About a month ago, a gentleman who runs a large online Catholic bookstore told me that his business had just experienced its best year ever. Ever! As we talked about this phenomenon amidst the backdrop of crashing stock markets and a “me” generation run amok, we marveled at this fact. After all, it would seem that books would be the first thing to shift from a person’s “needs” list to their “wants” list. And then as times grew tougher, off any list altogether. It should be that we don’t “need” books as much as we “want” books. And in the scheme of things, books seem to have the least luster of all the things that people long to acquire. But as our conversation revealed, the exact opposite happens to be true.
Now, more than ever, people “need” books. People who have mistakenly bought into the materialism of the secular world have a personal, internal void that faith-based books apparently fill. Others simply love embracing their faith through books that inspire and uplift. All people are finding that they need books that teach and transform. Books give people comfort and hope and a chance for escape. The gentleman went on to say that numerous individuals had shared their desires to turn their backs on their big screen television sets and “Hollywood” and settle in with a good book. As he spoke, I could feel myself drawn in, as well. I, too, am the sort of person for whom the need for books has always been evident.
Shortly after that conversation, I spoke at a women’s conference in Minnesota and was blessed to meet Patti Armstrong. Patti is the best-selling Catholic author and speaker who writes the Amazing Grace book series with Matthew Pinto, Jeff Cavins, and, for some of the titles, with her husband Mark and son, Luke. Patti is the sort of author who makes books a “need” and not just a “want.” Patti writes faith-based books in such a way as to help fill the void that aches within so many of us. As this online bookseller said to me, “Readers, now more than ever, need to be inspired and given hope” and Patti’s books fit the bill.
This is especially the case with Patti’s “Amazing Grace” book series. In a world where the tangible has lost its appeal, the intangibles of faith have taken a spot front and center. In a world where liberalism and bias have reared their ugly heads, and smoke-and-mirrors politics has left people dazed, readers seek solace in books that reflect the teachings of Christ. The Amazing Grace series (think Chicken Soup for the Soul, but Catholic) are books jam-packed with personal stories in which God is the only real answer and faith the only journey that matters.
I left that Minnesota woman’s conference with 5 of Patti’s books in hand and a newfound friendship. I am currently reading Amazing Grace for Survivors and my husband is reading Amazing Grace for Fathers. Both my husband and I love the format of the books and the opportunity to be uplifted through the series of short stories that are shared within the pages.
But “amazing” isn’t just the series, it is also appropriately applied to Patti. She is the mother of 10 and an incredible woman of God. Many Catholic Exchange readers will recognize her as a contributor to the site with inspirational pieces that make a difference to those who read them. To say she is a gifted writer is an understatement but if I go on and on (which I could) Patti would rebuke me because as gifted as she is, she is also incredibly humble.
Patti and I stayed up late (okay, it was 10 p.m., but for us it was late) talking and delving into our faith and what it means to be a Catholic woman today. We agreed that it is an exciting time to answer God’s call as a Catholic woman but it also challenging. We need to shore one another up and thus strengthen our families as well. I look forward to asking Patti to contribute articles to the upcoming Catholic Exchange woman’s channel where all readers will be uplifted by Patti’s example of daily faith, love, and courage. I truly consider myself blessed to have met Patti and now to call her friend.
Patti’s website, where you can order her books, is www.raisingcatholickids.com or you can find them on many online stores or through Ascension Press.
For other Catholic books for your family to enjoy, consider:
For teen and young adults:
Joey’s Journey by Brad Thomas
The Story of Peace by Miriam Ezeh
For tweens and middle school readers:
The “All Things Girl” series by Teresa Tomeo, Molly Miller, and Monica Cops that include the titles A Journal for Prayers, Thoughts, and Other Important Things; Friends, Boys, and Getting Along; Mirror, Mirror on the Wall…What is Beauty, After all? and Girls Rock!
For young readers:
Isabel’s Sister by Harriet Sabatini
Way of the Cross for Children by Kathryn Mulderink
Agatha Bagatha by Jeanne Carr
For the holidays:
Taste and See Faith by Marie Wilson
For adult inspiration:
Broken and Blessed by Cathy Adamkiewicz