Saturday, July 01, 2006

Book Club Spotlight--Renaissance Men's Book Club

The Memphis Reads Blog began as a part of TELL ME ABOUT A BOOK!--a Library program that promotes book clubs. Periodically, information about Library-sponsored book clubs will be posted under the heading "Book Club Spotlight."

Renaissance Men's Book Club
North Branch Library
1192 Vollintine, Memphis, TN 38107
Telephone: (901) 276-6631
e-mail: Johnnie Mosley
Meetings: 3rd Saturdays

North Branch Library sponsors two book discussion groups for Adults, the Women's Book Club and The Renaissance Men's Book Club. The men's group was established in 2003; its motto is "Real Men Read." Johnnie Mosley, book club moderator, offers an inside look at the group below.

1. When does your club meet?

We meet on the 3rd Saturday of the month. Although we schedule our meetings to last for two hours, we have had meetings to last up to 4 hours. There have been times when we have had to continue our conversations by telephone or over a game of pool after the library closed. Our meetings are very lively and entertaining. We have some of the smartest guys.

2. How many members do you have?

We have 25 members ranging from ages 21 to 60+. Our members are from various professions including a network administrator, an employee with Juvenile Court, teachers, ministers, bus drivers, store clerks, singers and motivational speakers. I am the only librarian.

In terms of married vs. single men, I would say the number is split down the middle.

We have had a number of special guests in person and by telephone:
3. Which books have been club favorites?


These books were our favorites because they generated the most heated discussions, which our members love. We love to discuss issues such as family, manhood, love, relationships, civil rights, church, and history--all topics covered by these books. We continue to recommend that others read these books and we refer to these titles during other discussions.

Books not well received by the Renaissance Men's Book Club:
Mama Cracks A Mask of Innocence by Nora DeLoach
Mama Stands Accused by Nora DeLoach

These books were mysteries, which we like in general, but the plots of these particular books were too elementary. We were able to solve the crimes before we got to the end. As a result, we spent our meeting time blasting the books and we promised not to read any of the "Mama Series" by Nora DeLoach again.

4. When and why was your book club established?

We celebrated three years in June 2006. Our book club was formed after a male library customer attended the North Library Book Club, which at the time was composed only of women. Although he was comfortable there, the women thought it was strange to have a man at what they felt was their "home away from home."

Ms. Inger Upchurch, North Branch Manager, came up with the great idea of forming a men's book club. An organizational meeting was held in May 2003 and the following month the men discussed The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter G. Woodson.

In the past three years, we have been featured in Memphis Magazine and honored by the Memphis City Council at a standing-room only event at City Hall. A local radio station (WDIA) has made it a point to inform its audience about the books we read. Today, we are one of the most popular book clubs in the city.

We have a joint meeting with the North Branch Women's Book Club on a quarterly basis. We love meeting with the women. Although the guys are still loud and vocal, they behave like gentlemen, which I tease them about. But I am proud of the fact that the men treat the women with such dignity and respect. The Renaissance Men's Book Club is a prime example that chivalry is not dead.

The Renaissance Men's Book Club has played a major role in organizing the annual Real Men Conference at the North Branch for the past three years. Inspired by Ms. Upchurch's Annual Women's Empowerment Conference, the men's conference offers men from around the city the chance to gather and discuss issues important to them. The conference features workshops and great speakers. We have had three successful and inspiring conferences.

5. You read Walter Mosley's Bad Boy Brawley Brown for June. What will you discuss next?

Trouble Man by Travis Hunter. This book is a follow-up to The Hearts of Men. Some of the characters in this book are the same, but they are older. This book also deals with complex issues in the lives of African-American men. Although Travis' books are fiction, he makes it a point to deal with real life issues.

Thank you to Johnnie Mosley and
Members of The Renaissance Men's Book Club


The Renaissance Men's Book Club is a real inspiration, for men and women. It is a wonderful program for the community and North Branch Library. Keep up the good work, Johnnie.

Angela Adams
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