Top 100 Catholic Theology Books: A Book List by Taylor Marshall for the New Saint Thomas Institute

Dr. Taylor Marshall’s Life Time Reading Plan

Texts and Translations Compiled by the New Saint Thomas Institute

Version 1.2

Dear Reader,

There are many great books on this list. Please don’t feel overwhelmed. Try to read 10 of these books every year—one every 5 weeks. After 10 years, you’ll be better read than most college professors. Before you get too zealous, make sure that you have read the Bible at least one time. There is only one book on the list with God as its author. Read Sacred Scripture 365 days per year. The other authors are secondary.

Godspeed,
Taylor Marshall, PhD

Bibles

Dr. Marshall only recommends two English Bibles for serious theology students: Douay Rheims-Challoner and RSV-CE with a preference for the Douay Rheims-Challoner in most cases:

Holy Bible Douay Rheims Translation

Holy Bible RSV- Catholic Edition

Biblia Sacra Vulgata Clementina (English and Latin Edition) by Bishop Richard Challoner and Michele Tvveedale. There are three Vulgates out there for sale. You want what is called the “Clementine Vulgate.” This is the Vulgate version used in the Old Mass and resembles the version used by Saint Thomas Aquinas and all Catholic authors until the late 1970s. You can immediately tell which Vulgate you are holding by turning to Genesis 3:20 and looking at the name of Adam’s wife:

  • If it’s spelled Heva: Clementine Vulgate (1592) – the standard printed Latin Vulgate of the Catholic Church for Scripture and Liturgy until the Nova Vulgata (1979)
  • If it’s spelled Hava: Stuttgart Vulgate (1969) – a scholarly critical edition of the Latin Vulgate from the German Bible Society, not used in the liturgies of the Catholic Church. This is an academic Vulgate with a critical apparatus – it often includes the Pslater iuxta Hebraeos.
  • If it’s spelled Eva: Nova Vulgata (1979) – the official Catholic edition of the Latin Vulgate currently used in the ordinary liturgies of the Catholic Church (i.e. Missale Romanum 1969 & Liturgia Horarum)

Greek-English New Testament by Barbara Aland and Kurt Aland. This will allow you to look at the Greek next to the English.

Septuaginta (Greek translation of Old Testament) by Alfred Rahlfs and Robert Hanhart

Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia Editio Secunda Emendata (Hebrew Old Testament) by Rudolf Kittel, K. Elliger and W. Rudolph. This is the Hebrew Old Testament currently used by scholars. I personally prefer Septuagint reading to this Masoretic Hebrew text, as I believe that they are older and more original—something the Dead Sea Scrolls has taught us.

Catechisms

Dr. Marshall recommends the study of three catechisms. All three are magisterial documents:

Roman Catechism (1566) This is the Catechism issued after the Council of Trent.

Catechism of Saint Pius X (1908) This is the Catechism issued by Saint Pius X in 1908. It’s fantastic and underappreciated.

Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992) This is the current Catechism endorsed by the Catholic Church.

Thomas Aquinas and Thomism

Dr. Marshall asks students at the New Saint Thomas Institute to invest in the English Dominican version of the Summa theologiae. He recommends the following two Summa versions, one in Latin/English (best) and one in English only (better).

Summa theologiae (Latin and English) by Saint Thomas Aquinas

Summa theologiae (English only) by Saint Thomas Aquinas

Helpful books on Saint Thomas Aquinas and Thomism:

Thomas Aquinas in 50 Pages by Taylor Marshall

St. Thomas Aquinas: The Dumb Ox by G. K. Chesterton

50 Questions on the Natural Law by Charles E. Rice

Reality: A Synthesis of Thomistic Thought by Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange

The One God, commentary on Summa Theologica I.1-26 by Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange

The Trinity and God the Creator, commentary on Summa Theologica I.27-119 by Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange

Beatitude (1951), commentary on Summa Theologica I-II.1-54 by Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange

Grace (1947), commentary on Summa Theologica I-II.109-114. by Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange

The Theological Virtues – Vol. 1: Faith (1948), commentary on Summa Theologica II-II.1-16 by Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange

