The Catholic Reading Challenge

Episode 13: Biographies -- Getting Lost in a Good Story

An episode of The Catholic Reading Challenge

By Mike and Jess Ptomey
About
Welcome to The Catholic Reading Challenge -- a podcast to enrich your reading life that feels more like a book club! We’re your hosts, Mike and Jess Ptomey, and the only thing we like better than reading is talking about what we are reading with friends. In 2019 we’ll be reading a book from a new category each month; so listen in and read along! Be sure to share your picks for each month on social media with the hashtag #thecatholicreadingchallenge.
More places to listen
Welcome to The Catholic Reading Challenge -- a podcast to enrich your reading life that feels more like a book club! We’re your hosts, Mike and Jess Ptomey, and the only thing we like better than reading is talking about what we are reading with friends. In 2019 we’ll be reading a book from a new category each month; so listen in and read along! Be sure to share your picks for each month on social media with the hashtag #thecatholicreadingchallenge.

More places to listen

Episode 20: Church Doc St. Athanasius
Mike and Jess talk about the book they both read this month: On the Incarnation by St. Athanasius. They share why these early Church fathers gave such good homilies and why the truth they spoke is what we really need to hear today.
23:31
November 10, 2019
Episode 19: Church Docs
In the month of October we are reading "a book by a doctor of the Church." Do you know all 36 doctors of the Church?? Neither do we. Jess is even trying to make some up. Here's a list; so you don't make the same mistake. Also, we are previewing the podcast season for 2020 -- it's going to be good!
27:04
October 14, 2019
Episode 18: Re-reads Wrap-up
Mike and Jess share fall happenings...including the exciting pre-release of Jessica's book, Home in the Church: Living an Embodied Catholic Faith. Then they get into what they learned from their re-reads, and how to approach them in the future. 
37:19
October 4, 2019
Episode 17: September's Re-Reads Category
Are you a re-reader, or do you feel like your TBR stack is too long to read a book again? Mike and Jess make the case for re-reading books, especially when you know that the book has more to give than you got the first time. They discuss why great books are living things and good friends to be revisited over again. 
29:10
September 6, 2019
Episode 16: Brontes & Berry
Mike and Jess chat a bit more about love of poetry and argue for its primacy in education and human formation. They also share some of the poems they read this month from the Bronte siblings and Wendell Berry. 
39:24
September 6, 2019
Episode 15: A Book of Poetry
For the month of August we are reading a book of poetry. Mike and Jess talk about why poetry is a language all its own. Get ready! They have lots of suggestions for this favorite genre. __________ Books mentioned: Vita Nuova The Divine Comedy (or this one) The Iliad & The Odyssey (or this one that Jess scored at a recent used book sale haul!) Picnic, Lightning Beowulf A Small Porch Favorite Poems Old & New A Child's Garden of Verses A Child's Book of Poems The Classic Hundred Poems Poems Every Catholic Should Know Waiting on the Word (Guite) Word in the Wilderness (Guide) The Brontes: Selected Poems
35:49
August 13, 2019
Episode 14: Biography Recap
Mike and Jess share about the biographies they read for the month of July...and thoroughly enjoyed! If you share a love of Thomas Aquinas or Sigrid Undset, then you'll want to hear about these books. 
43:06
August 4, 2019
Episode 13: Biographies -- Getting Lost in a Good Story
Mike and Jess talk about July's reading category: biographies. What makes a great biography and a great biographer? They share some tips for picking a biography and a couple of recommendations. They also chat about Jess's recent opportunity to share their family's story of coming into the Catholic Church. __________________________ On this episode: St. Thomas Aquinas Inside the Gate: Sigrid Undset's Life at Bjerkebæk Love is the Measure: A Biography of Dorothy Day St. Catherine of Siena Unbroken Jess's Interview on The Journey Home
26:36
July 13, 2019
Episode 12: Travel Writing Let-Downs
Mike and Jess talk about the books they read in June. As it turns out, their travel writing selections were not what they thought they would be. They open the episode with a reading tip that applied to their experiences this month and might help you as well. Also...this episode debuts the podcast's  new theme music--have a listen!
32:46
July 2, 2019
Episode 11: A Book That Takes You Somewhere
Mike and Jess talk about traveling anywhere at any time with the right book. They share some of their favorite selections for June's category and the authors that have inspired their travels -- in mind or body. Books mentioned in this episode: The Great Gatsby  The Return of the King  The Way of Kings  Console Wars  Crossing to Safety  How We Crossed the West: The Adventures of Lewis and Clark  Balkan Ghosts  Eastward to Tartary  The Coming Anarchy  An Empire Wilderness  The Ends of the Earth  Into the Wild  Into Thin Air  Eiger Dreams  At Home in the World  The Lost Continent   Neither Here nor There  Turn Right at Machu Picchu
37:33
June 10, 2019
Episode 10: Sci-Fi Wrap Up
Mike and Jess chat about their picks for the May category of science/speculative fiction. Jess went with a book by one of her favorite authors that's been on her TBR list for a while, and Mike chose the sequel to an acclaimed classic. They share common themes of the genre and and their personal selections. Perhaps you noticed similar themes in your book!
32:41
June 3, 2019
Episode 9: Why SCI-FI?
