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The Supremes Sing the Happy Heartache Blues: A Novel by Edward Kelsey Moore

When a late life love affair blooms between Mr. Forrest Payne, the owner of the Pink Slipper Gentleman’s Club, and Miss Beatrice Jordan, famous for stationing herself at the edge of the club’s parking lot and yelling warnings of eternal damnation at the departing patrons, their wedding summons a legend to town. Mr. El Walker, the great guitar bluesman, comes home to give a command performance in Plainview, Indiana, a place he’d sworn—and for good reason—he’d never set foot in again.

But El is not the only Plainview native with a hurdle to overcome. A wildly philandering husband struggles at last to prove his faithfulness to the wife he’s always loved. And among those in this tightly knit community who show up every Sunday after church for lunch at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat, are the lifelong friends, known locally as “The Supremes” —Clarice, facing down her longing for, chance at and fear of a great career; Barbara Jean, grappling at last with the loss of a mother whose life humiliated both of them, and Odette, reaching toward her husband through an anger of his that she does not understand.

Edward Kelsey Moore’s lively cast of characters, each of whom have surmounted serious trouble and come into love, need not learn how to survive but how, fully, to live. And they do, every one of them, serenaded by the bittersweet and unforgettable blues song El Walker plays, born of his own great loss and love.

 

Edward Kelsey Moore Book Reviews

“This lusty novel sings with life, saluting friendships through dreams, marriage and long-held secrets.”
—Minneapolis Star Tribune, “Summer Books”

“Moore’s bluesy, breezy novel takes readers through life’s highs and lows and in-between times when no one knows what is coming next; its air of folksy optimism should appeal to fans of Alexander McCall Smith and Fredrik Backman.”
—Library Journal (starred review)

“Edward Kelsey Moore, besides being laugh out loud hilarious, has a profound understanding of human nature. This gift, combined with his clear love and affection for his characters, makes him a truly remarkable writer. This book is a joy to read.”
—Fannie Flagg, author of The Whole Town’s Talking and Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe

“Spending time with the Supremes is like slipping into a warm embrace of love and laughter, soul-searching and sass. There’s nothing these three strong women can’t handle, and that includes the legacy of the pain inflicted by fathers to sons, mothers to daughters. Edward Kelsey Moore has crafted a novel that beautifully illustrates the healing power of forgiveness.”
—Melanie Benjamin, author of The Swans of Fifth Avenue and The Aviator’s Wife

“The arrival of Edward Kelsey Moore’s new novel had me singing anything but the blues. Even better cause for celebration? Odette, Clarice, and Barbara Jean are back . . . and what a supreme encore it is!”
Julia Glass, author of A House Among the Trees and Three Junes

 

Chapter 1 (Excerpt)

It was a love song. At least it started out that way. The lyrics told the tale of a romance between a man and the woman who made his life worth living. Being a blues song, it was also about how that woman repeatedly broke the man’s heart and then repaid his forgiving ways by bringing a world of suffering down on him. The beautiful melody soared and plunged, each verse proclaiming rapturous happiness and gut-wrenching pain. Here, in a church, this piece of music couldn’t have been further outside its natural habitat. But the tune’s lovely mournfulness echoed from the back wall to the baptismal pool and from the marble floor to the vaulted ceiling and settled in as if the forlorn cry had always lived here.

As the song continued and grew sadder with every line, I thought of my parents, Dora and Wilbur Jackson. The blues was Mama and Daddy’s music. Nearly every weekend of my childhood, they spent their evenings in our living room, listening to scratchy recordings of old-timey blues songs on the hi-fi. One of those might have been as sorrowful as the dirge ringing through the church, but I couldn’t recall hearing anything that touched this song for sheer misery.

Mama preferred her blues on the cheerier and dirtier side—nasty tunes loaded with crude jokes about hot dogs, jelly rolls, and pink Cadillacs. The gloomy ballads, like this one, were Daddy’s favorites. I never saw him happier than when he was huddled up with Mama on the sofa, humming along with an ode to agony. He would bob his head to the pulse of the music, like he was offering encouragement to a down-in-the-mouth singer who was sitting right next to him, croaking out his hard luck.

