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To join our reading group all you have to do is PARTICIPATE.  There are no membership forms. 

Check out our reading list, read the books, join our ongoing discussions, participate in our monthly chat sessions, let us know about a good book you've read, tell us about a literary event, informative web site, or a new author you've discovered, or just share your thoughts and ideas about African American Literature.  One more thing: Enjoy yourself! 

You may also subscribe to our email newsletter, in order to stay up to date on our activities, and new additions to the Thumper's Corner and

How to participate in "The Coffee Will Make You Black Reading Group"

Welcome to the's on-line reading group!  The most important thing to remember is: participation and having fun are key.  We hope our reading group will allow folks across the country – the world – to exchange ideas & opinions and learn about the books on our reading list and African American literature in general.

If you are new to the group, please take the time to read the next few pages, they will help you understand what you can expect from our reading group, how best to participate and get the most out of your on-line experience.

As a group, we discuss the books on our reading list in two ways:

(1) The Discussion Group   You may use this discussion group to share ideas or ask questions about the current selection throughout the entire month.

(2) The thumperscorner On-line Chat Session    "Chat" is when you type something, everyone else sees what you’ve typed, and anyone may immediately respond.  Learn more about how to participate in the online chat session - click here

We suggest that you visit this discussion board at least once or twice a week. You may want to raise a issue about the current book before you've finished it or share any additional information you might have. Forbooks example, The July 1998 book is Cane, I found an introduction written by Arna Bontemps in 1969 and posted it to this site. You may do the same thing by simply copying and pasting it into a discussion group posting.

If most of your are like most of us, you have never participated in an "on-line reading group". So we will all be learning a lot along the way. Sure, there are similarities to the traditional reading groups, but there are also significant differences.

Below is a list characteristics of a successful reading group (Source: Robert Fleming. ONE WORLD BOOKS). I will use these guidelines to contrast (using Red Bold) the traditional reading group with our on-line group, so that you have a better sense of what to expect: 

  1. In choosing the composition of the group, consider the issues that may be discussed in relation to the members' age, gender, education, religion, and political beliefs.

    We have allowed anyone to join the group. Though members may volunteer to exchange information about themselves; no one is required – you may be completely anonymous if you choose. However, if someone becomes overly or inappropriately hostile to another member the offending member will be removed from the discussion group. There are many other places on the net to be abusive.

  2. Decide the location of the meetings. More than one site will give the gatherings variety.

    The location is your choice for obvious reasons.

  3. Discuss ways to advertise the group, either through ads in the local publications or public notices.

    "If you build it they will come" -- NOT!  Advertising and promotion of this on-line reading group is as important for our on-line reading group as it is for a traditional reading group.


  4. You may want to limit the number of people to keep discussions manageable.

    This will be interesting to see if this format will allow an orderly exchange of ideas. If we discover the group is too large we can break up into smaller groups, but the process will be self correcting as people can stop participating at any time without fear of reprisal.

    Also members may participate any time they wish. 

    The other benefit is that with so many potential members the exchange should be fascinating -- somebody, in the group, should know something about everything


  5. Settle on a meeting format. Vary moderators to add spice and depth to the discussions.

    For the first few of meetings, at least, Thumper (read more about him) will be the moderator.


  6. Decide whether a meal should be included at the meetings. Some prefer to omit this element to maintain the focus of the group.

    Again, for you, this is an independent decision.


  7. If safety is a consideration, make arrangements to see that each and every member gets home safely. Carpooling or traveling in groups is always good.

    Since you can do this in the comfort of your own home, you don’t have to worry about traveling anywhere but from the couch to the computer.


  8. Open up the book selections to cover all genres and a wide range of authors.

    Sorry, no compromising here. This discussion group will only discuss authors of African descent.


  9. Find out if a local bookstore or library will sponsor the group.

    The AALBC is this group’s sponsor


  10. The ability to articulate ideas and to participate in the analysis of many subjects is key to the success of a reading group. Members should be generous in spirit and able to listen to others. Rudeness should not be tolerated. Diversity among the group's members should be encouraged. And remember to have fun!

    Clearly the biggest difference is that our meetings take place on-line.  The ability to type well helps. 

    Our experience also shows that the use of "emoticons" like
    :-) to symbolize smile, can help indicate when something you typed was meant in jest or not intended to be taken seriously..  Other abbreviations like LOL for "laughing out loud", are perfect for showing your reaction to a humorous statement.  Because we don't "see" the other participants the emoticons and abbreviation help avoid confusion.  In general, we typically don't attack hostile folks -- so always give the benefit of a doubt if you feel someone posted something negative toward you during an AALBC on-line chat.

    We also find that on-line chats lend themselves well to multiple concurrent conversations between the participants.  If you would like to direct your question or comment to someone specific during a chat, simply preface your comment with the participants name. 

    Also please don't worry about spelling typos are tolerated, as long as the word is not "butchered" beyond recognition.


Reading List


Authors, click here if you would like your book to be considered for inclusion on our reading list.


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To join our reading group all you have to do is participate. There are no membership forms or dues.  Check out our reading List, read the books, join our ongoing discussions, participate in our monthly chat sessions, let us know about a good book you've read, tell us about a literary event, a new author, or just share your thoughts and ideas about African American Literature.

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