The Church maintained an index of banned books for a long time, until it got to be a "must read for Satanists" list. Has the Church (or affiliated bodies) ever maintained a list of good books.

Here's what I know so far:

  • I know of the Catholic Library Association's book award (but that's just one Children's book per year)
  • there's the imprimatur and nihil obstat, but I don't think they keep a categorized list and I don't think it generally includes fiction.
  • The USCCB does movie ratings, but not book reviews as far as I know.
  • Focus on the Family does book reviews, but it's not Catholic.
  • I do not believe there is an official list of recommended good books to be read from the Vatican. But several books have been recommended by various popes at times.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Dec 22, 2017 at 19:59

4 Answers 4


Yes. They're called the Biblical Canon. The books of the Holy Bible were originally a number of separate documents that the Church leadership officially agreed to be the authoritative collection of documents on their faith.


There is no official recommended great Catholic books list from the Vatican. But that said, several Catholic websites give the faithful a great list of Catholic books recommended for reading. The following is a small sampling only:

50 Books Every Catholic Should Read

Best Catholic Books of All-Time

Intellectual Catholic Book List

Catholic Classics Reading List Loyola University (Chicago)

Catholic, Summer Book List

The Top 40: A Traditional Catholic Reading List

Top 100 Catholic Theology Books: A Book List by Taylor Marshall for the New Saint Thomas Institute

5 Spiritual Books Every Man Should Read

True Devotion to Mary by St. Louis de Montfort had more influence on Pope John Paul II than most of us will ever know!

  • Great lists, Ill check 'em out. What I'm looking for more is lists of good books for my kids
    – Peter Turner
    Commented Dec 23, 2017 at 1:43

All the best works written by the Doctors of the Church are certainly recommended, as one must teach in some fashion for the Church to declare a saint a doctor.

Popes have praised books in magisterial documents, too, for example:


The Catholic Church has a concept of an imprimatur ("let it be printed"), an approval granted to a book by a bishop.

The following text often accompanies an imprimatur:

The nihil obstat and imprimatur are declarations that a book or pamphlet is free of doctrinal or moral error. No implication is contained therein that those who have granted the nihil obstat or imprimatur agree with the contents, opinions or statements expressed.

(Exact text from Wikipedia, compare with the front of any major Catholic apologetics book)

Thus, an imprimatur can be seen as a sort of "this is a good book" approval system, or, considering the disclaimer, sort of a "this isn't a bad book" approval system.

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