CHARLOTTE – A few years ago, Holly Furtick, co-founder of multi-location global ministry Elevation Church, started posting book recommendations on her Instagram account for friends and followers. “Holly Furtick Book Club” started in 2019 as a summer experiment. The idea was to just read some books together just for fun over the summer. Holly went live on an evening in June, and her friends and Instagram followers showed up to talk about the book through comments during the hour-long Instagram live. It was so much fun that three months has turned into almost three years, and now each book club includes an exclusive interview with the book’s author.
Since then, Holly Furtick Book Club has met on Tuesday evenings once a month. At a time when it seems like half of our lives take place on Zoom, an online book club may not seem out of the ordinary, but in the summer of 2019, Furtick had no idea the world would go online less than a year later. When COVID-19 forced us all into isolation, the structure was already in place to keep members united and engaged during a time when both were much-needed.
Now, when we’re able to cautiously resume in-person activities, online book club remains the perfect balance of connection and commitment. “I’m married with two kids and work full time, so I have very little free time,” says local member Lindsay Franklin. “With a month between book club meetings and the online meeting format, this book club works perfectly with my busy schedule!” Local Stephanie VanAlmen adds, “It’s so convenient for me as a busy mom of three. I have joined in from my couch, sitting in my bedroom, or even from my car in the parking lot of my girls’ cheer gym. I look forward to it each month!”
An added bonus of the online format is that members from all over the country and even the globe can lend their diverse perspectives to the conversation. “I’ve learned about different cultures, along with people’s stories and how to be open to differences,” says member Beth Batcheldee, who joins in from Virginia. “I enjoy this book club a lot because of the genuineness of Holly and the authors, who are gracious to come and share their stories with us. There is lots of laughter, joy and just temporary reprieve from everyday stuff! This Book Club has helped over shadow a time while we all were quarantined.”
Furtick makes sure to choose diverse novels: fiction, nonfiction, mystery and more! For many members, it’s Furtick’s diverse book selection that really makes the club worthwhile. “Holly has been suggesting books to me for many years now,” says VanAlmen. “When she told me she was going to do an online book club, I was so excited because I knew she would be so good at it. I have loved each one! Holly and I enjoy similar reading genres and styles, but it has helped me branch out a little, and I have picked up books that I maybe wouldn’t have unless it was a book club pick.”
A big draw is also Holly herself. You won’t find anyone with more passion for both fiction and friendships. “Holly is a fantastic host, and getting to hear her comments and questions and conversations with the authors has made these books even more enjoyable,” adds VanAlmen. “It’s so fun to watch with people from all over the US and even other countries and discuss characters, storylines, settings, and personal connections and takeaways.”
More than just a book club, The Holly Furtick Book Club along with Elevation Outreach have given over $25,000 this year in partnership with The Dolly Parton Imagination Library toward your local library partners across the country. Throughout the year all book club merchandise profits are donated to help insure funds necessary to continue supplying these critical books to families.
Holly Furtick Book Club meets monthly on Tuesdays at 8:00 pm on Instagram Live. Furtick has a diverse reading list laid out for 2021: The Exiles by Christina Baker Kline, Where The Lost Wander by Amy Harmon, The Choice by Dr. Edith Eger, Tell Me More by Kelly Corrigan, Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal, Haven Point by Virginia Hume, One Two Three by Laurie Frankel, and All The Lonely People by Mike Gayle. Interviews with authors and book club notes can be found at hollyfurtick.com or on Holly’s YouTube Channel. Holly Furtick’s Book Club is open to the public. To join, go to hollyfurtick.com!