catholic homeschool teen reading

Home Library Essentials for High School

Building Your Home Library: The Best Books for Catholic Students

Grades 9 to 12

100+ Books for High School


My recent post 48 Picture Books for the Well-Rounded Catholic Child was an internet hit. Today I’d like to share a similar list, but for high school children. In essence, this list includes 100+ books for the well-rounded Catholic young adult.

I tried to choose a wide variety of styles, eras, and genres for a well-rounded selection. I don’t believe all of my family’s personal books have to be religious in nature. Still, we do try to choose titles that point toward God in some way or at least give us the opportunity to discern the Good, True, and Beautiful in a positive way.

Whether you homeschool or not, building a home library that is both inviting to children and filled with exceptional books is a necessity. I suggest printing this list and keeping it close when visiting the library, attending your homeschool conference, or perusing used book sales online. If you have favorites I missed, write them on the printout. If there are titles you already own, cross them off. There may even be suggestions here you don’t like and believe do not belong on such a list — cross those off, too.

Filling your shelves with good books will bring peace to you, as you’ll know your teen can walk up to that shelf, pull off almost any book, and find something that is enriching and enjoyable.

The inspiration for this list are the teens in the local homeschool high school book club that I lead. A few years ago they decided to read a book from a different genre each month. Many of the books they have considered and chosen are below.

Click on the book title (which may contain affiliate links) for ordering information and to read reviews. Some titles will have incidents of violence and worldly themes, so, as always, review them before giving them to your child. You know your child best and what she can handle.

One of the things I love about having teenagers in my house is that they read interesting books. The days of Barney books are long gone. I suggest setting aside a day and time to talk with your teen about what he is currently reading. In my homeschool, we have a special teen time at the local coffee shop. We have a Socratic discussion—my job is only to ask questions. Then, they can pull the lessons from their books themselves.

Side note: A number of the selections below link to Ignatius Press’ Critical Editions. These are quite excellent. For a student reading on his own, without the guidance of an instructor, they help him see the text’s Catholic worldview.

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad*
The Man Who Was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton*
Toward the Gleam by T. M. Doran
Patriot Games by Tom Clancy

Father Elijah by Michael O’Brien
Lord of the World by Robert Hugh Benson
A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller
The Children of Men by P. D. James

Making Sense of Mary by Gary G Michuta*
Letters to a Young Catholic by George Weigel
The One-Minute Apologist by Dave Armstrong
Here. Now. A Catholic Guide to the Good Life by Amy Wellborn

I, Juan de Pareja by Elizabeth de Trevino
Signs and Mysteries: Revealing Ancient Christian Symbols by Mike Aquilina and Lea Marie Ravotti
In the Footsteps of Popes: A Spirited Guide to the Treasures of the Vatican by Enrico Bruschini
Sister Wendy’s Story of Painting by Sr. Wendy Beckett

Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
Song for Nagasaki by Fr. Paul Glynn
The Unmasking of Oscar Wilde by Joseph Pearce
Life is a Blessing: A Biography of Jerome Lejuene by Clara Lejuene

Classic Fiction
Odyssey and Iliad by Homer (translated by Robert Fitzgerald)*
The Divine Comedy by Dante (Dorothy Sayers edition)*
Beowulf translated by Charles W. Kennedy*
Canterbury Tales of Geoffrey Chaucer (Vincent Hopper’s Interlinear Translation from Barron Press)*

Contemporary Fiction
Will Wilder: The Relic of Perilous Falls by Raymond Arroyo
Midnight Dancers by Regina Doman
The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor
John Paul 2 High series by Christian M. Frank

Anything by William Shakespeare*
The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Oedipus Rex by Sophocles*
A Doll’s House by Ibsen

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Animal Farm by George Orwell
The Giver by Lois Lowry
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins


Faith-Filled Fiction
The Spear by Louis de Wohl
Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis*
In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden
The Silver Chalice by Thomas Costain

The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien*
Tale of Manaeth by Phillip Campbell
The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald
The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

Historical Fiction
Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne*
Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens*
Belisarius by Paolo Belzoni
Kirsten Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset

The Fathers of the Church by Mike Aquilina
Dynamics of World History by Christopher Dawson
Seven Lies About Catholic History by Diane Moczar
The Politically Incorrect Guide To American History by Thomas E. Woods

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
Dracula by Bram Stoker*
The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe 
Frankenstein by Mary Shelly*

Carry On, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse
All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome
Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank B. Gilbreth


Modern Fiction
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories by Flannery O’Connor*
Manalive by G. K. Chesterton
Huck Finn by Mark Twain

What to Listen for in Music by Aaron Copeland
The Vintage Guide to Classical Music by Jan Swafford
Jazz 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Jazz by John F. Szwed
Brightest and Best: Stories of Hymns by Fr. George Rutler

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle*
Father Brown Mysteries by G. K. Chesterton
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers*

The Confessions by Saint Augustine of Hippo (Ignatius Critical Edition)*
The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius (Ignatius Critical Edition)
Reclaiming Catholic Social Teaching by Anthony Esolen
Sophie’s World: A Novel About the History of Philosophy by Jostein Gaarder, translated by Paulette Moller
Doorways to Poetry by Louis Untermeyer
The Romantic Poets by Blake, Wordsworth, and Coleridge (edited by Joseph Pearce)
Rhyme’s Reason: A Guide to English Verse by John Hollander*
Trees and Other Poems by Joyce Kilmer
The Catechism of the Catholic Church*
Cassell’s Standard Latin Dictionary by D. P Simpson
World’s Greatest Speeches edited by Lewis Copeland, Lawrence W. Lamm, and Stephen J. McKenna
Guinness World Records 2015 edited by Guinness World Records


Sir Gawain and the Green Knight translated by JRR Tolkien*
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen*
The King of the Castle by Victoria Holt
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte*

The Savior of Science by Stanley Jaki
E=mc2: A Biography of the World’s Most Famous Equation by David Bodanis
Madame Curie: A Biography by Eve Curie
DK The Way Science Works by Robin Kerrod

Science Fiction
Space Trilogy by C. S. Lewis*
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
The Sparrow: A Novel by Mary Doria Russell
Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Spiritual Life
The How-to Book of Catholic Devotions: Everything You Need to Know but No One Ever Taught You by Mike Aquilina and Regis J. Flaherty
You Can Understand The Bible: A Practical And Illuminating Guide To Each Book In The Bible by Peter Kreeft
Prove It! Prayer by Amy Welborn
Reflections on the Christian Life by Anthony Esolen

Practical Theology: Spiritual Direction from St. Thomas Aquinas by Peter Kreeft
Understanding The Scriptures: A Complete Course On Bible Study (The Didache Series) by Scott Hahn*
Jesus Shock by Peter Kreeft
Catholic Teen Bible (Prove It)

Time Travel
To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
Sun Slower, Sun Faster by Meriol Trevor
The Time Machine by H. G. Wells
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

The Elements of Style by Strunk and White
On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zinsser
Simplified Writing 101: Top Secrets for College Success by EB Conroy*
The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler*

This is an extensive list, yet there are so many other great books I wanted to add. For now, this is a good place to start. I’m not suggesting you go out and buy all of these books today, but instead to build your library over time. If you enjoy eReaders, a good number of these books are in the public domain and therefore can be downloaded for free.

Let me know what books you would add (or remove) at our Catholic homeschool community.

* Indicates that Homeschool Connections (online Catholic homeschool classes) offers a literature course on this book.
100+ Books for Teens


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