Sometimes, before sending me to bed, my parents would allow me to squeeze in between them. They’ve both been dead for years now, but their bad singing lingers in my memory. And, because I inherited their tuneless voices, I remind myself of my parents every time I rip into some unfortunate melody. Whenever I hear a melancholy blues, I feel the roughness of Daddy’s fingertips, callused by years of carpentry work, sliding over my arm like he was playing a soulful riff on imaginary strings that ran from my elbow to my wrist.

I’d be ordered off to bed when Mama’d had enough of the dreariness and wanted to listen to a record about rocking and rolling and loving that was too grown-up for my young ears.

Even though the song rumbling through the sanctuary would have been a bit dark for Mama’s taste, she’d have loved the singer’s wailing voice and the roller-coaster ride of the melody. And she wouldn’t have let this song go unnoted. If she had been in the church with me, she’d have turned to me and declared, “Odette, your daddy would’ve loved this song. Every single word of it makes you wanna die. I’ve gotta write this in my book.”

My mother’s “book” was a calendar from Stewart’s Funeral Home that she kept in her pocketbook. The cover of the calendar showed a gray-and-white spotted colt and a small boy in blue overalls. They were in a meadow, both of them jumping off the ground in an expression of unrestrained bliss. Above the picture were the words “Jump for Joy,” and below, “Happy thoughts to you and yours from Stewart’s Funeral Home.” Whenever Mama ran into something that she felt was remarkable enough to merit celebration, she wrote a note on that day’s date so she’d never forget it. Read the rest of this entry »

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Turning Trials into Triumphs by Members of Victorious Ladies Reading Book Club

Turning Trials Into Triumphs by Michelle Chavis, Nichole Page, Shavonna Futrell, Venita Alderman Sadler, Patricia Alston-Tapp, Asha Jones-Wade and Tracey Burwell Deshazo

Trials are an inevitable aspect of life and come upon us in many different ways. Ways which may include the death of a loved one, an illness, disappointments, betrayal, or parental abandonment. GOD has allowed us to endure many trials, situations and tribulations. When planting a tree you have to consider the soil. Not all trees can grow or thrive in the same dirt. Certain soils produce different fruit. Therefore, the various types of trials we go through yield different results as well.

Turning Trials into Triumphs is an anthology of events that could have left the contributors bitter, but instead their circumstances evolved for the better. The ladies of VLR believe that the attitude we display through trials , will determine whether an individual will emerge victorious. Out of our greatest trials, comes the defining moments of life that lay the foundation for building the strength of our character.

 

About the Authors

Turning Trials into Triumphs was written by seven members of Victorious Ladies Reading (VLR) Book Club who wanted to encourage others to conquer every problem or situation that may arise by trusting GOD even when you can’t trace GOD. Watch him turn your TRIAL into a TRIUMPH! To learn more about each author visit our website WWW.VLRBOOKCLUB.COM

 

Purchase Turning Trials Into Triumphs by Michelle Chavis, Venita Alderman Sadler and Co-Authors
https://www.amazon.com/Turning-Trials-Triumphs-Michelle-Chavis-ebook/dp/B01M017I6J


Category – Non-Fiction/ Self Help
Online Book Sellers Amazon.Com and BarnesandNoble.com

 

A Calm Heart Effect: Minding My Heart Business by Lola C Booker

A Calm Heart Effect: Minding My Heart Business by Lola C Booker

 

“A Calm Heart Effect” is a book of poetry and prayers about life’s relationships of love and friendship. The poems are earthy with emotions exposed, and they hit at the heart of relationships with friends and family. The author’s wit and wisdom come through the verses which evoke an emotional response that is delightful and satisfying to the reader. The author’s premise is “a heart needs to be whole to hold love”. She also believes that “minding your heart business” will help to turn your life and love right side up. This book is for adult readers who are seeking answers with a spiritual basis to help them cope and heal from relationship issues.

“A Calm Heart Effect” was written to bring true feelings to the light in order that peace of mind can be achieved. The author’s hope is that the readers can also experience a calmness of heart as they engage their minds into something other than the BIGness of life’s problems.

 

Purchase A Calm Heart Effect: Minding My Heart Business by Lola C. Booker
https://www.amazon.com/dp/1548024317
Poetry > Inspirational > Transformational literature

 

About the Author
Lola C. Booker is the mother of two grown children and a retiree from the Talladega County School System in Alabama. She has been a full-time writer for most of her life. Nothing has separated her from the pen and paper, and she hopes it never will. “A Calm Heart Effect” is her first published book of poems and prayers. She is a prolific writer, having written hundreds of poems and prayers over a span of years. Her poems are earthy with emotions exposed and they hit at the heart of relationships with friends and family.

