The Very Reverend Scott Borgman, it should be noted, is a remarkably busy man.
As Diocese of Orange judicial vicar, Father Borgman oversees several boards, directs the tribunal, offers spiritual direction, and fulfills the usual duties of a priest, such as offering Mass.
Still, he found time last year to read 55 books. His inspiration was a professor he met when studying in Rome who set a goal of reading a book each week.
“It took me a couple of years to ramp up to that level,” explains Fr. Borgman, who is in residence at St. Columban Church in Garden Grove. “It’s been an extraordinary journey.”
From French literature to the Russian masters, he consumes an array of fiction, nonfiction, and spiritual books. “Reading is my outlet,” he says. “It’s my chance to get away and feed my imagination.”
Like Fr. Borgman, Fr. Damien Giap, rector of St. John the Baptist School in Costa Mesa, has eclectic tastes, enjoying classics like “Jane Eyre” as an audiobook and adding spiritual books, such as “Francis of Assisi” by G. K. Chesterton.
Author Fr. Quan Tran, administrator at St. Hedwig Church in Los Alamitos – who penned “The Imitation of Mary: Keys to Growth in Virtue and Grace” [$17.95, catholicfreeshipping.com] – centers his reading on spiritual literature. Recent favorites available on amazon.com include “Mary of Nazareth: History, Archaeology,” by Michael Hesemann [$29.95] and 2014’s “The Life of Mary as Seen by the Mystics,” compiled by Rafael Brown [$12.95].
In addition to Fr. Quan’s recent book, Steve Peters, manager of the Christ Cathedral Shop says visitors like three selections: “The Life of St. Joseph,” by Maraia Cecilia Baij, O.S.B. [$16.95], “The Catholic Guide to Miracles,” [$18.95], and “Our Lady’s Wardrobe,” by Anthony DeStefano [$17.95]. All are available in the store or online at christcathedralshop.com.
The sometimes-slower pace of summertime beckons Katie Dawson, diocesan director of Parish Evangelization and Faith Formation, to spend time with intriguing stories. “I recently read ‘The Secret History,’ by Donna Tart and I’m thinking of reading it again – there are some layers to it,” Dawson says. “After reading it, I’m looking forward to reading her prize-winning book, ‘The Goldfinch,’ which tells the story of an accidental art theft and its repercussions. Last summer I read ‘How Dante Saved My Life,’ by Rod Dreher, also another book worth a second read.
It may seem impossible to read as much as he does, but Fr. Borgman offers ways to wedge reading into a busy life. “I fit it into the cracks,” he notes. “I ‘read’ an Audible book while I’m in the car and listen to an audiobook as I walk. During the day it’s nice to just sit and read – on my day off I’ll take half the day and read.”
He recommends Thomas Woods’ “How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization” [$14.99, amazon.com], a 2012 book he calls “a masterpiece,” in which Woods discusses how modern science, free-market economics, art, music, and the idea of human rights come from the Catholic Church.
Another recent favorite is by Franz Werfel, author of “The Song of Bernadette,” a novel of the life and visions of the French saint Bernadette Soubirous, which was made into a Hollywood movie. Werfel’s 1933 novel, “The Forty Days of Musa Dagh” [$7.58, amazon.com] is based on events that took place during the Armenian genocide of 1915.
Fr. Borgman notes that classics by authors such as Leo Tolstoy, including “The Death of Ivan Ilyich,” and Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” have meaning even in modern times. In the same spirit, he says it is worth revisiting works by Mark Twain, who wrote “Joan of Arc” and classic works of Catholic literature, including Evelyn Waugh’s “Brideshead Revisited,” a masterpiece written after the author’s Catholic conversion.
A book to look forward to is “Life is Messy,” the forthcoming work by Matthew Kelly, founder of Dynamic Catholic. Available via preorder for $16.77 at dynamiccatholic.com, it is based on Kelly’s personal journals.
At Ave Maria Press, two authors explore current events from unique perspectives. Fr. Daniel P. Horan, O.F.M, writes “A White Catholic’s Guide to Racism and Privilege,” [$17.95] and grieving mother Jennifer Hubbard addresses why God lets the innocent suffer in her memoir, “Finding Sanctuary: How the Wild Work of Peace Restored the Heart of a Sandy Hook Mother” [$15.95], both available at avemariapress.com.
Fr. Horan’s book – especially relevant in the wake of high-profile killings of black women and men at the hands of white police officers – is a candid critique and reflection that dissects the difference between what white privilege means, the Catholic Church’s teachings about racism, and how we can combat racism.
Hubbard explores the aftermath of her six-year-old daughter Catherine’s killing in the 2012 elementary school massacre and demonstrates how Christ’s redemptive suffering provides a path of hope, even in the darkest moments of our lives.