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  • Kiana Livingston

...So, We Wanted to Start a Book Club.

In November of 2021, we decided we wanted to start a book club. Just a simple book club. A melding of minds. A circle of solidarity. A safe haven for our amazing hoard of Brown Sugar wordsmiths to gush and discuss the very thing we all obsess over: words.


The first step was making the plan. How was this potential power circle of ours going to work? Was this going to be a monthly thing? Did quarterly make more sense? Or was once every six months our sweet spot? We landed on once a month, going for gold with twelve books a year.


Next step was deciding which book we’d start with. This book was going to set the tone for the rest of the year, so it had to be a good one. We debated over whether our inaugural book would be fiction or nonfiction. YA Romance or True Crime? Debut Novel or Literary Classic? Decisions. Decisions. Decisions. We finally came to a consensus: The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris. This book had already signed a Netflix deal for a TV show adaptation. We could circle back to it a year from now, reflect on our first encounter with the text, do a group watch of the series over Zoom, what could be better?


The next step was creating the promotional material. A strong and evocative call to arms for all the Brown Sugar Babes across the globe to join in on our monthly journey through the literary realm. We chose an immaculate color scheme, an impeccable font. I mean, we were giving curation perfection.


The only thing left for us to do was to determine our timeline. We aimed for our team to have the book read by the 17th of January, and on that day we would decide what we would talk about. What quotes we wanted to pull, chapters we wanted to examine, character arcs to track, you get the gist. On January 31st, the book club would commence. Queue fireworks!


And then January came around. We had our first meeting of the year and when the topic of our book club was broached, there was silence. No one had started reading the book. The next meeting was much of the same, crickets. As the month continued to pass, we spoke less and less of the book club until it was a quiet looming presence that hung over our meetings like the memory of a shared delusion you promise to never speak of again.


What we failed to realize was that our plan, our glorious plan, was great in theory but not in practice. In our day and age, attention spans are getting smaller and our schedules are getting tighter. We didn’t have the time to dedicate ourselves to 300+ page books with our overly packed lives, and if we couldn’t do it, how could we have expected our wordsmiths to?


So the book club was placed on hold, but I didn’t want it to be. It was still a great idea, it just needed to be workshopped. We couldn’t do a long book? Fine. Perhaps we could build up to that. So step one, where do we start?


What if we started smaller? Smaller could be good. Maybe that’s our sweet spot. A novella? No, that may still be too long. Ok, ok. Think. Something even smaller. Microfiction? That’s super small. It could work, but maybe it’s not challenging enough. Ok ok, I got it. A short story or a short essay. Perfect!


It’s just the right length where it still requires a commitment, but not too much of one. It can be read the week of the club meeting, maybe even the night before. We could provide scanned copies of the text via our Instagram for any wordsmiths that stated their interest in joining our rebranded power circle, and then that eliminates a cost issue for our participants if it even was an issue at all. By golly, I think we got it. We’ll do a book club of shorts.


Now, rebranded and refocused, our book club is finally going to come to fruition. Allow me to introduce you to our upcoming book club, Shorts (I know, great title, right? It just sorta came to me). Our first meeting will be in March, the exact date is currently pending but we do have a plan for it. We are currently at step: decide which story/essay to read, and we need your help wordsmiths. Which one should we start with?


  1. In the Shadow of the Shadow State an essay by Ruth Wilson Gilmore

  2. Sabrina & Corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine

  3. Tender Headed by Danny Lore

  4. Gilded by Elizabeth Acevedo

  5. Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power by Audre Lorde


Let us know whichever title is sparking joy with you and inspiring you wordsmiths to join our book club in March. We’ll do a poll on our social media and whichever title gets the most love will be our inaugural book. If you are interested in joining Shorts the book club, DM us @brownsugarlit on Instagram and we’ll send you a PDF of the book for March.


Let’s bring this book club to life, wordsmiths!


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