The most recommended books on Jesuits

Who picked these books? Meet our 31 experts.

31 authors created a book list connected to Jesuits, and here are their favorite Jesuit books.
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What type of Jesuit book?


Book cover of A Canticle for Leibowitz

Christopher Ruocchio Author Of Empire of Silence

From my list on science fiction for fantasy readers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the author of 5 (nearly 6) science-fantasy novels in my Sun Eater series, as well as the author of 2 novellas and nearly two dozen short stories, as well as an 8-year veteran of the publishing industry. For 7 of those years, I worked as an editor for Baen Books, a nearly 40-year-old publisher of science fiction and fantasy. On top of all that, I am a lifelong sci-fi and fantasy fan, and something of an amateur historian of the field. 

Christopher's book list on science fiction for fantasy readers

Christopher Ruocchio Why did Christopher love this book?

Folks daunted at the prospect of jumping in to a longer series will be delighted to know that this is just a standalone novel. In fact, it was the only novel Walter M. Miller, Jr. wrote in his lifetime. There is a posthumously published sequel to this novel, but it was completed by another writer and is generally considered the lesser work, and at any rate, Canticle stands on its own. This is a post-apocalyptic novel, set after a nuclear war in the 1960s wiped out civilization. It takes place over the course of centuries, and follows a small Roman Catholic monastery in the American southwest as they struggle to preserve documents from before the bombs destroyed everything—scientific knowledge, mostly, knowledge the poor monks can’t even begin to understand.

This is one of the most beautifully written novels in the genre’s history, and one that—though I’ve only read it two…

By Walter M. Miller, Jr.,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked A Canticle for Leibowitz as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the depths of the Utah desert, long after the Flame Deluge has scoured the earth clean, a monk of the Order of Saint Leibowitz has made a miraculous discovery: holy relics from the life of the great saint himself, including the blessed blueprint, the sacred shopping list, and the hallowed shrine of the Fallout Shelter.

In a terrifying age of darkness and decay, these artifacts could be the keys to mankind's salvation. But as the mystery at the core of this groundbreaking novel unfolds, it is the search itself—for meaning, for truth, for love—that offers hope for humanity's rebirth…

Book cover of The Deer and The Cauldron: The First Book

Yun Rou Author Of The Monk of Park Avenue: A Modern Daoist Odyssey

From my list on better understanding and appreciating China.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born to privilege in Manhattan. A seeker from the get-go, I perpetually yearned to see below the surface of the pond and understand what lay beneath and how the world really works. Not connecting with Western philosophy, religion, or culture, I turned to the wisdom of the East at a young age. I stayed the course through decades of training in Chinese martial arts, eventually reached some understanding of them, and realized my spiritual ambitions when I was ordained a Daoist monk in China in an official government ceremony. I write about China then and now and teach meditation and tai chi around the world. 

Yun's book list on better understanding and appreciating China

Yun Rou Why did Yun love this book?

There is an argument to be made that Jin Yong (aka Louis Cha) is modern China’s version of William Shakespeare. From Cha’s unimaginably rich and bottomless imagination come unforgettable stories and characters that have had a huge impact on not only contemporary China but the rest of the world. Writing in the category of wuxia (martial arts fiction) he sold 100 million copies of his books, making him China’s most famous author. Countless films and TV shows have been based on his stories, that typically portray the under classes struggling against overlords. One of my favorite memories of travels in China was sitting at the tea house inside Hong Kong’s Peninsula hotel and spending the day reading this book and munching on dim sum. If I’d stepped out and been hit by a bus, I would have died a happy monk.

By Louis Cha, John Minford (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Deer and The Cauldron as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the first of a three-volume picaresque historical romance by China's best-loved author. It tells the story of Trinket, an irreverent and comic anti-hero, and his adventures through China and Chinese history, spanning more than twenty years at the beginning of the Qing dynasty.

Book cover of Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality

Srikumar Rao Author Of Modern Wisdom, Ancient Roots: The Movers and Shakers' Guide to Unstoppable Success

From my list on spiritual dynamite.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am Srikumar Rao – best selling author, TED speaker, and elite coach. I have spent more than five decades studying the teachings of the world’s greatest masters and distilling them into exercises that enable successful individuals to reach entirely new orbits of accomplishment while remaining serene as a Zen monk. My course, Creativity and Personal Mastery, was among the highest-rated and most popular at many of the world’s top business schools and is the only one to have its own alumni association. My work has been covered by major media worldwide and my talks have been viewed by tens of millions on all six continents.

