Repair Your Soul: Read!

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 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:

Hiding the Stranger in Hickory Valley and My Big Feet by Joan L. Kelly.

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:

Newsflash: My Surprising Journey from Secular Anchor to Media Evangelist by Teresa Tomeo

Broken and Blessed by Cathy Adamkiewicz

Cheryl Dickow


Cheryl Dickow is a Catholic wife, mother, author and speaker. Cheryl’s newest book is Wrapped Up: God’s Ten Gifts for Womenwhich is co-authored with Teresa Tomeo and is published by Servant (a division of Franciscan Media); there is also a companion journal that accompanies the book and an audio version intended for women’s studies or for individual reflection. Cheryl’s titles also include the woman’s inspirational fiction book Elizabeth: A Holy Land Pilgrimage. Elizabeth is available in paperback or Kindle format. Her company is Bezalel Books where her goal is to publish great Catholic books for families and classrooms that entertain while uplifting the Catholic faith and is located at To invite Cheryl to speak at your event, write her at

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  • liturgylover

    Thanks for inadvertently pointing out the plight of small business today. Instead of printing author’s websites and talking about online Catholic “bookstores”, how about reminding Catholics to seek out and patronize their local brick and mortar Catholic bookstores. Most of us are trying to eke out a living this way, and online sources are squeezing us out of business. Bravo that your friend had a record month, but most of us had record low months, precisely because it’s either easier to click and charge or many customers come in to see the books in person and then order online. Help us too, please! God bless you!

  • CherylDickow


    Every single time I am on Catholic radio or speaking at an event or writing an article, I am constantly pushing Catholics to support Catholic businesses, whether online or brick and mortar. All our books are on Amazon and we have added links to Catholic sellers in our ongoing effort to bring dollars to Catholics and their ministries. Please feel free to add the name of your store and an address.

    If you had any idea how difficult it is for all of us who contribute to the CE site without pay and in hopes that people will purchase our books, you would know that we are with you in what you say!

    I pray everyday that our Catholic brothers and sisters will be as supportive of Catholic authors and bookstores (online and brick and mortar) as our Protestant counterparts who spend a tremendous amount of time and money supporting their authors.

    From your comment to God’s ears….

  • aquinasandmore

    @liturgylover: We are a local Catholic bookstore that has expanded to be the largest on-line Catholic bookstore as well. We have a $1200 square foot retail store and just like other small businesses, have struggled to succeed.

    I have nine kids and our store supports my family and employees’ families.

    We created a storefront program to help other stores get online and frequently post blogs with tips to help other Catholic stores at

    I don’t know what your bookstore is like but like all small businesses you need to adapt to changing circumstances. The internet is where business is going and you need to make sure that you not only have a website but that you put your energy into growing that part of your business. If you have any questions, send me a note. ian(AT)

  • One thing to also remember, at least where we live is two things: First how hard it is to get to the local Catholic bookstore. In some cases, it might mean a drive of 200 miles, only to find that the book you are looking for isn’t on the shelves there. Of course they can order it for you, but if you wanted for a gift or something special you are out of luck.

    Second, some bookstores simply don’t carry many Catholic titles, like the Amazing Grace series. We have talked to our local Barnes and Nobel in our town, and they will order one or two books and then when those are sold, they might not order anymore, or enough to satisfy a demand for them when the author has a piece on Catholic Exchange, or is featured in the local newspaper or interviewed on TV. This presents a problem as well and so the only safe bet is to order directly from the publisher and have it mailed to you, then you are assured of getting exactly what you want, when you want.

    The real point is we need more Catholic stories and books for all ages and education levels to bring people to the faith. The more I read, whether it is something as weighty as the early Church Fathers, or as down to earth as the Amazing Grace series of books, it brings my heart and soul closer to our Church. It inspires me to a better Catholic, Father or teacher to others; and however we get those books into people’s hands should be the goal.

    Domino Vobiscum.