This last year has been life changing not only for me, but for all us. At the height of COVID, my job made a lot of changes that led me to working from home, which was the ultimate blessing, but it also led me to job uncertainty. My employment could end whenever the work gods decided so.
Out of stress, a recent new years resolution, and a will for viewing the glass half full, I started Shelbey And The Book Club. The best decision I've made so far.
Where do I begin with what this book club has done for me? Let's start with young Shelbey. I have been in love with reading for as long as I can remember. My mom would buy me books and write notes in them for me, it was really a family thing. My dad and I would go on daddy/daughter dates to the bookstores and read books together. As I got older, I continued to be an avid reader until I got to college and all my reading was academic. Fast forward to the beginning of 2020, I started to reevaluate the things that make me happy. This made me realize the thing that me the happiest, reading, wasn't apart of my life at the moment. So, I joined every book subscription I could and started reading like a mad woman and now we have a book club.
Starting the book club was a big leap of faith for me! I’ve always wanted to have a platform where I could share my passion for reading and help others discover new books. Shelbey And The Book Club has allowed me to do that and more. In a year, I’ve quickly grown a community of over 5,000 (book lovers, enthusiasts, readers), started the Book Buddy Program to get books to those in need, and have introduced our community to numerous African American authors and other authors of color. It has also let me become the woman I needed as a kid. This Black girl has always been a book loving nerd, who has always been insecure because she didn't fit in anywhere.
Now, I get to be the woman I needed for other little girls just like me, which leads me to why I'm here. There aren't any Black woman owned bookstores in my area. There are some women owned independent book stores, but there are very few Black owned book stores in Northern New Jersey. So, of course my first thoughts were how can I change that? I need to get more Black authors in the hands of everyone! Especially, those little black girls like myself who needed the representation and didn't have any. So, I’m asking for you to help me find a home for Shelbey And The Book Club.
I've always seen myself owning a bookstore, but I never thought it was tangible for me. Although job uncertainty has been showing its head again, I remind myself of the last time it showed its face. I started this book club! Imagine what could happen this time around!
The bookstore will help me create a safe space for people to come hangout, read, knit, and be creative. Most importantly it will allow me to make a space for African American authors and other authors of color to be the priority. The book club has already allowed me to shine light on new authors, but the bookstore will allow me to have events for the authors in my own space. There are so many new authors, yet it is still so hard to find them. Events such as book signings, launch events, and reading time for the kids, will help make finding these amazing authors a little easier. The bookstore will also allow me to expand the book buddy program without relying completely on donations. I started the Book Buddy Program as a branch of the book club to get books to those who wanted to participate with the book pick but couldn't afford to do so.
Your contributions will help me get the bookstore off the ground. Rent for the location, inventory, updated merch, whatever build out is needed, expand the Book Buddy Program, to hire help and more. Throughout the process I will be documenting my journey on my Youtube channel as well as on my other social media platforms.
donate here --> GoFundME
Thank you so much for helping me make my dreams come true