February’s Book of the Month

It’s been awesome hearing about different books people have been reading this past month. So many people reading Brothers K…I’m humbled and inspired! Even if the monthly theme is no longer “Cultivating the Mind,” I hope that picking up a good book or two this past month has motivated you to keep reading throughout this year.

According to polls, the average American reads about 12 books a year, while the median is 4 (that means half the country reads less than 4 books a year). That’s not to discourage you, but to motivate us to keep reading. Let’s shoot for above average. 🤣

And let’s keep talking about what we’re reading with one another, because love of reading and learning is contagious. We can create a culture of reading and learning, from the young to the not-so-young!

February’s book choice is Forgive: Why Should I and How Can I?, Timothy Keller’s new book, released this past November.

It expands on his September 2021 essay “The Fading of Forgiveness,” which was referenced in the Signs of the Times presentations we heard last summer.

The book’s anchoring text is The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant from Matthew 18. I don’t want to say too much more, but I found the book to be a mix of educational, devotional, practical.

It’s timely as I’ve been talking about The Sun Does Shine with some people, marveling at Anthony Ray Hinton’s ability to forgive, and to not be consumed by anger and vengeance. And this past week I’ve been reflecting upon and having conversations about Joseph, and his perspective on his life and all that he endured. I hope that this book will help each of us appreciate how central forgiveness is in all of our relationships, with God and with one another; to appreciate how costly it is; and to learn how to both receive and grant forgiveness continually.

January’s Book of the Month

Happy new year! While I won’t go so far as to say I made a resolution to post more this year, I am going to try my best to do so.

When we launched the book club in November, I tried the multiple options by genre, but it got a little unwieldy when thinking about how we would have discussions on multiple books. Also, it diluted the power that initiatives like “One City One Book” have in creating community! So I’ve decided to simplify and go back to my original idea to make it truly a “book of the month” type of thing.

As we know, our churchwide January theme is “Cultivating the Mind” so rather than thinking this is adding another “to do” for you, this is a win-win!

January’s book selection is Live No Lies by John Mark Comer. Published at the end of 2021, it is a timely book — its subtitle is “Recognize and Resist the Three Enemies That Sabotage Your Peace.” This book is both a social and cultural commentary, as well as a spiritual formation kind of book that lays out practical tips on how to overcome the lies that contribute to our spiritual deformation. Here is a “book trailer” by the author.

I hope this book sparks new thoughts, deepens convictions, and moves us to action in this war for our souls and our peace. Looking forward to the discussions on convo and in real life!

Where I Answer Your Questions About the Book Club

I’m excited by the positive energy around reading more together! I’ve been getting some questions, so I wanted to answer them here, for everyone’s benefit.

Q: How did you pick the books? Did you just…pick them? (EC)

A: The short answer is..yep, pretty much! Here’s the longer answer:

  • Similar to Ariana, The Sun Does Shine is near the top of my “Favorite Memoirs/Biographies of All Time” list.
  • Fahrenheit 451 is also near the top of my “Favorite Dystopian Books of All Time” list, and on July 21, 2017, I even wrote it was in my Top 10 books! (However, I’ve read some awesome books in the last five years, so it may have fallen out of the top 10. But top 25 for sure.)
  • I recently read Fan the Flame, and I was challenged and inspired through Pastor Cymbala’s stories as well as the closer study of Acts 20 and the early church.
  • The Life We’re Looking For is a book I haven’t read (yet) from Pastor Ed’s recommendations after this past ATR.

Q: Does it count if I listen to the audiobook? (AB)

A: Sure. There’s nothing to “count” as there are no points or tests, anyway! I personally love audiobooks, but I will say this – I don’t recommend listening to them while doing things like working, writing, or…reading something else. 😬 Then it becomes background noise, like how we old people used to do homework in front of that television box thingy that people used to have.

Q: I read a great book recently. Can it be chosen for a future month? What’s the process? (AP)

A: Send me an email with your pitch. Though I have books in the queue, I’m totally open to suggestions and can fast track your book to the front. I’ll probably ask you to write a bit more and feature it here as a guest book review as well.

Lastly, I received several similar questions, so I shall answer them together…

  • Q: Are there actual meetings for the book club or do we just talk about it on the Book Club on Vine?  (TW)
  • Q: Is there like a group or something we join to talk about it? (AL)
  • Q: Is there a goal to gather and talk about books? Or is this just kind of like a monthly recommended list that acts as a conversation starter with different people at our church? I guess I’m wondering in what way is this a club? (HA) 

A: The reason this was kind of unclear and left vague is because there are lots of possibilities. I was originally inspired by the “One City, One Book” type of programs that different cities have adopted over the years. I liked the idea of all of us reading a common book as a way to spark organic conversation and to create community. Whether it’s talking about one of the books with someone while we’re at HB lunch, with my peers spread across church plants, with my housemates, or even when meeting someone new at MBS.

So there are no formal book club meetings coming from Book Club headquarters. However, I’ll be starting off the discussions on Convo soon, and there can be a virtual conversations there. And those may or may not bleed into in-person conversations. And who knows, maybe there’ll be peer, house, LG book club gatherings that pop up across our church! Send me a photo and I can definitely feature you on the blog.

So to answer the last question, maybe this isn’t so much a club as it is a Book(s)-of-the-Month initiative. But I went with “club” because of the community aspect that is part of my vision to see us all growing as readers and thinkers and listeners and conversationalists together. Hope that helps clarify the scope of the book club. Happy reading, everyone!

*For Berkeley folks, there are now some copies of all but Fahrenheit 451 available at the HB bookstore.