“Teaching Moments: Sharing Books, Sharing Lives,” Ensign, Jan. 1996, 73
After moving with my family into a new neighborhood in a new town, I wanted to get to know my neighbors and have some way of sharing some of the blessings I enjoyed as a Latter-day Saint. So one afternoon I knocked on my neighbors’ doors, introduced myself, and invited the women to form a neighborhood book club.
No one said no! We began to meet once a month. Even though we all had different tastes in reading, I believe our success came because we decided to take turns hosting and choosing a book for everyone to read. When we met to talk about the month’s book, we discussed whatever aspect of the book we were interested in and many related topics. There is something about sharing reactions to the characters and themes in literature that opens people up to sharing their own feelings, experiences, values, and ideas. Each of us may express similar feelings about a character or theme in a book but have very different interpretations of the meaning. The different viewpoints made our discussions lively and interesting. Discussing the conflicts in the literature allowed us to begin to share the challenges we faced in our own lives.
The book club became a way for us to reach out to each other, to welcome new neighbors, and to be aware of each other’s needs. One neighbor was hurt in an accident; another with two small children gave birth to twins. One faced cancer and divorce, and almost all of us experienced the challenges of rearing children. Because we already knew each other, it was easy to offer a listening ear, to bring in meals, or to do shopping for each other. We were able to resolve minor problems and to stay close as neighbors and friends.
These wonderful experiences have added much to my life. I have had sweet opportunities to share the blessings of the gospel with my neighbors. On many occasions I have invited the women to Relief Society homemaking night or to a social or seminar. Several have come with me to the stake family history library and have been excited to find ancestors recorded in the International Genealogical Index®. One family accepted a copy of the Book of Mormon and another the invitation to view a Church video about family home evening.
Recently I received a note of thanks from a neighbor, a close friend who reflected on all the wonderful memories we had shared during our fifteen years of meetings. “Out of the best books” (D&C 88:118) have come lively evenings of discussion, new insights, enduring friendships, and a neighborhood where people share with and know each other.—Christy Williams, Bellevue, Washington