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iB Book Club — and You

Peyton Garland

Peyton Garland

iBelieve Editor
Published: Jul 27, 2022
iB Book Club — and You

Rather than showing up with our Sunday best to throw darts at forced conversations around God, the humanity that spills from worn book pages and coffee-stained napkins naturally weaves God into our words.

I come from a church background plagued by gossipers, backbiters, and drama queens. Thus, I am wary of most Bible studies, especially those led and attended by groups of women. I can’t say I distrust or dislike women; my experiences with the church (and sorority drama in college) have simply led me to believe that massive groups of women in a singular location often lead to squabbles, jealousy, and gossip sessions.  

If I am wrong, feel free to stop reading. 

However, I have a much harder time tiptoeing away from book clubs and intimate coffee gatherings. Even with women dominating the attendee list, I feel that books and cups of coffee often bring out the humanity in individuals, leaving less room for uppity spiritual attitudes that God disdains. 

There’s a beautiful, vulnerable power in stepping into a space where we can talk about God, not where we should talk about God. 

(This doesn’t mean I advocate neglecting church; I continue to sit under the steeple despite past experiences; but, typically, I find God, meet God, hear God, loudest when surrounded by the fallen world’s most fatal blows muted by his beautiful subtleties.)  

Does that make sense? 

Rather than showing up with our Sunday best to throw darts at forced conversations around God, the humanity that spills from worn book pages and coffee-stained napkins naturally weaves God into our words. After all, Christ is God in the flesh, the God-man. His beauty breathes life into the ink and page, the coffee bean, what is natural-turned-supernatural by his mysterious love for flawed people’s routines. All we must do is set aside false theological premonitions to discover where he shows up in our stories. 

Hence, the wild, exciting, somewhat scary idea of the iB Book Club, a space where women around the world can meet together and share God’s undeniable thumbprint on the pages of their lives. This place, though digital, welcomes an authentic hunger for God; no spiritual fluff required. Whether you are a new believer, vetted believer, considering becoming a believer, or remain a wary skeptic, who you are is invited into this book club. 

Book Ideas

Of course, a Christian-launched book club should center its content around Christ’s love and light. However, I’m not sure that requires us to make book selections based on church culture’s most popular devotional or workbook studies. Maybe we could find God in Christian fiction, indie authors’ takes on his goodness, and even in mainstream culture’s bestsellers. 

No, I don’t recommend raunchy reading materials, but I suggest we read texts and gather stories that also center on man’s desperate desire for purpose, hope, and fulfillment. Often, mainstream’s big titles are just that—a secular pursuit for a spiritual God (even if the authors don’t realize such an infinite Being is their characters' true longing). 

Recently, I enjoyed Andrew Klavan’s Truth and Beauty: How the Lives and Works of England’s Great Poets Point the Way to a Deeper Understanding of the Words of Jesus. This isn’t a book heavy on Christian living principles. It simply unearths how Shelley’s Frankenstein is a desperate pursuit of maternal fulfillment designed by God and how Keats and Byron were desperate to understand the richness of beauty (only God could create). The list continues with more of Britain’s infamous wordsmiths desperate to pursue God, often unknowingly, through their literary creations. 

Klavan's book didn’t come with study questions or prayer thoughts. The words simply revealed man’s ravenous need for a good, truthful, beautiful God. And outside Scripture itself, I must admit that this book has aided in my spiritual walk more than any other Christian book I have consumed. 

Last week, I finished The Brickmaker’s Bride, an endearing historical novel that centers on a post-Civil War romance between a brickmaker’s daughter (mourning the loss of her father in the war) and an Irish immigrant who purchases the brickyard from her family. I think the writing mechanics could have been a tad stronger from a grammar perspective. Still, I enjoyed the concept that young Christian men and women can have romantic relationships… that include physical desire. 

This certainly wasn’t a scandalous book, and the young couple held fast to God’s design for sex. Still, there is an admirable, inviting honesty in books that admit even Christian couples struggle with abstaining from certain physical activities until marriage. 

As a married Christian woman, this book simply offered a sense of peace to my spirit, reaffirming that just because we are believers, we aren’t free from sin’s temptation. We aren’t less Christian or disowned by our Father simply because we struggle with sin. However, through God, we are free of sin’s control.  

I don’t suggest we bypass Christian Living authors like Bob Goff, Lysa TerKeurst, or Priscilla Shirer. I have read their works and undeniably found God in their hearts spilled out for us all. By all means, let’s include their books and studies in our book club. All I suggest is that we not limit God’s ability to speak to us through a certain book genre. After all, he is a limitless God. 

Despite a variety of church backgrounds, Bible translations, and cultural perceptions, God has both room and the desire to see us come together and discover his true nature nestled in the nooks and crannies of books scattered across a variety of shelves. If our God birthed limitless colors and limitless galaxies, I daresay we have an unlimited amount of resources to discover his good hand.  

Your Thoughts? 

Now that you have read (and possibly considered) my ideas for book club content, what are your thoughts? Ideas? Suggestions? Bits of encouragement? Tips and tricks that have worked for you and your book clubs in the past? Warnings for strategies that didn't pan out well? 

Our internal team is currently discussing the best platform for the book club chats (likely a private Facebook group), but as we finalize the mechanics, it’s crucial that we understand the content you are interested in. Whatever suggestions you have, our team is all ears. 

Please reach out to us here with your thoughts. 

We are grateful and excited to launch the iB Book Club with our digital community! 

Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/jdsimcoe

Peyton Garland headshotPeyton Garland is an author and coffee shop hopper who loves showcasing God's beauty from ash. Check out her latest book, Tired, Hungry, & Kinda Faithful, Where Exhaustion and Exile Meet God, to discover how your cup can overflow—even in dry seasons. Meanwhile, follow her on Instagram @peytonmgarland for more insight into her writing and the terrors of raising gremlin dogs.