She is a skilled wordsmith, weaving her wit and wisdom through the verses which evoke an emotional response that is delightful and satisfying to the reader. Her belief is that “when life and love are turned upside down, minding your heart business ll help to turn your life and love right side up”. Her hope is that the reader will be able to relax with her book and relate at a heart level. Her premise is that “a heart needs to be whole to hold love”. Her book of poems and prayers is designed to help the reader with their own “heart business”.

 

Pamela Samuels Young’s Tips for Pursuing Your Passion

Pamela Samuels Young’s Tips for Pursuing Your Passion

1. Put in the Time
I meet people all the time who have a dream, but expect that dream to come to fruition at the snap of their fingers. The reality is, it takes time. I completed my first novel by getting up at four in the morning to write for a couple of hours before work. It took me three years to finish my first book, and then I couldn’t find an agent. I didn’t give up. I wrote a second novel, Every Reasonable Doubt, which kicked off my writing career. Anything worth having is worth working for.

 
2. Master Your Craft
Concentrate on learning your craft. When I finished my first book, I just knew it was going to be a bestseller. I still have that manuscript and it sucks! It took time and study to learn how to properly craft and plot a mystery novel. Take courses, research your passion online and practice, practice, practice. Make sure you’re really as good as you think you are.

 

3. Join Professional Organizations
Surround yourself with others who share your passion. There are hundreds of professional organizations whose sole function is to help their members develop their creative talents and realize their business goals. I belong to Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America and Romance Writers of America. These groups have been very instrumental in my success as a writer. No matter what your passion is, there’s bound to be a networking group you can join.

 
4. Ignore the Naysayers
People who don’t have the motivation to pursue their own dreams will often try to derail yours. People repeatedly discouraged me when I told them I planned to give up my law career to write mystery novels. I also received over a dozen rejection letters before finally landing my first agent.

Once I finally landed a book deal, there was still more rejection. After Harlequin published Every Reasonable Doubt and In Firm Pursuit, which were both Essence magazine bestsellers, nine publishing houses rejected my third book, Murder on the Down Low. That left me no option but to self-publish, which was the best decision I ever made for my writing career.

My novel Anybody’s Daughter won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Fiction against four bestselling authors at major publishing houses (Walter Mosley, Terry McMillan, Sistah Soljah and Victoria Christopher Murray).

Later, two publishing houses who’d previously rejected my work, were now interested in publishing me. Their outreach was a major validating moment. All the rejection I experienced taught me to take charge of my own writing career. I’m now happily self-published and writing full time.

About Pamela Samuels Young
Pamela is an attorney, anti-trafficking advocate and award-winning author of multiple legal thrillers. Her mystery Anybody’s Daughter won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Fiction and was a Top Ten pick by In the Margins, the best books for at-risk teens. The former journalist and retired lawyer is also a natural hair enthusiast and the author of Kinky Coily: A Natural Hair Resource Guide. Pamela received her bachelor’s degree from USC and also earned graduate degrees from Northwestern University and UC Berkeley School of Law. The Compton native is a frequent speaker on the topics of sex trafficking, online safety, fiction writing, self-empowerment, and pursuing your passion.

To invite Pamela to a book club meeting or speaking engagement or to read an excerpt of Abuse of Discretion and Pamela’s other books, visit her website at http://www.pamelasamuelsyoung.com.

 

Read book excerpts at: http://www.pamelasamuelsyoung.com
Follow me on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/pamsamuelsyoung
Follow me on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/pamelasamuelsyoung

 

 

Intimate Conversation with Sistahs and Friends Book Club

Intimate Conversation with Sistahs and Friends Book Club


Founders of Sistahs and Friends – Yvette Barrett, Malinda Burden and Priscilla Myers. In December, 2014 we lost our 4th founder, Theresa Jackson.


BPM: Please tell us about your book club! How did your club get started?  Does the name of the club have a special meaning? How many members do you have? 

