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What are the most tattered titles on your nightstand?

October 27, 2011 by  
Filed under Books, Dan Burke, Reader Feedback, Resources

Tattered Titles!

If you were stuck on a desert island alone but somehow could have just a few books dropped into the sand pit next to your tent, which ones would they be? Which books has God most used to turn your heart towards Him?

Here’s my list:

  1. Scripture/Catechism (yes, I cheated but just a little)
  2. Interior Castle - St. Teresa of Avila/All St. Teresa’s Writings
  3. Abandonment to Divine Providence – Father Jean-Pierre de Caussade
  4. The Fire Within – Father Thomas Dubay
  5. Searching for and Maintaining Peace – Father Jacques Philippe

Tell us your first name, location (e.g. Betty from Sydney, Australia), and then your top three to five books that you have read or regularly re-read for spiritual sustenance.

IMPORTANT FRUSTRATION AVOIDANCE NOTICE: I have not done this for a long time but I know that there will be folks who break the rules (much worse than I did) and give a list of thirty books (these are usually the same folks who don’t read the posts but still strongly disagree with whatever they say). This really defeats the purpose and your post won’t make it through moderation which will only require you to go back to your books to find some peace after all that work goes to waste.


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About Dan Burke

Dan is the founder of Catholic Spiritual Direction, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, and author of the award winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God. Beyond his “contagious” love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN’s National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN’s Journey Home program and numerous radio programs. If you have an interest in having Dan come speak at your parish or Catholic event or group, contact us at or call 818-646-7729.

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  • Gerry

    Gerry from Maricopa, Arizona:
    1. Bible
    2. Catechism
    3. Imitation of Christ
    4. Liturgy of The Hours

  • Dismas

    The Golden Arrow (Devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus, Sr. Mary of St Peter)
    The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Anne Catherine Emmerich)
    Life of the Mystic Luisa Piccarrata (Frank Rega)

  • Dismas

    Sorry, forgot to mention I’m Paul in Sterling, VA:

    The Golden Arrow (Devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus, Sr. Mary of St. Peter)
    The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Anne Catherine Emmerich)
    Life of the Mystic Luisa Piccarreta (Frank Rega)

  • Francine

    Francine – from ILL
    1. The Return of the Prodigal Son – by Henri Nouwen
    2. The Way of the Pilgrim
    3. Becoming Who You Are: Insights on the True Self from Thomas Merton and Other Saints  – James Martin, S.J.
    4.  Jesus of Nazareth
    5. Abandonmnt to Divine Providence – Sacrament of the Moment
    6. Holy Longing by Ron Rolheiser
    7. The Broken Body: Journey to Wholeness  by Jean Vanier
    8. Imitation of Christ
    9. Introduction to the Devout Life – St Francis de Sales
    10 Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor Frankl

  • Kit_isis_kat

    Liturgy of Hours 4-volume edition. Does that count for 4? ;)
    Collected Works of St John of the Cross
    Way of Perfection Study Edition
    Diary of Divine Mercy
    Ignatius Study Bible NT

    Monique from Ottawa Canada

  • Mary

    Mary from Texas
    An Introduction to the Devout LIfe by St. Francis De Sales

  • MarkS

    Mark from Augusta, Georgia

    1 Spiritual Diary
    2 Fire Within
    3 The Fulfillment of All Desire
    4 The Imitation of Christ
    5 The Impact of God

  • 4verderbers

    Mary Ann from California
    1.  The Bible
    2.  Laws of the Spiritual Life by Basil William Maturin
    3.  The Better Part

  • Ernie

    Ernie from Trinidad
    1. Bible
    2. Abandonment to Divine Providence
    3. The Sinner’s Guide – Venerable Louis of Granada
    4. Being In love – William Johnston
    5. The secret of the rosary – St. Louis de Montfort

  • Teresa

    Teresa from Melbourne, Australia

    1) Interior Castle ~ St. Teresa of Avila
    2) Imitation of Christ ~ Thomas a Kempis
    3) Divine Intimacy ~ Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen,O.C.D.
    4) The Secret of the Rosary ~ St. Louis Grignion de Montfort     
    5) Divine Mercy in My Soul ~ St Faustina

    Dan, is it possible to collate this info into a spreadsheet and post the data? It would be interesting to see the list of books collectively. I’ll be happy to do this if you need a hand.

    • SusanGL

      I, too (Susan in Texas), would love a compilation of the results!   I’ve just begun formal spiritual direction and am finally beginning to read some of the many books I’ve purchased, but never have read. So, I don’t have a top five yet. Right now I read scriptures of the day and liturgy of the hours using IBreviary on my Ipad at home or in our adoration chapel.

      Of course, I could trust that the Holy Spirit will lead me to the book on my shelf that will help me most.  But I’m confident he also led me to this post.

    • Anonymous

      Not sure what volunteer is doing this, (you Teresa?) but I believe Dan is working on this list for us.

      Stay tuned!

