Why I Need Well-Read Mom

Mary TeckYear of the Contemplative

By Marcie Stokman

“You’re not going to read this huge book, are you?” Pete put my anxiety into words as he thumbed through our yellowed copy of Les Miserables last May.

“How am I going to read this massive novel?” I panicked, “Why did we put this big old book on the list anyway? This is asking too much.”

Then an idea struck, “I know! I’ll suggest to my group that since we’ve been faithful with the reading all year-long, we should take a break and watch the movie instead. The ladies will probably be relieved,” I reasoned.

But walking into my group, there came Linda, raving about Les Miserables.

“I apologize for starting the book early,” she was saying, “but I need to get going on it and oh my, the writing is absolutely beautiful. And the surprising thing is it’s not so hard. It reads easy and the beauty! Oh, the beauty!”

So much for suggesting the movie. Instead, I went home and began to read Les Miserables. This is why I need to be accompanied, to overcome my objections. I wish it weren’t so, but each time I pick up the next Well-Read Mom book, the mental battle begins: “I don’t have time. It will be too difficult. I’m overloaded now.” But again and again I find, when my friends are reading, I’m helped to read too.

Another objection that becomes a roadblock to reading older books is the belief that they are out of date. C. S. Lewis offers correction:

‘We need the wisdom of old books in order to set the assumptions of our culture in some perspective. Every age has its own outlook. It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially libel to make certain mistakes. We all therefore need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period and that means the old books.”

Great books don’t have an expiration date. In fact, the “outdated” books often become our favorites.

Sometimes people mistakenly think that because I lead Well-Read Mom, reading classics comes easily to me. It doesn’t. Reading each book requires an intentional decision. The good news is I am amazingly faithful when accountability is entwined with friendship. Growing in friendship is a great gain but so is reading books from our tradition.

Why? Because we long to preserve what is good, beautiful and true. These treasures are not safeguarded when they are vaulted in the stacks of libraries. Great works of literature are preserved when we read them.

By taking part in what is good, beautiful and true, the best thought of the great authors ignites thoughts of our own. Mind speaks to mind through the pages of a book. In the process of deep reading, life’s profound questions surface: what is it to be educated, to live, to love, to be happy? Because our interior landscape is enlarged when we read, so is the possibility for contemplation.  

As we accompany one another this year, may the roadblocks to reading be challenged, smashed, hurdled and overcome.

Thanks for joining the Well-Read Mom experience during this ‘Year of the Contemplative’. Together we are reading more and reading well.

Join us for the ‘Year of the Contemplative’ and register today!