Friday, February 05, 2010

How to Start, or Join a Social Action Book Club

This week two fellow BlogHer Contributing Editors (Virgina DeBolt and Elana Centor), and BlogHer co-Founder (Elisa Camahort Page), and me had a virtual book club call to discuss Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. Half the Sky, which discusses sex trafficking, forced prostitution and gender-based violence is a tough read, and we all agreed that discussing it together really helped to process the information.

We've decided to read Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer together next. If you'd like to join us, email me at britt AT brittbravo DOT com, leave a comment on this post, or comment in the BlogHer book group.

Below are a few examples and resources to help you start, or join a social action book group:

1. The Kittredge W.I.S.H. Book Club is a, "small diverse group of women who seek to make a difference by bringing book clubs and nonprofits together to maximize our shared passions and limited resources." On their How to Inspire and Serve Check List they recommend that your book group:
  • Create a mission statement that includes the type of organizations you want to support
  • Decide if you want to contribute money, time, or another kind of support
  • Research an organization you would like to "adopt"
  • Contact the nonprofit you choose, and see if they have a wish list you can help fulfill.
2. Hannah of Word Lily, Amy of My Friend Amy, and Natasha of Maw Books Blog are hosting a Social Justice Challenge during 2010. Each month they'll focus on a different area of social injustice, encourage participants to read about the issues, and take action. In January, participants read and reviewed books about Religious Freedom. In February they will be reading and reviewing books about Water.

3. The read4change book club, hosted by SocialButterfly, is reading Wired to Care by Dev Patnaik in February. You can join the book club by following their Twitter feed, @read4change, and discuss the book on Twitter the last Wednesday of the month at 8PM ET using the #read4change hashtag.

4. As I mentioned in my October 2009 post, Turn Your Book Club Into a Social Action Club with Kristof and WuDunn's Half the Sky, Mercy Corps has partnered with the authors to create a contest for book clubs reading Half the Sky. Kristof and WuDunn will visit the book club that, "compiles the most impressive record of activism," by June 15, 2010. To register your book club, go to

5. Last week the Acumen Fund announced The Blue Sweater Book Club in a Box. The Blue Sweater, Jacqueline Novogratz’s memoir about her journey to found the Acumen Fund, is coming out in paperback February 16th. As part of the release the Acumen Fund is offering a limited edition Book Club in a Box for $50 which includes:
  • 5 paperback copies of the book
  • 5 discussion guides
  • 5 hand-designed bookmarks by Acumen Fund high school volunteers
  • Access to a webinar with Jacqueline, just for book club in a box reader
6. Finally, as I mentioned in my post, How Did You Decide to Help Haiti for the Rest of 2010?, CARE has a list of recommended books on their site. They're encouraging book clubs to read one of the books, talk about CARE's work with women and girls in their discussion, and take action through the CARE website.

Are you part of a social action book club? How did you organize it? What advice do you have for people who want to organize their own social action book club?

Cross-posted from

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  1. Very timely for me--finally starting my 'radical social workers' book club is on my new year's resolutions list for 2010 (having not gotten done in 2009!). Our challenge is how to both accomplish social action, provoke critical thinking, and also provide emotional support for members, all of whom are social workers committed to social change. Thanks for the links!

  2. a friend suggested your blog; thanks for getting the word out :)



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