Last-Minute Gift Guide: Recommended Reading

Some favorite books for gift-giving

Need book ideas for gift-giving?
Need book ideas for gift-giving? (photo: Courtesy photos)

Marian & Classic Reads

Meditations on Mary, Our Mother by St. John Henry Newman brings together the beautiful insights about the Blessed Virgin Mary from this saintly cardinal whose devotion to her led to his conversion to Catholicism. 

In easy-to-understand ways, he presents profound insights into such areas as Mary’s Magnificat and why she is truly the Mother of God. Readers can apply the insights Newman shares and teaches during prayer time or at any time. 

This book will surely instill a deeper understanding of Mary and inspire readers to truly see her as their Mother, turning to her in every need and loving her ever more deeply. $5; order at

Champions of the Rosary by Marian Father Donald Calloway is a highly readable history of the Rosary that, as promised in its title, includes stories of the great victories achieved through the power of the Rosary. 

Father Calloway offers a fast-paced, fascinating read. 

As he writes, “Recounting the history will give people the motivation to pick up this spiritual weapon themselves.” 

Including a bonus of 32 color images of the Rosary in art, Champions of the Rosary is “a must-read book for everyone,” according to Nigerian Bishop Oliver Doeme; $17; order at or (800) 854-6316 (Item: 3432).

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens: Since first published in 1842, this novella has become a perennial favorite. 

And no wonder: Its story can move the coldest of hearts. 

It has the light of a Christian allegory, highlighting reclamation of a soul, the importance of helping the poor, the beauty of a devoted family life, and the realization that mankind is more important than money. Available in several editions from various booksellers. 

— recommended by Register staff writer Joseph Pronechen 

Of Church Teaching and the Saints

Blessed Carlo Acutis: The Amazing Discovery of a Teenager in Heaven by Register correspondent Sabrina Arena Ferrisi is a masterpiece for all ages, printed on high-quality pages with a smooth finish — making a nice gift. The boy-saint comes alive through his writing, interviews with his mother, and photographs on almost every page. There is a timeline from his birth, his death at age 15 in 2006, and the steps toward his beatification in 2020. Readers learn the habits he worked to incorporate into his life to become a saint and are given references to go to his websites and see his exhibits on Eucharistic miracles, Marian apparitions, angels and demons, and heaven, hell and purgatory. $18.95; order at

Our Lady of Guadalupe and Her Dear Juanito by Sister Marlyn Evangelina Monge is a hard-cover children’s book that will also touch the heart of anyone reading it. 

Vibrant illustrations and a story that does not talk down to little ones brings to life the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe’s appearance to the humble St. Juan Diego, changing his life and transforming Mexico into a Catholic country almost overnight. Readers learn of their conversations, the roses growing out of season, and how Bishop Juan Zumarraga of Mexico went from doubting to believing when he beheld the miraculous image of Our Lady on Juan’s tilma. The book includes prayers and an illustrated guide to the symbols on the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. $15.95; order at

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis is a keepsake. Originally written in the 15th century, it was beloved by many saints and is the most widely read Christian devotional after the Bible. It is especially relevant this year, at the beginning of the Church’s three-year Eucharistic Revival, as it highlights a strong devotion to the Eucharist as the key to the spiritual life. The new, easy-to-read revised edition includes illustrations and meditations for the Rosary and the Stations of the Cross. $11; order at or (800) 854-6316 (Item: 32000).

 — recommended by Register correspondent Patti Armstrong


By Noted Authors

Food for the Soul by Peter Kreeft, from Word on Fire: After a great debut with his volume for the Gospel of St. Luke and liturgical year C, Peter Kreeft goes through the Sunday Mass for the 2022-2023 year (Year A), focused on the Gospel of St. Matthew. Kreeft’s brilliance and originality totally come through. 

This is a very helpful resource for those who want to get more out of Sunday Mass. $34.95; to order

To Sanctify the World by George Weigel: This work by George Weigel is a very important read not only because of the recently celebrated 60th anniversary of the beginning of the Second Vatican Council but because Vatican II continues to be misunderstood by many and manipulated by some as a justification for ideas the Council Fathers would never have countenanced. Weigel helps one to understand the meaning and importance of the Council like no other. $32; order at or (800) 854-6316 (Item: 4318).

