These 8 Popular Book Clubs Show Just How Much Black-Led Literary Groups Have Evolved
Today's readers have various spaces to come together.
September 20, 2019 at 1:42 pm
When I think about book clubs, I visualize a group of older women, sipping red wine and eating hor d'oeuvres while going over the latest read of the month. In fact, Black women, in particular, have been part of book clubs for centuries and still make up a large demographic of book club memberships today.
While the way I imagine book clubs still stands firm in my mind, the reality is that the styles of varying book clubs have diversified over time, some even entering the digital realm. Today's readers have various spaces to come together and openly discuss meaningful topics related to novels, as well as aspects of their own lives, in addition to appealing to a diverse range of Black readers and thinkers.
Here are a few classic meet-ups as well as digital book clubs that you should consider joining.
1. Well-Read Black Girl
Well-Read Black Girl was founded by New York resident, Glory Edim. Their mission is to "introduce a cohort of diverse writers to future generations — contemporary authors who are nonbinary, queer, trans, and disabled. To address inequalities and improve communities through reading and reflecting on the works of Black women." Diversity and inclusion are essential to Edim and her team. The organization encourages engaging and thought-provoking conversations while being mindful of opposing views and opinions.
A few reads that are currently on their list include:
- The World According to Fannie Davis: My Mother’s Life in the Detroit Numbers by Bridgett M. Davis
- Thick: And Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom
- With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
2. Noname's Book Club
Chicago rapper and avid reader Noname launched her digital book club, Noname’s Book Club to spotlight LGBTQ and writers of color. Her love for literature was shaped after reading the late iconic Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye.
With both digital and in-person meetups, the club has even flirted with the possibly even doing a nationwide book club tour.
Books currently on their list include:
- The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South by Michael W. Twitty
- Don't Call Us Dead: Poems by Danez Smith
- We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby
- Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire
3. Oprah's Book Club
Unless you've been living under a rock, you should be familiar with the world-renowned Oprah's Book Club, which has been engaging book lovers since 1996. From romance novels to memoirs, non-fiction and more, almost every genre has been included on its list.
Some top notable reads on the list are:
- Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
- An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
- The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis
- Ruby by Cynthia Bond
4. Black Men Read
Boasting over a thousand male members, Black Men Read is an Atlanta-based book club that hosts in-person meetups, as well as online conferences for those who are unable to travel to the metro Atlanta area with ease. Their vision is to "defy stereotypes by creating a dynamic where we create the narrative and give back to our community while doing so." Some of their recent reads have sparked discussions on police brutality and Black pride.
Some great titles to check out on their list are:
- Washington Black by Esi Edugyan
- The Healing Wisdom of Africa: Finding Life Purpose Through Nature, Ritual, And Community by Malidoma Patrice Somé
- How Not to Get Shot: And Other Advice From White People by D.L. Hughley and Doug Moe
5. Mocha Girls Read
Mocha Girls Read has meetups in eight major cities around the U.S. Their book selection focuses on broad topics, such as gender and race andThe group accepts members of all ages. If you're not interested in the book of the month, no worries, just skip it and reconvene with the ladies next month.
Here's what they are reading in October:
- The Memory Thief by Lauren Mansy
6. African American Literature Book Club (AALBC)
Books longlisted for a 2019 National Book Award and written by writers of African Descent: https://t.co/QI4ihlYw9P Congratulation to all the writers honored! @kwamealexander
— Troy Johnson ★ (@aalbc) September 20, 2019
The AALBC is credited as having one of the largest online catalogs committed to broadcasting literature from people of African descent. Their events are dedicated to avid readers and writers nationwide. Discussions take place in the form of online forums to aid poets, bloggers and authors.
Some great reads to check out from AALBC are:
- One Night in Georgia by Celeste O. Norfleet
- Speaking of Summer by Kalisha Buckhanon
- Raisins in Milk by David Covin
7. Reading While Black Book Club
In addition to being centered online, Reading While Black Book Club also includes a podcast discussion of the books and authors of the month. Their motto is, "Selecting books by US with US in mind while also providing a safe space where individuals can speak about their experiences in this world while Black and tell their stories."
Here are a few books that are on their list:
- We Speak For Ourselves: A Word from Forgotten Black America by D. Watkins
- Policing the Black Man by Angela J. Davis
- I’m Telling the Truth, But I’m Lying by Bassey Ikpi
8. Literaryswag Book Club
Literaryswag Book Club is a meetup club based in Brooklyn, New York. Founder Yahdon Israel's mission was to bring together people from diverse backgrounds who had a common love for books, so members are a unique group who bring a variety of experiences and beliefs to the table. The group links up the last Wednesday of every month to openly and honestly discuss the chosen book of the month.
Some of their past reads include:
- Dapper Dan, Made in Harlem: A Memoir by Daniel R. Day
- White Flights: Race, Fiction, and the American Imagination by Jess Row
- Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn
If you've been contemplating joining a book club, now is the time to do it!