5 years ago I went to my first book club meeting in a nice neighborhood with several nice women I found on Meetup.com. I had read The Help by Kathryn Stockett quickly the week before in preparation of this book club meeting. I even brought a cheesecake with me. Since I was the new girl I didn’t want to show up empty-handed.
See I have been a reader since I was little. Book characters were my friends. Books and libraries were the things that I loved most next to chocolate. Having a mom that was a reader helped too. Every time we moved to a new state or city my mom would always take us to the library to get new library cards. The Redondo Beach Public Library was my home away from home. Just the smell of books made me smile. It still does.As I sat in that book club meeting excited to talk and meet other female book lovers, I noticed something. I was the only Black woman in the room. No big deal because I have been in this situation all my life. From school days to current work situation. Most of the meeting I listened more than I talked because hey, I’m the new girl in the room. Then it happened. Someone made a comment about the book not being based on reality. A few “yeah”, “I think so too” and other agreements popped up. I swear to you I started to laugh. No more like a chuckle. I don’t know why I started laughing but needless to say, all eyes landed on me. I asked the millennial who said the statement, why did she think that? She mentioned the infamous pie and the toilet seats in the front yard. (If you read the book, you know what I mean.) Well, I looked to my right and out the big clear window overlooking the city and said a few things regarding my grandmother being the help to a Jewish family her whole life. I told them of the time my cousins and I were dressed in our Sunday best and taken off to the house to meet that family. Play date? No. We were lined up in the foyer, shoulder to shoulder and smiled at. My grandmother was beaming with pride at her grandchildren, and then she had to go back to work, and we had to leave. Yep! That was it. They didn’t ask for our names we didn’t speak and we sure didn’t play with their kids who were the same age. The book club members were silent and didn’t say much after my little story. I was the buzz kill! Meeting was adjourned and the food was consumed. 30 minutes or so later I was in my car and not interested in returning even though I was in love with the next book they were going to talk about Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See.
I then started the internet search for a new book club to join. Like “Goldie Locks and the Three Bears” nothing was right about them. One cost too much for just sitting and talking about books. One was not accepting members anymore because 12 was there max. And most of the Black women based book clubs only read books by Black Authors. I have nothing against that but you mean I won’t be able to talk about books by Amy Tan, Sophie Kinsella, Isabel Allende along with my favorite Black authors like Octavia Butler, Bebe Campbell Moore and James Baldwin. Then there was the hosting in your house issue. I live in LA in a one bedroom apartment that is perfect for me and a (very) small group of people. The parking sucks and I just can’t see dealing with all of that. And I don’t know these folks like that!
Conversations with my BFF ultimately turned to “Why don’t you just start your own book club?” I think she was over me talking about it. Well in August 2011 I made a web page here on WordPress and in October, after I made a Meetup page, 12 Black women showed up to a local independent bookstore in Inglewood, Ca.
Apparently, I was not alone in my quest for a book club that was just right!
5 years later, we are 4 chapters in 4 cities, online here, along with Goodreads, Twitter and Facebook. We have 2 “Book Club of the Year” awards and have grown by leaps and bounds. See Mocha Girls Read!In celebration of our 5th Anniversary each chapter will be hosting giveaways, parties and events. That is true for this website as well. Every week there will be 3 giveaways and they are good. We will be hosting giveaways for books, gift cards and other cool stuff.
I can’t say THANK YOU enough to all the Mocha Girls and Mocha Girls Read supporters out there for all of their outstanding help, love, encouragement and stories. Mocha Girls your stories of what this book club means to you and how it has changed your life keeps me going. It’s my joy to see that Mocha Girls Read has meant to you what it means to me. And I THANK YOU! To the publishers that have shipped tons of books to us over the years. THANK YOU! THANK YOU! Your support has been overwhelming.
This week look for this banner and see what goodies we have for you.
Thank you again Mocha Girls and keep the pages turning!
Love ya sista girls!
Mocha Girl Alysia
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