Kindred Spirits Book Friends

by Rachel Dodge


Finding Kindred Spirits

“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”

Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery

I received this text from a dear friend who joined my family for dinner recently. She doesn’t have a family of her own to share meals with and her message reminded me to value something I typically take for granted. I’m fortunate to have nightly meals with my husband and two children. Around the table, we talk about our days, sometimes laughing, other times commiserating, but always sharing our lives together. While these meal times meet our physical needs, this table fellowship also meets our emotional and spiritual needs.Gathering around books has always been a natural and necessary part of my life. When I was little, my father read the newspaper to me after work while my mother cooked dinner. Before nap time, during long car rides, in doctor’s waiting room–even in the middle of the night with the chicken pox–my mother read whole books to us. Everywhere we went, she kept a book (usually atattered copy of one of Laura Ingalls’ Little House on the Prairie books) tucked under her arm. It didn’t matter where we’d left off last; she just opened the book and start reading.

I supposed you could say we were the original read-aloudrevival family!

As I got older, my parents and brother and I continued to read out loud, swap books, and talk about literature around the dinner table and everywhere else, but I rarely found other people who liked reading as much as I did—and certainly not the sweet, old-fashioned books I enjoyed. At school, I was the one with my nose in a book, the one who loved to dress up as favorite literary characters, the one who liked the “olden days.” In high school and college, I was the reader, the writer, and the English major. Everywhere I went, I always kept eyes peeled for “kindred spirits”—those who shared my love for beautiful books, charming characters, and heart-warming stories.

Perhaps that’s why I find it so enchanting to have found so many kindred spirits, in recent years, who love to gather online to talk about books. I kind of feel like Anne Shirley when she said, “Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.” (Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery)

I used to think I just needed to grow up and let go of my quaint ideas about life and literature, but now I know that I just needed to find my people.

Thanks to the ability to gather online to discuss books, I now know I’m not the only one who loves old books and old-fashioned things. Other people love to read treasured classics over and over again, too! In fact, I found out that many people read for comfort, are “mood” readers like me, and love to discuss favorite books. Best of all, many of my bookish friends are also sisters in Christ, which means we get to fellowship together . . . and talk about books!

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For those looking for ways to gather with others and foster genuine community around books, I think the best place to start is a buddy read (or group read-along). I’ll never forget readingLes Misérables in 2020 with a group of women from all around the world. That experience was epic in so many ways! I could have never slogged through it alone, but with my faithful reading buddies beside me, I knew I couldn’t give up. I can honestly say it’s one of my favorite books now, but I don’t know if I love Les Mis because it’s so good or because I have so many great memories attached to it. Gathering online like that for over six months was about so much more than just the challenge and victory of reading a really, really long novel; it was about grasping hands with other women across continents when the world was shut down and life was filled with heartache and unknowns.

‘Reading together creates community and friendship. It’s a way for women to connect with other women and do something that nourishes the mind and the soul. It’s a valuable investment for those who find deep connection with others through shared reading experiences.

Rachel Dodge

Since that first buddy read, I’ve continued to bond with awonderful group of bookish friends online. I’ve participated in buddy reads, launch teams, giveaways, and group chats. Many of the women I’ve met online have become my sister-friends and prayer partners. I have even met some them in person while traveling for vacations, events, and conferences!

Best of all, as an author of classics based devotional books, I also have the unique privilege of writing books that provide a space for women to gather together to talk about their favorite books and grow in their faith. I can’t imagine a more wonderful thing!

Books have provided a gathering place for me my whole life, and I’m so thankful. I honestly can’t imagine a life without books—or my bookish friends.


About the Author: Rachel Dodge is the bestselling author of The Anne of Green Gables Devotional, The Little Women Devotional, and Praying with Jane: 31 Days Through the Prayers of Jane Austen. Rachel’s newest book is The Secret Garden Devotional! Rachel teaches college English classes, gives talks at libraries, teas, and book clubs, and writes for the popular Jane Austen’s World blog. A true kindred spirit at heart, Rachel enjoys books, bonnets, and ball gowns. You can find her online at www.RachelDodge.com.


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I hope you have enjoyed this encouraging story from my friend Rachel. To make things even more exciting Rachel and I are so excited to partner for a Kindred Spirits Giveaway just in time for Galentine’s Day! Visit both of our IG communities and find how to enter there! Rachel’s IG

Gracefully,

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The Secret Garden Devotional

A chapter-by- chapter companion to the beloved Classic

Book Review in the Art of Gathering Series

Gathering Together Through Books

“I’m going to see everything grow here. I am going to grow here my self.”

Colin, The Secret Garden, Chapter 21

We all need a place to grow. I know you believe this too. It’s inherent in us and we know that the places where we grow healthy and strong are the places where we belong just for being there. We don’t have to prove ourselves or make others want us we simply are at rest and free to grow and become. Books were the first places to provide this knowledge for me. I began to grow in confidence believing that my story also belonged here with me. I was encouraged by stories like The Secret Garden, to believe that the past didn’t define my hope for a better future.

My friend Rachel has written a brilliant devotional companion to the this treasured story. She has a gift for writing Christ centered companion devotionals for our treasured reads. You can find my review for Little Women here and how it touched my heart as a young Mama. The timing of reading these devotionals has always amazed me, they have come into my life at a time when I needed a treasured story but also hope for the future amidst uncertainty. I know the pandemic is still fresh in our minds with all the uncertainty it held but the soothing balm of reading stories that ultimately point us to Jesus was a sweet gift. I first read through Anne of Green Gables and then through Little Women with our kiddos in our homeschool and I just smile at the cherished moments of togetherness and prayer.

Over the last few weeks I have been writing and inviting writers to share about their experience with gathering together in the good times and bad times. So, it just made me giddy to read that Chapter 21 in the devotional focused on the importance of gathering together and how it creates space for us to grow and thrive. I love how Rachel describes this, ” The secret garden in full bloom provides a picture the thriving Christian community God desires for each of us- a place where we can flourish and grow. the body of Christ isn’t trimmed and perfect; it’s full of variety and gifting and imperfections. It’s a place where weakness and growth coexist, burdens are shared, and hearts are tended…And where the family of God builds one another up and invites others in.” What a breath of fresh air, we are meant to be together for our benefit, the building of the Church, and for the glory of God.

‘And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.’

Acts 2:46-47

I urge you to pick up a copy of this gorgeous devotional as we head into the thick of winter. I know this sweet story along with the devotional will provide for you a lattice of hope on which to grow in endurance as you wait for spring. The deep roots that are built in community will not only tether you to truth but they will also nourish you in the dead of winter. Be encouraged Dear heart you are meant for belonging, community, and thriving.

Gracefully,

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