Christ the Saviour (1945), commentary on Summa Theologica III.1-26, 31-59 by Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange

The Sacred Monster of Thomism : an introduction to the life and legacy of Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange by Richard Peddicord

 

Catholicism Explained

The Spirit of Catholicism by Karl Adams

Spirit and Forms of Protestantism by Louis Bouyer

Christianity for Modern Pagans by Peter Kreeft

The Lord by Romano Guardini

Essay on Development of Christian Doctrine by Blessed John Henry Newman

Parochial and Plain Sermons by Blessed John Henry Newman

End of the Modern World by Romano Guardini

Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma by Ludwig Ott

The Crucified Rabbi: Judaism and the Origins of Catholicism by Taylor Marshall

The Catholic Perspective on Paul: Paul and the Origins of Catholicism by Taylor Marshall

The Eternal City: Rome and the Origins of Catholicism by Taylor Marshall

 

History & Heresy

The Great Heresies by Hilaire Belloc

How The Reformation Happened by Hilaire Belloc

Survivals and New Arrivals by Hilaire Belloc

Christendom I: Founding of Christendom by Warren Carroll

Christendom II: The Building of Christendom by Warren Carroll

Christendom III: The Glory of Christendom by Warren Carroll

Christendom IV: The Cleaving of Christendom by Warren Carroll

Triumph : The Power and the Glory of the Catholic Church by H. W. Crocker III

Enthusiasm by Ronald Knox

Love of Learning and the Desire for God by Jean Leclercq

Christianity and European Culture by Christopher Dawson

Holy Men and Women

Apologia Pro Vita Sua by Blessed John Henry Newman

Journal of a Soul by Saint John XXIII

The Long Loneliness by Dorothy Day

St. Francis of Assisi by G. K. Chesterton

Cure of Ars by F. Trochu

Thomas More: A Portrait of Courage by Gerard B. Wegemer

The King’s Good Servant but God’s First by James Monti

Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II by George Weigel

Crossing the Threshold of Hope by Pope John Paul II

Great Christian Literature

Lord of the World by Robert Hugh Benson

The Diary of a Country Priest by George Bernanos

Hopkins: Poetry and Prose by George Manley Hopkins

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri

Christianity and Culture by T. S. Eliot

The Idea of a University by Blessed John Henry Newman

Silence by Shusaku Endo

Quo Vadis by Henryk Sienkiewicz

Lost in the Cosmos : The Last Self-Help Book by Walker Percy

Love in the Ruins by Walker Percy

Flannery O’Connor: Complete Stories by Flannery O’Connor

The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

Helena by Evelyn Waugh

Mariology

Our Lady of Fatima by William T. Walsh

The Mother of the Saviour and our Interior Life by Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange

Ineffabilis Deus Apostolic Constitution by Pope Pius IX

Munificentissimus Deus Apostolic Constitution by Pope Pius XII

33 Days to Morning Glory: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat In Preparation for Marian Consecrationby Fr Michael Gaitley

All Generations Shall call me Blessed: Biblical Mariology by Fr Stephano Manelli

Philosophy
(Books Not Already under Thomas Aquinas)

Plato: Complete Works Hardcover, John M. Cooper (Editor), D. S. Hutchinson (Editor)

Complete Works of Aristotle, Vol. 1 (Barnes Edition)

Complete Works of Aristotle, Vol. 2 (Barnes Edition)

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, translated by Gregory Hays. Not Christian, but Marcus Aurelius is the best introduction to Stoic philosophy. You need to understand Stoicism if you study Augustine or Thomas Aquinas.

Socratic Logic Edition 3.1 by Peter Kreeft. This is the best introduction to Logic in print.

