S. Benedict, in his Rule (Ch.48, 15) directs that ‘During this time of Lent each one is to receive a book from the library, and is to read the whole of it straight through’.
I think that most of us feel that the reading of at least one ‘Lent Book’ is a good thing to do, providing us with spiritual material for meditations, and also helping us to focus our minds on appropriate topics during the holy season.
I thought that I might perhaps suggest a few of my own favourites, some of them well-known, one or two I suspect rather less so, which you may like to consider for Lenten reading. I'm sorry that several of them are not currently in print; but Abebooks will probably be able to help, or the excellent S. Philip's Books in Oxford (http://www.stphilipsbooks.co.uk/) may well have copies.
(The order is not significant; it's just how they came to hand as I looked over my shelves.)
Journal of a Soul ~ John XXIII
My copy is an old one; but it is readily available second-hand, if not new.
Pope John XXIII began his ‘spiritual journal when a seminarian, and kept it throughout his life. It tells frankly of his trials, temptations, and concerns; and provides wonderful meditations and prayers as well as much of comfort when life becomes almost unbearable.
Letters to a Non-Believer ~ Thomas Crean OP
fr Thomas deals with many ‘objections’ to the Faith, or problems with it, in a series of letters written to a Muslim friend. It makes this a very useful handbook of apologetics for today’s world, as well as being stimulating reading.
The Creed in Slow Motion ~ Ronald Knox
My copy is an old one; I suspect it may only be available second-hand, but I know that S. Philip's Books in Oxford had several good copies the last time I was there.
Mgr Knox takes a detailed look at the Apostle’s Creed, in simple, informative, amusing, yet exceptionally thought-provoking terms. I read this every year during Lent.
Seven Last Words ~ Timothy Radcliffe OP
Burns & Oates
fr Timothy’s meditations on Jesus’ ‘seven last words from the cross’ will lead your mind in all sorts of ways; and stimulate you to find significances which you had never before considered.
The Spirit of Place : Carthusian Reflections ~ A Carthusian
Darton, Longman, & Todd
This is a collection of Homilies and addresses for significant occasions in the life of S. Hugh’s Charterhouse, Parkminster dealing with solitude, stillness, silence, and expectancy; they challenge, but at the same time support.
Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy ~ J. Neville Ward
A splendid book of extended meditations on the Mysteries of the Rosary. Written by a Methodist, by used – and loved – by many Catholics (including Pope Paul VI) for the last forty years.
The Priest is Not His Own ~ Fulton Sheen
This is primarily aimed at priests, of course; but there is much in it of interest and value to the laity. Abp Sheen provides solid scriptural authority for his remarks, and paints a picture of the type of priest that all of us would like to find in the presbytery of our parish – and then explains to Father just how he can become that priest !
‘A Drink Called Happiness’ The New Wine of Dominican Spirituality ~ Paul Murray OP
Burns & Oates
An examination of Dominican Spirituality, and in particular their readiness to ‘drink deep’ at God’s Word, and find in that a way of life that is truly open to God’s world, and is thus full of joy.
The Monastic Institutes ~ John Cassian
St Austin Press
This wonderful translation by F Jerome Bertram of the Oxford Oratory includes his consideration of ‘The Eight Deadly Sins’ which is particularly appropriate for Lent; and his thoughtful – and realistic – recommendations for dealing with them are still as applicable now as they were in the Thebaid.
Leave Your Life Alone ~ Dom Hubert van Zeller
I don’t think it’s still in print; originally pub. by Sheed & Ward
A book for the worried, fearful, and perplexed . . . in other words, all of us ! Dom Hubert identifies some of the greatest problems of modern life, and then suggests a practical way out of them – recognize that we are in God’s hands, and leave it to Him !
. . . and finally, a book for Passiontide :
A Doctor at Calvary ~ Pierre Barbet
My copy is an old American one from Kenedy, but I think it is now available in paperback, although I don’t have details to hand.
Dr Barbet considers the practical realities of the Passion and Crucifixion in light of his medical training and extensive experience. It is a moving, and deeply religious book, particularly the last chapter which is an extended – and graphic – Meditation on the Passion; but you should be aware that Dr Barbet pulls absolutely no punches, and conceals nothing – it makes ‘The Passion of the Christ’ (which is apparently not all that accurate) look like ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ in comparison !
I hope that some of these books may interest you; and I should be very glad to know of books which you find helpful in Lent.