“I’d like to read something Catholic, Roman Catholic. Not a classic, but something contemporary. Not heavy, but solid. Neither offensive or defensive, but representative. A little book of thoughtful essays, perhaps. What would you recommend?”
Well, others would know better than I. My reading these days is rather limited and I don’t try to keep up with current tastes or fashion. However, a book I like very much and which fits your description is Anthony Esolen’s Reflections of the Christian Life (2012, Sophia Institute Press).