Thursday, March 29, 2012

How to Identify Good Solid Catholic Books

How do you know if a Catholic book, either fiction or nonfiction, is a good Catholic book? That it contains authentic Catholicity?

Just browsing the internet or bookstore, it's hard to decide until you delve into the book. For the reader or gift giver, it's difficult enough, but if you're a Catholic bookstore owner, your job revolves around choosing appropriate books to sell. You don't have time to read them all, though you have enormous responsibility.

I hope this post will help.

If a book holds the Imprimatur, of course it is obedient to Catholic teachings. The Fisheaters explain the Imprimatur as well as the Nihil Obstat.

The Imprimatur says that the bishops give the a-ok for the book to be printed and that the book is free of doctrinal error. However, many very good Catholic friendly books don't have this. Your bishop doesn't have time to read hundreds of books to sort out the good ones, so please don't mail him your billion word novel about the wizard boy living under the castle stairs who discovers he's a Catholic when a friendly giant bursts down the door with a Vatican shaped birthday cake. "You're a Christian, Harry!"

Check out Jimmy Akin's podcast, (I believe it was the second question, about 1/2 way through the podcast) in which he discusses Canon Law about when to seek the Imprimatur. He's addressing a question about blogs, but he discusses printed material.

The Catholic Writers' Guild has a Seal of Approval they will give books in line with Catholic teachings. If you're a Catholic writer, go check out the Guild website to learn how to apply for the Seal and about how to join the Guild. They're a wonderful organization.

Other good ways to find good Catholic books is to shop publishers and reliable Catholic web sites. Sophia Institute Press, Catholic Answers, Ascension Press, and Our Sunday Visitor are all examples of reliable resources. However, you don't have to ignore smaller presses, secular publishers, or the self published. That's why the CWG Seal of Approval is so helpful.

The discussion boards at are another super resource. If you're not sure, you can do a search for a book or author and there just may be a thread that will tell you what you want to know. Or start a thread of your own and ask if others have read what you're interested in.

What? Don't tell me you haven't signed up for the Catholic Answers discussion forum! Well, go do that now. It's free and you get to make up a cool name for yourself. Which you never get to change. No matter how stupid you later realize it to be. Yeah. Hmm...

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