Sistahs and Friends Book Club started in 1997, in Chicago, when 4 young professional co-workers, Priscilla Myers, Theresa Jackson, Malinda Burden and Yvette Barrett discovered they shared a common passion. That passion was the love of reading and the desire to share their thoughts with each other. We had our first book club discussion in a conference room during our lunch hour. It was such a great experience that we decided to continue and called ourselves, Sistahs Bookclub. Later on we had a male that wanted to join us. So in fairness to him and other potential males, we changed our name to Sistahs and Friends Bookclub. We started with 4 and currently have 12 members.

BPM: What is the purpose for your organization? Is there something in particular that makes your group different from other groups? 

Sistahs and Friends unites mature women and men from diverse backgrounds together in sister and brotherhood. We promote spiritual, motivational and intellectual development and awareness through the reading of fiction and non-fiction books, embracing the style and diversity of each member and each author. What we thought would be just a past time, for getting together among friends and sharing views on literature, led to so much more. We increased our membership, produced a mission statement, elected officers, created by-laws, paid dues, and 19 years later we are still Sistahs and Friends Book Club.

BPM: What legacy will your club leave for those watching in the community?

Sistahs and Friends exemplify the true essence of sisterhood. Our legacy will be that true Sistahs support, lift and motivate each other not tear them down.

BPM: Tell us about your members. What is the demographic of your group? How would you describe the personality of your group as a whole? 

Our members are mature professionals who all grew up from various backgrounds and areas in the city of Chicago. We started this group 19 years ago as “Bubbies” and have grown into mature outgoing, outspoken women who love a great book, with a great meal, a great glass of wine and a great discussion. These is no room and no tolerance for pettiness and or catiness. We may not always agree on the rating of a book but we will always have a great debate regarding the merits of our selections or lack thereof.

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?

We look for someone who will fit in our circle and have the passion for reading as we do. When a vacancy occurs, we invite the potential member to a meeting to ensure that their personalities mesh with the current membership. We have never had a problem attracting members however in the beginning we had problem retaining them. Some members were not committed to reading which lead to the creation of bylaws which have proved to solve the problem. Our current members have been active 10 years or more.

BPM: In your opinion, what makes a good book club conversation? Do you keep the conversation on topic, or roam? Does the availability of a reading guide help with the discussion?

By everybody sharing their own opinion of the book it leads to great conversations. Sometimes we can walk into the meeting ready to give a low rating and after much discussion it can easily be adjusted higher. Our sistahs are definitely not shy, they are very outspoken and will tell you like it is with no regrets. Many authors have experienced the brutal truths of Sistahs and Friends. Sometimes a reading guide is helpful but we don’t always use. We have very creative members who come up with games, quizzes, etc. to engage the group and stimulate conversation during the meeting.

BPM: How do you make your book selections for the month? Do you read and discuss books outside of the book of the month? Do you use social media to share your featured books with other readers? 

Sistahs and Friends Book Club’s season is from September – May. During the May meeting members randomly select a month to host for the next season. It is the responsibility of the host to select the book for the month which she is hosting. Most of the members make their selection based on recommendations from family and friends, reading over the summer or just reading reviews on-line. There have been times when some of us have read another book and discussed it outside of the book of the month for the bookclub. We share our book selections (2011 to present) on our website.

BPM: Do you prefer to read books by authors of color? Do you support self-published authors? Do you borrow books from the library?

In the early years of Sistahs and Friends we only read books by African American authors. However over the years we have developed an appetite to broaden our horizon and not limit ourselves. During the years we have supported all authors as well as self-published authors and invited some of them to attend our bookclub discussions (via in person, Skype, FaceTime and conference call). Yes, a few of our members still borrow books from the library but the majority have Kindle or a Reader.

BPM: What genre/types of books do you prefer to read as a group? Have the types of books changed over time? 

The types of books we prefer to read has changed over the years, in the beginning we read books by authors like E. Lynn Harris, Michael Baisden, James Patterson, Eric Jerome Dickey, Terry McMillan, Zane and J. California Cooper. The books dealt with short stories, sex and relationships respectively. As we have matured so have our books. Today, we read books by authors like Brandon Massey (Don’t Ever Tell), Khaled Hosseini (Kite Runner), Pamela Samuels Young (Anybody’s Daughter), Dwayne Alexander Smith (Forty Acres), and Daniel Black (Perfect Peace) and Naleighna Kai (Every Woman Needs a Wife). As you can see our selection of books have expanded and our members have welcomed all authors regardless of ethnicity.

