The Catholic Reading Challenge

The Catholic Reading Challenge

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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.


20: Church Doc St. Athanasius
Nov 10 • 23 min
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.
19: Church Docs
Oct 14 • 27 min
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…
18: Re-reads Wrap-up
Oct 4 • 37 min
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.
17: September’s Re-Reads Category
Sep 6 • 29 min
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…
16: Brontes & Berry
Sep 6 • 39 min
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.
15: A Book of Poetry
Aug 12 • 35 min
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…
14: Biography Recap
Aug 4 • 43 min
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.
13: Biographies — Getting Lost in a Good Story
Jul 13 • 26 min
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…
12: Travel Writing Let-Downs
Jul 2 • 32 min
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…
11: A Book That Takes You Somewhere
Jun 10 • 37 min
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…
10: Sci-Fi Wrap Up
Jun 3 • 32 min
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…
9: Why SCI-FI?
May 13 • 33 min
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…
8 - Essays: Wallace & Chesterton
May 4 • 42 min
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.…
7: A Collection of Essays
Apr 15 • 26 min
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…
6: History Books About Wars
Apr 7 • 27 min
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.
5: Perspectives on History & Lenten Reading
Mar 12 • 30 min
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.…
4: Southern Picks and the Author’s Metaphysic
Feb 26 • 33 min
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…
3: The Southern Greats
Feb 7 • 31 min
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!…
2: Conversion Stories & Poetic Authors
Jan 27 • 33 min
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…
1: The Challenge Begins!
Jan 9 • 33 min
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…