Book Reviewer or Review Club
The Go On Girl! Book Club is the largest national reading organization in the U.S. for black women. Our national headquarters are in New York. In 1991, founders Monique Greenwood, Lynda Johnson and Tracy Mitchell-Brown decided to turn their office chat about the latest offerings from Black authors into formal book discussions with their immediate circle of girlfriends in New York City.
At the end of the club’s first year, Evalyn Rose Hamilton relocated from New York to her native Washington, D.C., and the second chapter of the Go On Girl! Book Club was born. Since 1992, more than 30 chapters have sprung up across the country in much the same way — started by former members relocating to new cities or by members’ relatives and friends living in other or the same cities. In 1995, the club became a legally incorporated non-profit organization, and it currently boasts more than 300 members in cities across the country. We currently have chapters in Alabama, California, DC, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Washington and Virginia.
The overall agenda, goals and duties of the organization are administered by an executive committee of 10 women: Lynda Johnson (Co-founder/Chair and Media/Author Relations Chair), Vivian Phillips-Husband and Shirley Coker (Co-Chairs); Valeria Porterfield (Recording Secretary); Evalyn Rose Hamilton (Historian); Tracy Grady (Treasurer); Willette Hill (Corresponding Secretary); Elaine Spears (Parliamentarian); Judy Ivory (Membership Chair) and Joyce Williams (Reading List Chair).
BPM: Do you host special events during the year?
YES! GOG hosts an annual Author Awards Weekend held in a different city every year and attended by all the chapters in the organization. Members vote for a winning author in two categories: New Author of the Year and Author of the Year. The winning authors are invited to attend our Author Awards Weekend. The chapter(s) in the designated city is our host chapter. At the author awards lunch (or dinner), the authors are given a handmade plaque especially designed for them.
Our Author Awards Weekend serves two purposes: it gives our members a chance to express our love and appreciation to the winning authors, and it provides all the chapters a chance to get together to meet/greet and express love for our literary sisterhood. Interviews of our winning authors are published in an annual GOG Magajournal and distributed to our members.
In between the author awards luncheon or dinner, GOGs enjoy the hospitality and activities that our host chapters plan for us. Our website, www.GoOnGirl.org has the details.
Many of our members socialize outside of our book club meetings. Chapter members also attend author readings and signings in their area to support our writers. For the past two years we have worked collectively with the NAACP by reading, reviewing, and voting for books being considered for their Literary Image Awards. Some of the authors on our reading list were discovered from participating in this project.
BPM: Which is the preferred way to find new books: a friend’s recommendation; on social media; or advertisement for the book, such as: online radio, newsletter eblast, contests or tagging on FB?
Members of the Reading List Committee use any and all resources available to find books for our reading list. We scour the internet, read book reviews in magazines (online and paper), listen to interviews and check literary websites, publisher websites, blogs, etc. Sometimes we get book recommendations from GOGs, friends; sometimes authors reach out to us. We’re forever searching for that next good book.
The 4th Sunday Book Club was founded in the 1994 by six professional African-American women from the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area . These women shared a desire to read books of quality and substance and formed a loosely structured book club simply referred as “the book club”. The objective was to read books written by African-American authors. Over time the club diversified to include at least one non-fiction book per year and has grown beyond solely African-American authored works.
The book club, which met on fourth Sundays, soon found that contemporary literature did not reflect them or their lives. Motivated by this realization, the club began writing its own book. The result is Fourth Sunday: A Journey of Book Club, which was written under the pseudonym B.W. Read and published in May, 2011 by Strebor Books for Simon and Shuster. In honor of the success of the book, “the book club” was renamed “4th Sunday Book Club.” The 4th Sunday Book Club has grown in membership and purpose. The club now has 13 active members. However, it remains an unstructured, intimate club where books are our connection and our bond is our strength.
BPM: In your opinion, why is reading important in our lives?
Reading is important because it exposes us to experiences and information we may not otherwise encounter. Reading helps us to become more educated and well rounded. Books, like “A Wrinkle In Time” by Madeleine L’Engle, influence lives at an early stage and have lasting effects.
BPM: What types of books does your group read? How do you select the featured books?
