A Detroit native, Ebony Evans has always had a knack for creating and implementing exciting out-of-the-box ideas. Quite the event planner, she has embarked upon many different endeavors; be it a shopping trip to the Big Apple, photo shoots of all kinds, pole parties or giving her time to charities near and dear, Ebony was and is doing it!
EyeCU Reading & Social Network, is a combination of yet another creative idea, fused with one of her dynamic passions…reading. She and a host of friends together developed this idea into a reality. In addition to reading, being a devoted wife and mother, Ebony enjoys cooking, traveling, karaoke and spending time with family. Life has taught Ebony the value of surrounding herself with a close-knit circle of like-minded supportive friends, with whom she reciprocates compassion and that same support.
Ebony Evans, EyeCU Reading & Social Network book club founder is an enthusiastic reader and self-proclaimed “book nerd” at heart! Ebony has been married to her soul mate, Michael for sixteen years and together they have one high energy and very talented 10-year-old daughter, Essence. Essence’s “bigger than life” personality and sleuth of extracurricular activities keep Ebony and Michael very busy and very proud as they watch her grow!
EyeCU Reading & Social Network is made up President Ebony, Secretary Samara, Treasurer Bayyinah and members Chineda, Monique, Rhena, Satanya, Stacye, Tamara & Tina.
BPM: Please tell us about your book club. Where are you located?
EyeCU Reading & Social Network is in the Metro Detroit area with satellite members in both California & Arizona.
BPM: How did your book club get started? When did your group begin, what year?
Some of our members have known each other dating back to high school. In 2010 a small group of us, most of whom are avid readers got together for dinner one evening to hear Ebony’s thoughts on creating a book club. Her ideas were embraced, the details were discussed and the first group of EyeCU Reading Officers was in place. From there Ebony hosted a meet and greet/tattoo party to introduce EyeCU Reading to other women that she thought would like to join. And just like that… EyeCU Reading and Social Network hit the scene!
BPM: How many members do you have?
EyeCU Reading & Social Network currently has 10 fabulous members!
BPM: What is the purpose for your organization?
The purpose of EyeCU Reading & Social Network is to promote literacy in the African American community with an emphasis on African American women. To support primarily, but not exclusively, the works of African American authors. To encourage community involvement through charitable endeavors, support and motivation. Our club was born from the vision of providing an avenue for women to fellowship with a primary focus on reading thought provoking books, networking with other book clubs, attending literary events and meeting fascinating authors. We also want to show our beauty and boldness in all that we do!
BPM: Tell us about your bookclub and any contributing members. What is the demographic of your group?
EyeCU Reading & Social Network consist of a diverse group of women with a wide range of professional backgrounds and varied interest. We look forward to seeing each other at our monthly meetings to not only discuss that month’s read but to get caught up on each other’s lives, offer advice or sometimes just an ear and have some of the absolute best laughs.
BPM: How do you make your book selections for the month?
Each member is responsible for hosting a monthly meeting. As the host, you also select the book for that month. Regardless of the genre all are required to read the book and write a corresponding review. This process really empowers the group with the opportunity to embark upon all sorts of stories and topics, as we have a diverse range of interests amongst us.
BPM: Do you read and discuss books outside of the book of the month?
Certainly! As we are all avid readers, we read, discuss, share excerpts, links and review many books outside of the monthly selection.
BPM: Do you use social media to share your featured books with other readers?
Most definitely! EyeCU Reading & Social Network’s social media is used to share our featured books and connect with authors and other readers. Recently we have even had a few scheduled “live” interactions with authors on social media as well.
BPM: Do you prefer to read books by authors of color?
While our goal is to support African American authors, we are open to reading and have read authors of all ethnicities.
BPM: Do you support self-published authors?
Yes! We absolutely support self-published authors. Book club member Stacye Lewis aka Kaylynn Hunt is a talented self-published author of several books. Ebony is on the cover of two of her books, “Love With A Vengeance” and “Catching Dreams. Not all talented authors have a big house book deal so we definitely support and acknowledge authors both small and large.
BPM: Do you borrow books from the library?
We do! We do! We do! We feel it’s important to support our community libraries. So many people don’t realize or take advantage of the local libraries. And we super love FREE!
BPM: What genre/types of books do you prefer to read?
