Thursday, April 27, 2017

Katie Reads {6}

Time to chat about what I've been reading!  I've got a Saint themed stack for you today, with books for both kids and adults.  

(FYI- the links for the books are Amazon Affiliate links.  That means that if you click through and purchase something, I will receive a small commission at no cost to you.  I will gratefully use it, probably to stock up on more books! :)  )

Since I would rather be reading than writing long book reviews, I'll give you a grade and a quick run down- totally just my opinion based on what I enjoy.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on these books or suggestions of what I should read next in the comments! 
You can check out other book recommendations here: 
Katie Reads {1} 
Katie Reads {2}  
Katie Reads {3} 
Katie Reads {4}
Katie Reads {5}

Mother Teresa of Calcutta, A Personal Portrait, Fr. Leo Maasburg, {A}

  • Newly Canonized St. Teresa of Calcutta is our CCD Patron Saint this year, so this book was a natural choice to give to all of my volunteers this Christmas...and because of the timing I did something I rarely do- give away a book I haven't actually read myself.  I trusted the source and hoped it was good, and when I got around the reading it over spring break, I was not disappointed.
  • Fr. Maasburg spent many years as a personal companion of Mother Teresa, traveling with her, working as translator and organizer, and bringing the Sacraments to her sisters and those she served.  He provides a unique and personal look at the woman the whole world knows. 
  • This book doesn't provide the typical, dry, year-by-year kind of biography you might expect.  Instead, it chronicles the significant events of Mother Teresa's life by sharing specific stories and encounters as well as direct quotes and teachings from the Saint herself.  This intimate approach makes it a page turner, even for someone who might know a lot about the life of Mother Teresa.
  • This is an abridged translation, and there were a few times while reading that felt a little repetitive and/or a bit clumsy with its sequence.  I'm going to blame the shortened edition, because otherwise it was lovely.  (FYI- the Amazon link above is to the unabridged version)
  • Accessible for both Catholics and non-Catholics, I think that everyone needs to know more about the life of Mother Teresa and could do it through this book.  If you would like to order copies in bulk it is available through the Augustine Institute here
  • "This idea was central for Mother Teresa: that Jesus radiates from us, shines forth through us, without words."

The Legend of Saint Christopher, Quest for a King, Lee Hyoun-ju,{A}
Saint Clare of Assisi, Runaway Rich Girl, Kim Hee-ju, {A}
Pauline Books & Media provided me with a copy of The Legend of Saint Christopher and Saint Clare of Assisi in exchange for an honest review.

  • Graphic novels are a hot classroom commodity right now, and for good reason.  Vivid illustrations combined with high impact text and dialogue create a page-turner that is perfect for matching reluctant readers with non-fiction text.  Pauline Books & Media recognized this need and has a whole new line of graphic novels about Saints, including St. Christopher, St. Clare, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Philip Neri, and more.  
  • I've had these in my classroom for about six weeks now, and they have been a huge hit.  So popular in fact, these books haven't even made it on the shelf in our Faith Corner yet- they literally are passed from one student to the next as they finish.  It is a perfect book to tuck in their desks and read a little at a time- the style of a graphic novel makes it easy to immerse themselves back into the story quickly.  
  • I was impressed by the depth that is covered about the lives of these Saints with books of 168 and 200 pages, respectively.  Besides just being a biography, these books are exposing my students to virtues, decision making, religious life, martyrdom, a good role models.   
  • Even though they each have an obvious male or female lead character, that isn't stopping boys and girls from both reading them.  Of their own accord, I think just as many of the boys in my room have read about St. Clare as St. Christopher.  The style, action, and pacing is attractive and keeps them reading.
  • These books have been a great addition for my classroom, and I will definitely be adding more to our collection.  I think that they would best fit 3rd-6th graders, but could also be a great help for older students when reading is not a strength.  Now, I just have to decide what story to order next.  Mother Teresa of Kolkata? St. Teresa of Avila?  I think I'll poll my students :).

