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Our Favorite Books of 2013

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Daniel McInerny - published on 12/26/13 - updated on 06/07/17

Father Thomas Berg, professor of moral theology, St. Joseph’s Seminary, Yonkers, New York:

Sherry Weddell, Forming Intentional Disciples (Our Sunday Visitor, 2012). I would just refer you to this column that I wrote on it.

Dan Brophy, Catherine of Siena: A Passionate Life. An extremely well written, non-pietistic, historical biography yet written from the perspective of a believer in a manner which easily situates us in the historical period of Catherine and also does a credible job of penetrating her psychology and spiritual experience.

Jim Gaffigan, Dad is Fat. A hilarious account of parenting which, almost without the reader realizing it, through the vehicle of good, clean humor, constitutes a panegyric for family and parenting.

George Weigel, Evangelical Catholicism. Weigel's account of the period in which the Church now finds itself—the age of evangelical Catholicism—is plausible and thought-provoking.

Joseph Pearce, biographer and writer-in-residence and professor of humanities, Thomas More College of the Liberal Arts:

I'd like to nominate two new works of fiction as my "best books”:

Arthur Powers, The Book of Jotham (Tuscany Press, 2013). This first book is a wonderfully moving novella which narrates the life of Christ through the eyes of a mentally handicapped disciple. His interactions with St. Mary Magdalene, Judas Iscariot and others are psychologically gripping and the whole narrative packs a pro-life punch.

Dena Hunt, Treason (Sophia Institute Press, 2013). This second is an historical novel set in Elizabethan England which follows the interweaving fortunes of an underground priest and a deeply faithful but deeply troubled woman against a backdrop of secular fundamentalist persecution. It's in the same mould as R. H. Benson's novel, Come Rack! Come Rope! and, me judice, is as good.

Ronald Rychlak, Snow, O’Mara, Stevens and Cannada Lecturer and Professor of Law, University of Mississippi School of Law:

Neal Thompson, A Curious Life: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert “Believe It or Not!”Ripley (Crown Archetype, 2013). 

Rich Cohen, Monsters: The 1985 Chicago Bears and the Wild Heart of Football(Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2013).

and, “immodestly,”

Ion Mihai Pacepa and Ronald Rychlak,Disinformation: Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategies for Undermining Freedom, Attacking Religion, and Promoting Terrorism(WND Books, 2013).

Dr. William K. Thierfelder, President, Belmont Abbey College:

This may be a shameless self-promotion but I did publish a book this year titled, Less Than A Minute To Go: The Secret to World-Class Performance in Sport, Business and Everyday Life. The forward is by Coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Michael Novak wrote in one of the reviews:

"If you love peak experiences–the sheer beauty of the perfect act, especially in almost impossible circumstances–the sheer beauty of doing exactly the right thing in the right place, at the right time, in the right way–you will learn here how to achieve them ever more frequently. I don't quite trust people who don't love and respect sports. I trust Bill Thierfelder a lot! He gets it–the beauty of the perfect act, and what that takes in grueling practice and perfect alertness and keen self-knowledge. Besides, he loves and admires George Blanda."

Monica Migliorino Miller, founder of Citizens for a Pro-Life Society:

I would also like to mention my own, Abandoned: The Untold Story of the Abortion Wars (Saint Benedict Press, 2012).

Tim Drake, journalist, author, and New Evangelization Coordinator at Holdingford Area Catholic Community:

Scott Hahn, Consuming the Word: The New Testament and the Eucharist in the Early Church (Image, 2013). I read this as part of a weekly men's prayer and book discussion group this year.

While I've read several of Dr. Hahn's books, I found this one particularly enjoyable and easy-to-read. Dr. Hahn ably connects the early Church's practice of the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

It was the Eucharist that first drew me to the Catholic Church as a Lutheran convert to the faith. I continue to have a deep love of Christ in the Eucharist and try to help others to know Christ by teaching RCIA. Dr. Hahn's book would be a great introduction for any non-Catholic wondering about the Church's understanding and teaching of the Eucharist.

Fr. Bill Miscambe, a Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame

I just want to offer one title to you for your Best Books list and it Michael Novak's memoir Writing from Left to Right: My Journey from Liberal to ConservativeLet me offer this brief comment:
I recommend this book as a terrific lens through which to view some of the major political, intellectual and cultural debates and developments of the past century. It is a clear and enlightening account of an important intellectual journey written with a real generosity of spirit. Novak is a morally courageous thinker who was willing to question his own assumptions and to change his mind on key matters of politics  and economics in light of his analysis of the evidence.  His book is especially interesting in its focus on developments in the U.S. during the 1960s, '70s and '80s. Novak's account of his associations with Eugene McCarthy, Bobby Kennedy, Sargent Shriver and George McGovern is fascinating and filled with insight.  Those interested in the power of ideas and in their application will assuredly appreciate this book. 

Steven Meyer, Assistant Professor of Theology at St Mary's Seminary in the University of St Thomas in Houston, TX

1. Cardinal Donald Wuerl, New Evangelization: Passing on the Catholic Faith Today (Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor, 2013).

Published early in 2013, Cardinal Donald Wuerl the Relator, also referred to as the moderator or general secretary of the fall 2012 Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith, gives a distillation of the key themes from the Synod. I recommend reading this as a supplement to the Apostolic Exhortation by Pope Francis Evangelii Gaudium.

2. John Vidmar, O.P., 101 Questions and Answers On The Crusades and the Inquisition: Disputed Questions (New York/Mahwah, NJ: 2013).

A Dominican Priest from the Province of St. Joseph (who better to discuss the Inquisition with!), is a former Church History Professor at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, DC. He currently teaches at Providence College. Vidmar’s genius is to translate the most recent historical scholarship on the Crusades and Inquisition with his easy going style.

Daniel McInerny is the editor of the English edition of Aleteia. You are invited to email him at daniel.mcinerny@aleteia.org, friend him on Facebook (“Daniel McInerny”), and follow him on Twitter @danielmcinerny.

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