Srikumar's book list on spiritual dynamite

Srikumar Rao Why did Srikumar love this book?

DeMello was a Jesuit priest and a psychologist.

His workshops were legendary and had a deep impact on thousands. His books have touched millions. He was eclectic and open-minded and readily acknowledged the power of spiritual practices from traditions outside the Church.

For this, his books were removed from Catholic bookstores and a warning issued that his writings could mislead young minds. He was passionate about truth and cavalier about dogma.

By Anthony De Mello,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Awareness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

De Mello's spiritual classic remains at the top of the Fount bestsellers more than five years after its original publication.

Book cover of Faith & Joy: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Priest

Theresa Keeley Author Of Reagan's Gun-Toting Nuns: The Catholic Conflict Over Cold War Human Rights Policy in Central America

From my list on Catholics who joined revolutionary movements in Central America.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am fascinated by the relationship between people’s religious and political identities. As a kindergartner, I heard about the hunger strikers at our local Irish Center, I was taught anti-communist songs at my Catholic Ukrainian school, and I listened as my dad explained Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers as we passed by the grapes while grocery shopping. Catholicism was not something I saw as just happening inside the walls of a church. It was about how one related to the world and was part of a global community. Those early experiences inspired me to become a human rights lawyer and activist, and later, a U.S. foreign relations historian.

Theresa's book list on Catholics who joined revolutionary movements in Central America

Theresa Keeley Why did Theresa love this book?

What led a priest to join the Sandinista revolution?

In sharing his story, Nicaraguan Jesuit Fernando Cardenal details how his views regarding what it means to serve the poor and his understanding of sin as societal placed him on a collision course with both the government and many in the church. For a time, Cardenal was expelled from the Jesuits because he refused to resign his post in the Nicaraguan government. He also recounts what led him to later break with the Sandinista party.

By Fernando Cardenal,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Faith & Joy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Fernando Cardenal, a Nicaraguan Jesuit priest, oversaw a national literacy campaign and served as minister of education in the revolutionary Sandinista government. The Sandinista revolution was unusual for the wide participation of Christians, including priests, in the struggle. However, the role of priests in the revolutionary government (including Ernesto Cardenal, Fernando's brother, a famous poet), was a source of bitter controversy with the Vatican. When he declined to resign his government post (judging that it would be ""a grave sin if I were to abandon my priestly option for the poor""), Cardenal was suspended from the priesthood and expelled from…

Book cover of The Sparrow

Ken Parejko Author Of Kasia's Story

From my list on the conflict between personal spirituality and religion.

Why am I passionate about this?

It was during the epistemological craziness around the year 2000 that I christened myself a truth warrior. I was already a scientist. Yet I knew there were other important truths, not of the mind but of the heart, truths we discover and marvel over in the realm of art. So as a biology professor I was granted a sabbatical to write the second of three of my novels, about Pliny the Elder. It is through literature, some of my own making, that I find new ways of seeing and experiencing the world: and of discovering and validating what is true, and what is not.

Ken's book list on the conflict between personal spirituality and religion

Ken Parejko Why did Ken love this book?

In my golden years I’ve come, perhaps wrongly, to trust myself and the decisions I make. Still I sometimes agonize over decisions which like a great clapper sound the bell at the core of my ethical self.

Nearly as handwringing are choices I’m forced into through something new I’ve learned about myself, my friends, or the world around me. Something new that shakes the ground of my understanding so violently I have to stop what I’m doing and hold on.

This is what happens in The Sparrow, as at last we – as someday we surely will – communicate with other life from outside the earth. Salzman cleverly puts much of the action into the hands of the Jesuits. Imagine how they must feel when the Bible, their tradition, and almost everything they believe go out the door…

By Mary Doria Russell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'The Sparrow is one of my favourite science fiction novels and it destroyed me in the best way when I read it. It is so beautifully written and the construction of the narrative is masterful.'
Emma Newman, acclaimed author of Planetfall

Set in the 21st century - a number of decades from now - The Sparrow is the story of a charismatic Jesuit priest and talented linguist, Emilio Sandoz, who - in response to a remarkable radio signal from the depths of space - leads a scientific mission to make first contact with an extraterrestrial culture.