Simon of Cyrene and the Legend of the Easter Egg, Terri DeGezelle, {A}
Pauline Books & Media provided me with a copy of Simon of Cyrene and the Legend of the Easter Egg in exchange for an honest review.

  • This sweet picture book was a perfect classroom read aloud during Holy Week.  While its main audience would probably be more 1st-3rd graders, my 5th grade students were all ears and enjoyed discussing the story of St. Simon of Cyrene.
  • We only know a little bit from Scripture about the man who helped carry Jesus' cross on God Friday.  His sons Alexander and Rufus are mentioned again later in Scripture, implying that the family became Christians.  But what happened after Simon's quick encounter that led to his family's conversion?
  • This 40 page book incorporates what we know from Scripture with a German folk tale about St. Simon.  It brings Simon to Jerusalem as an egg seller, tells of him helping Jesus on His Way of the Cross, and then has Simon stick around.  Spending time on Holy Saturday waiting with the apostles and Mary, Simon hears the stories of Jesus' life, and then is present on Easter morning when the first news of the Resurrection reaches the disciples.  He returns eagerly to tell his family about his encounter.  The eggs he had brought to sell had been forgotten, but when he arrives home he finds that they miraculously have been changed to bright colors, all symbolizes something about the Christian life.
  • I loved the beautiful illustrations in this book, done by Gabhor Utomo.  The vivid facial expressions as well the contrast of action in the foreground and faded scenes in the background made it visually interesting even for older readers.  It also combines a personal touch to images we see frequently in the form of the Stations of the Cross, making it more relatable for children.
  • A small disappointment was the book's size.  It is only 6 1/4" x 7 1/2" (which is correctly listed in the book's info), but it does make it a little harder to use as a read aloud.  I'd love to see a new edition with much larger pages allowing the readers to see all the details of the lovely illustrations.
  • I would highly recommend this book as an addition to your home or classroom as a book to help celebrate Lent and Easter, as well as for a study of early Saints or evangelization.

Confessions of St. Augustine, {A}

  • Confession of Katie- I'm actually not very far in my reading of this book.  I picked it up to reread for the first time since college, and I think I am just going to have to work my way through it slowly.  Obviously full of rich truth for contemplation, I'm planning on keeping up with a chapter here and there to chew on.
  • After looking over some of the resources in this edition (nice footnotes, good forward, info on Augustine's writings, etc.) I realized I needed a refresher on the timeline of St. Augustine's life.  Reading the biographies of Saints (or autobiography, in this case) helps us focus on the truth of these people's lives, not just the legends.   (FYI, I couldn't find my exact edition on Amazon, so you'll have to compare the various versions available for the resources you might want).
  • Uniquely, St. Augustine addresses his autobiography directly to God.  He is the only audience that matters after all:
  • "So I will confess what I know about myself.  I will confess also what I do not know. What I can discern is shown because You shine on me.  What I do not know will not become clear until my darkness is like the day at noon, illuminated by Your face.  Not without doubting, but with assured consciousness, I love You, Lord.  You Word struck my heart, and I loved You.  Heaven and earth and all that is in them call me from every side to love You."
  • Have you read Augustine's Confessions?  I look forward to continuing, and would love to hear your thoughts or favorite parts!

Life of Christ, Fulton J. Sheen, {A+}

  • This is my very very very favorite book.  After the Bible, it has been the book that I have learned the most from.  My dear Fulton Sheen leads the reader through an in depth Scripture and tradition based study of the life of Christ from the Annunciation to the Ascension.  Packed with so much wisdom, my copied is underlined, written in, and falling apart.  It is the source of many of the notes in the Gospels of my Bible, and continually makes me think and pray.
  • I reread this book, either in entirety or in chunks, during Lent each year.  The pacing makes it perfect especially during Holy Week, which is retold in minute detail.  It is rich, but also attainable, so don't be afraid to just read a chapter at a time to really soak it in. 
  • I've actually written about this book and how it came to be mine in an interview with Nancy at Reading Catholic.  If your curious about the old-beaten-up-tape-covered copy, go check out in her Lent Book Series.
  • "God's delays are mysterious; sorrow is sometimes prolonged for the same reason for which it is sent.  God may abstain for the moment from healing, not because love does not love, but because love never stops loving and a great good is to come from the woe."

