The Best Catholic Books to Read During Christmas Break

St. Agnes Academy
Curious about what some of the best Catholic books to read are? Find one to read or listen to today on our list of 20+ books to read during Christmas break!
In 1932, C.S. Lewis penned a letter to fellow author Arthur Greeves saying, "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." Nearly 100 years later, this still rings true. Akin to C.S. Lewis's other works, many traditional Catholic or Christian books are read and recommended repeatedly. While the list of recommendations spans all categories and audiences, knowing where to begin can be overwhelming. 

Enter the St. Agnes Theology Department. This guide answers the common dilemma of what you should read over Christmas Break (or any free time). So, without further ado, explore our more than 20 recommendations for the best Catholic books to read on Christmas break.

Best Catholic Books to Read: A Breakdown by Genre

From fiction to memoirs to the Christmas story, we are confident there is a book for you to read!


- "Brideshead Revisited" by Evelyn Waugh 
Recommended by: Victoria Mastrangelo 

Follow along with the main character's accounts of friendships and affairs among a family of the old British aristocracy. This nostalgic and reflective book tells an exploratory story of desire, duty, and memory set in the golden age before the Second World War. 

- "The Father Brown Mysteries" by G.K. Chesterton 
Recommended by: Victoria Mastrangelo 

Murder and mayhem and priests, oh my! The source material for the BBC hit program "Father Brown" proves any detective fan will enjoy this tale of a wise and whimsical Norfolk priest.


- "He Leadeth Me" by Walter Ciszek, SJ
Recommended by: Victoria Mastrangelo 

This book tells the story of American Jesuit Father Walter J. Ciszek, who spent more than 20 years in Soviet prisons and labor camps in Siberia. Ciszek talks about the courage he found in prayer, which he believes allowed him to endure his darkest hours. 

- "My Life the Saints" by Fr. James Martin, SJ
Recommended by: Victoria Mastrangelo 

No matter the role James Martin found himself in - business student, Manhattan media mogul, corporate businessman, even a Jesuit priest - he found comfort and friendship in the saints of the Catholic Church. He revered the holy men and women as companions to help all of us by giving us comfort, examples of discipleship, and prayer. 

- "My Sisters the Saints" by Colleen Carroll Campbell
Recommended by: Victoria Mastrangelo 

Former White House speechwriter Colleen Carroll Campbell searched to no avail to find enlightenment from both secular feminists and their critics. Then, she tapped into a unique spiritual friendship with six female saints whose lives ultimately led her to rethink everything she thought she knew about being a liberated woman.


Recommended by: Dr. Sandra Derby

"Drinking with the Saints" is a quippy, fun book that explains libations appropriate for various seasons, feasts, and saints' days as they align with the Church's liturgical calendar. 

Recommended by: Adam Smyth

Author Jim Beckman introduces readers to the wisdom and teachings of the Church regarding prayer. This book leads us to understand the mysterious experience of daily prayer. 

Recommended by: Dr. Sandra Derby

This guide is a gentle call to prayer in both good times and bad. Each method contains a scripture passage, reflection, "prayer pointers," and words to take with you. 

Recommended by: Dr. Sandra Derby  

Father James Martin offers readers a practical "handbook" all about prayer. He describes what prayer is, what you can expect from it, how to do it, and how it can change our lives if we build it into our daily practices. 

Baby Jesus 

- "Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives" by Pope Benedict XVI (a/k/a Joseph Ratzinger)
Recommended by: Adam Smyth

This book, written by Pope Benedict, tells of Jesus' life as a child as written in Gospel accounts, starting with the Magi looking for redemption offered by the birth of a new king. Common themes of joy, hope, surrender, service, trust, and many more come to light in this work. 

- "The Little Way of the Infant Jesus" by Caryll Houselander
Recommended by: Herman Sutter

According to St. Agnes Librarian Herman Sutter, this book looks at the life of Christ, His sacrifice, and the example of His life are all present in the manger. The book also examines the vulnerable innocence of that blessed baby being utterly dependent on the humans around Him -- God placing Himself in human hands. 


Recommended by: Adam Smyth

Franciscan University of Steubenville biblical scholar John Bergsma introduces the "big picture" of salvation history in his overview of the Bible. Bergsma's combination of sound theology, academic expertise, pastoral wisdom, and endearing playfulness encourages readers to connect the great stories of the Bible with salvation in Jesus. 

