A Literary Christmas

Last-Minute Gift Guide 2023: Books for Everyone on Your List

Wishing you a bookish Christmas!
Wishing you a bookish Christmas! (photo: Shutterstock)

By MaryBeth Eberhard

Perhaps this is the year to sit with family and friends and enjoy read-alouds or seek quiet solitude with a good read throughout this holy season.

This year’s book guide includes many new selections and some old favorites. With a desire to grow and appreciate the depth of our Catholic faith, enjoy this year’s selections. 


Children’s Books

Mary, Mother of All

By Scott Hahn and Emily Stimpson Chapman

This is an incredible pairing of talented authors. The theology packed into this lyrically metered and beautifully illustrated book keeps all who are reading engaged. My teenage daughter quickly grabbed this book and placed it in her bag for babysitting. I knew we’d found another family favorite. BONUS: Hahn and Chapman have other books available too, all via StPaulCenter.com.


I Am Earth’s Keeper

By Lisa Hendey

Lisa Hendey takes readers through a beautiful morning kayak ride where senses become attuned to the world, from the sky to the sea and all the animals in between. With a strong nod to St. Francis and his humble relationship with the world God gave us, gratitude and wonder are cultivated, offering a greater appreciation for the gift of creation and a stronger desire to care for it.


God Made the Moonlight

By Erin Broestl

This sweet little book reads like a beautiful lullaby. The illustrations are beautiful, and the message of love and God’s presence is peaceful and invites dialogue with little ones. 


The Mass and the Manger

By Jennifer Sharpe

Everything in this book draws readers in. The illustrations are bold and bright. The story is told in rhyme and couplet style, with little pockets for children to interact with the story; from 

BONUS: My First Interactive Mass Book, also by Jennifer Sharpe. 


The Mother of Jesus Is Wonderfully Real

By Father Paul Murray 

Forward by Alyssa Bormes

This book tells the story of a sweet little girl who is bullied for wearing her Mary medal to a camp. Her aunt invites her to write a letter to a dear priest friend, who responds with a loving letter that reminds us of the real presence of Mother Mary in our lives. With practical and childlike faith, Father Murray walks his young friend through the constant presence of Mary in her life and the lives of all those she loves. I love giving this to parish priests who have schools to share this beautiful story of Mary’s love with their students. 


The Women Doctors of the Church

By Colleen Pressprich

The Women Doctors of the Church is a beautifully illustrated, very approachable book to share with young children. Colleen Pressprich does a wonderful job detailing the four amazing female doctors of our Church: St. Hildegard of Bingen, St. Teresa of ávila, St. Catherine of Siena and St. Thérèse of Lisieux, writing of the relationship these women cultivated with Jesus and how they lived out their calling with joy and courage. 


Books on Prayer 

Habits for Holiness

By Father Mark-Mary Ames

Often when my family visits our friends in religious life, I leave wanting to cultivate more of what they have. With baby steps, this book provides examples of how to pursue that depth of holiness in our everyday lives. 

This book shows that holiness is attainable even for those of us whose lives seem to be always on the go. 


Handy Little Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours & Handy Little Guide to Prayer

By Barb Szyszkiewicz

These pocket-size books make perfect gifts for a stocking or a purse. 

In The Handy Little Guide to Prayer, find humble nuggets of wisdom explaining Catholic prayer. 

One particular phrase warranted my highlighter; when offering something up, “you return your pain into someone else’s gain.” These are a great resource for prayer time! 


Books to Read With Children 

Marian Consecration for Children

By Carrie Gress

This beautifully written, very approachable, tender book has it all: stories from classic literature, beautiful artwork, reflections on the saints and Scripture, as well as short but sweet discussion questions. From an adult point of view, my faith life needed this childlike refresher to draw closer to Mother Mary. 

Modeling this need and devotion as parents is both necessary and meaningful to our children. 

Gaming and the Heroic Life

By Bobby Angel

Technology and gaming have often been thought the enemy, but this book offers a vision of how gaming encourages an adventure and how that focus, control and goal can be used to grow a relationship with Jesus Christ. Bobby Angel also shows readers how relationships can grow through playing games, even ones parents can enjoy playing. 


