Books, Womxn & WOC

Hello Phimy,
I also read and enjoyed The Library Book by Susan Orlean. Thank you for choosing this special Los Angeles Public Library postcard! It’s a fabulous addition to my collection and a nice tie-in to the book. Best wishes to you, Erika, and all the other member bookworms in your quest to promote reading and its emphasis on diversity.

About Sister Insider Book Club
Instagram: @sisterinsiderbookclub | Their Interview on What Should I Read Next podcast (Episode 169)

How did you choose the name of your book club?
The mission of our book club is to read diversely and widely, focusing our book club on intentionally reading works by women authors of color, anyone who identifies as a womxn, and coming together to discuss the book with an intersectional feminist lens. This is largely inspired by the works of American writer/feminist/and activist Audre Lorde; especially her collection of essays and speeches in Sister Outsider. We named our book club Sister Insider, in homage to Audre Lorde.

Names and number of members:
It ranges, as our book club is open to all and anyone who is interested in reading whatever book that has been selected for the month. Currently, our Instagram has over 700 followers, though our in-person meet ups are limited to folks living in Los Angeles and generally range anywhere from 6 – 17 people showing up! We also have a handful of regulars who show up every now and then as well.

Erika and I (Phimy) always show up because we are the co-founders and main organizers of the book club, though we do consider our membership to be open to everyone who is able to come.

I read so voraciously, but still wanted a dedicated place to read at least one book with a bunch of different people and come together to discuss it. I knew that my close friend Erika also enjoyed reading, so I brought up the idea of starting a book club with her. Luckily for me, she happily agreed! From there, our beautiful book club Sister Insider started! 🙂

Age range:
Current members’ ages range from 20s – 40s, at least for folks who show up in person to our book club meetings. Our Instagram followers who participate on their own or digitally are 20s and above. We don’t have a preferred age range; we are open to all and encourage readers of all ages to join us, especially if they are interested in reading the book we are reading at the moment.

Our book club is open and inclusive of all identities. We are open to all bookworms interested in reading our current book.

Date of first meeting:
Our very first meeting was held in May 2018. We are not yet one year old!

Meeting schedule:
We are an every other month(ish) kind of book club. As facilitators and organizers of the book club with full time jobs and other respective creative projects, Erika and I are very busy. We try to set meeting schedules at the end of the second month, but do admit that sometimes our schedules don’t allow for it, so we schedule meetings at the beginning of the third month. This year we are trying to be more organized with our book club meeting schedule and are going to be intentional with reading and meeting up every 2 months.

Meeting place:
This varies. We are always trying to switch it up so that we are accessible to everyone no matter what neighborhood they are coming from. When it’s really nice out, we try to meet at the park in an outdoor area. We’ve also met inside our homes, at local coffee shops, and pizza shops like Delicious Pizza in the West Adams neighborhood because they have a beautiful backyard patio.

Food & beverages:
If we’re meeting at a local café or casual restaurant, we try to support the business for letting us come and meet there. If we’re at a park, someone’s home, or community meeting room, we try to have a pot luck and have folks bring whatever snacks, food, and beverages they want!

Book selection method:
Everyone votes on what books they want to read. We are regularly accepting book recommendations. The only requirements are that the books be written by women of color. We try to stick to a “400 pages or less” limit, but sometimes go over. We read all types of genres. I organize the book recommendations into a google form, then we share it on our Instagram with a deadline of when to vote by and collect votes from our members or anyone interested in selecting what we read next! It’s a democracy driven book club for sure. 🙂

Most popular book:
I am pretty sure the most popular book we’ve read thus far is Becoming by Michelle Obama, but I think because our book selection was right around the time of the book release and because of our interview on the What Should I Read Next podcast. That might have played a role in folks finding out about us and reading along with us. On the podcast, we discuss our book club’s origin stories, why Erika and I read, and more about our book club!

Best book discussion:
This is so hard to answer because I do feel like all of the book discussions have been wonderful and meaningful. Our recent book club meeting where we discussed Michelle Obama’s Becoming was really great because it was our largest meet up and I felt that Erika and I really prepared great discussion questions and interactive activities. My favorite discussion was probably An American Marriage by Tayari Jones. We got really into the discussions and folks had so many things to bring up and share and talk about, that Erika and I didn’t even need to bring up our own discussion questions!

Currently reading:
We voted on our book for March/April 2019 which is A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza.

Next book scheduled:
We’re working on being more organized this year and working out a system to select a few books in advance to share with people. We generally have folks vote on the next book on Instagram through our google form. The book with the most votes is the book we’ll be reading next. (See Book selection method above.) We get so many book recommendations of what to read next that, currently, Erika and I are trying to find a way to better organize and curate it so that we don’t have like 15 books up for folks to vote on, but rather, we can select the books to make it more diverse, and then have like 5 books for folks to vote on at a time. Still working out the kinks to this though, so check back with us later! 🙂