Recommended by: Adam Smyth

Brant Pitre's book poses challenging questions: If we don't know who wrote the Gospels, how can we trust them? How can the four Gospels be historically accurate when they differ? and more. Backed with recent discoveries in the New Testament and historical evidence, Pitre offers concrete rebuttals to skeptics questioning the historical truth of the Gospels. 

Recommended by: Adam Smyth

Another great work by Pitre, backed with ancient Jewish beliefs, shines a light on one of the greatest mysteries of the Christian faith: Jesus' presence in the breaking of the bread at the Last Supper. 

For Kids

Recommended by: Dr. Christine Hernandez 

Dr. Hernandez describes this book as "a delightful read for a magical time of year either for the first time as an adult, to re-read, or even read aloud to kids. It has something for any age, filled with symbolism and themes of hope. It even features a brief appearance by Father Christmas!”

- "Saints Around the World" by Meg Hunter-Kilmer
Recommended by: Anna Sklut 

Read along to meet over one-hundred saints from more than sixty countries with different disabilities, strengths, and struggles. The storytelling and beautiful illustrations will introduce any reader to new heavenly friends. 

- "You are Special" by Max Lucado
Recommended by: Sophia 

This classic holds much symbolism in its characters and storyline while reminding readers that no matter what, God loves each of us just as we are. 


- "The Reed of God" by Caryll Houselander
Recommended by: Herman Sutter, Sandra Derby 

The second Houselander recommendation by St. Agnes Librarian Herman Sutter offers an in-depth explanation of Mary as a model of the Christian life.  

Recommended by: Victoria Mastrangelo 

In this book, Bishop Fulton Sheen touches on the different phases of Mary's life. Through his research on Mary, he connects the various life lessons common to humankind of every age. Still, he explicitly mentions women's strength and gifts and how they can heal the world's problems. 


- "A Gift of Joy and Hope" by Pope Francis 
Recommended by: Dr. Christine Hernandez 

In this encouraging book, Pope Francis digs into the meaning of true joy. He invites readers to embrace authentic beauty, reminds us to be open to encountering God even in the hardest times, and challenges readers to hope without doubt. 

- "Interior Freedom" by Jacques Philippe 
Recommended by: Adam Smyth

Author Jacques Philippe describes the connection of faith, hope, and love as theological virtues at the heart of our spiritual life. In "Interior Freedom," Philippe points out how important the virtue of hope is to our inner growth.

Recommended by: Anna Sklut, Dr. Sandra Derby 

Renowned Dutch Priest Henri Nouwen wrote this piece for a Jewish friend in which he shares what he believes it means to be a child of God. Through his honest and transparent writing, he deepens readers' faith while addressing the battles we all face when trying to live a Christian life. 

- "Love Unveiled" by Edward Sri
Recommended by: Victoria Mastrangelo 

Author Edward Sri walks readers through the many essential aspects of the Church. With assistance from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, he helps explain why and how the Catholic faith is made up of a mosaic of God's love for us and our participation in that love. 

- "New Seeds of Contemplation" by Thomas Merton 
Recommended by: Dr. Christine Hernandez 

Merton's "New Seeds of Contemplation" is an excellent read for those looking to dive deep into the spiritual life and who seek to learn further the ways of the mystics from a modern spiritual mystic. This book profoundly helps nurture our contemplative sides while provoking the mystical dimension in our lives. 

- "On the Incarnation" by St. Athanasius of Alexandria
Recommended by: Dr. Christine Hernandez 

A classic of Christian theology, composed by St. Athanasius in the fourth century, this short philosophical read explains with simplicity the spiritual and theological reasoning of the Incarnation. 

Recommended by: Dr. Sandra Derby 

Another great work from Nouwen, this book offers a glimpse into the author's spiritual adventure of a lifetime. In it, Henri describes his meditation and experience with feelings such as loneliness, dejection, jealousy, or anger. He ultimately offers a new perspective on homecoming, affirmation, and reconciliation.

Get to Reading Over Christmas Break!

Whether curled up on the sofa near the Crhstiams tree or the car stereo during a road trip, we hope one of the books makes your winter reading list. Faculty and staff at St. Agnes never stop learning, as proven by the Theology Department's hearty list of the best Catholic books to read.

There are countless resources available to students, teachers, parents, and more, whether it is a prayer, conversation, or book recommendation.

Contact us today to discuss more book recommendations with our faculty and staff. They are ready to share their knowledge with the community to help you gather more insights from our theology department.