We pretty much read it all! From Christian based to the most erotic and everything in between. The diversity of our group and our variety of interests leads us to open our minds to literature of all kinds.
BPM: Have the types of books changed over time?
As our group, matures, it seems that yes, the types of books have changed over time. While we started out reading lots of urban fiction, we’ve evolved to reading pretty much everything! We’ve even indulged in and enjoyed Sci-Fi; a genre that wasn’t even on our radar at first.
BPM: Do you write and post book reviews to online retailers?
Knowing that author’s exposure and support is heavily based on book reviews… If we read it, we review it! The popularity and constructive honesty of our reviews has gotten us sought out by many authors, whom value the opinions of their readers.
BPM: How do you handle bad reviews or books that flopped?
We handle bad reviews with tact and a genuine reasonable approach. They usually pose a challenge but we understand the importance and feel obligated to talk about both the bitter and the sweet.
BPM: What type of books have generated the most interesting discussions?
Books like “Perfect Peace” by Daniel Black, “A Piece of Cake” by Cupcake Brown and “Love & Happiness” by Ben Burgess Jr. have generated some of the most interesting discussions. Why? These novels were very descriptive in their writing styles and the relatability evoked emotions that made for some of the most in depth and memorable discussions.
BPM: Can you share a few 5-star books that have expanded your horizons?
“The Shack” by William P. Young and “The Immortal life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot has such relevant storylines that it sparked very in depth discussions and stayed with us long after the meeting was over. Most recently we read “Black” by Joan Vassar; as a group, initially there were mixed reviews but with a very descriptive storyline, well developed characters and plenty of romance “Black” turned out to be so much more than your average slave story!
BPM: What are you reading now?
We are currently reading “The Quarters” by Mari Bell.
BPM: How did you find out about this book?
The author reached out to our group on social media. One of our group’s toughest critics read it and rated it 5 stars, therefore selecting it for us all to read.
BPM: What books are on your reading schedule?
“This Side of Home” by Renee Watson and “Secret Lives of Cheating Wives” by Curtis Bunn.
BPM: How do you feel about attending book signings, literary festivals and events?
Last year we attended The National Book Club Conference in Atlanta and loved it so much that we’re returning this year! We also support signings at Detroit’s Hood Book Hood Headquarters, the library and other local book stores. We think those events are vital to our vision and do our best to support as often as we can.
BPM: Do you host special events during the year or do you work for any charities?
Yes, EyeCU Reading & Social Networks hosts special events in support of Breast Cancer Awareness, SIDS Awareness and Children’s Literacy. We’ve also hosted a variety of other events to include a Little Black Dress Party, book signings and movie premieres with giveaways rooted in literature.
BPM: Do you primarily purchase books online or in a bookstore?
Do you prefer to read digital books? Would you ever stop buying printed books? Although most of our members prefer to read digital books, we didn’t start out that way. Transitioning from smelling and actually turning the pages of a book to clicking wasn’t easy for some. We also have members that unconditionally enjoy and support purchasing physical books mainly from local bookstores.
BPM: Does the price of ebooks play a big part in the purchase?
Yes, but it’s not a deal-breaker. While some may gripe about the price of an ebook, it’s never been a big issue for us.
BPM: Has social media changed how you feel about any authors?
Undeniably, social media has changed how we feel about some authors. While we may not have initially adored a story we’ve connected with some authors through Skype or FB Live which has at times provided for a clearer understanding of the story and its characters thus making us appreciate the author even more. On the flip side of that thought, just the opposite can also occur based on some of the perceived negative posts and interactions that we read on social media involving or by the authors themselves.
BPM: Do you like to find new authors and interact online?
WE LOVE IT! We have a chat group and fan page where every month we’re reading, reviewing and sharing the link for purchase! This attracts authors, new readers and encourages friends to read along!
BPM: Can we invite you to future events, social media chats and discussions?
That would be fantastic! How can we follow you online? We can be followed on Instagram @EyeCU_Reading & Facebook at EyeCU Reading & Social Network.
If anyone would like to get to know EyeCU Reading & Social Network, please join our Facebook Group: EyeCU Reading & Chatting where we share free reads, excerpts, reviews, regularly host FB Live chats with our featured authors and discuss other literary randomness.