Essential Reading for the Pandemic

Many of us are working off-site these days, with most evenings free. Those of you with families are trying to not kill each other while also being creative and collaborative. More than a few have taken to streaming tv shows and movies, but I would suggest that while it can be fun to take in a good show or movie, great reading, especially in the evenings, is a worthwhile endeavor indeed. To that end, below I suggest 10 books that cover the gamut: fiction; history; spiritual theology; Catholic social thought; and political philosophy.

Most of these books have been recommended to me and/or I am familiar with the authors. There is something here for everyone and as a priest I could not leave out the greatest book of all, the Bible. But if one of the books below catches your eye – order it now from Amazon as you will likely see a significant delay in shipment. Apparently both Amazon and authorities deem the procurement of good reading as nonessential.

Flannery O’Connor – Collected Works – She is the master. I love O’Connor, but some of her stories may be a bit on the dark side for Pandemic reading. They are also redemptive.

The Fisherman’s Tomb – Recommended by my former boss at the St. Thomas law school. A fun and interesting read about the discovery of St. Peter’s tomb under the Basilica of St. Peter.

Getting Work Right – The author is Michael Naughton who spoke on this topic last fall at Our Lady of Lourdes. Mike is insightful and the topic of the relationship of work and leisure critical.

Resisting Throwaway Culture – Author is Charlie Camosy, a Catholic ethicist from Fordham. Camosy is a thoughtful Catholic centrist who builds important bridges to a consistent life ethic.

The Holy Bible – Catholic Edition – The Author is divine – need I say more. Three books follow that were recommended to me by lawyer friends. Yes, lawyers read more than law.

The Betrothed – Alessandro Manzoni – Recommended as the themes of the book relate to the Pandemic. One of Pope Francis’ favorite works of literature, which he makes reference to often.

Sacred Fire – Fr. Ron Rolheiser – Recommended by my friend Mary Novak from Georgetown law – Rolheiser who is always insightful, writes about a deeper human and Christian maturity.

Love in the Time of Cholera – The Author, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, is a Noble Prize winner. This beautiful and compelling love story was recommended by yet another lawyer who reads.

Why Liberalism Failed – Patrick Deneen – Deneen is a political philosopher at Notre Dame. Barack Obama and conservative Catholic commentator Ross Douthat both recommend this book.

Thomas Merton – Spiritual Master – We began with a collection from a literary master and we end with a collection of writings from a spiritual master. Spiritual wisdom for this critical time.

In addition to partaking of good books and staying connected with family and friends, I cannot think of anything more important than prayer – prayer for the mitigation of the crisis and for those throughout the country and the world suffering from the effects of the pandemic. Be safe and well.