Finding Good Books
The best and by far most inexpensive place we know of to buy good books is the book sale of your local library. In our town, the Friends of the Library, a nonprofit organization supporting the library, raises funds by selling used books in a little store in the basement three times a week. The books do not come from the library collection. They are donations. Often families bring in large collections of books after spring cleaning or after a grandparent has passed away. One can find the most amazing treasures among these lots.
When their little store overflows, the volunteers put the excess in a designated FREE place. We have found a complete set of the New Book of Knowledge children’s encyclopedia there, not the most recent edition but still a wonderful resource for our eight homeschooled students. We like older history books from before the age of historical revisionism.
Our local Friends of the Library book store accepts book requests. We give them a list of titles we are looking for and they keep an eye out for these books.
Public libraries accept purchase requests!!! Ask for the form to fill out. We have successfully requested a number of good books, even some self-published ones. Our library even purchased multiple copies. This is a great way to support new authors.
Thrift Shops/Yard Sales
The Salvation Army is next in the inexpensive category. Half Price Books has great used books bargains online and in their retail stores with dollar days, 25cent paperback days and other specials.Try other local thrift stores and yard sales.
Other good places for finding good books, if not as thrifty, are museum, zoo and national park gift shops that carry excellent and unique non-fiction books and local authors. We especially enjoy Native American folk tales. A recent discovery for Catholic children’s books are, surprisingly, monastery and church gift shops. It is wonderful to be able to support a little known Catholic or Orthodox author and the monastery or church at the same time.
There are a number of strategies to follow when you search or shop:
You can be fairly certain a children’s book will be at least morally sound if you focus on titles published before 1960. After that standards go progressively downhill, slowly at first, then gaining momentum until today parents can only gasp at what has entered not only book stores but our public libraries.
When in doubt about a title, look for it on Amazon.com and go to the reviews. Read the one and two star reviews which often address moral objections.
Goodreads is another site to look for book reviews. The site is owned by Amazon! Reviews on Goodreads seldom talk about the moral content of a book. Look up a good book you know. Then check the recommendations generated by Goodreads. If an author you like is a Goodreads featured author you can go to the author page and see if it offers recommendations. You can also search under the Browse tab for lists. If you rate at least twenty books on the site, you will receive recommendations. Under the Community tab you will find discussions and groups. You could join one or start one. I received some good tips from the Clean Reads group.
You can help promote good authors and good books by writing a positive comment on Goodreads and on Amazon!
LibraryThing is an online free cataloging site that allows users to set up their own library and share with other users. There is a swap function and a number of recommended book search site. This site is an alternative to Goodreads. We have found some rare Catholic books here.
CatholicReads.com helps Catholics find books by publishing reviews from a genuine Catholic point of view. You can also subscribe and receive offers for heavily discounted books vetted by this site. If you are an author, you may look into submitting your book for promotion.
Recommended Book Lists
Look for titles recommended in the following lists. We completely trust the extensive list in Michael D. O’Brien’s book A Landscape With Dragons: The Battle For Your Child’s Mind. After this, we are not certain of the reliability of the lists and links below. It is impossible to check them all. Use your own judgment. Please share your own lists. Email us!
Good Books For Catholic Kids has great reviews including critiques of questionable elements in popular books.
This is a large wonderful list of picture books sorted after the liturgical year including saints days.
This site introduces the The Motherload List of Excellent Catholic Picture Books. Very comprehensive.
In 1943, the War Department produced 120 million books for service men to carry in their shirt pockets. The qualityof these Armed Services Editions are amazing with a great variety of subject matter.
List of Catholic novels, new, some self published.
Adult Catholic books.
20 favorite Catholic novels.
Kosher is a good indicator for a good book.
Novels and Fiction with a Catholic/Christian Perspective
Popular clean adult books (Goodreads)
Adult Catholic books.
Father John McCloskey Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan.
Secular user-generated novel ratings.