April 10, 2019Year of the Contemplative
by Maggie Kosloski (This article originally appeared on aleteia.org on November 17, 2016. )
Having small children at home doesn’t mean busy mothers can’t indulge their love of reading and desire for conversation and friendship.
Reading has been a singular and great joy in my life. I was lucky to have been exposed to many great works of literature as a child, and came to love novels—to enter into the life of a character, whether real or fiction, is a gift. Stories offer an ability to see the world from another’s point of view and to gain insight into other times and places.
I feel like some of the most transformative moments in my life were the result of something I read and the subsequent internal struggle with the issues the book presented. A good book gives a person much about which to pray and reflect. Recently, a friend introduced me to the following quote from St. Isidore, which perfectly sums up my thoughts about the impact reading has had upon my life: “If a man wants to always be in God’s company, he must pray regularly and read regularly. When we pray, we talk to God. When we read, God talks to us.” This is my experience exactly.
Yet I think that a large part of the benefit of reading is lost if you have no one with which to discuss what you’ve read. I often feel desperate for someone to read a book I’ve just finished so that I can ask him questions about it and see which insights we have in common. I had tried in vain for several years to start a book club. I wanted to discuss some of these works, which had really spoken deeply to me and, in many cases, had aided in a profound shift in the way I understood the world. I was unsuccessful in large part due to the fact that a lot of moms think they don’t have time to read. Then I came across the Well-Read Mom book club and everything changed.
The reason Well-Read Mom exists is to encourage women to recognize that reading good books, as well as discussing these books with others, is essential to spiritual and intellectual growth and that even very busy moms need to make time to grow in this way. Well-Read Mom is described as “a movement of women who are accompanying one another in reading the classics, great books, and timeless spiritual works from the Western and Catholic tradition in order to awaken the moral imagination to a greater truth of reality.”
Many of my friends had been of the mindset that they didn’t have time to read, having small children at home and a house to keep in order. For some, it came down to making the choice to spend time reading. It was with the help of Well-Read Mom (and their amazing book selections) that I was finally able to convince two friends to join me last year. We loved it. In fact, when we ended up not meeting over the summer, we all missed it terribly. This year, we’ve doubled our numbers—more than doubled them if you count the several newborns that join in our fun!
This year is “The Year of the Friend” for Well-Read Moms and we look forward to reading some of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, Leo Tolstoy, Emily Brönte, and Nathaniel Hawthorne, to name a few. I know we will be broadening our horizons, developing our friendships, sharing ideas, and growing as women, wives, and mothers through the reading of good works of literature. And I’m sure our homes will not fall into complete disorder in the process.