BPM: Tell us a little about your passion for reading and your position in the bookclub.
My name is Sharon Richardson-Lucas and I am the founder and Chairperson of the Reading Divas Book Club. Though we have structure, we’ve never felt a need to elect officers but rather to draw on the individual strengths displayed by the club members.
I am a wife, mother, grandmother and a Reading Diva! I recently retired after 20 years as a District Sales Manager with Avon Products, Inc. I have read all of my life – I come from a family of readers. I do not remember a time when I didn’t read – going back to when I had to hide “True Confessions” under the covers and read after I was supposed to be asleep.
BPM: What was your first meeting like? How was it organized and structured?
After thinking about it for some time, in July 1998, I invited a group of friends to my home to review the book, “The Good Negress” by A. J. Verdelle. It wasn’t the most exciting read, but it did allow me to share my vision of a book club with the attendees and thus was born “The Reading Divas”. After more than 12 years, our basic structure remains the same: We are a group of African American women who meet monthly to review a book, share ideas, and exchange stories. Thus, we have formed a “sisterhood” of book lovers!
My initial goal was to have at least 12 members so no one would have to host a meeting more than once each year, currently there are 14 members; we meet monthly, rotating from house to house; the hostess for the month selects the book for the month. We primarily read books written by African American Authors, but do not limit ourselves to any race or type of book. By silent vote, we don’t usually read the now popular “street” books or “erotica”.
Several years ago, another charter member, Lena Tanguep, and I attended the National Book Club meeting in Atlanta hosted by Curtis Bunn. After that uplifting experience we agreed that the club needed more structure and we also needed to give something to the community and not limit ourselves to simply reading a book a month and socializing (we love mimosas and sangria). We then adopted a club charter to define our structure and we agreed to host an event to celebrate our 10th Anniversary. We weren’t sure exactly what we wanted to do, but we knew it had to be “literary” and not just a social event.
BPM: Share with us the history of the organization.
In October 2008, we successfully hosted the “First Annual Reading Divas Literary Brunch” featuring Mary Monroe – she was fabulous and so was our audience of about 100. In October 2009, when we held our second Brunch featuring Virginia Deberry and Donna Grant- we knew we had hit on something good. Virginia and Donna were “excellent” – they made themselves at home and our audience loved them. We closed this affair knowing that our event has a “following” and that we were keeping our commitment to involve the community not just through our audience participation but also by inviting local authors, many of whom are self-publishing and trying to get their foot in the door – to participate and therefore expand their reach. Please go to our website – http://www.thereadingdivas12.com/ – to read more about us or to get in touch with us.
In October 2010, we hosted our third Brunch – we have moved to a larger facility and our featured author will be Dr. Daniel Omotosho Black – Nationally Acclaimed Author of the 21st Century. Please go to Dr. Black’s website to read more about him – http://www.danielblack.org/.
BPM: What is the vision for your organization?
Our vision is to “keep on keeping on” – reading, discussing, and socializing – as we help others to realize how important it is to our culture that we read the works of African American authors and to continue to grow our own annual Literary Event.
BPM: Living your best life includes:
Living my best life includes: having books and my Kindle at my fingertips at all times – my motto is “Never Leave Home Without Something to Read”.
BPM: On your nightstand now:
On my nightstand now are: “Book Clubs” by Curtis Bunn and “They Tell me of a Home” by Daniel Black along with many books on my Kindle including “God Ain’t Blind” by Mary Monroe, “And Mistress Makes Three” by Francis Ray, and “Witch & Wizard” by James Patterson & Gabrielle Charbonnet.
BPM: What types of books did you read as a kid?
I’ve always been a mystery and suspense lover – so I loved “Nancy Drew” as a child but I soon moved on to Perry Mason.
BPM: What book would you read again to savor?
The book I want to read again and again to savor is “What Seems Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day” by Pearl Cleage.
BPM: What’s your favorite book series?
My favorite series is anything in the Alex Cross series by James Paterson.
BPM: How important is reading in your life?
I cannot imagine life without the ability to enter new and different worlds through the written words of others.
Interview presented by chairperson – Sharon Richardson-Lucas