Top 10 American Catholic Authors: Part 1


Who comes to your mind when asked, “Can you name ten Catholic authors?”  If you’re at all like me, then your mind probably goes straight to St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Thomas a Kempis, St. Ignatius Loyola, Blessed John Paul II, and other men who are probably dead, white, and European.  What about American Catholic Writers?

For the longest time I had never heard of an American Catholic writer worth reading.  Little did I know just how many phenomenal American Catholic writers are out there!  These writers give American Catholics a great name, unlike most famous American Catholics.  These Catholics have written some of the best and most relevant Catholic books in my opinion.

Here is my humble list of the top ten American Catholic authors:

Flannery O'Connor1. Flannery O’Connor 

Flannery O’Connor is, in my humble opinion, one of the best short story writers to have ever lived.  If you have grown up Catholic and in the South, then you will find her stories extremely relevant.  She was born in 1925 and passed away in 1964.  During her life she wrote 2 novels, 32 short stories, and numerous reviews, commentaries, essays, etc.  Wise Blood is my favorite novel of hers and “Parker’s Back” is my favorite of her short stories.  If you love relevant characters, superb writing, and riveting stories, then Flannery O’Connor is perfect for you.  Fun fact: Every night she read St. Thomas Aquinas before she went to bed.

“All my stories are about the action of grace on a character who is not very willing to support it, but most people think of these stories as hard, hopeless and brutal.” 

Venerable Fulton J, Sheen2. Venerable Fulton J. Sheen

Venerable Fulton J. Sheen is probably the most well-known and outspoken American Archbishop.  He was a prolific writer, radio host, and television host.  I have not read nearly enough of his writings but I can tell you his The Seven Last Words completely changed how I viewed the Passion of Christ.  Venerable Fulton J. Sheen wrote 73 books from 1925 till his death in 1979.  Shop Venerable Fulton J. Sheen books and more.

“Show me your hands. Do they have scars from giving? Show me your feet. Are they wounded in service? Show me your heart. Have you left a place for divine love?”

Thomas Merton3. Thomas Merton

Although a bit controversial, Thomas Merton is the most famous American Catholic monastic writer to date.  He wrote more than 70 books on everything from pacifism to spirituality.  His autobiography The Seven Storey Mountain was a hit amongst men of all ages.  And he is very well-written as he studied at both Columbia and Cambridge University.

“A life is either all spiritual or not spiritual at all. No man can serve two masters. Your life is shaped by the end you live for. You are made in the image of what you desire.”

Walker Percy4. Walker Percy

Walker Percy is perhaps the greatest American Catholic novelist.  At the same time he also wrote incredible works of nonfiction on semiotics and philosophy.  Walker Percy published his first novel, The Moviegoer, in 1961 and published his 6th and last in 1987, 3 years prior to his death.  My favorite work of his is The Last Gentleman, a novel about a young man struggling in existential crisis.  If you love well-written novels with deep characters, then you will love Walker Percy.

“You live in a deranged age, more deranged than usual, because in spite of great scientific and technological advances, man has not the faintest idea of who he is or what he is doing.”

Dr. Peter Kreeft5. Dr. Peter Kreeft

In my opinion Peter Kreeft is the most phenomenal lay apologetic American Catholic writer.  He is not only a prolific writer, but also a prolific public speaker.  He has written 37 books, according to Wikipedia, and has given thousands of lectures as a college professor, he currently teaches at Boston College and The King’s College, and as a public speaker.  Everything I have read of his has been phenomenal.  I especially loved his Catholic Christianity which essentially builds on The Catechism of the Catholic Church.  Dr. Peter Kreeft is also a convert to the Roman Catholic Church.  Shop Peter Kreeft books and more.

“What is God’s Answer to Human Suffering? The answer must be someone, not just something. For the problem (suffering) is about someone (God—why does he… why doesn’t he …?) rather than just something. To question God’s goodness is not just an intellectual experiment. It is rebellion or tears. It is a little child with tears in its eyes looking up at Daddy and weeping, “Why?” The hurt child needs not so much explanations as reassurances. And that is what we get: the reassurance of the Father in the person of Jesus, “he who has seen me has seen the Father” (Jn 14:9).”

These are my top 5 American Catholic authors.  The rest of the top 10 will be completed shortly!  What do you think of my top five Catholic authors?  Who do you think should have made the top 5?  What are some of your favorite Catholic books by American Catholic Writers?

 

About Nick

Nick is a writer at The Catholic Company. He is a graduate of Belmont Abbey College with a degree in Theology. He is also the Marketing Assistant / Web Analyst at the Catholic Company. You can reach him on Google+.
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7 Responses to Top 10 American Catholic Authors: Part 1

  1. Brandon Vogt says:

    Great list! I can’t disagree with any of the top five, though I was pleasantly surprised to see Dr. Kreeft on it.

    Quick note: Dr. Kreeft has written significantly more than 37 books. I think it’s closer to 65.

  2. I like the list. Although Merton was controversial, he is probably the most read of all on the list.

    I like also how two of them are primarily known for their fiction. We often do not connect Catholic and fiction and good as synonymous.

    I can’t wait to see who the second group are. I wonder if you’ll go previous to the 20th Century, i.e. Orestes Brownson or maybe James Cardinal Gibbons, who spanned the 19th and early 20th.

    On a more personal notes, my sister is the new team leader for FOCCUS at Belmont Abbey, Katie. Tell her I said hi, and that I love her.

  3. Ron says:

    Good selection here. A wonderful book that is a collective biography of O’Connor, Merton, Percy, and Dorothy Day is “The Life You Save May Be Your Own by Paul Elie. It is an excellent introduction to those four writers and how the Catholic Church shaped their lives and what they wrote.

  4. Jude says:

    I was looking for Percy and O’Connor–both there. I’m expecting McInerny somewhere in part 2!!!

  5. Nick says:

    Brandon,

    65 is even better! Thanks for the correction! Glad you agree with my top 5.

  6. Nick says:

    Fr. Kyle Sanders,

    I will most certainly tell her Father! I have met her briefly on a few occasions. I will be sure to send her your love and tell her that you said hello. God Bless you and your ministry!

  7. Meadow Griffin says:

    Hi Nick,
    I just read your pick for the top 5 Catholic authors. It was very helpful. I am a author of a young adult author of a fantasy adventure series.I am doing my first school assembly at a Catholic school, and I wanted to inspire the children, with an author of their faith. I am a Christian, so your information was really helpful! Thank you sooo much.
    Meadow Griffin

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