Manitowoc mothers form ‘Well-Read Mom’ Catholic book club

By Benjamin Wideman | For The Compass | March 4, 2015

MANITOWOC — Jeanine Hensel wanted to join a book club.

“But all the ones I found didn’t strike my interest,” the Two Rivers woman said. “I wanted a book club with books I’d enjoy and get some benefit from.”

Well-Read Mom Book Club logo.
Well-Read Mom Book Club logo.

So instead of joining a book club, Hensel formed the Manitowoc chapter of the nationwide Well-Read Mom book club, which was created in 2012 by Marcie Stokman of Minnesota.

Well-Read Mom is a movement of women who accompany one another in reading the classics, great books and timeless spiritual works from the Western and Catholic tradition in order to awaken the moral imagination to a greater truth of reality, as stated on the national group’s website.

“It’s nice to get together with other women who share my beliefs and discuss something with depth,” said Hensel, who has been a member of St. Peter the Fisherman Parish in Two Rivers for about five years.

The Manitowoc chapter, which has had up to six members at any given time, typically meets the second Tuesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. in the upstairs meeting room at Festival Foods, 2151 S. 42nd St. Discussions last 90 minutes to two hours. Mothers and non-mothers alike are welcome to join the free club (they don’t meet in the summer).

Margaret Pauwels of Whitelaw has been involved with the local chapter since it started in 2013.

“I like the idea that it’s Catholic,” said Pauwels, a member of St. Mary Parish in Clarks Mills. “Also, I felt throughout my education that we missed a lot of good works of literature and it would be a good opportunity to read them. I spend a lot of time reading children’s books (to her four children), and it’s nice to also have intelligent conversations centered around literature.”

Hensel and Pauwels both said one of their favorite books was “Hannah Coulter” by Wendell Barry. Hensel said she liked it so much she researched additional books by Barry. Pauwels also spoke glowingly of “The Good Earth” by Pearl S. Buck.

In April, the group will be discussing “The Jeweler’s Shop” by Karol Wojtyla, who went on to become Pope John Paul II. He explores the relationships between men and women, the joys — and the pain — of love and marriage.

“I’m looking forward to that book,” Hensel said. “It should be very interesting.”

Overall, Well-Read Mom includes about 900 women encompassing more than 200 groups in 35 states and five countries.

For more information about the Manitowoc chapter, call Jeanine Hensel at (920) 860-6366.

For additional details about the national organization, please visit

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