Here’s the deal: 2016 rocked me a bit. On the high notes were the birth of our third child (an especially important event after losing a pregnancy before him), working on some exciting projects, and getting used to the swing of three kids. For the low notes? The political scene felt really raw. Whether you were among the camps of the conservatives or liberals, possibly dancing the moderate line, or just observing from overseas, the US had spotlights pouring over our not-so-proud-moments, with the election hyper-focused on our faults and how we perceive the world around us.
My approach now that we head into 2017 is to dive into books. Maybe it’s a geeky, introverted approach, but I find comfort in the escape of a book. This is by no means a political post, though politics has brought my words to the forefront of my fingertips. This post is an invitation to jump out of your own perspective and leap into a new one – to see someone else’s triumphs, pain, and how they took steps along a road you may have never traveled.
Let me be straight-forward: my perspective comes from a caucasian, female, 30-something, middle-class, mother of three. Though student loans be damned, I have never experienced true hunger or poverty. I have always had clothing to wear, and a roof over my head. Education was never out of my grasp. Never have I felt accosted because of my faith, and I feel relatively safe in my day-to-day environment. I have, however, felt threatened as a woman – cat calls, unwanted physical contact, and verbal suggestions I need not repeat. But when I pull out from the closeness of my own gaze, I can see that I have led a fairly privileged life. I am fortunate, and I want to see what other perspectives could teach me.
My thought in creating this Big Picture Book Club is not to have weekly meetings while we banter and debate characters and motifs, but instead this club is meant to help people turn inward by looking outward. Look at your own assumptions, presumptions, privileges…, and then look out to another’s and see what you can learn. What is different? How did their challenges shape them? Where and how might you be similar? I might do periodic book reports (potential guest posts would be fun!), but the first focus of this endeavor is to invite people to learn more about the many beautiful perspectives – especially the more vulnerable perspectives – that make up our great nation.
There will only be FIVE things for you to do to join. Here goes:
- Sign up with Good Reads. It’s a fantastic website and app that help you track books you’ve read, ones you want to read, and even stalk your friends to see what they’re reading. This is just a forum for you to write your own commentary about the books you read, but you’d be welcome to journal on your own if that is better suited to your needs. If you’re up for joining the online group, go to Good Reads.com, sign up, and you can follow along with our book club group.
- Read Some Books. There’s a list below of tons of books that are written about different vulnerable populations: Women, blacks/African Americans, Muslims, the LGTBQ Community, Immigrants, and Refugees. Don’t worry about buying a ton of books; check with your local library and don’t forget about audiobooks – they are awesome for long commutes or while you’re cleaning up around the house.
- Write Your Thoughts. I forget plots and characters quickly, so I like writing my thoughts about books after I finish. The big focus is to write about what you learned about the new-to-you perspective. In your Good Reads account, mark your book as “read”, and then write a review with your thoughts. Simple as that.
- Be Challenged, and Be Brave. It can be hard to go out of your comfort zone, but I challenge you to be brave. Don’t be afraid to read a book you wouldn’t normally pick-up: that’s the whole point of this club.
- Learn Something. Hopefully, this book club will teach you something. If not? At least you pulled your eyes away from your smart phone or streaming service for a little while, and exercised your imagination for a few hundred pages.
Once you are signed up with Good Reads, check out The Big Picture Book Club Group. You’ll find a long list of books (both fiction and nonfiction) on the virtual shelf. A few I have read and highly recommend, others were recommended by friends, family, and acquaintances that span all different life perspectives. Click below to find the book club group and start picking out your next adventure…
Happy reading, friends. Let’s try to see a bigger picture beyond ourselves for 2017.