by Shonette Reed
Starting a book club isn’t an easy feat. For the founder of Ladies of Substance, the best advice she's read was “Don’t give it 5 minutes if you’re not willing to give it 5 years.” Having the need for community placed on her heart, Modupe Ogunniyi started Ladies of Substance in 2011 and it has since flourished.
Through a love for reading that began at 19-years-old, Modupe, now 26, found herself on the path to start her book club, Ladies of Substance. The name came from a brainstorm and is based in 1 Peter 3:4. Without having a group of sisters around her, and becoming pregnant, Modupe stumbled across Christian fiction and came up with the idea to start reading books with other women as fellowship.
“I actually don’t remember [Ladies of Substance’s first read], but I do remember the first Christian Fiction book I read which led to the idea of the book club. It’s called The Covenant Child by Terry Blackstock,” Modupe shared over email. “What’s great about this book is its use of metaphors, you could read it and have no idea that the story is about Christ redeeming us, unless you’re a Christian of course.”
When Ladies of Substance started in 2011, it stood 10 members strong. Though Modupe was nervous, she was also excited about where God was taking her. The club is now 30 women strong –meeting bi-weekly on Whatsapp to discuss their current read– and 100 women across the U.K., Canada, America, China, and Africa.
For Modupe, receiving positive feedback–though feeling that she should be further along–has been helpful along with remembering why she began in the first place.
“Remembering why you began something always helps me whenever I feel discouraged. When you start something new you may feel like no one is interested but then you remember why it was laid on your heart and it’s purpose,” Modupe said. “Holding on to those things should give you the drive you need to keep on going.”
If there’s one piece of advice Modupe could give anyone starting a book club, it is this;
“Don’t be discouraged by numbers. The best book clubs are ones that allow for open and intimate discussions, that’s something that can be achieved with 3 or 4 individuals.”
Modupe has, possibly without being fully aware of it, created a place where women are encouraged by one another. As she strives to create a space of openness and intimacy in Christ, her book club embodies 1 Peter 3:4, making it a place of relief for women in a world where we are often pitted against each other; curling into ourselves rather than sharing how we feel.
We’re excited to see where Ladies of Substance goes and are thrilled to have shared in a part of its journey.