The DoMN Library book club reviews contemporary works of fiction and non-fiction. The idea is for you to explore a set book each quarter (roughly aligned with the school terms), with your own group of friends, work colleagues, or parishioners (Individuals are welcome to be involved). Then toward the end of term, there will be an opportunity to gather at the Diocesan Offices for further discussion, refreshments and to ‘launch’ the next book.
Details of the current book can be found here.
Questions to help guide your groups discussions are provided below.
Why bother reading fiction?
Ashley Hales author of Finding Holy in the Suburbs: Living Faithfully in the Land of Too Much captures the essence of why reading fiction may add value to people’s lives when she writes:
“Reading isn’t just about me. My time with a book at the end of the day refreshes in a way that screens or a sugar rush cannot. But this refreshment moves a person not simply deeper into oneself in an endless pursuit of self-knowledge, but ideally, moves one out into community. Art requires reflection, reaction, and interaction. It is founded on dialogue and the human search for meaning, beauty, and the divine. It creates community. It does so not just in the conversations we have about artistic objects — be it a song, a painting, or the novel in your book club — but also in its ability to fashion us into empathetic human beings.
Reading fiction is often the first place we learn to exercise empathy . . . Reading good fiction gives us a moral playground where we can learn from perspectives vastly different than our own. When we are thrust into the world of the novel, we develop empathy for a character we might easily stereotype in our everyday lives. When we have our own lives mirrored back to us in art, we realize that life is not often so neatly black-and-white as we want to believe. When we are wrapped up in story, we not only learn better, but we apply truths to our lives in new and creative ways (think of Jesus’ parables).
Reading fiction also helps us to practice slowing down. When we read well, it becomes an exercise in sustained attention. We check in with ourselves to see what stands out for us when we read. . .
Reading fiction gives us a ticket to step outside the world of the marketplace where meaning is derived from economic transactions. When we immerse ourselves in good writing, we stake a claim that beauty matters. . .When we engage with the world of the novel, we place worth in beauty, grace, and the promise of transformation. When we read, we say that meaning is more than money and that money can be used in service to good art. . .
Reading not only prepares us for engaging more gently, truthfully, and effectively in our “real lives,” but also helps form our loves. Because we read, we notice. We empathize. We celebrate beauty. Reading is a sure road to character and living out the gospel in our workplaces and homes.”
Hales, A. (2017, May 2). Why Reading is Good for the Soul. In Focus. Retrieved March 18, 2020, from https://thewell.intervarsity.org/focus/why-reading-fiction-good-soul
Questions to help guide your group’s discussion …
- Is this a book that you would have chosen to read had it not been suggested by this book club? Why/Why not?
- Do you identify strongly with any of the main characters and, if so, why?
- How do you feel the characters responded to the situations with which they were presented?
- Did you find this book related to any of your own life experiences?
- What key events stood out to you, and why?
- Where is Jesus in this book?
- Do you consider that this book provides opportunities for spiritual growth and reflection?
- Are there any theological themes present? If so, what did you think of their use?
- What, if anything, did you find confronting?
- How did you feel about the ending of the book? Satisfied? Frustrated? Irritated? Disappointed? Inspired?
- To whom would you recommend this book?