As a former reading teacher, I love a good book discussion. I enjoy asking questions and seeing others ponder how they perceived a situation, and making connections with the book and their own life experiences. A good story offers so many gifts to the reader and by having an open examination of the book, the depth of connection and learning really has no limit other than the time given to the exchange.
I recently hosted a “book club” on steroids. I wanted to offer group members something different and more engaging than the average “read the book and discuss” format. My experience is that often people that don’t have time to read a particular story won’t even show up and then they miss out on juicy gifts of sharing and connecting. In order to make sure everyone could gain knowledge and give input, I designed a night that would accommodate the people who read the book and hopefully inspire the others to pick it up. I really love a good story and I get passionate about wanting my friends or family to also read something I love, knowing they will gain powerful insights for themselves.
The evening included prosecco and hibiscus cocktails, and some healthy appetizers - goat cheese and pear crostini, and white bean kale dip. I wanted to make sure everyone’s belly was satisfied before we sat down to talk about the powerful book, “Love Warrior.” I had quotes and passages ready for everyone to take a look at. We had a powerful open discussion about women, femininity, female roles in society, female growth in society and lack there-of, suppression, addictions, and hypocrisy. One theme that we really dug deep into was the idea that often as women we are asked to “show up” and wear many different masks depending on the situation. The book calls this our “representative.” The level of empowerment that surfaced was impressive as the women talked about their feelings around the inauthentic lifestyles they often feel forced into or rather a societal pressure to be a certain way. I witnessed anger, sadness, and even fear around the struggle to be a certain way to fit into a role rather than just be ourselves. Immediately, so much raw emotion and self-disclosure came to surface as we continued to explore the pages and topics in this powerful memoir. This book has so much in it to discuss and discover about ourselves. I had a few writing exercises planned for inner reflection and we even did some expression collective artwork.
These types of gatherings centered around a book are basically excuses to get together and share, express, discover, and learn about each other. Reading a good book on your own is a very good thing to do. However, the level of healing, learning, and self-discovering that can be gained by gathering with others and allowing ourselves to open up to the spaces between the words we might not have been able to gather on our own is a powerful experience. These types of gatherings can be not only eye opening, but therapeutic and cathartic. I am personally looking forward to the next one and by the phone calls and texts I have received since that night, I can see that the other group members are looking forward to it, too. To my sheer delight, I also inspired a few non-readers to snuggle up and pull an all-nighter on this one!