BPM: Can you share a few 5-star books that have expanded your horizons?

Here are a few that received the highest rating that we give – (5stars) Good To The Last Drop.
Standing at the Scratch Line – Guy Johnson
Forty Acres – Dwayne Alexander Smith
Perfect Peace – Daniel Black
Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skoot
The Red Tent – Anita Diamant
My Soul to Keep – Tananarive Due
Redeeming Love – Francine Rivers
The Douglass Women – Jewell Parker
No Regrets – Patricia Haley

BPM: Do you host special events during the year or do you work for any charities? Do you get together as a group to socialize outside of your book club meetings?

Sistahs and Friends started out doing a grab bag each Christmas but decided that we wanted to give back to the community instead. So now we do just that. We have worked with Chicago Public Schools, DCFS, and St. Joseph Children’s Hospital. Through them we have provided children with everything from clothing, school supplies to toys. This year we decided to change our focus gave to a domestic violence shelter. We provided them with purses filled with all the day to day necessities. We are very proud of our accomplishments and it fills us with such satisfaction to see the smiles. Sistahs and Friends have an outing once a year in the summer (during our break) to do something fun with each other (dinner, painting, plays, and architectural tours). We have also hosted a luncheon, had weekend trips to Wisconsin, San Francisco and next year our 20th Anniversary (TBD).

BPM: Do you have any words of wisdom for other readers who are in or who might want to start a book club?

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t start out with committed members. It took us at least 10 years before we had truly committed members. We had to develop bylaws to vet out serious readers versus those who were only in the club to eat, drink and be merry. As a result, some members have come and gone. Also, don’t look for members who are all exactly like you. You will end up with the Stepford Book Club and this will make for very boring conversations. What has kept us going over the years is our passion for good reads, our like of each other and our mutual respect of each others differences.

BPM: Can we invite you to future events and discussions? Do you have a website or social media pages?

We would love to receive an invite for future events, chats and discussions. You can follow us below on our website, email and Facebook.

Website: sistahsandfriendsbookclub.com
Facebook: Sistahs and Friends

 

 

What’s in Your Mouth by Hazel Mills

What’s in Your Mouth by Hazel Mills
Commercials, talk shows and even social media will have us thinking that the yellow brick road to that new life is paved with weight loss, making more money and even finding love. However, one of the most important bricks is often overlooked. The words we speak to ourselves along the journey is just as critical as the journey itself. “What’s in Your Mouth” seeks to inform the reader of the important role words play in the life we seek to create and in how we relate to those around us. The article offers tips on how to begin to change your words to change your life. I believe this article embodies our mission to encourage, uplift and inspire people from all walks of life.

The late great author and poet, Maya Angelou once said, “Words are things.” You can put certain words together and cause someone to fall in love with you. String another set of words together and you can start a war. The Bible teaches us that the power of life and death are in the tongue. Words are things. Powerful things. As we begin a new year, we are resolving to lose weight, make more money and maybe find love. But perhaps the most critical change we can make is one that can have the most prolific and valuable effect on every area of our lives. We should begin to pay more attention to what comes out of our mouths instead of focusing on what we put in it. The old adage we were all taught as children that says, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me,” is not true. Words hurt. Words can cut deeper than any knife; inflicting wounds that can last a lifetime. Want to change your life? There are three ways changing what you say can bring about the transformation you desire.

* BECOME AN ENCOURAGER. The first place to practice being an encourager is with yourself. When faced with a challenging task, pay attention to what you say about yourself to yourself. Instead of saying, “this is too hard for me” or “I can’t do this,” say “this may be hard but I can do it.” Often times we defeat ourselves with words before we have even begun the work at hand. Encouraging is simply a pep talk to inspire courage. It doesn’t require a lot but it could mean the world to you or to someone who is doubting themselves or their abilities. Another way to practice being an encourager is to give compliments. Complimenting someone on their hair or verbally admiring their shoes can go a long way to make them feel good and you may find it gives you a mood boost as well.

* EMPATHIZE. To be an effective encourager, you must develop empathy for the other person. Seeing a situation from another’s perspective will help you learn what is important to them; what they value. Once you learn this, you can offer verbal encouragement to communicate that you care and understand how they feel. This is not the time to be critical, condescending and condemning. Your positive and inspiring words may be just the catalyst someone needs to change direction in life and reach their full potential.

