What Flannery Recommends: Non-fiction and Catholicism

Part 4: Non-fiction and Catholic works that Flannery O’Connor recommends

“I suffer from generalized admiration or generalized dislike.” 

The Habit of Being by Flannery O’ Connor p. 241

In The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O’Connor (August 1, 1988) edited by Sally Fitzgerald, lovers literature and students of literature are treated to a rare treat, this 640 volume that contains her passing comments, recommendations and critiques on over 100 titles.

  • For books on the craft of writing that Flannery O’Connor recommends reading, click here.
  • For the authors that Flannery O’Connor recommends reading, click here.
  • For the novels and short stories Flannery O’Connor recommends reading, click here.
What Flannery Recommends, author recommendations from The Habit of Being

Word of God and the Word of Man

Barth, Karl.

About the trials of Biblical scholars since about 1880. Very enlightening to me. It’s certainly easier to be a Bible reader in 1962 than in 1904.

Three Mystic

Bruno, Father De J. M.

Highly enjoying the beautiful book

The Eclipse of God

Buber, Martin.

these boys have got a lot to offer us/I think this book you sent me is wonderful…Buber is an antidote to the prevailing tenor of Catholic philosophy which…is often apologetic rather than dialogic. Buber is an artist. That is one thing. Thomism usually comes in a hideous wrapper, but Buber’s thought is cast in a form that is always readable.

The Phenomenon of Man

de Chardin, Teilherd.

this is a scientific age and Teilhard’s direction is to face it toward Christ. / I might suggest you look into some of the works off…

(Book on Fenelon)

Fenelon, François.

Born Catholics

Frank Sheed.

Forced on me…I found it more interesting than I had thought as there are many and diverse degrees of experience in it

The Unity of Philosophical Experience

Gilson, Etienne.

A book that might help you

History of Christian Philosophy in the Middle Ages

Gilson, Etienne.

I surprised to come across various answers to Simone Weil’s questions to Fr. Perrin.

The Unity of Philosophical Experience

Gilson, Etienne.

I am an admirer of

Religious and the Psychology of Jung

Goldbrunner, Josef.

Jung is with the uncles and not the great uncles; which is not to condemn him. I admire him…to my way of thinking, Goldbrunner has used Jung in the only way that I think he can be used, which is in helping the person face his own psychic realities, or those realities that the great mystics have always faced and that the Church teaches (in spite of Jung’s insistence that she does not) we must face. Goldbrunner can do this because he believes in the objective reality of God.

Christian Thought and Action

Graham, Dom Aelred.

A very good book, heathen friend – amazed a Catholic writer could be so flexible

The Faith and Modern Man

Guardini, Romano.

The Lord

Guardini, Romano.

Very fine/there is nothing like [it] anywhere, certainly not in this country.

The Virgin Mary

Guitton, Jean.

Have had considerable light thrown on the subject for me

The Reformation in England

Hughes, Philip.

Certainly am enjoying…I feel like I was at it

The Lives of the English Poets

Johnson, Samuel.

Modern Man in Search of the Soul

Jung, Carl.

I am conscious in a general way of the world’s present historical position, which according to Jung is unhistorical. I am afraid I got this concept from…

The Conservative Mind

Kirk, Russell.

Which I admire


Lewis, C.S.

Which is very fine. Deceptively simple. You really need to read every sentence twice.

On Prayer

Lewis, C.S.

This book is a good one but I don’t like to pray any better for reading it.

Christ and Apollo

Lynch, Fr. William S.J.

Has some good answers to the question of what-are-you-saying.

Art and Scholasticism

Maritain, Jacques.

The book I cut my aesthetic teeth on, though I think even some of the things he says get soft at times. He is a philosopher and not an artist but he does have a great understanding of the nature of art, which he gets from St. Thomas. / your freshmen may be improved by a look at [it]…he dwells on St. Thomas’s definition of art as a virtue of the practical intellect, etc.

The Mystery of Being

Marcel, Gabriel

are readable

God and Mammon

Mauriac, François.

References for writing advice

Mémoires Intérieurs

Mauriac, François.

I am going to send it to you to read what he says about Emily Bronte. He sounds so much like you he might be you. He also has some good things to say about Hawthorne.

a book on Greece

Miller, Henry.

Very fine

The Grammar of Assent

Newman, John Henry.

On the Theology of Death

Rahner, Karl.

It is great but difficult to read.

Two Portraits of St. Thérèse of Liseuix

Robo, Fr. Etienne.

He does away with all the roses, little flowers, and other icing. The book has greatly increased my devotion to her.

Interior Castle

Theresa of Avila.

Underhill, Evelyn. Mysticism. It is a mine of information

Israel and Revelation

Voegelin, Eric.

He gets away from the Spengler-Toynbee business very effectively and instead of seeing history as civilizational cycles sees it as an exodus from civilization.

The World of The Polis

Voegelin, Eric.

2nd volume on the Greek polis, a masterful analyses of the Illad & of Aeschylys but other hunks and dull and over my head/parts were very exciting but for the most part you need to be a Greek scholar to read it.

Essays and Addresses

Von Hugal, Baron.

I like the book very much.

God and the Unconscious

White, Victor, O.P.

Know the terrific pleasure these books are going to give me / I think it is full of psychological explanations of dogmas and rituals, which requires that he ignore the accepted meanings of them.