Tuesday, October 16, 2007

How to Read a Book Together

My sister Emily and I have been reading Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot together. We started a couple weeks ago, and it has been going well -- so well, in fact, that I just started reading 2 more books with friends: The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace with my sister-in-law Kari and Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp with my friend Christen in Brazil. How do you read a book with someone long distance? I think we've worked out a pretty good plan, so I thought I'd share it here, in case it might be helpful to you. I got some insight from a guy at church who works with NANC counseling and frequently reads books of this nature with guys he counsels. I thought it was insightful, and even though it is not a counseling relationship, it is a "growing together" relationship, so I thought it applied. Here's what I modified our book sharing to be:

1. Determine how much of the book you want to read together each week. I have found that one person sort of has to take on the role of the "assigner". I'm bossy, so that has been me. :)

2. Depending on how long the chapters are, choose a selection or quote from each chapter to share with each other. It can just be something that really stood out, or convicted you, or just a wonderful word that was well written and utterly quotable. If the book has long chapters, you can choose more things. Passion and Purity is perfect for this, because the chapters are very short, so we just choose one quote per chapter.

3. Each person forms a question based on the content of the chapter you read. It can be an application question, an opinion (such as "Is this Biblical? Do you agree with this?") or a sort of "fleshing out" question. So far, it has been quite easy to draw a question from each chapter. There really doesn't have to be any more specific guidelines than that.

4. Each person replies to the other's question. Discussion may naturally follow or not.

This has all been done on line, through e-mail and the like. I imagine it would be even easier over the phone, but my times talking to Christen (or Emily or Kari, for that matter!) are few and far between, so messages will have to suffice. Kari and I are doing something different, because Excellent Wife has a little companion study book that we are doing together and holding each other accountable.

I hope this is helpful to you. Maybe you will be inspired to find a friend with whom to read!


MadMup said...

You are full of fantastic ideas. When will we see your first book, hmm?

GloryandGrace said...

I still want to hang out and discuss "When Sinners.." though I'm not finished yet.

Miss you, friend!!

Sara Mincy said...

OOOh I am inspired!!!! Thank you Gretchen for another great post :)

Anonymous said...

Our ladies group is reading "Disciplines of a Godly Woman" this year, with one or two chapters assigned per month. I find it helpful to have others reading with me and discussing what we are learning.

What do you think of "Shepherding" so far? I read that this summer, but wished I had read it years ago when my kids were babies. That would be a great book to read with other ladies/couples.

I just started reading "Dominion" by Randy Alcorn and it is very good. Would anyone like to read that with me (maybe Sara)? :)

Laura said...

Very good idea. You really are full of fun and insightful ideas. I love this one and will have to do it. All my family lives far away (as you know) and it is difficult to read and reflect on books together. My mom, Christen, and I also have enjoyed doing Bible studies together so this is another good idea to help us to do things like that. I know you already are doing one with Christen. =)

Laura Lee

Sarah: said...

Gret, what a great idea! I know it is not original to you, but thank you for sharing how it has worked for you. I think I will do this, with my sis or sis-in-law.
I saw your comment on my Mullen's post. I was hoping you would see it. :-) Wouldn't it be fun to go out to eat with Auntie Gretchen??!! I wish we could.... I was actually just looking at the Louisville website the other day, and saw all of the fun little restaurants! You are so lucky to live with a plethora of eating establishments around you.
Do you still have your Mullen's shirt? I am determined to purchase one before I leave Watertown (if that ever happens....sigh) :-)

Anonymous said...

I like all of your practical ideas of how to read together long distance (and locally too). I'm reading a few books with girls now so your suggestions would be helpful with discussion. I was just talking to my sister-in-law the other day and she was wishing for someone to read and discuss with so maybe we could do it long distance. Thanks for the tips! Annie

mummymac said...

Thanks for sharing these great ideas.

At our church we have a Reading Roundabout where we all read the same 12 books in a year. It works extremely well too. I have more of the details at my blog if anyone is interested.

I thoroughly recommend The Excellent Wife and Shepherding,


Chris Turner said...

This is a great idea for sharing books with someone that lives far away. It is really amazing how technology has changed the way we communicate in only a few short years. I was thinking that perhaps you could take this idea a little further. Have you considered using video conferencing? I have been working with a new website called ooVoo that has free video messaging. Perhaps you could prerecord video messages with your questions and comments about the book. Also, I know it’s difficult to get people together at the same time but ooVoo lets you video conference with up six people at once. You could have book discussions with people no matter where they are!

Gretchen, thanks for sharing your great ideas. If anyone has any questions about ooVoo don’t hesitate to send me an email.