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The Bibliophiles, Inc.: An African American Reading Group

Founded in 1988, incorporated in 1990, The Bibliophiles, Inc.: An African American Reading Group was born out of a mutual interest in reading, sharing, promoting, and preserving the literature of the African Diaspora.

Toni Morrison’s award winning Beloved was the catalyst that drew together the founding members; two commuting colleagues who yearned to share the pent-up emotions the book evoked. The two quickly became ten, rapidly morphing into 20 as friends were invited to join the newly organized group.

Today, The Bibliophiles, Inc. are 19 women strong who include among their varied activities literary field trips, book signings, Kwanzaa celebrations, scholarship fundraisers, and the Newark Museum’s Special Exhibition Docent Program.

Our book club has been recognized in articles published in Essence, American Visions, and Emerge magazines, and The Sunday New York Times, The Star Ledger, and local newspapers. The Bibliophiles, Inc. has also been presented on New Jersey Network’s Another View, and hailed by The National Book Club Conference, Inc.

Almost 25 years later, The Bibliophiles, Inc. remains the oldest, continuously operating, incorporated Black Book Club in America.

September finds us identifying the next year’s theme that guides our selection of six books for the following year. Our regular meetings are held every other month in each other’s homes. Every odd year we convene for an off-site retreat week-end where we elect our officers, and rededicate ourselves to our mission. Members enthusiastically gather at our November meeting with book recommendations in tow; selections go to the highest vote.

BOOKS WE’D RECOMMEND FROM RECENT SELECTIONS:

Revered for our diverse range of selections across a variety of genres, including fiction, non-fiction, memoir and choreo-poetry, recommendations include:

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson; Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston; Standing at the Scratch Line by Guy Johnson; The Man Who Cried I Am by John A. Williams; The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin; and The Wild Seed by Octavia Butler.

BEST FOR DISCUSSION:

Standing at The Scratch Line by Guy Johnson – a sweeping tale of family, honor, loyalty, and a Black man’s unwillingness to bend;

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson – an epic account of America’s untold story of the migration of 6 million Blacks from the South to the North and West in search of freedom and dignity;

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston – a seminal feminist work depicting a woman’s journey to self.

6 Comments

  1. Congratulations on the upcoming The Book Club Show. The Bibliophiles are honored to be represented in Trending Books. We welcome visitors to our website, http://thebibliophiles.org, for a look at our reading lists. We look forward to more of The Book Club Show — a great program idea!

  2. This idea and web site is absolutely fabulous! An idea whose time has finally come!

    Congratulations!

    Bibliophile Lee

  3. The Bibiliophiles are trailblazers and role models for aspiring book club organizers everywhere!

  4. Congrats to a great group of beautiful women! Talented, gifted, caring and intellectual! I’m happy to know many of these fine women who contribute so much to society.

  5. I don’t see “Freedom Riders” by Jay Arsenault listed. A must read. Warning, you will have to put it down occasionally as it will disturb and anger you. I know it did me and I am a white, southern (Florida) male. I was a teen during that period and remember the news coverage very well and even then could not understand the stupidity of some people. Still can’t today!

  6. I’m a 58 yr old woman but as an adult I took a Black literature course in college 15 years ago. I FELL in love with black literature and my niece is doing her PhD in black literature.
    We’re both staunch caucasian feminists so although we can’t completely sympathize with your experience we certainly do have much empathy. I’ll be watching this group to see what you read in the future.

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