Here are some short lists of recommended books for any Freemason’s library. This will be updated over time as I have had a chance to read or re-read books with consideration for this list. I’m also happy to take suggestions for additions, just shoot me an email!
Recommended Masonic Reference Materials
Lexicon of Freemasonry by Albert Mackey
Mackey’s Lexicon is less comprehensive than his Encyclopedia, but very plainly written, clear, and useful. A very helpful resource for anyone just starting into Masonic reading, writing, or research. This was the first Masonic reference I added to my library and it was a great choice start out with.
A Dictionary of Freemasonry by Robert Macoy
Very helpful reference with concise, relatively modern definitions of most of the common words and phrases one runs into in Freemasonry. Definitely helpful to hve on the shelf.
These are inexpensive reprints that contain the most comprehensive overview I’ve found on all topics Masonic. Sometimes the text takes some turns that don’t seem very related, though often are in subtle ways. This is an excellent resource, but I’d use it as an addition to the lexicon listed above.
A New Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry by Edward Waite
Waite’s encyclopedia has a lot of overlaps on topics with Mackey’s, as you might imagine, but has some distinct entries and different viewpoints. The writing is often a little more direct and modern, which is helpful at times.
Your jurisdiction’s resources
Your state’s monitor, standard work, cipher, or whatever any of the other references of your jurisdiction’s work are called – these should be closest at hand when doing Masonic reading, writing, or research. The degree lectures explain much of the symbolism and explain some of the history. The working tool lectures give us the basic framework for how to govern ourselves, and the charges tell us what is expected of us as Masons.
A lodge officer’s handbook or similar is an excellent resource for understanding floorwork, the various stations in the lodge, etc., and may provide insights into the symbolism present in those aspects.
Your Grand Lodge Code or Constitution, or other governing documents are also a good resource to have, as they lay out the law and organizational structure in your jurisdiction – they may even lay out specifics like the ancient landmarks.
Recommended Resources for Prospective Masons
Freemasons For Dummies by Chris Hodapp
This is the best introductory book I’ve found. It is inexpensive, widely available, and an all-around excellent resource. It touches on almost anything a prospective (or new) Mason could think to ask, and does so in an appropriate, respectful way.
Deciphering The Lost Symbol by Chris Hodapp
For the candidate that became curious about Freemasonry because of Dan Brown books, this book does an excellent job of laying out the stories, ideas, and symbolism in The Lost Symbol and explaining the elements of truth in relation to Freemasonry while pointing out where liberties were taken.
For the Mason Seeking to Improve the Lodge Experience
Operative Freemasonry by Kirk C White
While some of the recommendations in the book are of a flavor only suitable for certain lodges, the themes and ideas in this book are definitely worth the consideration of every Mason trying to find opportunities to contribute to his lodge. You can see my thoughts on it in my review.
Drunk Tank Pink by Adam Alter
This was the book that originally inspired me to start writing book reviews from a Masonic perspective of non-Masonic books. While the book isn’t about Freemasonry at all, it is about applied psychology, behavior, and neuroscience. The main focus is on how environments, colors, symbols, and other external factors influence us to act and think without our knowing. This has VERY direct applicability to Freemasonry, in both understanding how it works (or is supposed to) and for finding ways to improve the lodge experience or degree work in particular.