The club reads11 books per year. At least one non-fiction and a book with a romantic theme or undertone are read each year in February. The club meets only once during the summer months, for a co-ed meeting where spouses or significant others are invited. Books are selected at the January meeting and are selected by consensus.
BPM: Is there anything you would love to see more of in books?
YES. More diversity including, but not limited to mixed race couples, gay characters that aren’t caricatures or stereotypes, people doing meaningful things with their lives that make them happy, and people being accountable for the decisions (good and bad) they make without blaming society, lack of money or their parents.
Mississippi Magnolias Book Club was founded November, 5, 2012 in Gulfport, Mississippi by Antionette Gates, President. MMBC officers are Antionette Gates, President, Ethel Smith, Vice-President, Taironzika Wesley, Secretary, Angela McNair, Treasurer, Photographers, Lisa Ladner and Kimberly Robins. MMBC currently have ten active members. Our first book read was Money Can’t Buy Love by Connie Briscoe.
MMBC was created from avid readers that also happen o be members of Unity Festival, Incorporated, a non-profit organization. Yes, a few of us post reviews on Amazon. We contribute to all UFI events throughout the community; Thanksgiving baskets to needy families, books or prizes for the Children’s Book Jamboree, and sponsor Angel Tree children, at Christmas. MMBC members also volunteer at the organizations various functions including the neighborhood Unity Festival in March of each calendar year.
BPM: What type of books does your group read? Do you support self-published authors?
Romance, Contemporary Fiction, Erotica and Mysteries are group favorites. Some members thoroughly enjoy paranormal books as well. There is no genre that we absolutely will not read. A book excerpt does not help in the book selection. The majority of books read by MMBC are by authors of color, but books have been chosen by authors who aren’t of color.
MMBC members definitely support self-published authors. Any support given self-published authors help promote awareness of the book and enlighten other readers about both the author and their books. This action in turn will someday garner a larger following for the self-published author.
BPM: What factors help a book remain on your mind long after the last page?
A few key factors are great characters, realistic problems or events, and a fantastic location.
BPM: What legacy will your club leave for those watching in the community?
Our goal is to improve our community through literacy and literature. We hope to bring a sense of joy, hope, and adventure associated with the love of reading, and volunteerism to the youth on the coast. It is our goal to further these efforts in future through a youth reading group or book club.
DRMRAB members have earned the nickname, “The Paperback Gang,” due to their high level of participation at the many book festivals held throughout the year, and their voracious appetite for purchasing paperback books. Members are proud of their expansive bookshelves, many of which hold books with personal, handwritten notes and signatures from their favorite authors. Their motto is: “We are not just a book club, we are a movement.”
Don’t Read Me, Read A Book is based out of Columbus, Ohio, with chapters located throughout the United States and on Facebook. DRMRAB started online as a Facebook group in January 2015. I started the book club because I wanted my own group, instead of administering someone else’s. Fast forward to April of the same year, when I became acquainted with a couple of local readers and decided to start an in-person club that would meet once a month here in Columbus. A very good friend of mine, author Fabiola Joseph, suggested that I start offering readers in other cities a chance to organize under the DRMRAB umbrella. So, in February 2016, the first chapters began. Our Facebook membership has grown to over 2,000 members and our chapter members now total over 200 and growing!
DRMRAB promotes literacy in the African-American community, while supporting authors in a positive, judgement-free environment. We stand out from other groups for a few reasons. First, our members support the authors we read by purchasing thousands of paperback books. With the popularity of eBooks, common thought was that paperbacks were dead until we came along and showed everyone how false that assumption was. Second, we host and participate in face-to-face discussions with authors, and you really don’t see that anymore. The name of our organization has a very special meaning to me. My favorite cousin (who passed away last year) helped me come up with the concept during a battle for my attention, while I was trying to read. That memory is so dear to my heart, that I give out a yearly award in his honor.
BPM: Do you host special events during the year or do you work for any charities?
