Many Catholics in the West are not familiar with the origin of the Sacred Image and its use throughout Christendom. There are some great books on the subject which will illuminate your understanding from both the historical and theological points of view. The five books below are all excellent reads and are sure to enrich your Catholic faith and your understanding of Sacred Images. All of the books are easily found on Amazon or other places on the net.
1. A History of Icon Painting. - L. EvseyevaThis book is richly illustrated as it goes through the complete history of icon painting from different regions of Christendom. This is one of my favorite books since it contains scholarly text along with great full color illustrations of the icons. It is 280 pages of pure splendor!
2. The Educating Icon- Anton C. Vrame.
I like this book because it covers the basic theological foundations of the use of the icon in Christendom. It covers the basic history of icons as well as the triumph of Orthodoxy in the East over iconoclasm. Iconic catechesis is also focused upon in this 200+page book.
3. The Icons of Their bodies- Henry Maguire.
This heavy and scholarly work is a must have you really want to dive into the icon. It covers the reason icons are written the way they are, the theological symbolism they contain, as well the likeness of the Saints in which they represent. It also examines many icons in depth and explains the significance of them in detail. It is heavily illustrated with black and white images, and the book is over 200 pages.
4. Early Attitude Towards Christian Images- Steven Bigham
If you think that the early Christians were iconoclasts, think again! This well researched history of the use of the Christian image is a great apologetic work to derail the iconoclastic nature of the "Reformed" flavor of Protestantism. It is 224 pages of well documented evidence of why the use of the icon is not only fitting to Christianity, it is obligatory to true worship.
5. Hidden and Triumphant- Irina YazykovaI am a couple of chapters into this new book and so far it has been a great read. It starts off with a brief history and explanation of the icon, then heads into the history of the the icon in Russia and how they were preserved from the scourges of the militant iconoclastic assault of communism.