In the true tradition…

Book cover of Praying Naked: The Spirituality of Anthony de Mello

Joan Budilovsky Author Of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Meditation

From my list on meditation from a meditation expert.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was introduced to meditation through a hatha yoga course I took as a college student. That’s when I first became enthralled with eastern philosophy. I studied and later taught these subjects becoming a College Professor in them. I’m also a musician and massage therapist. I consider music, meditation, yoga, massage to be beautiful healing modalities with endless transformative possibilities. My various books have been translated into French, Polish, Romanian, Spanish, Turkish, Russian, Bulgarian, and more. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Meditation (co-written with Eve Adamson) has recently become available as an audiobook on This book has turned thousands of people onto the meditative path and I hope it will you too.

Joan's book list on meditation from a meditation expert

Joan Budilovsky Why did Joan love this book?

For over a decade, I traveled the globe giving “Awareness Seminars” with Fr. Stroud. This book is like going to one of those seminars. It’s filled with exercises and stories that enlighten and encourage. Every time I read this book a new memory and/or revelation in Awareness inspires me to continue with an open heart and mind on this beautiful path of discovery. Thank you with all my heart, Fr. Stroud.

By J. Francis Sj Stroud,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In his books Awareness and The Way to Love, among others,theinternationally acclaimed spiritual guide Anthony de Mello presented an approach to spirituality that integrated the ancient traditions of the East with the psychological and philosophical perspectives of the West. Twenty years after his death, de Mello’s books continue to attract readers and his work remains a powerful influence on contemporary spiritual thought and practices. J. Francis Stroud, S.J., who helped de Mello with his hugely successful lectures, seminars, and books, has dedicated himself to keeping de Mello’s teachings alive through the de Mello Spirituality Center at Fordham University. In Praying…

Book cover of By Night in Chile

Chana Porter Author Of The Seep

From my list on to shock, expand, and engulf you.

Why am I passionate about this?

Writer and essayist Agnes Borinsky called my debut novel The Seep, A swift shock of a novel that has shifted how I see our world.Here are five short, urgent novels that continue to live with me in the months and years after reading them. These are some of my most beloved books, all of which happen to be under 200 pages, which ache with the inner mystery of what is hidden, and what is revealed. These books are my teachers, each a precise masterclass in world building, suspense, and purposeful storytelling. Enjoy these ‘swift shocks!’

Chana's book list on to shock, expand, and engulf you

Chana Porter Why did Chana love this book?

Im also a playwright, so I really admire a full story told in propulsive first-person monologue. This novella is a confession of Father Urrutia from his deathbed, beginning with the line I am dying now, but I still have many things to say.As he speaks, the priest untangles the twisted, uncomfortable agreements between artists and institutions in Chile under Pinochet. I often recommend this book for people who have not yet read Bolaño and might feel intimated by the length of his major works. 

By Roberto Bolaño, Chris Andrews (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked By Night in Chile as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As through a crack in the wall, By Night in Chile's single night-long rant provides a terrifying, clandestine view of the strange bedfellows of Church and State in Chile. This wild, eerily compact novel-Roberto Bolano's first work available in English-recounts the tale of a poor boy who wanted to be a poet, but ends up a half-hearted Jesuit priest and a conservative literary critic, a sort of lap dog to the rich and powerful cultural elite, in whose villas he encounters Pablo Neruda and Ernst Junger. Father Urrutia is offered a tour of Europe by agents of Opus Dei (to…

Book cover of Maps of Heaven, Maps of Hell: Religious Terror as Memory from the Puritans to Stephen King

Steve A. Wiggins Author Of Holy Horror: The Bible and Fear in Movies

From my list on bringing horror and religion into conversation.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up religious but loving scary things—horror movies, scary comic books, Dark Shadows, and The Twilight Zone. Even the music of Alice Cooper. While I’m no longer religious, I have a doctorate in religious studies and I still have a fascination with media that cause fear. I also write horror stories. Beyond Holy Horror I have written two more books on religion and horror and I read every book about this odd combination as soon as I can get my hands on it. I believe you should never judge people by their tastes in media—they can be decent folk even if they like horror.

Steve's book list on bringing horror and religion into conversation

Steve A. Wiggins Why did Steve love this book?

Thinking of this book still leaves me with a warm, fuzzy feeling. I can’t say precisely why, but this book by a Jesuit monk discussing horror struck me as intelligent and deeply personal.