Every year, we gather at the Sistahs on Lit Book Festival. Papaya Wagstaff, who happens to be our DMV chapters chairman is the owner of this great event. S.O.L is amazing because it gives book clubs a chance to mingle with fellow readers as well as different authors. Yes, we also participate in several charities. When we first heard of the Flint, Michigan, water crisis, we teamed up with Hood Books to send over 8,500 bottles of water to Flint’s residents. In 2015, we adopted a family for Christmas, and in 2016 we adopted two families. We’ve also donated countless books to children. This year, we will also assist families with back-to-school and Christmas needs, among other initiatives. As far as hosting event every chapter host several authors throughout the year.
There are readers, individuals who may casually stroll from series to series as film adaptations have peaked their interest and driven them to the nearest bookstore or library. Then there are literary advocates, individuals who believe that books are as recreational as they are academic and socially impactful; these are individuals who have made it their life’s work to foster and nourish the livelihood of literature despite society’s shift and focus on media that can be absorbed quickly.
Opting to combine the base philosophy of literary advocates like herself with her personal beliefs, Yvonne Bailey has founded Book Pearls, a book club devoted to increasing readership within Black communities and uniting women through sisterhood and fellowship.
The Book Pearls meet monthly to discuss the chosen book of the month. Each discussion is different as these women have chosen to embrace all literary genres. “We love to read all genres, each book that we read carries a different message and has touched our lives in various ways”.
Often, the monthly meetings carry the Pearls to various locations within their community and surrounding areas as they believe literature is a moving art form that reflects the world we live in. As the Pearls grow, they hope to become more involved within their local communities and reading communities worldwide.
BPM: How do you make your book selections for the month?
Whoever host for that particular month gets to choose the book. This gives each member a voice and a chance to pick a book they may have been wanting to read for some time. We generally do not read and discuss books outside of our book club pick. We may read other books during the month and suggest them to one another but we do not discuss them. We are currently on Facebook and will be branching out to Instagram and twitter within this month. We share our bookclub meetings as well as our featured books on Facebook.
BPM: Do you have any words of wisdom for other readers starting a book club?
The biggest advice to give to someone who is wanting to start a book club, Go for it! Life is too short to not live it beautifully, so why wait or let fear cripple you. Call a few friends who share the love of reading and choose a book. Interview submitted by Renee Bailey, president of Book Pearls Bookclub.
Orsayor L. Simmons is the founder of Book Referees. Book Referees spotlights/reviews/promote all genres in the literary world. She is the recipient of the 2013 Top 25 Literary Leader Award and 2014 Top 25 Literary Leader Award (presented by Ella Curry) and 2015 AAMBC Blogger of the Year.
Book Referees are here to serve the literary community by being committed to getting word out about the importance of reading, the importance of reviewing, and importance of supporting authors.
Book Referees was formed to get my book loving friends to read, review and to spread the word out about their favorite books, but now it seems to have taken on a life of its own. I’m now spreading the word through my blog, interviewing authors and getting books in the hands of celebrities. The blog continues to grow, so now I have added reviewers to my team. When readers log on to my blog they are able to read reviews from different perspectives. Because when it boils down to it – it’s about the BOOKS! Books are the common denominator to bringing us together.
Read reviews: on the web – www.bookreferees.org | On Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/Orsayor
The Sankofa Literary Society founded in 2007 consists of authors, librarians, 80 established bloggers, 42 nurses, 15 independent bookstores, 45 reviewing book clubs and has over 2,700 members online and offline in total, with 877 of those members coming from book clubs or established reading groups.
Quarterly the SLS publishes the popular TOP 100 BEST BOOKS lists. Each summer the SLS hosts the annual Chocolate Socials which brings readers and authors to Atlanta, GA and New Orleans, LA for the private literary events. Sponsored by EDC Creations Media Group and the Black Authors Network (BAN) .
The SLS members and BAN Radio guest speakers are dedicated to providing information to black business owners and authors so that they may gain access to the global consumer and to helping promote the growth of black owned publishing related businesses and more diverse literature.
Come join our lively discussions each week as we tackle a number of topics relevant our community. Each week, the Black Authors Network Show interviews special guest authors, community leaders, educators, and experts from various fields in publishing, who want to make a difference in the lives of Americans.
Our mission is to improve literacy in our community and to help improve relationships, all relationships in the African American community globally! If you’re not a part of the movement, don’t let another day go by without joining us.
Visit our website today: https://edc-creations.com/sankofa-literary-society.html