The Little Book of God, Mind, Cosmos and Truth by Ken Francis (St Paul’s, £8.95). This may be a “little book” but it tackles some of the world’s most far-reaching questions. Does God exist? Did the Resurrection happen? Is there a hell? Francis’s answers are crisp, bold and – to quote the blurb by Theodore Dalrymple – full of  “courage”. He argues that theism is both valid and necessary, and that no sane person acts as if atheism were true. The Irish writer John Waters describes this as “a book to give to your teenage children the first time they come over all ‘rational’ ”. It would also be a piquant gift for hardened atheist friends.

Bible in Brief by Rev Andy Roland (Filament Publishing, £9.99). The author, a retired vicar, intends his book to offer a straightforward way of exploring the Bible by reading a chapter a day and responding to the questions that follow. It is intended as a personal journal of spiritual reading, and for each week of reading there is a blank page under the heading “Read, Reflect, Respond, Record”. Roland suggests that such a programme is best achieved within a regular prayer/study group, where a meal is shared along with scriptural reading, discussion and prayer.

A Gathering of Larks by Abigail Carroll (Eerdmans, £10.99). Carroll, a published poet in America, has written a series of 40 letters to St Francis “from a modern-day pilgrim”. In a mixture of prose and poetry, they move from references on contemporary political disasters to lively meditations on St Francis’s own life, focusing on his poverty, his simplicity and his overwhelming desire to imitate Christ. Attractively produced and illustrated with reproductions from John James Audubon’s Birds of America, the book includes a reader’s guide at the end as well as discussion questions and exercises for spiritual growth.

Sermonettes at a Lay Communion Service by Gerald Anderson (Grosvenor House Publishing, £7.99). Anderson, a Catholic GP in Newport, South Wales, has selected a number of his “sermonettes” given at lay Communion services, to give readers a flavour of this type of liturgical assembly. As parishes in Britain are increasingly closing or merging, responsibility for such services will increasingly fall on the shoulders of active Catholics like Anderson. Informed by his own experiences as a layman and doctor, and written with humour and insight, the sermonettes are easy to read and include a spiritual “message” at the end of each chapter.

Proclaiming the Gospel in Art in Headingly: the Icons of Fr Michael Krychiwyskj (OBL Press, £12 including postage; email This intriguing and beautifully adorned book details the wonderful icons that adorned the Parish of St Jeanne Jugan in Headingly, Leeds under the curatorship of Fr Michael Krychiwyskj. Sadly, Fr Michael died last year but this book is a worthy testament to him. Featuring a short history of the parish, the main body of the book details with the exquisite devotional artwork that Fr Michael collected, alongside suitable Bible quotations.

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