The Catholic bestsellers list for May is out -- just in time to plan for summer reading. The list is compiled by the Catholic Book Publishers Association and is based on reports from publishers. Some observations:
- Matthew Kelly, the self-help guru of Catholicism who encourages people to become "the best version of themselves," sells a lot of books, with four of his books occupying Top 10 hardcover slots. (His publicity says his books have sold over 1 million copies.) His latest, Building Better Families: A Practical Guide for Raising Amazing Children (Ballentine, 2008), however, doesn't make the list this month. Perhaps because the newly-married Kelly doesn't yet have kids of his own.
- Jumping to #1 on the hardcover list is The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist (Doubleday, 2009). The book, in which journalist Matt Baglio follows an American priest's training in exorcism, is getting rave reviews for dispelling myths about acontroversial subject that seems to fascinate non-Catholics. I only fear exorcism may be Dan Brown's next subject.
- NCR columnist Joan Chittister's The Gift of Years (BlueBridge, 2008) has been on the bestseller list for 10 months. Chittister, now in her 70s, offers wisdom and inspiration for those who want to grow out gracefully and continue to thrive in their senior years. The perfect Father's Day present!
- EWTN's Raymond Arroyo (and Doubleday) continue to capitalize on the Mother Angelica brand with Mother Angelica's Private and Pithy Lessons from the Scriptures. Arroyo, the news director and lead anchor at EWTN, also wrote Mother Angelica's Little Book of Life Lessons and Everyday Spirituality (Doubleday, 2007) and the biography Mother Angelica: The Remarkable Story of a Nun, Her Nerve, and a Network of Miracles (Doubleday, 2005). Meanwhile, Mother Angelica, who recently celebrated her 86th birthday, is off the air and recovering from a stroke.
- A decade after his death, Henri J.M. Nouwen continues to make the bestseller list with new books. Home Tonight: Further Reflections on the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Doubleday, 2009) was created from never-before-published materials that formed the basis of the small workshop inspired by Nouwen’s intimate encounter with Rembrandt’s painting of the Prodigal Son. It's #2 on the paperback list.