St. Augustine, Christianity Rediscovered, Something Beautiful for God, Love and Responsibility, When You Go to Tonga, Our Family’s Book of Acts, Introduction to a Devout Life, The Spiritual Exercises(by I of L),Original Blessing (by MF),
Sunday at 9:39pm ·
Frank Wynerth Summers III A Penny a Copy, Behind the Blue Door, Catholic and Christian, His Way(by Knight) — I would make a different list every day but all of these would be in the top 100 almosr every day.
Sunday at 9:42pm ·
RDM Friend 5: Definitely CS Lewis
Sunday at 9:47pm via Facebook Mobile ·

MFTH: Thanks, everyone, keep them coming….it’s hard to remember everything when you sit down and try to narrow down a list. I don’t want to present it as a reading list as much as inspiration…a way to be intentional about offering him good, holy, lovely things to think on as he matures.
Sunday at 9:51pm ·
XOBG Friend 6: Let the Fire Fall ~ Fr. Michael Scanlan. Don’t forget to share the list! 🙂
Sunday at 10:40pm
LVB Friend 7: “Wishful Thinking, a Theological ABC” We absolutely love Fredrick Buechner.
Sunday at 11:47pm

MFTH: I’m thinking Von Hildebrand needs to be on there too. Which one? And Abandonment to Divine Providence. Interior Castle…what about John of the Cross?
Sunday at 11:49pm via Facebook Mobile

AHH Friend 8: Love the Confessions and anything with St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross. St. Catherine of Siena’s letters to Blessed Raymond of Capua are also very rich. Ronald Rolheiser’s The Holy Longing is excellent–a priest I know told me once that it was “the best book on Christian Spirituality in the last 20 years.” I read it and used excerpts for talks and retreats with student leaders many times over! I’d love to see the list! =)
Monday at 12:55am
AC Friend 9: True Devotion. Divine Mercy in my Soul Diary.
Monday at 3:40am
SS Friend 10: I love all the great Catholic suggestions! I’d add this though it is not religious – Life is So Good by George Dawson
Monday at 8:44am
Frank Wynerth Summers III I also add semi-secular ones here: St. Thomas More’s Utopia, Castiglione’s The Courtier, GK Chesterton’s Fr. Brown Mysteries and CS Lewis’s Perelandra trilogy — also the novel “Left Hand of God”
Monday at 11:10am

MFTH: I’m adding Transformation in Christ, Dietrich Von Hildebrand, and the three Jose Marie Escriva volumes…what about apologetics and Thomistic philosophy, what would be your classics there?
Monday at 11:14am
MFTH: Oh, Love and Responsibility by John Paul II.
Monday at 11:15am ·
Frank Wynerth Summers III I recommend that in addition to a Kempis that you mentioned (an in preference to him) you include My Way of Life as a daily prayerbook. These are refelections on the Summa. I recommend Nobility and Analogous Traditional Elites by Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira , Do What You Love and the Money will Follow, the short books of Henri Nouwen…
Monday at 11:23am
Frank Wynerth Summers III My number one recommendation outside scripture is as much as possible of Henri Daniel Rops History of the Church of Christ. If you only pick two volumes pick: Church of the Apostles and Martyrs and Cathedral and Crusade. But know that some of the best stuff around is in the ten volumes you did not read. I also recommend the same authors books on Jesus and the Holy Land. I also recommend a secular book: Lest innocent Blood be Shed and a very Protestant on by Dietrich Boehnhoffer(sp) The Cost of Discipleship.
Monday at 11:30am ·
Frank Wynerth Summers III Pheme Perkins Reading the New Testament, Marsha Sinetar ‘s Do What You Love and the Money will Follow, most of Shakespeare and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Dudley Leblanc’s Acadian Miracle and The Man Who Founded California: The Life of Blessed Junipero Serra by M. N. L. Couve de Murville.
Monday at 11:36am ·
Frank Wynerth Summers III I guess I alone getting near twenty-five without mentioning Story of a Soul,Interior Castle, Dark Night of the Soul, Mere Chrisitianity, the Everlasting Man, Seven-Storey Mountain, These Stones will Shout (by Claver), any papal encyclicals, Greeley’s How to Save the Catholic Church, Malcolm Muggeridge’s Chronicles of Wasted Time, JFK’ Profiles in Courage, the documents of the Second Vatican Council, and ” Entre las patas de los caballos (Diario de un cristero)” by Luis RIVERO DEL VAL and not available in English…
Monday at 4:41pm ·
Frank Wynerth Summers III The truth is we ought to have a good Catholic library in this diocese with real circulation and we don’t in addition every middle class family should five or ten of these books only two or three of which are owned by all. But life goes on and darkness lays upon the land…
Monday at 4:44pm ·
MFTH: ‎@Frank: ‎@Frank: I’m hoping to do my little part to lift the darkness. First Son’s Name will be in 8th grade this year. My plan is to compile the list of 25, obviously there are many more I hope he reads in his lifetime, and spend this year collecting as many as I can in used copies or Kindle versions so that he has the collection in his hands at the start of his high school career. I’ll let him choose 5 to take with him when he leaves home to start his own good library and replace those for the next brother, and so on. Thank you for all your suggestions, it’s really nice to have input.

Monday at 5:10pm
Frank Wynerth Summers III Thanks for your kind words… I applaud your effort.
Monday at 6:05pm
CY Friend 10: Men, Women, and the Mystery of Love by Edward Sri (based on JPIIs Love & Responsibility -it’s “L&R for Dummies” 😉 –discusses mature material. I Believe in Love by d’Elbee–everyone needs to read this book, IMHO!
Frank Wynerth Summers III A Grief Observed by CS Lewis, Poustinia, Tragedy is my Parish, Models of the Church by Dulles (mentioned), Fathers a Fresh Start for the Christian Family by Iatesta, Jesus’s Saving Questions by Scanlon, The Jesuit Relations: Natives and Missionaries in Seventeenth-Century North America – the paperback abridged Bedford–, Dante’s Divine Comedy, Augustine’s City of God, Damian the Leper by John Farrow, Love, Medicine and Miracles by Bernie Siegel (secular Jew), Letters from a Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King,
Frank Wynerth Summers III Heroes of the French Epic: A Selection of Chansons de Geste [Paperback]Michael A. E. Newth, JRR Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings and Silmarilion, Poems of GK Chesterton, On Loving God by St. Bernard of Clairvaux,
Frank Wynerth Summers III The Canticle of the Sun properly published and a good biography of Saint Francis and a prayerbook based on his writings and sermons and St. Anthony of Padua and The little Flowers of St. Francis all function separately and all have their place — I put the Canticle first. Meet Katharine Drexel: Heiress and God’s Servant of the Oppressed, Jacques LeGoff’s Saint Louis especially if you do not get Cathederal and Crusade by Rops. I think ROps has fiteen tiny biographies in his Histoire de la Eglise de Christ better than most full-length bios. Person and the Common Good by Jacques Maritain, Reflections on the Natural Law by Jacques Maritain,
Virtue Of War: Reclaiming the Classic Christian Traditions East and West,
Tuesday Afternoon·
Frank Wynerth Summers
Elizabeth Ann Seton: Saint for a New Nation, The Mass of the Early Christians by Mike Aquilina, Sayings of the Fathers of the Desert and Go! You are Sent. The books I have listed here are all essential for any small Chrsitian community of educated American Catholics in my view. However almost no community of American Catholics has them all so my view must be unpopular. I am sure you will find a list from many places with 25 good books…

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