The Healing Opportunity in Book Clubs


There are many reasons why people may be pulled to read books like ‘Conversations with a Rattlesnake’, perhaps an opportunity to learn, heal or transform. While the journey of healing is an inside job, there are a lot of benefits in having conversations and reflecting with other people throughout the process.

I recently saw the benefits of this approach first-hand, after hosting the first meeting of a book club dedicated to the reading and content in ‘Conversations with a Rattlesnake‘. My role in the group is to facilitate a book club in which the group will read one chapter at a time, and then meet following the completion of each chapter, to discuss the questions, revelations and other breakthroughs they found after reading. I loved the idea of this immediately after being approached to guide the readings, but after just one meeting with the group, understood just how amazing this approach to the book could be.

Like many people who seek change, the two other people in the book club were faced with a recent transition or revelation in their own lives, which forced them to seek some kind of transformation for themselves. After hearing about ‘Conversations with a Rattlesnake’, but not sure if it was right for them, they finally felt they were ready to face themselves and the futures they could create for themselves.

After only reading the first two chapters of the book, we found ourselves at our first meeting, in a very in-depth, authentic and emotional discussion that lasted hours into the night. Each person had highlighted parts of the book that “hit” for them, and it was very interesting to see how it was different for each of us, but those points opened up a new door of conversation with each page we reflected on. It was incredible for me to watch two people I already admired, digging deep and talking about things they had never shared before. The transformations are already happening!

In facilitating our book club, here are some tips in starting your own:

  • Make it clear to all the participants that your group will be a safe space to talk openly, honestly and without judgment. The art of open conversation is important in the process, so make sure everyone is in agreement to the terms of what that entails.
  • Agree to reading and reviewing one chapter at a time, and planning your meetings accordingly. Although some people may want to read ahead, each chapter covers a lot of ground, and it’s nice to stay on one theme at a time. You’d be surprised how much conversation occurs after just one chapter!
  • Ask participants to take notes or highlight the specific parts of the readings that caused them to reflect, or gave them that “a-ha” moment. This makes things easier when it comes time to meet and review the content.
  • When you meet, go through each highlighted point participants have, but have them take turns in sharing. Review a point, then open it up to discussion for everyone. Sometimes people who didn’t get something at the time of reading, will have a real revelation once a discussion starts happening.
  • Ask questions, and be honest with yourself and your answers. The benefits are yours for the taking, don’t cheat yourself.
  • Avoid the words “like” and “dislike.” They aren’t helpful in moving discussions forward, and can make others feel defensive. Instead, talk about your experience; how you felt as you read.
  • Pose some challenges or “homework” for participants at the end of each meeting. For example: in reading the first couple chapters, our group found that a big thing they had trouble with identifying, was what emotions they were comfortable with and which they weren’t comfortable with. I decided to have each of them take a list of 50 emotions, and check off which ones they feel comfortable expressing (and how), and then mark the ones they have trouble expressing or feeling openly. At our next meeting, we are going to discuss this further. After a short follow-up in between book club meetings, I’ve heard that this exercise has been extremely eye-opening and transformative for them both. This isn’t a necessary part of the process, but can open up some more healing and growth opportunities.

Do you have a CWAR book club going? Or interested in starting one? Please share your experiences with us on Facebook or Twitter, and feel free to ask us any questions you may have.

Written by Amber Craig
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