I hurried out the door on Wednesday to drive across town to a book club at the home of someone I’d never met to spend the evening with people I didn’t know. After a few mishaps (read: I forgot my own copy of the book and had to circle home), I found myself in someone’s kitchen, petting their dog, and talking about intimate violence as bread warmed in the oven. An accident of the small world we live in brought a friend whom the host and I had in common into the fold as vegetables got chopped and glasses filled.
To back up, this all started when the Rose Andom Center auctioned off a book club with me to discuss Every 90 Seconds. At the time, I was excited to offer something that could financially support an organization I care deeply about. It hadn’t occurred to me, though, to think through any of the details related to basically agreeing to show up at a stranger’s house with my periwinkle book and hope for the best. That is, until I was driving across town in a fevered dash to get there on time wondering what I’d gotten myself into.
You see, I’m new to this book event thing. Since the launch of Every 90 Seconds, I’ve had the privilege to do different kinds of events. A Facebook live event with the Colorado Coalition against Sexual Assault (so energizing). A book reading and signing at Tattered Cover (kid-in-a-candy-store feeling). A college visit with students lined up tell me their aspirations for the world they want to build (joy-filled inspiration). Sharing books at events for community partners (gratitude so intense that my heart aches).
The book club made me realize that at other kinds of events, I’m mostly hoping to persuade people to read Every 90 Seconds later, when I’m not around. On Wednesday, though, everyone had already been persuaded to read. Persuaded was the key word, as several women mentioned something to the effect of: I really didn’t want to read a book on violence against women, but so-and-so talked me into it, and then I couldn’t put it down.
Dog-eared pages and post-it fringe showed what caught this group of women’s attention, curiosity, and imagination across the book’s pages. Like a play within a play, we talked around the dinner table about how we each came to the new awareness (me while writing, them while reading) that awareness is not enough. With that in mind, we explored our shared aspirations, fears, assumptions, and ultimately ideas for action, recognizing the uniqueness of each of our own lives, passions, and shared interests in building a world without intimate violence.
Hours later, I hugged the once-strangers goodnight, feeling the fullness of connection and the radical hope that we can build a world we’ve never known.
As I reflect on the book club today, we find ourselves on the eve of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Maybe October is the time you persuade people in your life — whether through your work or neighborhood, school or faith community — to come together to explore new ways to move from awareness to action. After all…
“We’ve been waiting for you — your passions, your knowledge, your commitment to working on the issues you care about. Together, we have any interested in ending violence against women, and the path we forge together promises a better world for all of us.”Every 90 Seconds: Our Common Cause Ending Violence against Women, p. 172