Essays on Woman by Edith Stein

The Four Cardinal Virtues by Josef Pieper

The Intellectual Life by A. G. Sertillanges

Between Heaven and Hell: A Dialog Somewhere Beyond Death with John F. Kennedy, C. S. Lewis & Aldous Huxley by Peter Kreeft

Spiritual Classics

Confessions of St. Augustine by Saint Augustine

Little Talks with God (modernized version of “The Dialogues”) by Saint Catherine

City of God by Saint Augustine

The Problem of Pain by C. S. Lewis

Dark Night of the Soul by Saint John of the Cross

Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis

The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis

The Everlasting Man by G. K. Chesterton

Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton

Meditations from a Simple Path by Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

Interior Castle by Saint Teresa of Avila

The Way of Perfection by Saint Teresa of Avila

Story of a Soul by Saint Therese of Lisieux

Spiritual Reading

The Great Means of Salvation and Perfection by Saint Alphonsus Liguori

Uniformity with God’s Will by Saint Alphonsus Liguori

Spiritual Theology by Jordan Aumann

Frequent Confession by Benedict Baur

In Silence with God by Benedict Baur

Difficulties in Mental Prayer by Eugene Boylan

The Tremendous Lover by Eugene Boylan

Covenanted Happiness by Cormac Burke

The Soul of the Apostolate by Jean-Baptiste Chautard

Friends of God by Saint Josemaria Escriva

Christ is Passing By by Saint Josemaria Escriva

The Way, Furrow, The Forge by Saint Josemaria Escriva

Way of the Cross by Jose Maria Escriva

All for Jesus by Frederick W. Faber

Abandonment to Divine Providence by Jean-Pierre De Caussade

Introduction to Devout Life by Saint Francis de Sales

Treatise on the Love of God by Saint Francis de Sales

Three Ages of Interior Life Volume I by Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange

Three Ages of Interior Life Volume II by Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange

Sinner’s Guide by Venerable Louis of Grenada

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas A. Kempis

True Devotion to the Holy Spirit by Luis M. Martinez

True Devotions by Saint Louis-Marie Grignion De Montfort

The Hidden Power of Kindness by Lawrence G. Lovasik

The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni

The Sadness of Christ by Saint Thomas More

Conversation with Christ by Peter T. Rohrbach

Spiritual Combat by Lorenzo Scupoli

Theology and Sanity by Francis J. Sheed

Theology for Beginners by Francis J. Sheed

To Know Christ Jesus by Francis J. Sheed

Life of Christ by Fulton J. Sheen

Three to Get Married by Fulton J. Sheen

The Spiritual Life by Adolphe Tanqueray

Abba Father by Bonaventure Perquin

Transformation in Christ by Dietrich von Hildebrand

Searching for and Maintaining Peace: A Small Treatise on Peace of Heart by Fr Jacque Phillipe

Question: Did I miss any good books? What are your favorites? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Comments Policy: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic. If your comment contains a hyperlink to another site, your comment automatically goes into "Comments Purgatory" where it waits for release by way of moderation.

  • One book that I would suggest, if I may, is “The Incredible Catholic Mass” by Fr. Martin von Cochem. Totally awesome!

  • MPR

    Hello, Dr. Marshall! Thanks for this list! I also appreciate the links to the editions that you endorse. It is a great help!
    God bless you and your family!
    +JMJ+
    MPR

  • josef rueschli

    you have done us all a great service by posting the list of the hundred, as you have. I have many of those that you have listed and others that i think you might enjoy, but i won’t list them all:
    1. Saints and Sinners by Eamon Duffy; a history of the Popes.
    2. The Faith of the Early Fathers, Vols. 1-3, by William A. Jurgens
    3.The Literature of the New Testament, by Ernest Findlay Scott. E. F. Scott used 2 pages, the
    books Preface, to explain his purpose for writing this most excellent book,
    4. all the other books by Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange that he has written and translated in English,
    5. the “Mary Book” by sister Mary Ada, a part of, as follows:
    The Ancient Greyness shifted
    Suddenly and thinned
    Like mist upon the moors
    Before a wind.
    An old, old prophet lifted
    A shining face and said:
    “He will be coming soon,
    The Son of God is dead;
    He died this afternoon.”

    A murmurous excitement stirred
    All souls,
    They wondered if they had dreamed-
    Save one old man who seemed
    Not even to have heard.

    And Moses standing,
    Hushed them all to ask
    If any had a welcomed song prepared,
    If not, would David take the task?
    And if they cared
    Could not the three young children sing
    The Benedicite, the canticle of praise
    They made when God kept them from perishing
    In the fiery blaze?

