As we enter fall and winter months, have you been thinking about starting or joining a book club? Here are reflections from a book club at my church on books they read on an important topic and how they went about organizing their book club.
Over the past year, a group of Redeemer Lutheran members met to read and discuss books focusing on social justice. One member volunteered to set up the zoom meetings and then summarized the discussion in an email back to the group before the next meeting. The emails deepened their experience and helped them retain important parts of the books. They met weekly and discussed assigned chapters of the books and found this pattern allowed them to discuss the contents more thoroughly.
They are sharing their experiences with the congregation, first by providing a list of the books they read. They are also building a lending library they hope to offer soon.
Here is a list of the books they explored together, with a brief description:
Caste by Isabel Wilkerson: May have been the most influential book our group read in that it challenged us to think about how our entire social structure is an unrecognized caste system.
My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies by Resmaa Menakem: Written by a licensed clinical social worker who explores the complex effects of racism and white privilege on all races. Provided many exercises to work through our own reactions to racial trauma.
Devil in the Grove by Gilbert King: The winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction: A historical account of how Thurgood Marshall (before he became a Supreme Court Justice) and the NAACP brought civil rights cases to courts throughout the country. It highlighted the huge legal challenges that took place to correct injustices, how fragile some of those victories were, and how it could have all gone wrong.
His Truth is Marching On by Jon Meacham: A biography of John Lewis. We were moved by his unwavering bravery and commitment to civil rights, as well as his deep Christian faith.
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates: A moving account of how a young man felt about growing up Black in America, written in the form of a letter to his young son.
Dear Church, a love letter from a Black Preacher to the whitest Denomination in America (ELCA) by Lenny Duncan: A very challenging book which made us consider our own implicit racism and what our responsibility might be to address it in our church and in our neighborhoods.
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett: Our only novel. It introduced the subject of colorism and what sacrifices people make to integrate into the dominant society and what it costs to leave your family behind.
I am grateful to the members of my church for sharing their experience. I’ll be picking up a couple of these titles soon.