The Joy of Sharing Books

My husband and I launched our podcast, The Catholic Reading Challenge, at the beginning of the year, and it has been such a joyful experience. Not only has it brought the two of us together, giving us more intentional time to spend discussing stories and ideas together, but it has connected us with other people who take joy in sharing books as well…but maybe didn’t have an avenue opened before to do so.

I’ve heard from many listeners so far that they are enjoying it as much as we are, and I think what they enjoy most is the communal part of our podcast. I started The Catholic Reading Challenge on my blog two years ago, and it was a fairly standard list of 12 categories of books to read through in the calendar year. I think there were good categories, but the down side was the independent nature of it–reading in complete isolation.

I would blog throughout the year about what I was reading for each category, and ask people to share in the comments what they read. But we weren’t reading on the same schedule, so rarely were people reading the same category at the same time. It was the longing for more sharing that birthed the idea of turning the reading challenge into a podcast, one that was more of a book club. We are only in our second month (and second category) of the podcast, but already I’m having more interactions with people excited to share what they are reading. And that is truly delightful.

I have realized an important universal truth through this experience. Not only do all people love good stories–for as J. K. Rowling has said, “If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book”–but they also want someone with whom to share them.

We make time for so many things in our daily life that don’t really fill us with joy. I think there is room for us to intentionally create more space in our daily rhythms for life-giving books and the communities in which to share what we encounter in them. Where can you make room for this in your life? I would add to Rowling’s sentiment: If you don’t like to read, perhaps you have never encountered the joy of a fellow reader.

Copyright 2019 Jessica Ptomey

Wonder & Whimsy: reading and redemption

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A weekly curation of quotations I come across in my reading life (or on random condiment jars) — from the inspirational to the miscellaneous. Perhaps one inspires you or catches your fancy too…

The mark of book lovers…

“Rereading books, we [he and C. S. Lewis] said with immense agreement, was the mark of the real lover of books.” (Sheldon Vanauken, A Severe Mercy)

A woman who reads…

“A woman who reads is a rebel, defying the pace of the instant at which the modern world gallops from dawn until dusk. Her mind is her own, formed not by a scroll down the social media feed or the frantic scurry of too much to do but by her daily decision to walk in company with the wise, those authors who help her to step back, to listen, to pray, and to ponder.” (Sarah Clarkson, Book Girl)

Redeemed desires

“Living the Christian life is not a matter of repressing our desires, but of redeeming them.” (Christopher West)

My Reading Challenge Pick for… “a book by a current Catholic bishop”

We are wrapping up the year for the 2018 Catholic Reading Challenge. I’m down to my second-to-last category…

Category: “a book by a current Catholic bishop”

My Pick: Heaven in Stone and Glass by Bishop Robert Barron

You know when you serendipitously pick up just the right book at the right time? It’s wonderful; isn’t it? This book was like that for me. It was on our bookshelf, and you can never go wrong with Barron. This was one of the easiest, most delight-filled spiritual reads for me. You could totally read it in a day. It’s all about the spiritual significance of the architecture of the great cathedrals. 

I’ve been aching recently to travel to Europe and see these beautiful churches built hundreds of years ago in such glory. One day. Hopefully it will not be too long before we can take our family on an adventure like that. But for now, I’m thankful that I can read about these places. Barron took me where I couldn’t visit myself, and reading about his hours of meditation in France’s great cathedrals fed my soul. 

Of course, I knew generally about some of the spiritual meaning behind the stained glass designs and carved stone figures. But Barron gives insights on the architecture that help shake us out of our modern sensibilities and see the beauty of these cathedrals with medieval eyes. His explanations of patterns and themes will drawn your heart heavenward.  My heart was filled with awe and gratitude that these buildings are part of our spiritual heritage. Now I have even more to look for and appreciate when I do take that pilgrimage to Europe one day. 


What did you read for “a book by a current Catholic bishop”?

Copyright 2018 Jessica Ptomey