    A breath of spring surprised them,
    Stilling Moses’ words.
    No one could speak, remembering
    The first fresh flowers,
    The little singing birds,
    Still others thought of fields new ploughed
    Or apple trees
    All blossom bouughed.
    Or some, the way a dried bed fills
    With water
    Laughing down green hills,
    The fisherman dreamed of the foam
    On bright blue seass.
    The one old man who had not stirred
    remembering home.

    And there He was
    Splendid as the morning sun and fair
    As only God is fair.
    And they, confused with joy,
    Knelt to adore
    Seeing that He wore
    Five crimson stars
    He never had before.

    No canticle at all was sung,
    None toned a psalm, or raised a greeting song,
    A silent man alone
    Of all that throng
    Found tongue–
    Not any other.
    Close to His heart
    When the embrace was done,
    Old Joseph said,
    “How is Your Mother,
    How is Your Mother, Son?”

    to explain the purpose of his book, so i will not try otherwise, but it is a valuable and a keeper
    book

  • josef rueschli

    I commented earlier, but was interrupted with my answer and forgot to mention the following that I think other readers, as yourself would enjoy:
    1. He and I, by Gabrielle Brossis; a book for daily reading and meditation,
    2. The Order of Things by Fr. James V. Schall, S.J…….truly a basic, hardcore Philosophy book.
    (Fr. Schall. has written many terrific books, ie. Schall on Chesterton)
    3. IOTA UNUM by Romano Amerio, a very thorough study of changes in the Catholic Church
    in the XXth century.
    …………all comprise a life time of good reading

  • Frank

    What an enormous task! Great job. I’m happy to say that I have lots of reading ahead of me.

    Let me just recommend Peter Kreeft and Frank Sheed to anyone who hasn’t read them before. Kreeft’s Socratic Logis isn’t just a superb technical textbook, it’s also a treasure trove of superb quotes from great literature. As for Sheed, Theology and Sanity is on kindle for pennies, nuff said.

    Great list Dr Marshall .

  • Dr. M,
    Excellent list. Have you thought about including St. Benedict’s Rule?
    God bless,
    Kevin Hansen

  • James Rauch

    Under Mariology I am surprised not to see the World’s First Love by Fulton J. Sheen.

  • Jim Anderson

    Isn’t it a little presumptuous to include some of your own books in the Top 100 Catholic Theology Books?

  • Patsy Koenig

    Good list, Mr. Marshall. I would add Butler’s “Lives of the Saints.”

  • Cindy

    I think you should check out the link for: Ineffabilis Deus Apostolic Constitution by Pope Pius IX. The amazon link you provided is for a “book” by Nabu Press. I’ve had inquiries in the past about Nabu Press because they seemed to be the only publisher that had a lot of very old in print that no other publisher had. Then I noticed on every one of the books they always have a little note stating there may be “imperfections in the text”, etc. I did a little online research and it turns out they’re actually not what one would call a reputable press, rather, some sort of amateurish business. There have been many complaints by people who excitedly order older texts they can’t seem to get anywhere else, only to find only the first few pages are available, not the entire book. So, I’d look into it. I don’t know if you have any other links to books by Nabu Press.

  • What? Nothing by Pope XVI? The man is brilliant and so readable.

    • Oops, sorry for the typo. I meant by Pope Benedict XVI.

  • Catherine loft

    Favourite books
    1. The Gospel as revealed to Me by Maria Valtorta
    2. The Life of Saint Joseph by Maria Baij
    3. Through the Eyes of Jesus by Alan Ames
    4. Get Me Out Of Here by Maria Simma
    5. The Other Side and many other books by Michael h. Brown
    6. The light of Love by Patricia Devlin
    7. Forty Dreams of Saint John Bosco
    8. Surprised by truth by Patrick Madrid et Alia
    9. Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry by Diane Allen
    10. Healer of souls biography of father Peter Mary Rookey by Kathleen Quasey

  • Thank you, Dr. Marshall, for starting this conversation and for your book suggestions.

