Monsignor Charles M. Mangan, Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls, South Dakota:
St. Bernard of Clairvaux, The Story of His Life as Recorded in the Prima Vita Bernardi by Certain of His Contemporaries (London: A. R. Mowbray and Co.,1960).
What an inspiring book about an inspiring character. St. Bernard is viewed by several of his contemporaries. I found this volume to be both informative and edifying. It seems to be a reliable look at St. Bernard and his life only a few years after St. Bernard's death.
Geoffrey Gneuhs, artist and member of the Dorothy Day Guild:
Alessandro Manzoni, The Betrothed (in Italian, I Promessi Sposi) Originally published in 1827, it is considered the greatest Italian novel, and Manzoni, the father of the Italian language.
It has been reported that it is Pope Francis's favorite novel, which he has read three times, and that he keeps at his bedside. This historical novel set in 17th-century Milan chronicles wars, crime, pestilence, famine, plague, and the lives of peasants, two in particular, Renzo and Lucia, and their struggle to be wed in Holy Matrimony. It is a grand presentation of the Catholic faith.
To appreciate the exuberant pastoral proclamations of forgiveness, mercy, and compassion of Pope Francis, one should read this novel.
Frederick Marks, historian, Catholic apologist, and professor of English at New York University Polytechnic Institute:
Warren H. Carroll, The Crisis of Christendom (Christendom Press, 2013). Covering the years 1815-2010, this is volume 6 of a magisterial history of Christendom. Whatever you could want in a history you will find here: magnificent scope, riveting style, a philosophical outlook that is at once cosmopolitan and unashamedly Catholic. Heroes are heroes, villains villains. One of the best chronicles I have ever read of ANY period!
Paul Mariani, poet, biographer, and University Professor of English, Boston College:
Rick Atkinson, The Guns at Last Light(Henry Holt & Co., 2013). The third book in Atkinson’s World War II trilogy.
Alice McDermott, Someone(Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2013).