Harambee combines reading and discussion with outreach

Book club

March 06, 2003

An interview with Kimberly Grantham, a member of Harambee Book Club.

How did you come up with the title for your group? I do believe it means unity and community [in Swahili], and that's what we wanted our group to be about. In addition to our reading, we wanted to do community outreach, so we adopted a homeless shelter in Washington that we do volunteer work for.

What are the demographics of your group? It's an all-women's group. We're mostly African-American, and one Latina woman. Most of us are in our 30s. Some are single, and some are not single. Some have children. Some do not have children. ... We just have a nice mixture of women, you know. Some graduated with two degrees. Some are working on their degree currently. We meet every other month.

What book are members currently reading? The Third Life of Grange Copeland by Alice Walker.

Are there books that have stood out over the years that members enjoyed? Yes, we enjoyed an African-American mystery called Kindred by Octavia Butler. I think it was just a very well-written book, and it was based in Maryland. And it was about a woman who did time travel and wound up in the Eastern Shore of Maryland during slavery. ... We also really enjoyed J. California Cooper's The Wake of the Wind. How can I describe her writing? That book, even though there were many trials and tribulations, there was always a sense of hope and joy and faith and perseverance.

Is there a book none of the members liked? There was one that was supposed to be a mystery, and [the protagonist] was based in Baltimore. He was a cop. ... It's called Up Jumped the Devil by Blair Walker. It was just poorly written, you know. If I can figure out the moral of the story in the first peak in the book, then there's no point in going on. ... Some books are written for a different audience. ... A younger audience would appreciate that book.

How does your group decide what to read? Each meeting, a different member is responsible for bringing different titles and giving us a synopsis of what the books are about, and then we vote as a group to decide which book we'll read.

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