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.

Introducing: Gracepoint Book Club

We’re marking the end of this blog’s 29-month hiatus by kicking off the Gracepoint Book Club! 🙌 I tried to think of some snazzy name, but decided to stick with this for now. Whether you’re an avid reader or a reluctant one, or somewhere in between, chances are you’d like to read more.

One of the obstacles people have cited for not reading more is not knowing where to start. So each month I’ll be unveiling the “book of the month” in four different genres or categories. You can choose to read one or all!

As I read along with everyone, I’ll be posting some thoughts and questions here on the blog, and over on Convo. The dream, the vision, is that there’ll be some IRL conversations as well as convo-sations throughout our church about some good books and some big ideas. This will help us to remember more of what we read, and we’ll likely grow in our enjoyment of reading as well, which will start a virtuous cycle of even more reading and more thinking!

Our November book-of-the-month selections are…[insert drum roll]

All you have to do is start reading! I also recommend following this blog so you get updates on posts.

Which book are you thinking of starting with?