Written by Dianne Sivulka


This week we finished up our final book club of the year. It was a sweet time of conversation, thoughtful curiosity, and insightful observations. When I began the virtual book club back in January of this year, I wasn't sure what to expect. Okay, let me be honest. I wasn’t sure what I was doing or why I was doing it. But I did know that I wanted to create a free resource for anyone wanting to join other curious readers on topics such as world travel, inspiring memoirs, tales of change-makers, and how to love the marginalized well. I also wanted to create a space for community in a world where people continue to be isolated. Thanks to technology and these things called the internet and Zoom, it's possible to do just that! I was delighted at the turn out and the community that formed over the months.

Over the past year, we read through five books together. Every virtual book club had a slightly different group of people. Some began in January and participated at every opportunity and others joined for a book or two here or there. We had over 50 women participate and read along over the year. Side note: hey men, don't be shy, you’re welcome too! 


The Highlights:

5 books
50+ participants
4 continents
Many time zones
One author even jumped on a zoom call with us - thanks Tsh Oxenreider!



Here’s a short recap and a brief note on what we learned from each title. If you’re looking for a Christmas gift for that bookworm on your list, consider one of these.

At Home in the World: Reflections on Belonging While Wandering the Globe
By Tsh Oxenreider

This is a fun and lighthearted read for anyone who wonders what it would be like to travel around the globe for a year. At Home in the World follows the journey of Tsh and her family as they take nearly a year to venture from China to New Zealand, Ethiopia to England, and more. There is a large focus on learning, cultures, and appreciating differences woven throughout the book. This is a fun book that makes you feel like you're along for the journey!


What did we learn?

Tsh shows us that it's okay to long for home when you travel and okay to long for travel when you're home. She also shows us how it's possible to be at home anywhere in the world.

Beginner’s Pluck; Build Your Life of Purpose and Impact Now
By Liz Forkin Bohannon

This book retells the journey of Liz as she sets out to change the world and instead finds herself making one mistake after another. She eventually starts Sseko Designs, an ethical fashion brand that provides jobs and education opportunities for women in Uganda. And although this book retells how it all eventually came together, it's even more about what it takes to know your calling and build a life of purpose. She believes that your passion and purpose are something you build day by day and through perseverance. Liz shares 14 actionable principles that teach readers just how to do that. And she is hilarious so it's a fun and entertaining read. 

What did we learn?

Be curious and start with a small dream! I first read this book in March of 2020 (that infamous month when the world changed). For me personally, it was a catalyst, the beginning of what would become a purpose-driven travel company. The book had a similar impact on the women who participated in the book club. Spanning a wide range of ages, many resonated with the key points and considered the implications on their own lives and journeys. If you have a young person in your life who is trying to figure out what they will do next (or a 50-year-old who is reimagining the second half of her life), do her a favor and buy her a copy! 


Where the Magic Happens; How a Young Family Changed Their Lives and Sailed Around the World
By Casper Craven

This is an inspiring memoir written by Casper Craven as he takes his young family on a sailing adventure around the world! After five years of planning, they set out on a two-year journey that would change their lives. 

Not only is Where the Magic Happens a sailing adventure and world travel journal, but this book is also a motivational story of leadership and teamwork. 

What did we learn?

Team work makes the dream work! It's incredible to read about their accomplishment and how Casper, his wife and their young family succeeded with their dream. 


When Helping Hurts; Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor… or Yourself
By  Brian Fikkert and Steve Corbett

This book is a must read for anyone who wants to help the world's poor. Written from a Christian worldview, it is an in-depth look at faulty assumptions about the causes of poverty, and the resulting strategies that do considerable harm to poor people. When Helping Hurts provides foundational concepts, clearly articulated principles and relevant applications. 

When Helping Hurts reads like a text book and sections at the beginning and end of each chapter will help readers get the most out of the material and know how to apply the principles. Information on short term missions are also addressed and as well as economic development strategies, including microenterprise development.

What did we learn?

A ton! The lessons here help guide our choices on how we volunteer and how we give, both here at home and around the world.

The Blue Sweater; Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World
By Jacqueline Novogratz

A perfect book to follow When Helping Hurts, in that in provided real life examples of what works and what doesn't in helping the world's poor. The Blue Sweater reads like a story as Novogratz takes us on her journey. She left a career in banking to fight global poverty. Novogratz tells gripping stories with unforgettable characters and transparency and makes you feel like you're right there with her. She shows how traditional charity often fails, and offers solutions that can help make people self-sufficient change lives.

The Blue Sweater challenges us to grant dignity to the poor and to rethink our engagement with the world.

What did we learn?

Marginalized people want opportunities not aid. They are capable of much and should be given the chance to flourish. Our globe is incredibly interconnected and choices we make here effect others elsewhere. 




Ultimately, through a year of reading together we learned that there are other people in the world who are curious learners like us and enjoy the opportunity to connect and grow together. A huge thank you to everyone who participated! Let's do it again! I already have a stack of books that I'm reviewing for 2022. If you have a suggestion on a title, let me know. 


Join us in 2022!

Watch for coming details in January for the next book pick.

I hope you'll decide to join us.


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