The most recommended books about the Benedictines

Who picked these books? Meet our 8 experts.

8 authors created a book list connected to the Benedictines, and here are their favorite Benedictines books.
Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of The Servant: A Simple Story About the True Essence of Leadership

Gary DePaul Author Of Nine Practices of 21st Century Leadership: A Guide for Inspiring Creativity, Innovation, and Engagement

From my list on contemporary leadership books that guide us in the new normal.

Why am I passionate about this?

In 2014, I was laid off from my management role at Lowe’s Home Improvement. Instead of starting another job, I took several months to reflect on my leadership experiences and researched how leadership has evolved in the 21st Century. Based on a detailed analysis of 14 books, including the five I recommend, I wrote my first book that explains how to practice 21st-century leadership (now in its second edition). After publishing, I’ve written another leadership book, several blogs, and have been a keynote speaker. I now host the Unlabeled Leadership Podcast, which helps listeners learn how everyday people practice leadership.

Gary's book list on contemporary leadership books that guide us in the new normal

Gary DePaul Why did Gary love this book?

Servant leadership is about acting with humility while empowering others. Nothing illustrates this better than James C. Hunter's book.

Through a fable about a fictional character, John Daily, you envision how a struggling manager learns ten key principles of servant leadership with the help of his mentor and guide. In addition to his fable, I found Hunter’s introduction to the 2012 edition to be an authoritative explanation of servant leadership and a call to action. The introduction alone is worth reading this book!

I urge you to deliberately give up outdated leadership models and embrace servant leadership, a philosophy that values people first.

By James C. Hunter,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Servant as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With an introduction on using the principles of The Servant in your life and career, this book redefines what it means to be a leader.

In this absorbing tale, you watch the timeless principles of servant leadership unfold through the story of John Daily, a businessman whose outwardly successful life is spiraling out of control. He is failing miserably in each of his leadership roles as boss, husband, father, and coach. To get his life back on track, he reluctantly attends a weeklong leadership retreat at a remote Benedictine monastery.

To John's surprise, the monk leading the seminar is a…


Book cover of The Virgin in the Ice

Scott Lord Author Of Come November

From my list on thrillers to make you wish you lived in another time.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a longtime Los Angeles trial lawyer, as well as a writer and librettist. I graduated with honors from the University of California at Santa Cruz and from the Santa Clara University School of Law where I was a member of the Law Review. Me and my wife, Susan, are the parents of six children and live in Santa Monica, California. My previous novel, The Logic Bomb, a legal thriller, was published in 2015.

Scott's book list on thrillers to make you wish you lived in another time

Scott Lord Why did Scott love this book?

This is the fifth book in Peters’ Cadfael series.

I’m a fan of the series and the Derek Jacobi television adaptations. This is my favorite. It is filled with thrills and mystery, but, similarly, transcends its genre origins to become a stirring tale of a crucial time in English history.

It shows Cadfael both as a brilliant detective and a deeply sensitive human being.

By Ellis Peters,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Virgin in the Ice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It is winter 1139 and the tranquil life in the monastery gardens in Shrewsbury is again interrupted by violence. Raging civil war has sent refugees fleeing north from Worcester. Among them are two orphans from a noble family, a boy of thirteen and an eighteen year old girl of great beauty, with their companion, a young Benedictine nun. But the trio have disappeared somewhere in the wild countryside. Cadfael fears for these three lost lambs, but his skills are needed to tend to a wounded monk, found naked and bleeding at the roadside. Why this holy man has been attacked…


Book cover of Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen

Linda Lawrence Hunt Author Of Bold Spirit: Helga Estby's Forgotten Walk Across Victorian America

From my list on innovative women who overcame silencing.

Why am I passionate about this?

While a history student at the University of Washington I became aware that courses never included more than a paragraph on the important contributions of women, such as Eleanor Roosevelt or Jane Addams. I longed to know more. What gave some women motivation to defy conventions and use their talents?  When I first learned that Helga Estby’s audacious achievement was silenced for over 100 years, it launched me into over 15 years of research trying to recover this forgotten woman’s story.  As a writing professor for twenty years, I saw how assigning papers that led to exploring and understanding the women in one’s family background deeply enriched college students' lives.

Linda's book list on innovative women who overcame silencing

Linda Lawrence Hunt Why did Linda love this book?

This introduces readings to the life, teachings, and art of one of the world’s greatest female artists and intellectuals of the western mystical traditions. A 12th-century abbess of a large and influential Benedictine abbey, she defied convention for women in the Middle Ages and became a prominent preacher, healer, scientist, artist, composer, and theologian. Virtually unknown for almost 800 years, it is a credit to the women’s movement in restoring her lost legacy. 

Publications of her writings, performances of her musical compositions, her ecological insights, and sense of earth “as a region of delight” are no longer silenced and contribute to vibrant understanding and discussions in the contemporary world. The art in Illuminations emerges from her mystical visions.

By Matthew Fox,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An introduction to the life and work of Hildegard.

• Reveals the life and teachings of one of the greatest female artists and intellectuals of the Western Mystical Tradition.

• Contains 24 full-color illustrations by Hildegard of Bingen.

• Includes commentary by Matthew Fox, author of Original Blessing (250,000 sold).

Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) was an extraordinary woman living in the Rhineland valley during most of the twelfth century. Besides being the abbess of a large and influential Benedictine abbey, she was a prominent preacher, healer, scientist, and artist. She also was a composer and theologian, writing nine books on…


Book cover of In This House of Brede

Susan M Soesbe Author Of Bringing Mom Home: How Two Sisters Moved Their Mother Out of Assisted Living to Care For Her Under One Amazingly Large Roof

From my list on portraying death and loss honestly and hopefully.

Why am I passionate about this?

