Intimate Conversation with Readers Journey Book Club

Intimate Conversation with Readers Journey Book Club
Karen Brundage-Johnson, President

BPM: Give us a little history on your organization. 
In 2004, I founded the Readers Journey Book Club Network as there were no author events being offered at local book stores in Atlantic County, New Jersey. Various book clubs support the events that are held on a quarterly basis with attendance up to 25 attendees/members.

In May 2008, The Readers Journey Book Club Network was featured in Essence Magazine with author Gloria Naylor (The Women of Brewster Place). I love to read and it is so wonderful to be in the company of other avid readers who share the passion for reading books.

BPM: How are you celebrating the holidays? Will your club have a group party?
I have a small family and we traditionally cook a wonderful meal at home and enjoy each other’s company. The holiday season is another wonderful time to get in touch with one’s spirituality. It’s also a tradition for me to re-read The Memory Quilt: A Christmas Story for Our Times by Bishop T.D. Jakes.

I have been invited to a book club holiday party and we will be reading Boardwalk Empire by Nelson Johnson. The theme for the party is the “roaring 20’s.”

BPM: What is the mission of Readers Journey Book Club Network?  
The mission of the Readers Journey Book Club Network is to bring together book clubs, reading groups and book lovers in the Atlantic County New Jersey areas to fellowship and experience African-American author discussions with well known and up and coming authors, and poets. We generally meet and a local bookstore . Authors who have attended include Gloria Naylor, Virginia DeBerry and Donna Grant, Haki R. Madhubuti, Kristin Hunter, Toby Tompkins, Gail Ramsey, Anya Nicole, Mark Anthony, Zelda Lockhart, Allison Hobbs, and Zane. Author Dolan Perkins –Valdez will join us soon.

BPM: Tell us about your work in the community.
For me the Readers Journey Network is a community service initiative. By creating these events, book clubs are inspired, motivated, challenged and broadening their horizons through the author discussions.

I am also an author and speaker. I co-authored the Beyond the Body! Developing Inner Beauty. This book is a must-read for women who wish emotional support on their life journey. Topics include Living a Life of Purpose, Positive Self-Talk, Overcoming Fears, Handling Emotions, and 15 Strategies for Overcoming Negative Thinking.

BPM: What legacy do you think your club will leave for those watching you in the community?
I believe the legacy I will leave is that these free events were inspiring and though provoking to people of all walks of life.

BPM: What type of activities do you enjoy as a group?
Readers Journey Book Club Network generally hosts an author event at a local bookstore quarterly. I plan an outing to the Harlem Book Fair each year.

BPM: What impact has reading or being in a organized group had on your life? 
Being part of a book club network provides for such a great support group with interesting and knowledgeable people -- good friends. The beauty of a book club is that it permits open discussion and opinion without rules. There are always interesting and unusual insights about one book character or another, or their situations, because book club members have different experiences. I enjoy the diversity that takes place in the group. The book club network is an interesting and fun way to discover new authors and each other, and it's a great motivator to read something different each month.

BPM: What is your favorite genre of books? What are the key factors that make a book remain on your mind long after you read the last page?
This is a tough question. I enjoy Mystery, Romance, Historical Fiction, Biography, Auto Biography, some Urban Lit. The key factors that make a book remain on my mind after reading the last page are that there will be a sequel, or the author allows the reader to draw their own conclusion to the ending.

BPM: Do you believe a character's background,  culture, sexual orientation or religion are important to understanding their point-of-view in a novel? Why?
I don’t think these things are absolutely necessary; I like reading a book and often not knowing the race of the characters. I think this is important in order for all authors' books to have a fair chance of being read by all people. For example in Total Eclipse of the Heart by Zane, the reader is not aware of the race of the characters. This added such intensity to the novel.

BPM: Do you feel as if African Americans are represented in a good light in today's media and books?
I would like to see African-American couples and families represented more in media and books related to African -American culture and history. African-Americans are not represented enough in prime-time TV programs with positive images.

BPM: Is there anything you would love to see more of in literature and TV? 
I’m of the Baby Boomer Generation. Any books written about, for or by Baby Boomers are interesting to me. I plan to write a fictional book about Boomers.

BPM: How do you feel about electronic books?
I’m getting acquainted with Kindle and have used it. I still prefer the traditional hardcover/paperback book reading experience.

BPM: Do you think our authors are leaving the same legacy as authors from other generations? 
Yes, I believe that all authors leave a legacy. All authors are creators and originators of ideas--be it written or spoken word, paint, dance, etc. An author’s legacy is in the messages of the creative process that engages someone.