* PUT SOME SUGAR ON IT.
Have you heard that you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar? Absolutely true. It is not what you say, it is how you say it. A scowl on your face and a grunt in your voice can turn even the sweetest phrase sour. You may have the other person’s best interest at heart but the message gets lost in the nasty translation. Most often, people hear and interpret the message based on the tone in which it was delivered. The way you express your feelings and desires is very important. No one responds well to harsh language and demands. The goal is to draw people to you and create healthy, meaningful and positive relationships.

Don’t get discouraged if none of the above comes naturally to you. It’s okay. We are all shaped by our experiences and unfortunately, everyone has not had the experience of being encouraged, receiving empathy or being spoken to sweetly. These concepts may appear foreign and seem impossible to some. The good news is you can learn! All that is required is a willing spirit and practice.

Meet the Author
Author Hazel Mills
, has written several short stories, novels and articles for publication. Hazel has been recognized as a part of Who’s Who in Black Birmingham (2009) and Who’s Who in Black Alabama (2014). She was the recipient of an AAMBC Literary Award in 2009 and was a contributor to the African American Literary Award winning anthology, Mocha Chocolate: Taste a Piece of Ecstasy, as well as a nominee for her own book(2008). Hazel’s latest novel series, Mr. Wrong After All and Mr. Wrong After All: Second Chances, was released in 2015 by Mahogany Red Books. She enjoys writing and being a wife and mother of three sons.

http://www.hazelmillsstories.com
http://www.twitter.com/hmillsstories
http://www.facebook.com/hazelmillsstories


 

Intimate Conversation with Chicago Sistahs and Friends Book Club

Intimate Conversation with Chicago Sistahs and Friends Book Club

Founders of Sistahs and Friends – Yvette Barrett, Malinda Burden and Priscilla Myers. In December, 2014 we lost our 4th founder, Theresa Jackson.

BPM: Please tell us about your book club! How did your club get started?  Does the name of the club have a special meaning? How many members do you have? 

Sistahs and Friends Book Club started in 1997, in Chicago, when 4 young professional co-workers, Priscilla Myers, Theresa Jackson, Malinda Burden and Yvette Barrett discovered they shared a common passion. That passion was the love of reading and the desire to share their thoughts with each other. We had our first book club discussion in a conference room during our lunch hour. It was such a great experience that we decided to continue and called ourselves, Sistahs Bookclub. Later on we had a male that wanted to join us. So in fairness to him and other potential males, we changed our name to Sistahs and Friends Bookclub. We started with 4 and currently have 12 members.

BPM: What is the purpose for your organization? Is there something in particular that makes your group different from other groups? 

Sistahs and Friends unites mature women and men from diverse backgrounds together in sister and brotherhood. We promote spiritual, motivational and intellectual development and awareness through the reading of fiction and non-fiction books, embracing the style and diversity of each member and each author. What we thought would be just a past time, for getting together among friends and sharing views on literature, led to so much more. We increased our membership, produced a mission statement, elected officers, created by-laws, paid dues, and 19 years later we are still Sistahs and Friends Book Club.

BPM: What legacy will your club leave for those watching in the community?

Sistahs and Friends exemplify the true essence of sisterhood. Our legacy will be that true Sistahs support, lift and motivate each other not tear them down.

BPM: Tell us about your members. What is the demographic of your group? How would you describe the personality of your group as a whole? 

Our members are mature professionals who all grew up from various backgrounds and areas in the city of Chicago. We started this group 19 years ago as “Bubbies” and have grown into mature outgoing, outspoken women who love a great book, with a great meal, a great glass of wine and a great discussion. These is no room and no tolerance for pettiness and or catiness. We may not always agree on the rating of a book but we will always have a great debate regarding the merits of our selections or lack thereof.

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?

We look for someone who will fit in our circle and have the passion for reading as we do. When a vacancy occurs, we invite the potential member to a meeting to ensure that their personalities mesh with the current membership. We have never had a problem attracting members however in the beginning we had problem retaining them. Some members were not committed to reading which lead to the creation of bylaws which have proved to solve the problem. Our current members have been active 10 years or more.

BPM: In your opinion, what makes a good book club conversation? Do you keep the conversation on topic, or roam? Does the availability of a reading guide help with the discussion?

