Being Catholic
Rome Sweet Home: Our Journey to Catholicism
This book by Scott Hahn and his wife Kimberly details their conversion story from being Presbyterian to becoming devout Catholics, somewhat against their wills. :-) I have found this book to be a wonderful resource for Protestants with questions about Catholicism. Dr. Hahn is well-versed in Scripture and able to explain Catholic teachings in such a way that they make sense to Protestants. The book is very accessible and easy to read. I highly recommend it!

The Lamb's Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth
Another Scott Hahn book, this one interpreting the book of Revelation as an explanation for what occurs during Mass. This book addresses somewhat complex theology and, as such, requires more thought and at times more complex language. For Catholics, this book can challenge you to learn more about Mass and will definitely help make Mass more meaningful.

Light of the World: The Pope, The Church and The Signs Of The Times
If you are like I was, your attitude towards our current Pope may be as follows: "He is the chosen successor of Peter, so I will respect his authority, but I don't have to like him!" If that is the case, I strongly urge you to read this book. It presents our Pope in a totally different light than the one used by most media outlets. He is compassionate, accessible, highly intelligent, and well-versed in current events. In this interview-turned-book, the Pope responds to questions about condoms, the sex abuse scandal, World War II, and much more. An engaging book that increased my sense of belonging within our universal Church.

Thoughts In Solitude
This collection of reflections by Thomas Merton is completely different from the other books in this section. I use this book as a prayer aid, to hear God in the whisper. Merton has an eloquent way of clarifying simple truths and centering me. While you certainly could read this cover-to-cover, I have found it is more satisfying to read slowly, savoring the wisdom it contains. Even one page can offer so much depth!

Family Planning
Letting God Plan Your Family
Surprisingly, this one is NOT written by a Catholic! Samuel Owen is Baptist, has a couple theology degrees, and has served on the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ. He reminds readers that all mainstream Christian denominations opposed artificial contraception until the sexual revolution. Owen examines the role of men and women in the family and uses the Bible to show God's plan for our sexuality and fertility. Unfortunately, this is now out of print, but used copies are usually being sold on Amazon.

Love and Responsibility
Written by Blessed John Paul II, this book provides an extremely detailed study of our sexuality, the complementary nature of the sexes, and how God is made manifest through our relationships with each other. I think it is accurate to say this book changed my life. It helped me to see myself and my husband-to-be (at that time) in a whole new light. I will caution, however, that the language can be very technical. Even with a few college-level philosophy courses under my belt, reading this was challenging at times. The truth is profound, however, and well worth the effort if you are able.

Good News About Sex and Marriage: Answers to Your Honest Questions About Catholic Teaching
Did Love and Responsibility sound overwhelming? Here is a more accessible version! Christopher West draws heavily on the writings of Blessed John Paul II to explain Catholic teachings on sexuality and its role within the marriage covenant. No prerequisites for reading this one! I would recommend this to any Christian who is married, considering marriage, or in any romantic relationship.

Conception to College
Your Labor of Love
This is a practical, well-written book that provides spiritual guidance, encouragement, and support to expectant Catholic mothers. Agnes Penny reminds us of the sacredness of the vocation to motherhood, even with morning sickness and mood swings. As someone who was not glowing with excitement during my pregnancy, I really appreciated this book. It acknowledged my struggles and helped me discover the sacredness of being a mother.

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (La Leche League International Book)
This book is a fantastic reference for all things related to breastfeeding. From dispelling myths to providing solutions for common problems, it is like a lactation consultant to keep on your shelf! OK, not quite as good, but close. I recommend this to anyone considering breastfeeding, just getting started, or in need of support throughout a nursing relationship. (It is a bit expensive; I just check one out of the public library as needed.)

7 Steps to Raising a Bilingual Child
The title pretty much says it all. We got this book when we were deciding if and how to teach Peter a new language. It helped us decide which language to teach, how to teach it, and what our goals for bilingualism would be. This is book is a basic overview of bilingualism and a good first step for anyone considering teaching children a second language.

Smart Martha's Catholic Guide for Busy Moms
I love this book! Tami Kiser, mother of nine, shares humor, practical suggestions, and most importantly wisdom as she explores how to run a Catholic home. Although the ideas for simplifying chores and promoting family time are great, the real value of this book is its focus on balancing the needs of a family with our need for God. She encourages readers to embrace the best of Mary and Martha in daily life.

Living Green
Raising Baby Green: The Earth-Friendly Guide to Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Baby Care
Dr. Alan Greene provides a readable, practical handbook to making green living choices with a baby. He covers topics such as food, skin care, home toxins, and more. This book is a great introduction to green living, full of simple ways to care for ourselves and the world around us. Dr. Greene acknowledges that his suggestions are just one way to do things and encourages families to make whatever changes work for them. This is one of the first "going green" books I read; the non-judgmental writing style was very appealing.

365 Ways To Change the World: How to Make a Difference-- One Day at a Time
This book is full of reasonable, effective ideas to change the world. Issues include environmentalism, political involvement, gender equality, human rights, and many more. The ideas aren't meant to be accomplished in a day, so this book will challenge you for much longer than a year! (The target audience for this book is adults. There is nothing objectionable, but you probably wouldn't encourage your children to brew their own beer to reduce the environmental impact of shipping alcohol.)

The Laptop Lunch User's Guide: Fresh Ideas for Making Wholesome, Earth-friendly Lunches Your Kids Will Love
Again, the title makes a description largely unnecessary. I will say that this one is meant for the whole family to read and enjoy. Getting kids involved makes them more likely to approve of the changes! The book also offers suggestions for how to introduce systemic change in your local school district. A short, fun book.

Kids' Books
Angel in the Waters
Absolutely beautiful. This tells the story of a baby from conception into infancy with Biblical language. The illustrations are lovely, realistic without looking creepy like some ultrasounds. :-) A sweet children's book that adults will enjoy reaing, too.

The Story of Jesus
Yes, the story is nice, but the real reason I appreciate this book is the illustrations. Rebecca Thornburgh draws Jesus and his companions to look Middle Eastern and includes so much diversity in her images of people living today. It's great to find a book that includes images of people who are non-European.

A cute story about a girl who always wants a cooler, faster wheelchair. I love that her disability is central to the story without seeming contrived or condescending. Like The Story of Jesus, I got this one because I want Peter to accept that there are many people who have lives different from his.

Kiri and the First Easter
This one is out of print, but remains one of my favorite books from childhood. One of the old Arch books, this tells the story of Jesus' passion and death with good illustrations and understandable language. The author is able to convey the injustice and terrible sorrow of Jesus' death without giving nightmares to little ones. If you can find a copy, buy it!

An alphabet book and so much more! This book introduces fairly advanced vocabulary to little ones and matches it with stunning illustrations. A real treasure. Besides, how fun would it be to have your little one at the zoo and hear, "Mommy! Look at the peacock preening its plumage!" :-)

Miss Rumphius
Another childhood favorite that remains special as I continue to grow up. Miss Rumphius, aka The Lupine Lady, has grand adventures, loves to read, and ultimately must discover how to make the world more beautiful. The illustrations are charming and the story captured my imagination as a young girl. I don't know if it will appeal as much to young boys, but it's worth a try.