One of the best experiences I've had this year has been getting to know book clubs. In March, I attended a book club meeting where author, Michelle Larks was being hosted. Last week at the Faith and Fiction Retreat I had the chance to spend some time with various book clubs and attend chats about several books. I enjoyed this tremedously. So with that, I've decided to feature a book club on my blog every month.
The lovely ladies of K.C. Girlfriends Book Club have the honor of being first up. I listen to K.C. Girlfriends' radio show on blogtalk radio a couple times a month and have gotten to love the president like family. It's been a great learning listening to their discussions.
I interviewed TaNisha Webb, the president of K.C. Girlfriends.
Welcome to Urban Christian Fiction, Tanisha. Tell us about K.C. Girlfriends Book Club. The KC Girlfriends Book Club was established in 2002 when a group of “girlfriends” decided to share their love of reading with each other by forming a book club. At that time the book club was known as the Girlfriends Book Club In 2003, the book club was reduced to 2 members. In the beginning of 2004, the book club was revitalized by inviting women from around the Kansas City Metro that had the same passion for reading. We grew from 2 members to 40 members within 1.5 years and are now at 25 members. Our name was changed to the KC Girlfriends Book Club during this period. We read books written by AA fiction authors that are mostly new authors.
The number of book clubs in the African American community has grown by leaps and bounds. Tell me why you think that is? I think that there are many people that just love to read and find that they are not alone in their passion. People love to share what they’ve read with each others and in turn decide to take the extra step to form groups where their love is shared by like-minded people. I also feel that some groups find it a way to be more connected in their own communities.
Several members of your book club recently attended the National Book Club Conference in Atlanta. Tell us about NBCC and why it’s the event not to be missed by book clubs. The NBCC represents what being in book clubs are all about, just on a bigger scale. This is the one place that you know that you’re going to be surrounded by many different book clubs that are doing wonderful things within their book clubs and communities and are able to come together once a year to share their thoughts and ideas. It is also a time where book clubs are able to actually meet many of their favorite authors in one place and because the environment is so intimate, you are able to really get up close and personal with the authors and learn more about them in their sessions. There are also powerful panel discussions that occur throughout the conference. The NBCC is like a huge family reunion for many that attend. I know for my book club personally, it has helped us become more focused and actually shape a more defined platform for how we want to proceed as a book club.
You were awarded the community service award at NBCC. What an honor. Tell us about what your book club does in this area. We are very proud to have been recognized for our community service that we’ve done upon our return from the 2006 NBCC. After our first experience at the NBCC, we were literally on the plane sharing the changes that we would like to make not only for our book club but within our own community literary-wise. We have since donated books to a local group that helps youth stay on the right path, we have helped support a mentoring group for girls as well, and we have helped a 70 year old man by giving him books to learn how to read for the first time. We have also created a radio show where we can help further support new authors, book clubs, literary resources and events. We recently began supporting book signing for new authors in our community and will begin sponsoring well-known author’s book signings beginning next year. We are also planning to bring all the local black book clubs together at least once a year for a luncheon where we will bring in authors as well.
How do you make your book of the month selection? And what can an author do to get your book clubs attention? Our books are strictly chosen by our book club members. We rarely take requests by authors because we do not want the process of reading what we like to be saturated by outside sources. Generally, we just run across books either online through an eblast, online book stores, or regular book stores that appeal to us. I would say to authors to promote and market your book so that we can be aware of them. Most books that we come in to contact with are because of the great marketing that authors choose to utilize or by word of mouth from other individuals or book clubs.
You recently read Sherryle Jackson’s Soon and Very Soon from Urban Christian Books and rated it very good. Tell me what you enjoyed about the novel. I felt that Soon and Very Soon represented real women in our society. Now that more women are pursuing careers, sometimes it’s hard to balance careers and a relationship. I also felt that Sherryle really stayed true to the characters and was able to deliver the story without feeling like she had an agenda, which is sometimes an issue for readers being able to relate to Christian Fiction books.
How many Christian Fiction books do you usually choose a year and do you see that increasing with the growth in Christian Fiction? Although some book clubs actually do choose books selections per month by genre, we do not. We choose books solely based off what catches our attention, predominantly written by new AA fiction authors. I think it’s definitely possible that we will choose more Christian Fiction books in the future based on what is written.
Please share anything else you’d like my readers to know about your book club? We realize that our book club is truly whatever we make it. We’re very proud of where we’re going and hope to grow even more literary-wise within our community and also within the literary community. Everyone will have to definitely keep up with what we’re going to do next!
Thanks so much for stopping by, Tanisha congratulations on the NBCC community service award. Kudos to you on the young adult chapter, also. You lades are doing awesome things. I look forward to meeting you when I come to Kansas City!
You can learn more about K.C. Girlfriends at the following contact sites. Their biweekly radio shows are lively and entertaining discussions that often educational.