Dedicated bookworms like me not only love to read books, we also enjoy recommending and discussing our favorites. Every week, I'll suggest a few good books about a particular topic (i.e., between three and five), offer short review of each, and provide a link either to Amazon or an online source. Please feel free to begin discussions about these books or recommend others of the same topic. Bookworms like to receive recommendations as much as they like to give them!
Books on General Catholic Church History
1. The Compact History of the Catholic Church by Alan Schreck
Dr. Schreck, a professor of Theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville, offers a easy-to-read overview of Church history in this little book. He covers all the major periods of the Church's past and highlights key figures and events without getting bogged down in details. I would recommend this book as a good introduction to Church history that will prepare readers for more complex and comprehensive studies.
2. Church History by Fr. John Laux
This book was the primary text for my Historical Foundations class at Franciscan. It is thorough, detailed, and long, but it is also a fascinating read that incorporates not only stories of historical events but also biographies of the saints and excerpts from primary source documents. Helpful appendices include a chronological table of events in the history of the Church in United States and lists of popes, ecumenical councils, and doctors of the Church. The book's primary drawback is that it cuts off at the mid-1940s (when it was written), leaving readers to turn to other sources for more recent Church history.
3. Studies in Church History by Reuben Parsons
This six-volume series is not for Church history novices! It is an intense and exhaustive look at the Catholic Church from the time of the apostles through the late nineteenth century. This is an excellent reference series, but it would be difficult and time-consuming to read all the way through. I have provided a link to Volume I, but the entire series is available online at www.archive.org.