I lost my marriage. I lost my dad to cancer, and my mom to Alzheimer’s Disease (and wrote a memoir about it). Along the way, I lost my sense of superiority and entitlement. I gained the ability to laugh at myself and trust God for everything. I found that I was not as important as I had tacitly assumed. I’ve learned Jesus’s words are true: “Whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” When I see this depicted well in a book, I think, “Thank God for writers who will tell me the truth.” Today, I’m a fiction book coach with a goal of helping writers tell the whole awful, glorious truth.

Susan's book list on portraying death and loss honestly and hopefully

Susan M Soesbe Why did Susan love this book?

I love this story because it portrays people choosing to die to themselves in order to live for God.

These Benedictine sisters are not running away from the world. Each woman faces her past, present, and future through the lens of devotion to God. Centering their lives around worship has cost them dearly but, as I read, I began to grasp its worth with greater clarity. I’ve seen myself that believers in Christ who die to themselves, paradoxically, seem more alive.

This House of Brede made me reflect on the concept of losing your life to save it. It reminded me that losing my life is tragically inevitable, but saving it is gloriously possible.

By Rumer Godden,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In This House of Brede as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

By the author of Black Narcissus and The River

'Rumer Godden's novels have a timeless shimmer' GUARDIAN

'One hundred years after her birth, Rumer Godden's novels still pulse with life' MATTHEW DENNISON, TELEGRAPH

'Her craftsmanship is always sure' NEW YORK TIMES

'The motto was Pax but the word was set in a circle of thorns. Peace, but what a strange peace, made of unremitting toil and effort . . .'

Bruised by tragedy, Philippa Talbot leaves behind a successful career with the civil service for a new calling: to join an enclosed order of Benedictine nuns. In this small community…


Book cover of Hildegard of Bingen: A Saint for Our Times: Unleashing Her Power in the 21st Century

Amy Gary Author Of In the Great Green Room: The Brilliant and Bold Life of Margaret Wise Brown

From my list on biographies of bold women.

Why am I passionate about this?

In 1990, Amy Gary discovered unpublished manuscripts and songs from Margaret Wise Brown tucked away in a trunk in the attic of Margaret’s sister’s barn. Since then, Gary has catalogued, edited, and researched all of Margaret’s writings. She has worked with several publishers to publish more than 100 of those manuscripts, which include bestsellers and Caldecott nominees.

Amy’s work on Margaret has been covered in Vanity Fair, Entertainment Weekly, and on NPR. Her biography on Margaret, In the Great Green Room, was published by Flatiron Books, a division of Macmillan, and was named a best book of the year in 2017 by Amazon.

She was formerly the Director of Publishing at Lucasfilm and headed the publishing department at Pixar Animation studios. In addition to writing, she packages books for retailers and consults with publishers. In that capacity, she has worked with Sam’s Wholesale, Books-a-Million, Sterling Publishers, and Charles Schultz Creative Associates.

Amy's book list on biographies of bold women

Amy Gary Why did Amy love this book?

In 2012, Pope Benedict declared Hildegard of Bingen, a 12th Century nun, to be Saint Hildegard, recognizing “her holiness of life and the originality of her teaching.” This biography of Hildegard is Matthew Fox’s third book on this once-obscure nun, who from childhood had prophetic and God-inspired visions. Hildegard documented those revelations in her art, music, and writings. At a time when the church cited Eve as an example of how women are innately evil, Hildegard argued that the divine feminine existed to balance the masculine tendency to lord power over others. Although her efforts did little to budge the gender lines within the church hierarchy, she did lead a successful charge to keep nuns away from the clutches of abusive priests by establishing separate monasteries. That alone should have earned her sainthood, in my opinion. However, her honors were earned on many fronts. Her botanical and medicinal texts are…

By Matthew Fox,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hildegard of Bingen as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In May, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI formally declared 12th century Benedictine nun Hildegard of Bingen a canonized saint, with the canonization ceremony scheduled for October. He regards her as one of the great thinker who has helped shape the thought of the Catholic Church. Today there are many websites and Hildegard groups that celebrate and honor Hildegard's teachings, philosophy, art, and music. Author Matthew Fox writes in Hildegard of Bingen about this amazing woman and what we can learn from her. In an era when women were marginalized, Hildegard was an outspoken, controversial figure. Yet so visionary was her insight…


Book cover of Monk's-Hood: The Third Chronicle of Brother Cadfael

Toni Mount Author Of The Colour of Bone

From my list on murder mysteries to challenge your brain cells.

Why am I passionate about this?

Many years ago, when I’d read my first medieval mystery, I decided I wanted to write my own. But mine would be as realistic as I could manage; I wanted the reader to smell medieval London and to be there with me. A lot had been written about Kings and Queens but not much about ordinary life so that became the center of my academic study leading eventually to my Master's Degree in medieval medicine. As well as my novels I now write popular factual books and I’m pleased to say people have taken the time to say how much they enjoy the fine details I share.

Toni's book list on murder mysteries to challenge your brain cells

Toni Mount Why did Toni love this book?

A real classic whodunnit and an old-school case of poisoning.

I loved every word of Ellis Peter’s third book in her Brother Cadfael series, taking me back to the turbulent times of King Stephen and the Empress Matilda in the twelfth century – a period I find intriguing. And with the wise and friendly Cadfael, the abbey’s herbalist and unraveller of dastardly deeds to guide the reader, I was hooked from the start.

And what happens when a celibate monk encounters an old flame? Do sparks fly? I couldn’t wait to find out. Cadfael is a proper page turner. 

By Ellis Peters,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Monk's-Hood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Brother Cadfael, Benedictine monk and self-appointed detective of Shrewsbury Abbey, defends a young man accused of poisoning his stepfather, a guest at the abbey, and pursues several seemingly obscure clues to expose the murderer