Mike and Jess talk about the importance of speculative fiction and science fiction in our reading lives and collective culture. If these genres are new to you or out of your comfort zone, then take a listen for a whole host of recommendations! Mike shares why this is one of his favorite genres and how he is handling his indecision for this category. Jess is going with a pick from one of her favorite authors. ___________________________________________ Books mentioned in this episode: The Road by Cormac McCarthy The Giver by Lois Lowry A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle The Hunger Games series The Maze Runner by James Dashner World War Z by Max Brooks The Children of Men P. D. James Ready Player One by Ernest Cline Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card Dune by Frank Herbert A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Lord of the World by Robert Hugh Benson Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula Le Quin Brave New World by Aldous Huxley 1984 by George Orwell Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel Out of the Silent Planet by C. S. Lewis Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert __________________________________________ *For some reason, Anchor won't let us hyperlink anymore titles. :(
33:56
May 13, 2019
Episode 8 - Essays: Wallace & Chesterton
Did you know that essays make great bathroom reading? Well, opinions differ, apparently. After settling that important matter, Mike and Jess discuss the essays they read in April by their respective authors: David Foster Wallace and G. K. Chesterton.  _______________________________________________________ Books mentioned on this episode: A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments by David Foster Wallace Quack This Way by David Foster Wallace and Bryan A. Garner In Defense of Sanity: The Best Essays of G. K. Chesterton
42:09
May 4, 2019
Episode 7: A Collection of Essays
Mike and Jess discuss the neglected, yet brilliant, genre of the essay and why we should be reading more of them.  Books mentioned on this episode: ------------------------------------------------------------- Mystery and Manners God in the Dock The Givenness of Things What are we doing here? In Defense of Sanity: The Best Essays of G. K. Chesterton A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments Consider the Lobster and Other Essays Self-Reliance and Other Essays Signposts in a Strange Land The Message in the Bottle Essays of Four Decades Essays of a Catholic Kierkegaard on Faith and the Self: Collected Essays Disarming Beauty: Essays on Faith, Truth, and Freedom The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays
26:24
April 15, 2019
Episode 6: History Books About Wars
Mike and Jess share their picks for March...a little late...but there's a good reason. As it happens, they both picked war histories. 
27:17
April 7, 2019
Episode 5: Perspectives on History & Lenten Reading
Did you hate studying history in school? Maybe you weren't reading the right books. Mike and Jess talk about the value of reading histories and why perspective makes a difference. They also share what they are reading for Lent. ________________________________________________ Books mentioned on this episode: 1776 by David McCullough Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich by Norman Ohler Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam HIgginbotham The Great Heresies by Hilaire Belloc The Crusades by Hilaire Belloc Robert Kaplan The Civil War (series) by Shelby Foote Thomas Cahill Above All by Elizabeth Foss (Take Up & Read) Word in the Wilderness: A poem a day for Lent and Easter by Malcolm Guite Purgatory by Dante (Anthony Esolen, trans.)
30:30
March 13, 2019
Episode 4: Southern Picks and the Author's Metaphysic
Mike and Jess discuss the books they read in February, and they find that their authors, and books, share some interesting things in common. Plus...Flannery O'Connor's thoughts on the author's view of reality spark an interesting discussion of the importance of a distinct metaphysic in the novel.  __________________________________ Books mentioned in this episode: Mystery and Manners by Flannery O'Connor The Second Coming by Walker Percy Lost in the Cosmos by Walker Percy The Women on the Porch by Caroline Gordon
33:08
February 26, 2019
Episode 3: The Southern Greats
Mike and Jess kick of the episode with a tip for your reading life: using "lead measures" to meet your reading goals. Then they dive into one of their favorite categories of this year's reading challenge: novels by Southern American authors!  _____________________________ Books, authors & resources mentioned on this episode: Deep Work, by Cal Newport Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole The Women on the Porch, by Caroline Gordon The Moviegoer, The Last Gentleman, The Second Coming, The Thanatos Syndrome, by Walker Percy Wise Blood, by Flannery O'Conner William Faulkner Mark Twain To Kill a Mocking Bird, by Harper Lee The Road, by Cormac McCarthy The Best Southern Novels of All Time
31:03
February 7, 2019
Episode 2: Conversion Stories & Poetic Authors
Mike and Jess discuss their book picks for January's category, "a faith memoir." Interestingly, we picked books/authors with a lot of similarities, though the books are quite distinct themselves. Have a listen as we talk about Tyler Blanski's An Immovable Feast and Sheldon Vanauken's A Severe Mercy. And don't forget to share picks with us on social media. #thecatholicreadingchallenge
33:05
January 27, 2019
Episode 1: The Challenge Begins!
Mike and Jess introduce the podcast and book categories for the year. We discuss some possible selections for our first category: "a faith memoir". ----------- For a free printable of the 2019 reading categories visit Jessica's blog.  ---------- Book and authors mentioned on this episode: Shelby Foote's The Civil War (3 volumes) Thomas Cahill Christopher Dawson Robert Kaplan, Balkan Ghosts Doctors of the church: Edith Stein, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine, St. Therese  The Two Towers  A Severe Mercy  An Immovable Feast
33:59
January 10, 2019
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