Marcus Book Club started in August of 1997, in Oakland, CA as a part of Marcus Book Store (the oldest, African American owned bookstore in the nation.) We gathered that first time as a group of 232 readers, divided into 6 “Chapters.” Each Chapter met once per month, at the bookstore. Over time the numbers decreased, eliminating the need for Chapters. Today we are 12-15 strong and meet on the 3rd Wednesday of each month. Meetings are still held at Marcus Book Store.
Our book club’s main focus is in alignment with the tradition of Marcus Books; to read and discuss books BY and ABOUT Black People everywhere. The book club has the name of the bookstore, which was named in honor of Marcus Garvey. We tend to be serious about great literature and sometimes have to remind ourselves to “lighten up” and make some “completely fun” book selections. We enjoy diverse opinions and lively discussions.
BPM: What types of books have generated the most interesting discussions?
Books that force us to address cultural and societal issues have generated the most interesting discussions because everyone has some level of investment in the topic. It is not out of the ordinary that we will “agree to disagree” during these discussions.
BPM: Do you have any words of wisdom for other readers starting a book club?
Have fun, give everyone equal voice and be open to reading books you might not choose on your own. There have been many times when we did not like the book and had amazing discussions or developed a different appreciation for the book.