I think I have my choice narrowed down to five that I might tackle next. They are:
St. Thomas Aquinas by G.K. Chesterton
St. Francis of Assisi by G.K. Chesterton
The Story of a Soul by St. Therese of Lisieux
The Autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila
Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales
The first two are on the list because I'd like to know more about them both and I've heard that Chesterton's biographies are insightful. The next two are because those are the two great cloistered Carmelite nuns of the past that seem to have the most influence on Carmelite spirituality today. And the last one is on the list because some religious congregations follow the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales and it would be good for me to know a thing or two about his thought, not least because he's my confirmation saint. :)
This is off topic, but we need some more names in the Catholic tradition. Look, I just listed five saints up there and they only have three different names between them. It's a lovely mark of humility that everyone who enters religious life wants to take a saint's name, but it means you end up with a hundred Saint Francises and a hundred Saint Gregories, and every other female saint is some variation of Teresa or Catherine, and everyone, male or female, ends up with some form of Mary in there, and the result is that you'll never be able to remember the name of the religious you just met because all the names are alike!
And that reminds me of Thomas Merton's autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain, in which he contemplates joining a large congregation of Franciscans. I have to quote it for you:
Turning over the pages of Butler's Lives of the Saints, I had looked for some name to take in religion-- indeed, that was a problem over which I had wasted an undue amount of time. The Province was a big one, and there were so many Friars in it that they had run out of all the names-- and you could not take a name that was already taken by someone else. I knew in advance that I could not be a John Baptist or an Augustine or Jerome or Gregory. I would have to find some outlandish name like Paphnutius (which was Father Irenaeus' suggestion). Finally I came across a Franciscan called Blessed John Spaniard and I thought that would sound fine.
I considered the possibility of myself running around in a brown robe and sandals, and imagined I heard the novice master saying: "Frater John Spaniard, go over there and scrub that floor." Or else he would put his head out of his room and say to one of the other novices: "Go and get Frater John Spaniard and bring him here," and then I would come humbly along the corridor in my sandals-- or rather our sandals-- with my eyes down, with the rapid but decorous gait of a young Friar who knew his business: Frater John Spaniard. It made a pleasant picture.
Merton ended up joining a Trappist congregation where he got no say in it at all; they simply assigned him the incongruous name of Louis. By that time he didn't care. I loved his book, not so much for what it revealed about Merton as for what it revealed about me. That man had my number!
But back to the five books, have ya'll read any of them? What do you think?
Naturally I'll probably end up just reading whichever one seems most attractive at the moment I finish the last sentence of The Cure d'Ars. That's how these things go. :)