That’s the question I ask the Parlay House community every summer.
Parlay House is an organization I founded where women meet to connect authentically and talk about things that we don’t have space to talk about in other parts of our lives.
In our August gathering, “What Book Are You?”, everyone brings one or a few book(s) that define an aspect of their life. After an evening of getting to know people outside of our usual circles, we take home a book brought by someone whose story resonates with us. And we continue the connection with her once we’ve finished reading.
The books tied to their (original) owners may surprise you. An elated new mother might bring a tale of sorrow, citing how it resonated with her during a pivotal coming-of-age experience she had at 15. A fierce leader could share how she used the first Harry Potter novel as an opportunity to dream. Others describe stories that parallel where they currently are in their lives, or where they wish they could be.
More than anything, it teaches each of us that you can’t judge a book by its cover.
The beauty of using books to describe ourselves is it provides a safe opening to tell our authentic truths, truly connecting with one another. It begins narratives that move more quickly past of what we do and into who we are: survivors, explorers, leaders, lovers, artists, and instigators.
This year, I’m bringing four books so that no one leaves without something provocative, insightful, and special. That gets to my truth in a different way — I’m the perpetual nourisher.
Three of my books, Where the Crawdads Sing, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, and Educated are thematically similar. They share female lead characters who, despite challenging circumstances, find solid footing and save themselves. I identify so much with each of them.
The fourth book, Circe, is a novel about the rebel Greek goddess Circe. It’s not my usual genre of fiction that features poignant stories and characters I can relate to. It’s a “historical fantasy” based on Greek mythology. Reading it pushed me out of my comfort zone. But that’s my narrative too — constantly on a quest to learn, explore, and grow.
So tell me: what book tells your story? The question is worth asking and the story is worth sharing.
Some prompts to get you thinking:
- Was there a book that gave you a strong emotional response? Maybe it made you cry, laugh hysterically, or simply not be able to get it out of your head.
- Is there a character you can remember reading about whose journey echoed your own?
- When were you last reading something you couldn’t put down? What about the story intrigued you?
Here’s how to create One Small Thing that could have a massive impact on someone else:
- Ask “What book are you?” as a conversation starter with a stranger and see where the conversation goes.
- Opt into our book exchange (or just share your story) by responding to this email with the book that defines one aspect of you or your story.
- Share your book on social media with #onesmallthing and describe how the book reflects you or your story.
It doesn’t matter how you start. Just share your story.