These days, with the proliferation of ebooks, many of us are figuratively wading through heaps of free books. Twenty years ago, however, when the Mary Foundation and Saint Jude Media began giving away books, people thought they were crazy. Of course, Saint Jude Media was giving away actual, physical books, so there was considerable cost involved: typsetting, printing, binding, shipping and handling. Nonetheless, their books (also CDs) were available for free, although they did ask for a donation. I was heartened to see recently that they are still at it, on their CatholiCity web site.

CatholiCity.com is an apostolate dedicated to feeding the minds and edifying the souls of ordinary Catholics. On the website, there is a wealth of resources that serve this end: a number of talks on the Sacraments and the rosary, which can be ordered on CD, downloaded as podcasts, or listened to online; links to the latest Catholic news and commentary, prayers, devotions, the Baltimore Catechism, the new Catechism in “simplified” form, and lots more. If you are Catholic, or just interested in what the Catholic Church teaches and believes, you should take a look at this web site, and take advantage of the free information available there.

I haven’t yet mentioned my favorite things from Saint Jude Media, three free Catholic novels (paperbacks, not ebooks) by Bud Macfarlane Jr.:

  • Pierced by a Sword, recommended by Michael O’Brien, author of Father Elijah, who says: 

Get ready for a journey of epic proportions–rather, cosmic proportions.
This book is a little treasure, a marvel. This is an adventure, a
comedy, a tragedy, a turbulent odyssey and a peaceful stroll. Most of
all, this is a love story like no other I have ever read. A new kind of
love story.

  • Conceived without Sin, recommended by Thomas W. Case, author of Moonie Buddhist Catholic, who says:

One strange and wonderful thing about Bud Macfarlane’s storytelling is
that his people are so loved by the author that they grab you and hold
you. This novel is plainly a story of love and marriage and friendship
and conversion. Supernatural forces weave in and out, as they must do in
real stories of the faith.

  • House of Gold, recommended by John D. O’Brien, editor of Conceived Without Sin and Father Elijah, who says:
You won’t read a more timeless novel than House of Gold — even
if you are reading it one hundred years after it was first published. It
offers suffering. I know that sounds strange, but you will love the
suffering inside its pages. It’s honest, authentic, gut-wrenching. It’s
real. I believe this is Bud Macfarlane’s best work. It offers the Cross.
Can you take it?

 I read all of these years ago (late 1990s) when they first came out, and enjoyed them all. They have “sold” well (someone is paying for them, because Bud Macfarlane couldn’t have afforded to get more than 700,000 copies into print on his own), and reader reviews on sites like Amazon
and Goodreads are very positive. I’m glad to see that they are available in Kindle editions for just $2.00. I wish I’d known that a couple of weeks ago (it is not mentioned on the CatholicCity.com website), because I recently acquired new copies of the paperbacks. I love having my books in the Amazon cloud, and these are big, fat novels (more than 550 pages each) that take up a lot of space. Still, I know I won’t have any trouble finding friends to pass them on to; I might even recommend them to my book club for our 2013 line-up.

I won’t say too much about these novels now, because it’s been years since I read them and I don’t remember them well, except to say that I enjoyed them. However, I will review them here as I read them. Meanwhile, if you have read them and want to offer your thoughts, please click the comment link below!