The vision for the book club began over text one afternoon between Megan and I after many team conversations discussing creative ways to build connections during these uniquely difficult times in our community. A book club seemed like a natural extension of the Treetops message and a meaningful way to hold welcoming spaces for all who'd like to learn from others’ stories, engage in rich conversation and build cross cultural relationships and understanding.
Americanah came first to Megan's mind as we were brainstorming the right book with which to launch the club. The main character Ifemelu, a young Nigerian woman navigating a new culture and way of life through her move to the United States, shares her story throughout the novel. This felt like a great choice as we see many similarities in some of the women and teens within our Treetops Community.
Once we settled on the first novel to collectively read, the question remained what to name the book club and to determine our theme moving forward. Seeking inspiration, I remembered a powerful Ted Talk I had watched a couple of years prior called "The Danger of a Single Story" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Her message very much aligned with the mission we wanted for our book club: the dangers that our narrow misconceptions of other people, groups and cultures can have on our world and community. It wasn't until I shared the talk with Megan that we realized Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was coincidentally also the author of Americanah.
We took this connection as a sign that not only was Americanah the right book choice, but that we would use her speech as the inspiration for our club's name and mission...and that is how “say no to the single story” came to be.
Book club member exclusives
Every club comes with perks and the Treetops Book Club utilizes the social enterprise department to do so. As a way to showcase the book club’s message, we decided to offer an exclusive design of Nadia’s popular totes. With the help from letter designer, Kendall Dice, we were able to create a beautiful designed tote that can also work as a convenient book bag. Along with the tote, another perk for book club members are the custom designed buttons. Those who participate in each discussion receive a free specialized button included in their next purchase. Each button design will be inspired to represent the book selected.
Book club leader
As our excitement continued to build, next we wanted to intentionally identify who would co-host and assist in leading our discussions. It was important for us to have a New American be the voice of our discussions as we strive to spotlight the experiences and perspectives of new neighbors within our community. We first reached out to a long time friend of the Collective, Clementine and luck would have it that she was not only enthusiastically willing to join us, she also has extensive experience leading book clubs! Clementine did a phenomenal job leading our first book club session on August 1st. She powerfully spoke with truth and authenticity.
Reflecting on our first discussion, Clementine shares:
I am so happy that Treetops has created a space where we can gather and discuss books on topics that expands our knowledge, challenges us to grow and say no to the “single story”. Knowing that everyone that showed up to our first book meeting (on zoom) simply wanted to be there brought so much joy to me and took all the nerves of leading our first book club away. Although it's difficult to hear from over 30 people on Zoom meetings about their takeaway on the novel, Our first meeting went better than expected. Breaking into small groups for our main questions allowed more people to share a little of their take on Americanah. In one of my small groups, a member shared that the knowledge obtained from the novel Americanah, is knowledge you typically wouldn't know,especially as a white american,unless you learn from a close friend from that part of the world or pick up a book about it. I also shared with everyone how books like Americanah are important because they address issues or topics that I wouldn't do a great job addressing. I am looking forward to reading our next book and many more book discussions!
Our hope is that as we continue reading a variety of books representing a new perspective each time, we connect deeper with our common humanity, all the while honoring the beauty and richness of our differing identities and experiences. With each new title we’ll get to see the world through a new set of eyes and learn from their unique story.
We hope you consider joining us on our next sessions.
Our second book club discussion will be on There There by Tommy Orange on September 12th, if you would like to join, please email firstname.lastname@example.org