OK, I admit it. There are a few ulterior motives behind writing my first book, Faith at Work: Finding Purpose Beyond the Paycheck. One is the preposterous notion that someone, someday, might ask me to go on their Catholic cruise and speak. Yeah, it hasn’t happened yet.

I also thought it might be a good way to get out of a couple chores at home, like cleaning the kitchen several times a day, or taking out the garbage. No luck there either. Sigh.

On the bright side, getting an opportunity to meet or speak with other authors is awesome. People send you books, and you get to read incredible stories and hear about their real-life experiences of conversion and grace. My reading stack borders on being gluttonous. The only downside is promising people that you’ll review their books, and then being deluged with even more stuff to read.

So while I’m waaaaay behind on book reviews, here are three (or four) absolute must-reads.

The first is by a new friend, Andreas Widmer – a former Swiss Guard during the pontificate of Blessed John Paul II! The Pope & The CEO: John Paul II’s Leadership Lessons to a Young Swiss Guard is a fabulous book, relating lessons learned as a Swiss Guard that translated right into the executive suite. With chapters on subject such as “Know How to Choose What’s Right: Exercising Your Free Will” and “Live Detachment: Intentional Humility and Poverty” you know there are some serious life lessons here.

I read the recap of vocation at exactly the right time… and loved the story of training the will involved in standing still as a statue for hours at a time. The touching account of the Pope’s recognition of a lonely young Andreas on Christmas Eve, away from home for the first time, spoke volumes about precisely why Blessed John Paul II was such a powerful man: he emanated the love of Christ.

This book is a definite must-read.

Next, it’s with a profound apology to Teresa Tomeo that this has taken so long. Apparently I’m going to be a guest on her radio show next week (March 27 at 9:40 a.m. EST on EWTN radio) and it hit me – I never reviewed her book! Argh!

I’m doubly embarrassed since Teresa is a fellow Legatus member, and was a guest on The Journey Home program last year. What an incredible job she did, too. This is one talented woman. It’s not an easy path Teresa has blazed in the world of Catholic broadcasting, but in many ways, she really is a pioneer. Her book, Extreme Makeover: Women Transformed by Christ, Not Conformed to the Culture is yet another example of this fact.

I especially liked Chapter 5 on discovering beauty inside and out. If you’re a regular visitor, you know that one of the most beautiful women I know is in her eighties (see that story here). Teresa’s willingness to share her own struggles in this area is a deeply moving part of the chapter. There are so many great insights in the book, it’s a great guy gift – yes, husbands, I’m talking to you. Your wife will love it, and you’ll enjoy it too!

Another must-read.

Finally, I had the remarkable privilege of being a guest on Gus Lloyd’s “Seize the Day” show on the Catholic Channel a couple weeks back. What a great guy! We had a great conversation, and after hanging up the phone I just felt like flying down to Florida and buying Gus a beer. Of course, it wouldn’t take much for me to want to fly down to Florida and buy anyone a beer, but talking to Gus was like speaking with an old friend. His book is called Magnetic Christianity: Using Your God-Given Gifts to Build the Kingdom.

I loved the way Gus wrote this book – in a practical, down to earth manner. He speaks of the various virtues that help us all live the faith in our daily lives, according to the gifts that God gave us and with a boatload of grace along the way. There is plenty of good humor to be had, and practical questions and a prayer at the end of each chapter. If you like scripture, you’ll be very comfortable with this book in your hands. And there are countless great insights you can put into practice – right now.

As a newbie author, I can assure you no one writes books in the Catholic market to make zillions of dollars – or if they do, they’ll be disappointed. These books are all about providing encouragement to people, and inspiring us all to live our faith fully in an often challenging environment.

That’s why I’ll add just one more plug here – please consider making a sacrificial purchase of one or more of the above books (and I sure would appreciate you ordering a copy of Faith at Work too!) for yourself, or someone you know. These books can have a transformative impact on people – I’ve seen it, and experienced it myself. It’s a beautiful thing.

I pray the Lord continues to bless Andreas Widmer, Teresa Tomeo and Gus Lloyd – and it’s a privilege to recommend these terrific books.