Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Resource: Catechism Class is Like Spark Notes for Catholic Books

Y'all know that I'm all about book reviews. But there is another way to evaluate a great many Catholic books.
We realize that the vast majority of Catholics want to read classic and contemporary Catholic books but due to time constraints, they are able to actually only read a small number of them. We have responded to this need by summarizing (not reviewing so that customers get the author's views and not our opinions) many great Catholic books.
Catechism Class has a really extensive list of books that they've done thorough reviews for. And when I say thorough, I ain't just a whistlin' Dixie.

I was stunned at how thorough the samples were. Not only an overall summary, but also a summary for every chapter. This is truly the way to quickly get the sense of a book that you need to evaluate before purchasing or cover for some reason but don't have time to read.

Cathechism Class describes their summaries here and has a list of books covered here. As a bonus, I asked them to provide a sample pdf of a representative book so that you could see for yourselves how thorough these are. They generously came forth with Scott Hahn's Hail Holy Queen.

Give it a try and check out their site.


  1. Hmmmm. Thorough, yes, but a little too removed for me. If I'm going to read that much text I'll read it in the author's own voice. I could be fine with a Catholic version of the Reader's Digest Condensed Books for people short on time, but unless I were running a library and needed to preview large quantities of books before ordering them, I don't think I'd find this helpful. (And even in that instance, I'd want to get a taste of the author's voice. Otherwise, I would choose an encyclopedia article on the topic.)

  2. For the most part, I definitely agree. However, like Spark Notes, I could foresee times when I might need to get a good sense of a book but not have time to read it. For example, in a couple of weeks when we talk about Wrath of Khan on A Good Story is Hard to Find, we're gonna hafta talk about Moby Dick also (which is the basis for the main action). No way I'm reading Moby Dick by then (or possibly ever). So Spark Notes it will be. I could see something similar coming up for a Catholic book need.

  3. Spark Notes? At what point did Spark Notes replace Cliff Notes as the standard for literary summary? I loved Cliff notes, and even though I have a Master's in English Literature I used and still occaisionally use Cliff Notes. They are not a means of substituting reading the actual work. But if used to compliment a reading, they are helpful in visualizing a chapter by chapter progress that in a busy life you might not be able to keep straight. Spark Notes seem more dumbed down than Cliff Notes.