Joining a spiritual book club can be a great incentive to start reading more of the kind of books you know you should be reading. The downside is that there's often no structure in place to help with understanding the content or really engaging with the concepts. Worry not, my friend - there's a better alternative. Let me explain...
It's hard sometimes to get all the way through reading a spiritual book. I know. I've been there many a time. You're interested in the topic and you know that reading about it is going to help you tremendously on your path, and yet, it kind of reminds you of the last time you had to read a book for school or university...!
Well, at any rate, they generally aren't quite as riveting as the current number 1 on the New York Times bestseller list. (There are exceptions, thank goodness! Like these gems...)
Aside from giving up on reading the book entirely, or (worse) putting it back on the shelf and kidding ourselves that we'll carry on reading it some other time, what can we do?
Sometimes there's an alternative format that might be easier to understand - like an audio book, a podcast, or a video lecture. Have a look on the publisher's website or ask your retailer.
On the other hand, maybe it's actually the community aspect that you're missing - the chance to talk with like-minded individuals about what it all means and how it applies to your life. If this sounds like you, then it's not a spiritual book club you need, it's a book study group.
So much better than a spiritual book club, it's all about reading, discussing, learning, and growing.
Talking about something that you've learned is an excellent way to clarify difficult concepts, and listening to others' feedback and experiences brings endless new insights and is a great way to check your own understanding.
With a book study group, there's a regular meeting time - perhaps once a week or once every other week. Everyone agrees on the spiritual book they are all going to read for a certain period, say, six weeks. At each meeting people might take turns reading sections of the book, but the key (and most exciting!) part of the meeting is the focused discussion. This can be chapter by chapter, or any other simple way to split the book.
Discussions usually work best when there's a few open-ended discussion questions centered around the chapter topic - the group facilitator might prepare these or the group could take it in turns to come up with the questions.
It's this element of focused discussion in particular that transforms a spiritual book club into a spiritual book study group. There's an excellent free resource website set up by Summit University Press for getting to grips with good discussion questions. They offer complete session-by-session book study guides for a selection of their published spiritual books. Even if you don't want to use one of the books they suggest, it's helpful to see how they do it.
If you're not feeling eager to start a "spiritual book club with a twist" yourself, then ask at your local bookstores to see if they know of any book study groups being held near you. Keep a look out for notices. Ask around. Chances are though, if you want to be part of one, you're going to have to get things rolling.
A simple first step: Pick a date and time for your initial meeting and invite friends and family to join you.
If you're ready to reach further, get set up with a free public venue (library, bookstore, coffee shop, town hall) and put notices in the windows of local businesses. (Don't worry, you're not going to get hordes of people coming...no more than you can handle!)
Remember the online options too - advertize your meeting on MeetUp, Craigslist and Gumtree. Also try spiritual events websites (enter in Google 'spiritual events' plus the name of your city), most of whom will list your event for free - you just have to give them a few days to put it online.
It takes a little effort to move beyond the spiritual book club realm, but persevere! It's worth it.
For more practical tips to enhance your spiritual journey, have a look at Practical Spirituality.
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