ALBERT L. EINOLF LIBRARY AND MUSEUM
Article by NAT GILCHRIST P.M.
The internet contains dozens of Top Ten Masonic Book lists recommended for every Freemason to read. The Lodge 43 Albert L. Einolf Library contains over 1500 books and volumes. Within our collection are copies of the majority of those recognized as top ten Masonic Books that appear on most Masonic Book lists. The following represents a consensus of selections from the Top Ten Lists* from various websites. These titles are in our library, and available for your reading pleasure.
If there was but only one book you could read, my recommendation would be the first book on this list The Craft and Its Symbols by Allen Roberts .
1. THE CRAFT AND ITS SYMBOLS, ALLEN ROBERTS
The Craft and Its Symbols tells the story of the first three degrees of Masonry, with respect for the craft and the body of knowledge restricted to an actual Master Mason. Author Allen E. Roberts presents a compelling guide seemingly intended for newly made Masons looking to start the journey of understanding the meaning and allegory behind the rituals of the first three degrees. It is simply written, 90 pages, with many illustrations. The author begins by noting that “symbolism is the lifeblood of the Craft. It is what distinguishes Freemasonry from other fraternal organizations. It is the principal vehicle by which the ritual teaches Masonic philosophy and moral lessons.”
2. THE EXEMPLAR – A GUIDE TO MASON’S ACTIONS, WILLIAM A. CARPENTER
The Exemplar written in 1985 stands out as one of the most informative and comprehensive reference sources for all Masons. Provided to all new Masons, when they are raised, it serves as a true introduction to all aspects of the fraternity and becomes a constant source of clarity as they continue their Masonic education.
3. FREEMASONS FOR DUMMIES, CHRIS HODAPP
Despite its title, it is well deserving of its popularity, as it is one of the best overviews of Freemasonry available. Its light, readable style, and comprehensive scope, and division into convenient categories, provide an excellent introduction to the Fraternity, as useful to the curious public as to Freemasons new and old.
4. MORALS AND DOGMA, ALBERT PIKE (1872); ANNOTATED BY ARTURO DE HOYOS (2011)
144-year-old Masonic classic by a member of the Scottish Rite Research Society, Giovanni A. Villegas. It is well worth reading.
5. THE MEANING OF MASONRY, W. L. WILMSHURST
The author was a British Freemason whose writings focused on the spiritual or esoteric side of our Craft. He was a Christian mystic, but for the most part, wrote from a universalist perspective.
This book was very well-received in Great Britain and the U.S. An excellent edition published in 2007 by Plumbstone has updated the original to modern English, with explanatory footnotes by Brother Shawn Eyer, editor of Philalethes: The Journal of Masonic Research & Letters.
6. A PILGRIM’S PATH: FREEMASONRY AND THE RELIGIOUS RIGHT, JOHN J. ROBINSON
The author was not yet a Mason when he wrote this study of Freemasonry focusing on its deniers, denouncers, and would-be destroyers—in particular America’s largest and most vocal Protestant denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention. The book’s first half examines and refutes their anti-Masonic distortions; the second half expounds a true picture of Masonic philosophy and practice. Comparing Masonry to its religious critics, Robinson says:
7. AMERICAN FREEMASONS: THREE CENTURIES OF BUILDING COMMUNITIES, MARK TABBERT
Looking into the multilayered complexity of Freemasonry in the United States, Mark Tabbert’s well-researched and compelling American Freemasons reveals Freemasonry’s origins in seventeenth-century Scotland and England before delving into its integral role in American history, including its involvement in the Revolution, labor and civil rights movements, and into the modern day.
8. FREEMASONRY AND ITS ANCIENT MYSTIC RITES, CHARLES WEBSTER LEADBEATER
It was written by Charles Webster Leadbeater and published in 1998. The book has an interesting take on the history of the fraternity and its relation to ancient rituals of Egypt, Greece, Crete, and the Middle Ages in Europe.
9. THE FREEMASONS: A HISTORY OF THE WORLD’S MOST POWERFUL SECRET SOCIETY, JASPER RIDLEY
Written by Jasper Ridley and first published in 1998. The author delved into the role of Freemasons in the American and French Revolutions. He also tries to determine whether Mozart’s Magic Flute exposes the secret rituals of the brotherhood.
10. THE BUILDERS: A STORY AND STUDY OF MASONRY, JOSEPH FORT NEWTON
Joseph Fort Newton (1870-1950), a clergyman, was a prolific writer and editor of religious and Masonic books. The original editor of the Short Talk Bulletin (often the source of articles in our Fraternal Review), he wrote many of them himself between 1923 and 1929.
*Note: The book reviews for all ten selections were taken from the internet.