Here, in a letter to booksellers, Well-Read Black Girl book club founder Glory Edim shares her excitement about indie bookstores’ participation in the program and reveals the titles all book clubs should be reading and discussing this fall. This year, the American Booksellers Association is partnering with Edim to bring book club meetings to independent bookstores nationwide with the goal of amplifying diverse voices and supporting emerging writers of color. Email WRBG@bookweb.org to sign up to host a book club; be sure to include your name, store name, city, and state.
The Well-Read Black Girl (WRBG) partnership with the American Booksellers Association has been an incredible learning experience. I’ve had the opportunity to visit independent bookstores across the country, including Powell’s Books in Portland, Book Soup in Los Angeles, and Source Booksellers in Detroit. After each visit, I feel more knowledgeable, inspired, and ready to expand my mission. Now, I’d like to announce the title selections for September, October, and November, with the hope that WRBG book clubs at every indie bookstore will join in reading and discussing the same titles.
The Well-Read Black Girl book club is a space for Black and Brown voices to center their stories — to engage, interact, and have intimate conversations with one another. It’s about empowering Black women writers and folks who identify as genderqueer or non-binary to be a part of our community. Indie bookstores play a huge role in this venture because we need spaces to buy books and build community.
I’ve witnessed firsthand the energy and excitement of booksellers who want to make a difference in their communities, such as owners who are committed to supporting writers that reflect the viewpoints of all readers. They are leading with inclusion and unafraid to experiment with new ideas. Because, let’s face it, the Well-Read Black Girl Book Club is a new idea. We are inviting booksellers to dedicate their time and energy to uplift writers of color. The book club is putting your inclusion efforts into action.
I think we’d agree that making inclusion a priority leads to a successful, welcoming bookstore environment. Why? Because having a culture where everyone feels included will help your store reach its diversity goals. Diversity shouldn’t be approached like a checklist; it means engaging within your community and asking questions. Diversity means exploring race, gender, age, and sexual orientation in a nuanced way. Sometimes it means starting a book club. Creating a more inclusive bookstore may be a challenge, but it’s one that you should be eager to tackle. Too often we have a narrow view of who has the power to change the culture. The solutions are often with the minds of devoted and curious readers throughout your community.
The future of publishing lies in being more innovative with our outreach efforts and addressing issues of representation in every story. Our fall 2019 book club titles for adults and younger readers aim to address inequalities and improve communities through reading and reflecting on the works of Black women. From Indies Introduce authors Maika and Maritza Moulite to National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson, each writer is working to redefine what diversity means on the page. We must continue to look for new authors and titles to read and support. I hope these book selections introduce new readers to your bookstore, foster deep connections, and bring increased awareness of the multi-cultural books being published in 2019.
Here are our book club picks for the fall:
In books and solidarity,