A social media friend posted a question: what books would his friends recommend for Catholic teens? I saw a lot of good stuff. I saw good books that would likely be misfires. The answers rather showed people who read or heard different questions. What would you read as an adolescent? What would you yourself read?
Among the authors I noticed Peter Kreeft and GK Chesterton. Really? Tolkien, which I guess was okay since I read LotR as a ninth grader. CS Lewis too, and my friend isn’t even British.
I don’t know my friend’s young companions, and I think that makes a whole lot of difference. I could only write “fiction and biographies” in response to the query. That answer mostly covers what inspired me as a young Catholic. Not the head stuff, “Theology Soup For The Adolescent Soul.” I don’t think logic and reason bring most believers into the fold. But if you disagree, show me I’m wrong.
Long long ago, I knew a guy who had drifted for many years, then got inspired by the emerging Catholic man movement. He seemed frustrated his parish peers weren’t excited about bringing in a Catholic radio speaker, someone he workshopped with and who inspired a change in life. I thought, why would one way work for all men? I agreed with him that the parish needed a jolt of inspiration, but I didn’t think a speaker would draw the people and get the job done. My friend was disappointed with me, I think. But frankly, I thought if he shared his own conversion story in small gatherings–faith sharing groups, Knights of Columbus activities, parish meetings–that would inspire more people than anything. We knew him. But the protest, “I’m not a speaker” won the day. Too bad.
I think a true evangelist takes a walk and has a talk with a young protege. Once you get to know someone, the right book might come to mind.
I think the answer depends in part on the teen.
My first choice would be Fr. James Martin “The Jesuits Guide to Everything”. Not the biggest fan of the author, but the work is solid and written at an easy introductory level.
C.S. Lewis would be next.
Tolkien and Doestoevsky and the Apostolic Father’s (at least St. Ignatius of Antioch) if I thought the teen could handle the works.
Dorothy Sayers “Are Women Human?”
If they could handle a harsh tone, David Bentley Harts “Short History of Christianity” and “Atheist Delusions” tackle modern objections and attempts to rewrite history.