    I would like to add The Ball and the Cross and The Flying Inn by G.K. Chesterton to a (new) Most Entertaining Catholic Fiction category (bonus: the topics/themes overlap with those in his more serious works without the works descending to the realm of didactic literature…and yes, I would rather read Tolstoy’s Death of Ivan Ilyich than his What I Believe). For leisure reading related to Church history, I prefer Patrology, by Johannes Quasten.

  • RJO

    The Little World of Don Camillo by G. Guareschi

  • Paul Diemert

    Fr. Matthias J. Scheeben, has several books now available in English. “The Mysteries of Christianity” being his most complete and crowning work.

  • Francis44

    Preparation for Death by St. Alphonsus de Ligouri

  • Packerfan

    Jesus Shock by Peter Kreeft

  • Michael Chan

    I’d definitely add The Spirit of the Liturgy by Cardinal Ratzinger, aka Benedict XVI.

  • Bruce Bedford

    Taylor, thank you so much for the “Top 100” list. You will likely never know what this list does for me. I wish I would have had it 35 years ago.

  • Tania J.

    The World’s First Love, by Blessed Fulton Sheen

    • LizEst

      Excellent, excellent book!

  • Jess Gray

    True Devotion to Mary” by St. Louis de Montfort also, the Diary of St. Faustina

  • Therese Dougherty

    I propose three fiction books:

    Outlaws of Ravenhurst by Sister M. Imelda Wallace. It is set in America in colonial times and in Scotland, where to be Catholic was counted as treason. I read it first when I was in grade school, but found a copy a few years back and have read it several times since and enjoyed it every time.

    Murder at the Vatican by Margaret Lewis . Ms. Lewis takes offhand comments made by Dr. Watson in the Sherlock Holmes stories (The death of Cardinal Tosca, The Vatican Cameos and The Second Coptic Patriarch). This short book catches the feeling of Conan Doyle’s stories with a Catholic flavor.

    The Sister Agatha stories by Aimee and David Thurlo. I like mysteries and thoroughly enjoyed each of the well-crafted six mysteries in this series. Sister Agatha is an extern nun for a cloistered order. I particularly liked that her vocation was a key part of who she was–Prayer was central to her life, even getting involved with solving mysteries was done in obedience to Mother Superior.

  • David Morton

    I would also like to add: In the Shadow of His Wings by Fr Gereon Goldman; He Leadeth Me by Fr Walter Ciszek and Union with God by Abbot Marmion

  • Nicole

    Three books by Pope Benedict (the first was published as Joseph Ratzinger) (1) Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration (2) Jesus of Nazareth Part Two, Holy Week: From the Entrance Into Jerusalem To The Resurrection (3) Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives.
    Also one of my favorite fiction works is by Msgr Robert Hugh Benson: Come Rack Come Rope about Catholics in Elizabethan England. In fact he wrote a number of books set in that period all of which are good.

  • LizEst

    “Navigating the Interior Life” by Dan Burke on Spiritual Direction.
    It’s also available in Spanish: “Navegando La Vida Interior”.

  • K.S.

    I’m a convert from Lutheranism. I had a nifty Study Bible–Concord SB. I liked it because it had a built-in commentary and Luther’s notes. Is there a recommended Catholic Study Bible? Thank you!

  • Joe

    Thank you. Great list. I’d add books by Scott Hahn. And then pepper in Merton and Nouwen…

  • Alejandro Macia

    Very good, but very similar to a list I saw from Fr John McCloskey… who should credit who?

  • Karen Shirk

    “Where We Got the Bible: Our Debt to the Catholic Church” by Henry G. Graham.** Excellent.
    “Divine Mercy in My Soul: The Diary of (Saint) Sister Faustina.”
    “Seven Lies About Catholic History” by Diane Moczar. Short, easy to read.
    “The Secret Diary of Elisabeth Leseur” (especially good for those in difficult marriages).
    “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl.

  • Felisa Mercado

    Way of Divine Love, Sister Josefa Menendez,

  • Sherry B. Cleveland

    Everything written by Archbishop Fulton Sheen? Or am I just prejudiced?