Book Review: 101 Places to Pray Before You Die

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A few years ago, Ben and I went on a vacation with his family. We decided that we would find a few daily Masses. We were able to experience two interesting churches: a very traditional but not TLM parish, and a mission church that was closed but had a nice tiny shrine for Saint Kateri. On our way home from the trip, we stopped at Cross in the Woods. Since then, I’ve had the itch to find more unique Catholic places to pray. Since seeing the beautiful churches in Europe won’t be a possibility anytime soon, I’ve been looking for local shrines to pray at. Fortunately, I’ve also had the opportunity to read 101 Places to Pray before You Die by Thomas J. Craughwell (Kindle version).

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for my honest review. 

I thought this was a very interesting book. Craughwell includes a variety of places from historic churches, to basilicas, to retreat centers, to museums. He provides both a description of the place and shares some interesting information about it. There are a number of things I enjoyed about this book. The descriptions were concise but engaging. He didn’t shy away from some less-than-pleasant history. There are a variety of places to explore. He acknowledges that certain things aren’t for everyone. Helpful travel tips are also given.

Though there are many good things about the book, I do see a few opportunities for improvement. There were some lines that seemed to be repetitive or typos (for example, it said eight when I think it was supposed to be eightieth). My other two points aren’t so much criticisms as much as they are ways to make a really good book even better. I think there are some places he undersold; for example, the Basilica of Saint Louis in Missouri is absolutely stunning, but this was completely glossed over. The other thing that would’ve been nice would be pictures. Obviously, a picture for every location would be unrealistic, but it would be nice to see a few.

All things considered, I highly recommend this book. It is both helpful and interesting.

You can read my other book reviews here.

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