How I started a family book club using Tayari Jones’ American Marriage




It’s smarta with Marta!  I read some of the book on Marta on the way to the book signing.

My family members are always asking me about what I reading and they also ask for book recommendations. So, I decided it would be a great idea to read with them. I was super excited until I started pondering what the book selection should be. I wanted to select something that was of high interest but still had literary merit. Working as a school librarian, I am immersed in YA literature but I wanted to make sure it would appeal to my relatives. So, I scratched YA literature off the list. I follow several authors on social media and as I was scrolling through Instagram one day I noticed that Tayari Jones was releasing a new book and she would be in St. Louis, MO, Jackson, MS, Atlanta, GA, and Oxford, MS! These were all of the locations where my relatives lived. I had read two of Tayari Jones’ books with my local book club so I knew the quality of her work. I read the summary of the book and I knew this was my choice. So, I ordered copies of the book for my cousins, my sisters, and my mom. When I told them about it, the reactions were mixed. I knew that I could make them love this book. When Ms. Jones, came to Atlanta, I was elated. I rode Marta to the event and waited patiently on the front row. I go to book signings with the Guru of Books, Ms. Angela Reid. She always makes sure we have front row seats. She sends out monthly newsletters with all of the literary events in Atlanta. While we were waiting, Tayari was walking through the aisles talking with people and taking pictures. I was able to take pictures with Tayari and Pearl Cleage! What an awesome experience! It was amazing to be in the presence of two great writers. Needless to say, I was on cloud nine! While Tayari was signing my book, I told her about my plan and I told her to be on the lookout for my family members. She said she would and she signed all of my books for my family members with special messages. Once I mailed the books out, I couldn’t think of a way to get my family members to read.

One of my sisters and I have had our issues in the past and we have not been communicating well. She felt that my other sister and I weren’t including her. We had an argument and we completely stopped talking. So, I was shocked when I received a message from her stating she had read the entire book and she loved it! She thanked me for sending it to her. I had tears in my eyes as I read the message. She was the first family member besides me to finish the book. I feel like this could be the way to bring us closer together.

My mom began the book and she seemed a little bored until she found out the shocking verdict. Then , she couldn’t stop. We disagreed on the letters. I loved them. She hated them.

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My other family members have not finished reading and I don’t know how to push them along because their lives are so hectic and busy. One of my cousins is working two jobs and she helps run her husband’s Kidney Awareness Foundation. My other cousin is currently deployed stateside. So, I will have to get creative. Please leave any suggestions in the comments. Some things that I plan to try are:

Group Messages

Facebook Messenger

Snail Mail Chain Letters

Reading Challenge

cousins book love american marriage

Riding home from Mississippi, I decided to listen to the audio book version with my husband. I had always thought it would be cool to hear his opinion on the book. However, I was hesitant to suggest it to him because he is such a Sci-Fi and Fantasy fan. Boy, was I in for a treat! He did not like the book as much as I did but he had a lot to say. Surprisingly, he was initially on Celeste’s side. He felt that it was too short of a marriage to expect Celeste to wait for Roy. We both agreed that Andre broke the bro-code. We both did not like Roy’s voice on the audio book.  For someone who didn’t like the book, he couldn’t stop talking about it!  It was a great way for us to connect as well.  We discussed many aspects of our relationship through the course of discussing the book.  I highly recommend this book for couples as well.

My family book club was a success.  Some of my family members did not read the book and that is okay.  As a former teacher and now teacher librarian, you have to accept this but they truly missed out on a great experience.  I am now currently selecting my next book for my family.  Leave suggestions in the comments.

Update:  My cousin, Jamilia, called me from work and was screaming on the phone!  She was so excited about the book.  She had finally made it to the end and she couldn’t wait to find out what happened.  I could hear her co-worker, Lovita, in the back begging me to tell her the ending. Of course, I refused and told her you have to read the book to find out what happens.  readwokechannie

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Dorothy J Hamilton says:

    I think the effort was beautiful. Let’s set up another meeting and discuss.
    Love Mom


  2. Jamilia Ivy says:

    I really enjoyed this book and being able to have a connection with my family through reading. I am ready for the next book, Cicely.


  3. Angela says:

    I love how lovingly persistent you are trying and succeeding in getting your family to read; they will love the book club opportunity to discuss, argue and rate your book choice.


  4. Cicely Lewis says:

    I love my #readwoke family! We are so lit! (Pun intended)


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