 — recommended by Register columnist Father Roger Landry 

For Homemakers

The Summa Domestica: Order and Wonder in Family Life: This 3-volume set makes an insightful, entertaining and wonderfully resourceful gift for any young wife and mother (or wife-to-be and mother-to-be). The three volumes cover the subjects of home culture, education and housekeeping, with lots of philosophical, practical, humorous and provoking discussions on subtopics related to each. 

The short chapters make the book so approachable, and author Leila Lawler provides women with an amazingly comprehensive guide to living the home life and vocation well. $69.95; or (800) 888-9344.

 — recommended by Register correspondent Katie Warner

Gardening and Grace

Margaret Rose Realy’s A Garden Catechism: 100 Plants in Christian Tradition and How to Grow Them is at the top of my list. This book is an evergreen classic that informs and entertains at the same time. The beautiful full-color illustrations are the perfect complement to the detailed content. Gardeners and non-gardeners alike will love this book, with its comprehensive blend of botany and Christian symbolism. $34.95; order at

Allison Gingras’ Encountering Signs of Faith: My Unexpected Journey with Sacramentals, the Saints, and the Abundant Grace of God is based on her own experience raising and catechizing a profoundly deaf child. Gingras explains tried-and-true methods of using sacramentals and sacred signs to teach the faith. The book is rich with Catholic tradition, practical advice and lived experiences, leading the reader into a deeper love and understanding of Catholicism. $16.95; order at or (800) 282-1865.

America’s Mary: The Story of Our Lady of Good Help: I wrote this one-of-a-kind book to chronicle for the first time America’s only Church-approved Marian apparition. Based on historical documents, testimonies, personal interviews and expert analysis, America’s Mary is a thorough account of the events leading up to the apparition, the apparition itself and thereafter. Told in narrative style, it is both engaging and informative. $15.95; order at

— recommended by Register blogger Marge Fenelon

For Caregivers 

What do you do when you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a serious illness? How do you even begin to cope?

Using the Way of the Cross as a framework for their love story, Michelle Johnson shares her heartbreakingly beautiful eight-year caregiving journey with her husband, Stu, in Walking the Way of the Cross for Caregivers. Before being called home, Stu suffered through three bouts of cancer over eight years, had his leg amputated up to the hip, and became a quadriplegic. If you need practical, down-to-earth advice for helping your loved one carry their cross, it is in this book. If you are struggling to keep the faith during this difficult journey, this first-hand account of a real-life couple’s drama can help. As hard as it was, this journey deepened Michelle and Stu’s love for each other, and it can do the same for you. If you are currently standing at the foot of the cross, this story shows that you do not need to be afraid. Because if you let him, the One who loves you more than you love yourself will accompany you, and at times will even carry you, as you begin your own journey. Johnson, EWTN’s director of communications, encourages prospective Register readers: “The holidays can be a particularly difficult time for caregivers. This book was written to accompany caregivers in their lonely job, to give them hope, practical resources and spiritual help and, very importantly, to remind them that they are not alone. Others have walked this path, including Our Lord!” $15.95; or (800) 854-6316 (Item: 91400).

Last-Minute Gift Guide 2022


Learn the amazing life story of Venerable Father Patrick Peyton, “The Rosary Priest,” by watching Pray.

In additional to the prayerful insights, the film pays homage to Father Peyton’s pioneering in media, which included radio and TV and appearances by such celebrities as Maureen O’Hara, Jimmy Stewart, Loretta Young, Jack Benny, Lucille Ball, Bob Hope, Shirley Temple and Gregory Peck. 

Such segments are bolstered by the filmmakers’ choices of those interviewed. Among them are insights from Peyton relatives, including his niece and nephews — one of whom is a priest in Ireland whose name is Father Pat Peyton! With Father Peyton’s constant emphasis and focus on family prayer, it is apropos that pro-baseball player Mike Sweeney and his wife, Shara, make an appearance in the film. — excerpt by Joseph Pronechen

Learn more about the film here.