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Favorite Monastic Books

Monks, Monasteries and Monasticism

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Edited: Jul 14, 2008, 9:59pm Top

Is anyone interested in doing a ranked or unranked list of books by and/or about monks, monasteries, and monasticism? I picked up a box of new titles from our church's rumble sale (the proceeds send 8 or 9 teens to Rome on pilgrimage). We could categorize, subdivide, order and re-order -- or not!
Possible categories:
Monastic fiction such as Black Narcissus, The Nun's Story, In this house of Brede
Autobiography and memoir -- Karen Armstrong vs. Thomas Merton
Monasticism in the outside world - de Walt's books
Visitors' Insights
Centering Prayer in and out of the monastery -- Keating or Bourgeault (sp??)
Books by nuns
Books by monks
Books by friars
Meditation and Motivation
Guides to Monasteries
Books that became movies, or TV shows

Oct 4, 2009, 6:16am Top

I'd like to read more novels about monks but it's not that popular a topic so I've had a hard time finding anything. So far the only real novel about monasticism I've read is Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose.

Oct 6, 2009, 9:04am Top

Of course, there are all the Brother Cadfael mystery novels by Ellis Peters.

Jun 24, 2010, 8:15pm Top

I'm currently reading A Canticle for Leibowitz which also uses monks in a post-apocalyptic setting. Great so far.

Jun 30, 2010, 11:37pm Top

The Haunted Monastery by Robert van Gulik is about... a haunted monastery.

Aug 22, 2018, 9:09pm Top

The absolute best, best, best books I have ever read about monks are by Penelope Wilcock. The first book in a 9 book series is called "The Hawk and the Dove." I'm thinking it's set around 1000 AD in England, about a community of Benedictine Monks. She weaves into the story the daily routine and the little things that irritate as well as the things that make the life worthwhile. She is an excellent writer.

Edited: Sep 3, 2018, 1:10am Top

A few non-fiction offerings:

I've found The Love of Learning and the Desire for God: A Study of Monastic Culture by Jean Leclercq to be a good background.

I've always loved Spiritual Friendship by St Aelred of Rievaulx, and indeed Rievaulx Abbey itself. Also The Rule of St Benedict.

Edited: Sep 3, 2018, 5:40am Top

A little OT but quite a while ago I read The Owl Killers by Karen Maitland set in medieval times in England in a small village. But there was a group of Belgian religious women — the Beguines — which I had not heard of before and I had to check to make sure they weren't entirely fictional but there is quite a bit about them on the web. I seem to remember that in the book their leader took it upon herself to say mass. The real-life sect certainly seem to shed light on the role of women as not entirely subservient.
>4 briandarvell:: I liked that book too.


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