Conversant with many kinds of scary stories associated with religion, this is the most academic book on my list. The fact that Edward Ingebretsen discusses Stephen King really gives readers something to think about. This isn’t the only book to discuss Stephen King and religion—Douglas Cowan also wrote a book about this—but it does so in a way that brings some “aha moments” to your reading.

By Edward J. Ingebretsen,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Maps of Heaven, Maps of Hell as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From its beginnings in Puritan sermonising to its prominent place in contemporary genre film and fiction, this book traces the use of terror in the American popular imagination. Entering American culture partly by way of religious sanction, it remains an important heart and mind shaping tool.

Book cover of Why I Am a Catholic

John Loughery Author Of Dorothy Day: Dissenting Voice of the American Century

From my list on religion in an age of doubt.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like many Americans, I consider myself uncertain about religion, though that may be less true now that I have come to know the life of Dorothy Day, the radical Catholic activist. She has that effect. Along with the writers below, Dorothy Day has brought me back to thinking of faith in terms that I could find meaningful, to a sense of religion that is about something other than a set of rules and doctrines based on narrow readings of the Bible and the rigidity of men (yes, always men) in positions of power. I grew up a deeply religious child, became a confirmed atheist for decades, but now, in part because of this book, find myself in a different if still uncertain place.

John's book list on religion in an age of doubt

John Loughery Why did John love this book?

Garry Wills, a scholar of Jefferson, Lincoln, modern politics, and religious history, is a major thorn in the side of the Catholic Church. He’s critical of that institution’s checkered past, the questionable primacy of the pope, and the social and political narrowness of its bishops. Yet he is a devout Catholic, a confirmed believer. He sees no contradiction in that. This is a blunt, persuasive book about reconciling an urge to faith in a higher, transcendent power with a sharply critical perspective on an institution that, in Wills’ view, is often less about the teachings of Jesus than a corporate structure pretending to more spiritual authority and infallibility than it has any right to assert.

By Garry Wills,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Why I Am a Catholic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An “intellectually satisfying, and spiritually moving,” argument for a questioning, conscience-driven faith, by a New York Times bestselling author (Booklist).
Pulitzer Prize winner Garry Wills has been asked more than once why he remains in the Church, especially in the wake of his bestselling book Papal Sins, which examined the darker side of the religion’s history. In Why I Am a Catholic, he offers some persuasive and heartfelt answers.
Beginning with a reflection on his early experiences as a child, and later as a Jesuit seminarian, Wills reveals the importance of Catholicism in his own life. He discusses G.K. Chesterton,…

Book cover of A Bargain of Blood and Gold

Reni Stankova Author Of The Enemy of Heaven

From my list on MM fantasies in alternate worlds.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been an avid reader of MM literature in all its genres and sub-genres, since I was a teenager. Even now, MM fantasy titles are some of my favorite books of all time. I’d love to share my preferences with other readers so they could see the magic I see.

Reni's book list on MM fantasies in alternate worlds

Reni Stankova Why did Reni love this book?

Johnathan Newman is a novice hunter who teams up with a five-hundred-year-old vampire named Vic on a dangerous mission.

The town is plagued by mythological creatures in need of saving and they work together to solve the mystery. However, Vic’s secrets bring trouble, and their mutual attraction doesn’t make things any easier.

A Bargain of Blood and Gold is one of the best-written books I’ve ever read. There hasn’t been a book where every word was chosen so perfectly to my liking. It has the exact amount of descriptions and dialogue. The style is simply perfect.

Additionally, the characters were so vivid and fun to read. John and Vic had such distinguished ways of expressing themselves that I knew every time who was talking without being told.

They are easily one of my favorite M/M couples.

By Kristin Jacques,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Bargain of Blood and Gold as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A novice hunter with a mission. A five-hundred-year-old vampire with a strong sense of irony. A town plagued by creatures in need of saving.

When Johnathan Newman arrives in Cress Haven, the last thing he expects is for his life to be irrevocably changed. Sent by a clandestine league of vampire hunters to investigate a string of murders, signs point to a vampire lurking amid the townsfolk. Johnathan’s attempt to enlist the locals leads him to an unlikely partnership with Vic, the town's most eligible, enigmatic bachelor.

As the pair work to solve the mystery, Vic’s secrets come back to…