Time to Read
By Marcie Stokman, Founder of Well-Read Mom
As I spread a pile of books on the table at The Roadside Cafe, the waitress was curious, “What kind of work do you do?” She was surprised when I told her I run a national book club for women.
“You know, I can’t remember the last time I even held a book, let alone read one! I don’t have time for books. I’ve got all I can keep up with right here,” she said, lifting her phone.
Our conversation ended as customers walked in the door, but I felt sad. She doesn’t know that she is missing out and the worst part is, she doesn’t know that she doesn’t know.
I continued pondering. What is it she doesn’t know? Walker Percy expresses it well:
If you do not learn to read, that is, read with pleasure, that is, make the breakthrough into the delight of reading, you are going to miss out. And I don’t mean you’re going to miss out on books or being bookish. No, I mean that no matter what you go into–law, medicine, computer science, housewifing, househusbanding, engineering, whatever–you are going to miss out, you are not going to be first-class unless you’ve made this breakthrough. You are going to miss out, not only on your profession, but on the great treasure of your heritage, which is nothing less than Western civilization.
Is making the reading-for-pleasure breakthrough possible in this digital age?
It is if we are intentional. Sarah, a recent college graduate, managed to cruise through her literature classes without actually reading a single novel all the way through. “At the time, I didn’t know that I was missing out,” she told me, “but a few months ago, I decided to slow down and read a whole book. I was shocked by the experience of it; it was enjoyable!” In the process, Sarah is not only relaxing, but she is also put in a position to recognize profound truths about the human condition, the moral order, and the way people are.
When we read, questions arise that Google can’t answer. Why am I here? How can I love more? Have I hurt people just like this character is doing? Through the author’s grasp of humanity, we glimpse something about life that we knew but never knew we knew. We come to understand more deeply a universal human experience. We know we are not alone. Somehow this recognition is surprisingly delightful. When shared in conversation with others, the spark of delight multiplies.
Ten years ago, my daughter Beth called asking, “Mom, isn’t there a place after college where women get together and talk about the real questions of life?” I could not have imagined that, from her cry, thousands of women across the nation would take the time to read and experience the transformative power that comes from discussing literature. In doing so, we preserve the treasure of our heritage.
Thank you, sisters, for joining us on this journey to read more and read well together.
About Well-Read Mom
For our Tenth Anniversary, the reading list put together by Well-Read Mom reflects on the theme of family. In Well-Read Mom we desire to create a place for women, not to escape from family life and work, but to experience a kind of leisure through friendship and literature so that women can return to their lives with a renewed vision and vigor. By reading books together, we help sustain a tradition of reading, which is a gift not only to our families but to the world. We hope you’ll join Well-Read Mom for our Year of the Family. Find out more.