Fish Eaters: The Whys and Hows of Traditional Catholicism

``Where the Bishop is, there let the multitude of believers be;
even as where Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church'' Ignatius of Antioch, 1st c. A.D

Recommended Books


Below is a list of books I recommend families start buying to build up a family library, and that parishes buy to build up a parish library. Unlike the digital books found in this site's Catholic library, the selection includes books that aren't Faith-focused. This is not a list of every great book or good read; these are core books -- books (or types of books) that are, in my opinion, extremely important to the preservation of Western civilization, or extremely helpful in helping young people to become well-rounded.

I recommend getting actual hard copies of these -- books you can hold in your hands -- and, if possible, in hardcover format. Don't rely on books that rely on "the grid"!

Going out of your way to choose books with beautiful illustrations (if they have illustrations at all) is also a good thing, and one way to help your children fall in love with reading (please teach your children to be careful with books, to not write in them or handle them roughly such that their spines break, etc., so they can be handed down to their own children.).

Look to E-bay,, thrift shops, and used book stores to find vintage editions of some of these books.


Douay-Rheims version of the Bible
A traditional daily missal of choice
Baltimore Catechisms 1-4
Butler, Fr. Alban: Lives of the Saints

Augustine: City of God
Augustine: Confessions
Aquinas: Summa Theologica (or, more realistically, a compendium thereof for the layman)

Thomas a Kempis: The Imitation of Christ
Ignatius of Loyola: Spiritual Exercises
Belloc, Hillaire: The Servile State
Chesterton, G. K.: Orthodoxy
Chesterton, G. K.: Everlasting Man
Denzinger, Henry: The Sources of Catholic Dogma
Lewis, C. S.: The Screwtape Letters
Lewis, C. S.:  Mere Christianity
Lewis, C. S.:  The Abolition of Man
Ott, Ludwig: Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma
Salvany, Felix Sarda y: Liberalism is a Sin
Therese of Lisieux: Story of a Soul


Alighieri, Dante: The Divine Comedy
Fyodor: Crime and Punishment
Dostoevesky, Fyodor: The Brothers Karamazov
Dostoevsky, Fyodor: The Devils
Dostoevsky, Fyodor: The Idiot
Golding, William: Lord of the Flies
Huxley, Aldous: Brave New World
Orwell, George: 1984
Orwell, George: Animal Farm
Shakespeare: Collected Works
Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr: The Gulag Archipelago (three volumes)
A collection of great poetry
Short story collections (complete for each author, if possible) by Edgar Allan Poe, Guy de Maupassant, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Shirley Jackson, Flannery O'Connor, O. Henry, and Arthur Conan Doyle

Political (for Americans)

Hamilton, Alexander; Jefferson, Thomas; John Jay: The Federalist Papers
De Tocqueville, Alexis: Democracy in America
Kennedy, David M.: The American Pageant: A History of the Republic
Coulombe, Charles: Puritan's Empire
Panné, Jean-Louis: The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression
Dalrymple, Theodore: Life at the Bottom
Lobaczewski, Andrew M.: Political Ponerology

Traditional Skills and Knowledge

Foxfire books: a series of 12 books that teach traditional skills necessary for survival
A vintage college level textook on the history of Western civilization
A vintage college level texbook on basic logic
Four text books to cover basic mathematics, alegebra, geometry, and calculus 
Five text books to serve as introductions to astronomy, geology, biology, chemistry, and physics
Latin grammar course (not that all are expected to master Latin, but we're Catholics and should have some familiarity with it)
Two texts on English grammar: one for children, one for those reading at an adult level
An English dictionary printed before ~1980
A thesaurus

For Children

The Victory Drill Book:  a clear and comprehensive phonics-based reading system for kids learning to read 1
McGuffey's Readers: a series of seven books to be used in grades K - 6
Aesop: collected fables
Anderson, Hans Christian: collected fairy tales
The Brothers Grimm: collected fairy tales
Mother Goose: collected fairy tales and nursery rhymes
Alcott, Louisa May Alcott: Little Women
Carroll, Lewis:  Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Carroll, Lewis:  Through the Looking-Glass (the sequel to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland)
Kipling, Rudyard: Just So Stories for Little Children
Malory, Thomas: The Boy's King Arthur, edited by Sidney Lanier, illustrations by N.C. Wyeth
Pyle, Howard: The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood
Twain, Mark: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
The "Little House" books: an eight-book series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Nancy Drew book series: Best to stick to those published before 1959, and definitely to those published before 1980.
The Hardy Boys book series: Best to stick to those published before 1959, and definitely to those published before 1980.
Adams Synchronological Chart or Map of History
Levitt, I. M. and Marshall, Roy K.: Star Maps for Beginners
Peterson Field Guides to the flora, fauna, rocks, and minerals of their area
A picture-laden book of the history of art
A picture-laden book of the glories of Christendom (cathedrals, castles, etc.)

Other Things A Child Should Have, If Possible

Access to recordings of great music, from chant to classical to opera to Big Band jazz to the Beatles and on
Flash cards pertaining to addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division so these are known "intuitively," by rote
Knowledge of Latin and Greek root words (pdf here)
A globe
A magnifying glass
A musical instrument of his choice (or access to one) if any interest or talent is demonstrated
Art supplies
His own little treasure chest, preferably a beautiful, wooden one, in which he can keep things
A telescope
A microscope
A good selection of games (at the very least, a chess set and a deck of cards)
For boys (and the outlier female): his own tool kit
Smart phone

1 I can't recommend "The Victory Drill Book" highly enough. It's quite simple and intuitive, and if you get a copy and go through it with your child in a disciplined way, he will become a competent reader -- and quickly, much more quickly than you likely think. If he learns to read with the Victory Drill Book, and is taught Latin and Greek root words, he will be able to read and understand most anything. If you can't afford books, see "Nonna's Books" for free pdf books, including two that will help you teach your child to read.

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