By everybody sharing their own opinion of the book it leads to great conversations. Sometimes we can walk into the meeting ready to give a low rating and after much discussion it can easily be adjusted higher. Our sistahs are definitely not shy, they are very outspoken and will tell you like it is with no regrets. Many authors have experienced the brutal truths of Sistahs and Friends. Sometimes a reading guide is helpful but we don’t always use. We have very creative members who come up with games, quizzes, etc. to engage the group and stimulate conversation during the meeting.

BPM: How do you make your book selections for the month? Do you read and discuss books outside of the book of the month? Do you use social media to share your featured books with other readers? 

Sistahs and Friends Book Club’s season is from September – May. During the May meeting members randomly select a month to host for the next season. It is the responsibility of the host to select the book for the month which she is hosting. Most of the members make their selection based on recommendations from family and friends, reading over the summer or just reading reviews on-line. There have been times when some of us have read another book and discussed it outside of the book of the month for the bookclub. We share our book selections (2011 to present) on our website.

BPM: Do you prefer to read books by authors of color? Do you support self-published authors? Do you borrow books from the library?

In the early years of Sistahs and Friends we only read books by African American authors. However over the years we have developed an appetite to broaden our horizon and not limit ourselves. During the years we have supported all authors as well as self-published authors and invited some of them to attend our bookclub discussions (via in person, Skype, FaceTime and conference call). Yes, a few of our members still borrow books from the library but the majority have Kindle or a Reader.

BPM: What genre/types of books do you prefer to read as a group? Have the types of books changed over time? 

The types of books we prefer to read has changed over the years, in the beginning we read books by authors like E. Lynn Harris, Michael Baisden, James Patterson, Eric Jerome Dickey, Terry McMillan, Zane and J. California Cooper. The books dealt with short stories, sex and relationships respectively. As we have matured so have our books. Today, we read books by authors like Brandon Massey (Don’t Ever Tell), Khaled Hosseini (Kite Runner), Pamela Samuels Young (Anybody’s Daughter), Dwayne Alexander Smith (Forty Acres), and Daniel Black (Perfect Peace) and Naleighna Kai (Every Woman Needs a Wife). As you can see our selection of books have expanded and our members have welcomed all authors regardless of ethnicity.

BPM: Can you share a few 5-star books that have expanded your horizons?

Here are a few that received the highest rating that we give – (5stars) Good To The Last Drop.
Standing at the Scratch Line – Guy Johnson
Forty Acres – Dwayne Alexander Smith
Perfect Peace – Daniel Black
Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skoot
The Red Tent – Anita Diamant
My Soul to Keep – Tananarive Due
Redeeming Love – Francine Rivers
The Douglass Women – Jewell Parker
No Regrets – Patricia Haley

BPM: Do you host special events during the year or do you work for any charities? Do you get together as a group to socialize outside of your book club meetings?

Sistahs and Friends started out doing a grab bag each Christmas but decided that we wanted to give back to the community instead. So now we do just that. We have worked with Chicago Public Schools, DCFS, and St. Joseph Children’s Hospital. Through them we have provided children with everything from clothing, school supplies to toys. This year we decided to change our focus gave to a domestic violence shelter. We provided them with purses filled with all the day to day necessities. We are very proud of our accomplishments and it fills us with such satisfaction to see the smiles. Sistahs and Friends have an outing once a year in the summer (during our break) to do something fun with each other (dinner, painting, plays, and architectural tours). We have also hosted a luncheon, had weekend trips to Wisconsin, San Francisco and next year our 20th Anniversary (TBD).

BPM: Do you have any words of wisdom for other readers who are in or who might want to start a book club?

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t start out with committed members. It took us at least 10 years before we had truly committed members. We had to develop bylaws to vet out serious readers versus those who were only in the club to eat, drink and be merry. As a result, some members have come and gone. Also, don’t look for members who are all exactly like you. You will end up with the Stepford Book Club and this will make for very boring conversations. What has kept us going over the years is our passion for good reads, our like of each other and our mutual respect of each others differences.

BPM: Can we invite you to future events and discussions? Do you have a website or social media pages?

We would love to receive an invite for future events, chats and discussions. You can follow us below on our website and Facebook.

Website: sistahsandfriendsbookclub.com
Facebook: Sistahs and Friends

 

 
 
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