Books for Women

Jane Austen’s Genius Guide to Life

By Haley Stewart

This book is a delightful, thought-provoking read through virtue and vice, Austen style. Using the characters from Jane Austen’s beloved novels, Haley Stewart leads the reader through a lively personal reflection. This book will warm the heart of every Austen aficionado. AveMariaPress.com


Books to Discuss With Teens/Young Adults

Blink and We’ll Miss It

By Ginny Kochis

I lost many beloved winks of sleep reading this book and it was all worth it. Your teenage daughter will love it, too. Blink and We’ll Miss It draws you into the broken, raw yet beautiful life of Mae Griffin and her family. Tackling hard issues like mental health, pride and family secrets, author Ginny Kochis creates characters who live out mercy, forgiveness, courage and perseverance. The depth of friendship and love written into this story opens doors of conversation as parents learn to trust and let their children forge their own paths. I am always searching for books that are great mother-daughter reads. For those who enjoy forging bonds through book discussions, this is a great gift idea. 


Royal & Ancient  

By Amanda Lauer

Best-selling author Amanda Lauer weaves another beautiful historical fiction novel placed in Scotland that both young teens and their mothers will enjoy. 

A young woman finds herself transported back in time, falling in love while navigating the high religious and political tensions. Author Lauer weaves themes of owning your faith, building relationships, trust and perseverance in a strong historically researched novel. 


Books for All

Code Name Edelweiss

By Stephanie Landsem

Stephanie Landsem writes a suspenseful page-turning novel set amid early World War II Hollywood glam. As a mom who loves sharing history with my children through literature, Landsem makes it come alive with rich character development and vivid storytelling. Amazon.com

Catechism of the Catholic Church: Ascension Edition

Ascension launched its new The Catechism in a Year podcast after the very successful The Bible in a Year podcast. This beautiful hardbound version of the Catechism is formatted to read alongside the podcast, offering an approachable way to understand fundamental truths of our faith. BONUS: A Catholic Guide to the Old Testament, also from Ascension. 


Holy Habits From the Sacred Heart

By Emily Jaminet

Emily Jaminet vulnerably shares stories and valuable strategies for growing closer to the Sacred Heart. This book is written in a small-things-with-great-love approach but does not back down from challenging the reader to grow deeper in the virtues of mercy, forgiveness, gratitude, surrender and trust; would make a wonderful devotional for husbands and wives to share.


A Garden Catechism: 100 Plants in Christian Tradition and How to Grow Them

By Margaret Rose Realy 

Margaret Rose Realy weaves practical guidance alongside scriptural references and the traditions of our Church. Readers will appreciate the symbolism attributed to each plant in this very in-depth garden catechism. This book makes planning and planting your garden a beautiful spiritual exercise. BONUS: A Catholic Gardener’s Spiritual Almanac 


Editor’s Picks

Order at EWTNRC.com or (800) 854-6316:


Learn more about Sister Mary Wilhelmina Lancaster, foundress of the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles. 


New to EWTNRC.com: Plush dolls of Jesus, Mary and saints will delight little ones. Also available: saint-themed puzzles and other toys.


This is a story that is not only worth telling but worth celebrating. 


Biblical scholar John Bergsma convinces readers that Jesus did, in fact, intend for a ministerial priesthood to be a key feature of the New Covenant. 


This virtue actually inspires practical wisdom, allowing us to choose well and to bring order into our lives. In Prudence: Choose Confidently, Live Boldly, Dominican Father Gregory Pine aims to work prudence back into the conversation and to explain how it can transform us along our path toward what really matters. 


EWTN Publishing | EWTN Religious Catalogue


More Books

Blessed Carlo Acutis: A Saint in Sneakers by CNA Rome correspondent Courtney Mares

Sacred Art for Young Readers: I Believe: The Apostles’ Creed in Sacred Art for Young Children, via Holy Heroes

For Art Enthusiasts: Sacred Art Every Catholic Should Know, from TANBooks.com, offers a selection of artistic masterpieces.

What We Believe: The Beauty of the Catholic Faith 

Marcellino D’Ambrosio and Andrew Swafford present and explain the essential teachings of the Catholic faith in a readable, approachable way.

Fan of Sigrid Undset? Learn more about the novelist in a recent biography: Sigrid Undset: Reader of Hearts, from Ignatius.com

Saint’s Diary: Are you close to St. Gemma Galgani? Delve into The Diary of St. Gemma and learn about her encounters with Jesus, with Our Lady and with her guardian angel, whom she saw almost every day and would even send on errands.


Patron Saint Medals: Find your patron saint medal or those of family and friends at SaintsforHOPE.com, which offers Italian saint medals hand-painted in New Orleans. 

Letters From the Saints: Get to know your favorite saints better, meet new saints, and be inspired to live your faith. The letters offer the perspectives of the saints — in their own words. Starting at $12 a month; LettersFromtheSaints.com

More gift ideas can be found at TheDomesticMonastery.com.