Intimate Conversation with Destined Readers Book Club

14 Oct
Intimate Conversation with Destined Readers Book Club
Tiffany Booker, Co-founder

Destiny Hawkins and Tiffany Booker are the Co-founders of Destined Readers Book Club. Destiny Hawkins is an Admin. Asst., a wife, a mother of two sons, ages 17 and 18, and the adoptive mother of two small furry dogs. Destiny enjoys attending book events.

Tiffany Booker is a children’s author, a current middle school teacher, a wife, and mother to two young men, ages 19 and 9. Tiffany hopes book clubs will some day become a thing of the future where being a book club member will be as prevalent as being a sorority member. Books are Tiffany’s passion of choice.

BPM: Please tell us about your book club. Where are you located? 
Destined Readers Book Club was founded in Marietta, Georgia in August 2014 by Co-founders Destiny Hawkins and Tiffany Booker. We started a book club out of the sheer frustration from attending several meetings of another book club whose club seemed, to us, to be very snooty. They did not have a sense of genuine warmth, fun, nor true friendships in their club. Destiny and I are very down to earth people and have a lot in common, so we wanted to create a book club with like minded women as well.

Destiny Hawkins is so humble that she makes it a point to ensure everyone knows that she WAS NOT responsible for creating the name of our book club. It was actually my idea to name the club Destined Readers Book Club. Due to our frustration with the other book clubs unwelcoming club culture, we WERE DESTINED to begin our own club. The rest as they say, is history or in our case HERstory. Although we are still a fairly new club, we are nine members strong with several prospective members awaiting acceptance. We want to keep our book club at a maximum of 15 dedicated members. We are still accepting applications for serious, avid readers.

BPM: What is the purpose for your organization? 
The purpose of Destined Readers Book Club is to develop a culture for the love of books, the genuine friendship of other like minded women and to have fun while enjoying a passion for reading. Our motto “Books, Friendship, and Fun” makes us different from other book clubs because we love books. 

Our book kinship with one another has allowed us to forge ongoing, true and genuine friendships that we know will last a lifetime, all while having fun doing it. For example, one of our members took a teaching job in Japan, but she comes back every year to visit the club and facilitates a book discussion. This is a true example of what our club means to her. It’s the friendships, the fun and the books that keeps her coming back. 
We invite potential members to attend as guests just to get a feel for the women whom they will spend time with once a month. If potential members do not feel comfortable at any point in our group there is no harm in not joining the club. We have successfully developed a culture of a genuine kinship.

BPM: Tell us about your members. What is the demographic of your group?
Our members are truly fun women to hang out with, they’re like sisters to us. We listen to each other and respect one another no matter the difference of opinions on a discussion or book choice. Respect is the key to our book club’s success. We have members who are working mothers to retired teachers. This makes for great book discussions and a variety of opinions from various backgrounds and ages. 

The demographics of our group ranges in the Metro Atlanta area. We have members who live in Atlanta, Douglasville, Marietta, McDonough, Decatur, Lithonia, and Covington, Georgia. Whomever is the facilitator for the month selects the location where our meetings will be held, that way no one is always driving out of their way every month and not subjected to one area of Metro Atlanta.

BPM: When accepting members into the group, what are you looking for in the person? Has it been difficult to get people to join the group or to stay in the group? Do you have an online version of the group?
When we accept members into the group we first allow them to come to two meetings as a guest just to get a feel for the group as a whole. We allow other members to interact with them before Destiny and Tiffany make the final decision on allowing members to join. The beauty of founding our own club is that we make our own rules so Destiny and Tiffany are like Ying and Yang. If Tiffany is wrong about a certain persons personality, Destiny is able to see what Tiffany doesn’t see or vice versa. Most times, Tiffany is a good judge of character because Tiffany is truly a people person, but when Tiffany is right about a person it’s 90% accurate and when Tiffany is not right, Destiny is able to catch when Tiffany is not 100% accurate about a potential member. 

Both Destiny and Tiffany discuss whether or not a potential member is a good fit for the club. The road has not been easy to get members to stay in the group, because there have been times where some members felt it has been a challenge to stay in the group. We had to set certain standards for Destined Readers Book Club and one of our standards is although our ideal membership limit is 15 members, we are fine with having less than that, because we’d rather have 9 dedicated members than 15 drop in when you feel like dropping in and not taking our book club serious. As we continued to set higher standards for our club, some members felt it was too difficult to attend a meeting 6 times a year, which to me isn’t a difficult task if you love books. But we will not allow a member to attend a meeting once a year and allow them to continue their membership. That is just ludicrous to assume that we would, but we have had past members who we’ve had to terminate their membership for not meeting the minimum of our standards. 
We are content with our decisions to keep growing and learning from our mistakes, but collectively, we continue to strive for greatness. Destined Readers Book Club also interviews our potential members to find out more information about them, we gauge their commitment at the time of the interview so that we find the right fit for our book club. 
Currently, we do not have an online group, however, we do have a public Facebook page where the public can find out more about the current books we are reading, various book events, new releases, or anything related to books in general. If a member is not able to attend a live discussion, we do allow them to Skpe in or answer the prepared discussion questions as a means to substitute for their physical presence at a meeting.

BPM: In your opinion, what makes a good book club conversation? Do you keep the conversation on topic or roam?
In Tiffany’s opinion, what makes a good book club conversation is our unique Trivia Question segment of the meeting. It is our tradition to ask random trivia questions to our members as a good book conversation starter. This keeps members on their toes in reading the selected novel thoroughly and paying attention to key details in the book. This leads into a well prepared discussion. We either use the available reading guide the author has provided or we use our own to lead the discussions, but the key is having fun while doing it. Our trivia questions are the key to our book club discussions. Most times if the book is interesting enough, then we tend to keep the book discussion on topic, however, if for some reason we conclude that the current book was either boring or we didn’t like the book, we tend to roam off topic, but our agenda keeps us on task to ensure we do not waste valuable time during the book discussions.

BPM: How do you make your book selections for the month? 
Another great aspect to founding our own book club is the beauty of choice. We allow our members to choose the book they want to read. Since we are an African American book club we only request that members chose an African American author. We allow our members to chose the book of their choice and they are allowed to choose the location of the discussion as well. Even if a member is not into a certain genre of book, the option for our members to decide helps broaden our perspective on potential books we may have never thought to read or due to our complacency to become comfortable with the genre of our own choice. 

Destined Readers Book Club takes you out of your comfort zone, we hope to broaden members views of various styles of writing. We try to meet the needs of all our members, this gives them a voice and a choice in their club, it also gives them autonomy. Destiny Hawkins, our co-founder, maintains the calendar of book choices for our members. The book has to be selected at least two months in advance to be placed on the calendar.

BPM: What are you reading now? What books are on your reading schedule? 
Our October book of the month is The Deal, The Dance and The Devil by Victoria Christopher Murray. This book was selected by our member of the year, Rose. She has read the book before and thought it would be a great book to discuss. Some of the books on our current calendar includes: Glass Houses By Brian W. Smith, The Book of Harlan By Bernice L. Mc Fadden, The Practice Wife By Marissa Monteilh, and WomanIsh By Angelia Vernon Menchan. 

We just finished reading Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones, and we can never forget our most dedicated author JoDee Sanders who wrote Sugarland, and SugarFree, which we have read in the past and we will be reading his upcoming release to his new book called Sugarless next year.

BPM: How can we follow you online? Do you have a website or social media pages?

You can invite us to future events, any social media chats and discussions. We welcome the opportunity. You can follow us at the following outlet – DestinedReadersBookClubATL


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