A Family of Saints, The Martins of Lisieux, Fr. Stephane-Joseph Piat, OFM,{A-}

  • Surprisingly, with this beautiful cover and the recent Canonization of Sts. Louis and Zelie Martin, this book is actually quite old- published originally in 1948 in French. This new edition is of course timely, but threw me off a bit when I actually started reading.
  • You might think, being written six decades before the Canonization of Louis and Zelie, the focus of this book would be entirely on St. Therese, but it's actually not.  Almost half of the book passes before Therese is even born, so the content of the book is much more about the lives, marriage, and parenting of Louis and Zelie.  In rich detail, it show how they raised up their holy daughters in the midst of extreme suffering- loss of four children and other close family members, business difficulties, and the illness and early death of Zelie.  I don't think that Fr. Piat would be a bit surprised that St. Therese would not be the last in her family to officially be recognized as a Saint.
  • Relying heavily on the letters of St. Zelie (who wrote extensively to her children and extended family) as well as St. Therese's autobiography, we get a unique primary-source look at the life of the family and the true domestic church that Zelie and Louis created in their home.  I felt a special affection for St. Zelie before, and she has firmly cemented her way into my heart after reading this book.
  • This book is long- almost 400 pages- and uses rich detail and poetic language to tell the story of the Martin family.  I loved learning so much about each of them, reading their thoughts, and coming to understand their stories.  However, because of the style, it was a little heavier of a read than what I was hoping for.  This is a book that could use an updated, abridged translation for a new generation to learn about the Martins of Lisieux. 
  • "God gave me a father and a mother more worthy of heaven than of earth." 

There's my new recommendations for Saint books!  My to-read list grows longer and longer, so I'm almost afraid to ask...but what do you think I should read next?


  1. I have also tried to read a book of The Confessions of St. Augustine from our local library. It was very difficult for me to read through so I tried and then returned it to the library. Upon your recommendations, I am going to try to read it again because I really want to know more about St. Augustine and how he lived his life.
    Also, a few years back, I read a book about Fulton Sheen because of your blog and learned just how much you cherish him and his writings. I wanted to get to know him, too, and absolutely loved the book! Now, I see Life of Christ and based on your summary, I will read this one, also. I'm looking forward to it. Thank you. - Laura G.

    1. Hi Laura! I wonder if it was the translation of Confessions that you had tried? Mine is the Modern English Version, and I found it very readable. I just need to work on it slowly!I'm so glad to have inspired you to read more about Fulton Sheen! Life of Christ is my absolute favorite, so I hope you find it rich and meaningful.

  2. I will confess that I've had Confessions on my shelf for years, many of them. And I've been too intimidated to open it. I've also never read any FJS books (😳) so I should get reading! Have you read The Family That Overtook Christ by M. Raymond? So great. I've only been able to find it at, and am looking forward to checking out his Three Religous Rebels!

    1. Hi Ashley! Maybe we'll start a movement to get Confessions off of shelves and actually read, starting with you and me! ;) I need to keep reading it! Definitely pick up an FJS book! My favorites are Life of Christ and The World's First Love, but his autobiography Treasure in Clay is also great. I had not head of either of those books, but am always interested in learning more about new Saints! I added those to a to-be-read list (that grows ever longer!) Thanks!

  3. Hello Katie! I just discovered your beautiful blog the other day. Thank you very much for your classroom resources - they are wonderful. I gave the "Faith" colouring-in page with my Sunday School students last Sunday, and they enjoyed colouring it in. Those look like great recommendations for reading. I would definitely like to read the Confessions one day. I am currently reading "I Believe in Love" by Fr d'Elbee, which is very rich and beautiful. God bless, Belle

    1. Hi Belle! Thanks for stopping by! I've heard great things about "I Believe in Love." :)