Katie Warner interviews Catholic readers and writers about their reading habits and asks for their book recommendations in various categories. Get ready to add to your own to-read list!
First, who are you?
Jeannie Ewing, Catholic spirituality writer and national speaker — jeannieewing.com.
When and how do you read?
I am a voracious reader, even though I have four small children! My oldest is 8, and I homeschool her. Sarah is 6 and has a rare disease, so she is in school with an IEP (Individualized Education Program). Veronica is a toddler, and Joey is an infant. One would think I could never read, but I do. I would say I probably read two books per week, on average. It really depends on how long the book is and on what topics. For instance, I just read a 300+ page book about trauma, which took me the entire week to read. But then I can read a memoir or two in a week easily.
I don't prefer eBooks or audiobooks and seldom go that route. I like the organic feel of a physical copy in my hand, turning the pages, etc. There is something satisfying about that to me, plus the completion of the book at the end — which you don't get when using an e-reader or audiobook. I also like the fact that I can flip back and forth between pages on a physical copy. It doesn't matter to me if it's hardback or paperback; if I get it from the library, it's usually hard cover. If it's something I purchase, paperback for affordability.
When do I read? In the middle of the night when feeding the baby, during nap times, in the evening after the kids go to sleep, waiting in doctor's offices, etc. I sneak in 10 minutes here or there. Because I get so many review copies of books from publishers, I try to maintain my reading habit on a regular basis.
Share a reading tip or hack that you’ve found helpful in your own reading life.
Keep a copy of your current book in your purse or car. Sneak in at least five minutes during a break, maybe at lunch in the office or while the little kids nap. It’s not hard to do this. I would even say 15 minutes per day is feasible.
Recommend one of your favorite books in the following categories and include a brief description of why you chose it:
A spiritual classic: When God Is Silent by Luis M. Martinez, The Glories of Mary by St. Alphonsus Liguori, True Devotion to Mary by St. Louis de Montfort, Abandonment to Divine Providence by Jean-Pierre de Caussade
Modern Catholic book: Meditations on Mary by Fr. Jacques-Benigne Bossuet
I find that, though he lived long before my time, his writing is elegant and eloquent. Plus, he's not long-winded and can summarize a beautiful theological point in only a few pages. In this book in particular, he takes several aspects of Mary's live (the Magnificat, the Visitation, Annunciation, etc.) and muses on rhetorical questions about what life might have been like for her. Then he draws the reader back to here and now with personal questions that are meant to encourage and challenge him or her to further meditate on these ponderings. It's so beautiful as part of my daily prayer.
Also, A Year With Mary by Paul Thigpen, Manual for Women by Danielle Bean, and The Temperament God Gave You by Art and Laraine Bennett.
Non-Catholic book: Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life by Dani Shapiro, Letters to a Young Poet by Maria Rainer Rilke
An author you love: Jacques Benigne Bossuet and Luis M. Martinez
Everything I've read by both of them has been profoundly beautiful and life-changing.
Church document: Jesus Christ: The Bearer of the Water of Life by St. John Paul II
Something for the kids:
Anything by Katie Warner and Meg Whalen (First Faith Treasury series from TAN Books) for the toddlers. My 2-year-old loves her board books, especially Cloud of Witnesses. For Felicity, my 8-year-old, we did Marian Consecration for Children by Dr. Carrie Gress. As Felicity gets older, she is enjoying the Chime Traveler books by Lisa Hendey, too.
Something you’ve written or are currently writing:
Parenting with the Beatitudes: Eight Holy Habits for Daily Living (TAN) was just published in April! Ben (my husband) and I co-authored the book, and I'm hoping it will touch the hearts of many Catholic families and bring couples closer together, too. I am now working on a collaborative book with Fr. Chris Alar, MIC and Marian Press called After Suicide: There's Still Hope for Them and You. I am writing Part Two of the book that deals with grief related to suicide loss. Grief tends to be my niche area for writing, possibly because I have a counseling background. I am praying this book will bring healing and hope to people who are suffering from such a terrible tragedy in their lives.
Summer listening (a podcast episode, talk, etc.): The Catholic Mama by Christine Mooney-Flynn.
She is a recent convert to Catholicism and has such a dynamic story and faith! I have been on her podcast a few times, but every topic she tackles is so real, so honest and relevant to Catholic moms today. Highly recommend!