LitClub:  BookClubEtc.
Hampton, Virginia

club bookclubetcWHEN IS A BOOK CLUB MORE than a book club? When it's named "Etc."—Latin for et ceterameaning "and so forth" or extra, additional items. And, believe us, this group does plenty that's extra!

Actually, "Etc." doesn't begin to describe all the extras you do. Tell us more.
Well, we do a lot outside of our regular club meetings. We sponsor author book signings ... we attend book fairs and festivals ... we hold an annual poetry reading ... we donate goods and services to schools, charities and a local radio station. And we love to....

Whoa...hold on! Let's go back to the book signings. You sponsor signings?
We do! We sponsored a signing and lecture for author Tony Brown (What Mama Taught Me) at Hampton University Library, and we co-sponsored (along with another book club) a panel of romance authors at the University, which included Donna Hill, among others. Our events are always open to the public.

You also attend book fairs, right?
Right...we've been to the Harlem, Baltimore, and Library of Congress Book Fairs numerous times.

What draws us to book festivals is our love for books and the ambiance and spirit of being with other readers. For us, meeting authors, especially of books we love, is like meeting celebrities.

What are Book Fairs like?
Incredible! The Harlem Book Festival—the largest African American book fair in the US— features over 250 exhibit booths, four stages, major authors, book selling, story-telling and a variety of musical entertainment. It's all free...and as attendees we get to be in the studio audience for author panel discussions, which air live on C-Span’s Book TV. It's great fun! have an annual poetry reading.
We call it "Artistic Flow In Motion," and we hold it in honor of National Poetry Month.

It's at a restaurant and open to all who want to participate. We have a couple of poets among us: Alfreada Brown-Kelly has published a book of poetry — Transformation of the Mind, Body, and Soul; and Gerard Corneille, another member, is also working on a book of poetry.

You're pretty serious about literature. Do you have time to read?
Uh...yes. Here's some of what we've read over the past year:
Where the Line Bleeds
Life is Short But Wide
Sisters & Husbands

Any all-time favorites?
We've had a number over the years:
Things Fall Apart
Weeping Willows Dance by Gloria Mallette
Douglass' Women
The Man in My Basement
The Wake of the Wind
Friday Nights at Honeybee's
The Darkest Child
Of Love and Dust

Any books spark controversy with the group?
Yes, we found Our Kind of People and the Polished Hoe by Austin Clarke rather controversial.

You're co-ed. Are there differences in how men and women talk about books—or choose them? And are you a married-couples club?
We started as co-ed—in fact, we never considered a women's only club. There are 15 of us...and only one married couple, Norris and Barbara Lamb. So, no—we're not a couples club.

Having men in the club, revs up the simplest of questions and responses by both sexes. Men bring a new package to the environment. Women are emotional and chatty and tend to analyze everything. Men keep us on the subject at hand.

And, yes, men do choose different kinds of books—NONFICTION. [Suspicions confirmed—the editor.]

Finally, on top of EVERYTHING engage in charitable works.
We donate coats to the local YWCA, and school supplies to local public schools. We also volunteer at our Public Radion station, WHRO.

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