THESE WERE THE BOOKS YOU BOUGHT
WHAT were the best-sellers in Catholic bookshops in Britain this Christmas ? I put this question to Catholic booksellers in various parts of the country, and received some surprising answers.
DREAMING OF A RED XMAS..
COMMUNIST officials in the Soviet Zone of Germany brought out last week 320 pages of instruction on how to take Christ out of Christmas. Called "Only man makes peace". the book is a collection of material for Christmas celebrations in schools and factories and among Communist youth organisations.
Since, as the title shows. man is in no need of divine help and grace, and since there can be no mention of God and Christ, all that is left are the non-essentials of Christmas-and diluted atheist propaganda. The "red star" as the true and proper "star of victory" is opposed to the "miserable star of Bethlehem."
The book also gives Christmas recipes and detailed and careful instructions for Christmas decorations-minus the . infant Jesus, angels, and any other Christian motifs.
The Soviet Zone Communists also published a gramophone record to help with the Christmas festivities, complete with parodies of carols.
Most people bought nonfiction works, and the one novel which was selling well everywhere was not one of the season's new publications but a book first published in Britain three years ago: "The Nun's Story," by Kathryn Hulme (Muller, 15s.).
Pan Books published 200,000 copies of their 2s. 6d. edition on November 20. and are printing another 100,000 this month to meet the increasing demand, There have been large rcprintings of the fifteen-shilling edition. "Since the film of the book reached London in July, sales have rocketed." I was told. A new peak is being reached with the film's release in the provinces.
The surprise non-fiction bestseller has been "The Phenomenon of Man ". a profound synthesis between science and religion, by the French Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (Collins, 25s.), "It's the first work of this great priestscientist to appear in English. which makes the sudden demand for it all the more surprising," one bookseller told me.
A best-seller as a gift for priests and clerical students has been " Priest of Christ " (Burns Oates. 21s.), a collection of intimate conversational talks given during the past 15 years by Fr. Francis Ripley, C.M.S., to priests and seminarians on retreat.
There was an all-round demand for Evelyn Waugh's "Ronald Knox " (Chapman and Hall. 36s.). Three Catholic booksellers listed it as the best-seller.
Ronald Knox's "Lightning Meditations" (Sheed and Ward, 12s. ed.) was at the top of one London bookseller's list, and his translation of "Autobiography of a Saint-St. Teresa " (Collins, 21s.) followed in fourth place.
Other hooks on the best-seller lists were: "Life of Christ". by Fulton Sheen (Peter Davies, 25s.); "Christ at Every Crossroad", by
F. Desplanques S.J. (Sands, 10s. &Ili "The 1 ombs of St. Peter and St. Paul ". by Engelbert Kirschbaum. S.J. (Seeker and Warburg. 45s.); " Imitation of Christ ". by Thomas a Kempis-translated by Ronald Knox and Michael Oakley (Burns Oates. 3s. 6d.); "The Faith Explained ", by Leo Trese (Geoffrey Chapman. 27s. 6d.); and " John XXIII-The Pope of the Fields". by Francis X. Murphy, C.SS.R. (Herbert Jenkins, 16s.), The surpris: children's bestseller was Archbishop Heenan's " Our Faith" (Nelson, 15s.). a book designed to prepare growing boys and girls for the struggle most of them will have to keep the Faith when schooldays have passed. " It's selling better than any of the new books brought out for Christmas, yet it was actually published three years ago. It is continually being reprinted-a little classic," 1 was told in London. The same praise came from Newcastle-on-Tyne.
Another bookseller listed two of
G. K.'s ever-popular classics at the top of his juvenile best-seller list: " The Father Brown Book " and "The Second Father Brown Book " (edited for young readers, Cassells, 6s.).
The reappearance of "An Alphabet of Saints", cameos of 26 saints. told in 'rhyme by Robert Hugh Benson. Reginald Balfour and C. Ritchie (Campion Press, 10s. 6d.) has been widely welcomed after being out of print for many years.