  • Dianne

    1. The Bible
    2. Imitation of Christ
    3. Abandonment to Divine Providence
    4.  Any book by Thomas Merton5.  Jesus Shock by Peter Kreeft
    6.  Jesus of Nazareth, first book, by Pope Benedict

  • Nancy

    Nancy from Winnipeg, Canada

    1. The Bible/Liturgy of the Hours
    2. Life of Christ by Abp. Fulton J. Sheen
    3. Fire Within by Fr. Thomas Dubay
    4. The Mystery of Faith by Fr. Tadeusz Dajczer
    5. Liber Usualis (hey, I like chant)

  • Anonymous

    From email: I am Jan Heetkamp, living in Germany with the Dutch nationality. My favorite books are:
    1. the Holy Bible
    2. the complete works of Teresa of Avila
    3. Titus Brandsma
    4. the works of Juan de la Cruz
    5. Spirituality by Kees Waaijman

  • Alex Campbell Phd

    Alex, Sonora California

    the way of perfection-St Teresa
    story of a soul-St Therese
    the living flame of love-St John of the Cross
    the secret diary of elisabeth leseur
    an introduction to the devout life-St. Francis de Sales

  • Alex Campbell Phd

    I don’t mean to be critical, but Dan, can you tell definitely where the Church stands on the writings of Luisa Picarreta and Anne a Lay Apostle?

    • Anonymous

      Alex – I am not aware. You seem to be. Feel free.

    • Teresa

      Luisa Piccarreta is a Servant of God. Google her name and you’ll see the websites dedicated to her

  • Patti Day

    Patti Day, Charlottesville, VA

    1) Christian Prayer: Liturgy Of The Hours
    2) Imitation of Christ: Thomas A’ Kempis
    3) The Lamb’s Supper: Dr. Scott Hahn
    4) The Fulfillment of All Desire: Ralph Martin 

  • Ian

    Ian from Vancouver:

    1) Imitation of Christ
    2) Drawn Into the Mystery of Christ Through the Gospel of John- Jean Vanier
    3) The Confessions- St. Augustine
    4) The Ragamuffin Gospel- Brennan Manning

  • Nalulemarion

    MARION from Uganda
    1. Imitation of Christ
    2. The Eucharistic Miracles
    3. The Spiritual journey of Newman
    4. The Secrets of the Holy Rosary
    5. Purgatory Explained by the lives and legends of the Saints

  • Ana

    Here is my list, titles,  in spanish dince I do not have them in english.
    The Bible. Biblia de Jerusalen
    Imitación de Cristo.  Tomas de Kempis
    Meditaciones sobre la Fe.    P.Tadeusz Dajczer
    Practicas de Amor a Jesucristo.  San Alfonso. M Ligorio
    Ana  de México

  • Karen

    Karen, Hawaii
    1.  Writings of St. Teresa of Avila
    2.  New Seeds of Contemplation, Merton
    3.  Descending Fire, Fr. Jean Petit
    4.  Divine Intimacy, Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen
    5.  Love of the Crucified (100 Meditations)

  • Amaich

    Anne from California:
    de Osuna, Third Spiritual Alphabet;
    St. John of the Cross, Collected Works;
    St. Teresa of Avila, Collected Works, vol.1;
    New Testament;
    Fr. R. Garrigou-Lagrange, the Three Ages of the Interior Life

  • James in Michigan

    1. Sacred Scripture & LOTH
    2. The Soul of the Apostolate - Jean-Baptiste Chautard
    3. Divine Intimacy – Fr. Gabriel
    4. True Devotion to Mary – St. Louis de Monfort
    5. Imitation of Christ

    I’d also like to draw attention to the book “The Way of the Disciple” by Erasmo Leiva Merikakis which has been one of the most helpful books in my spiritual life.

  • Mark A. Rains

    1. The Holy Bible   
    2. Dark Night of the Soul, St John of the Cross (cf. Isaiah 45:3)
    3. Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence — Father J.P de Caussade, SJ:
    This is not the recent translation by Kitty Muggeridge. This book is 449
    pages long.
    4. Divine Intimacy — Father Gabriel of St. Mary of Magdala, OCD.
    5. Spiritual Theology — Jordon Aumann, OP: “The theology in this [one] volume is based on the spiritual doctrine of three doctors of the Church. St. Aquinas, St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila. Moreover, it is fully in accord with the teaching of [Father] John G. Arintero [The Mystical Evolution, vols. 1&2] and [Father] Garrigou-Lagrange (The Three Ages of the Interior Life, vols. 1&2].”


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  • Bren

    Besides the Bible and LOTH:

    1. Crossing the Threshold of Hope~Blessed Pope John Paul II
    2. The Disciple and the Master: St Bonaventure’s Sermons on St. Francis     of Assisi~Eric Doyle OFM
    3. YouCat
    4. St Francis of Assisi Omnibus of Sources
    5. Fire Within~Thomas Dubay

  • Bren

    Sorry forgot to mention…I’m Bren from California :)

    • danburke

      Welcome Bren!

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  • walker_percy

    Chesterton: Orthodoxy (on iBooks so technically it’s not tattered); Salinger: Catcher in the Rye; Percy: The Moviegoer; Merton: New Seeds of Contemplation; Toole: A Confederacy of Dunces

  • Gabrielle Renoir

    The Bible/Catechism of the Catholic Church
    The Complete Works of St. John of the Cross
    The Complete Works of St. Teresa of Avila
    The Imitation of Christ
    The Cloud of Unknowing

  • Dan Burke

    Thanks Phil ­ we did the tally a few years back and provided a follow-up post. “The Better Part” listings all refer to Fr. John’s book. Yours in Christ.

  • CatholicKath

    it has been a few years………would you consider asking again?

    • Dan Burke

      Good idea

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