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Get to Know the Uptown Girl’s Harlem Book Club


The Uptown Girl’s Harlem Book Club began meeting back in 2008 through—it now has 600 members. This group meets at restaurants to discuss their reading selections, but they plan other social outings as well, attending movie premiers and book fairs together. Anyone with an open mind who enjoys the spirit of fellowship is invited to join.

The ladies of the Uptown Girl's Harlem Book Club dine with James Hannaham, author of Delicious Foods.

The ladies of the Uptown Girl’s Harlem Book Club dine with James Hannaham, author of Delicious Foods.

Leader: Christina Vortia

Years of Operation: 7 years

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Tell us a little about your book group.

The Uptown Girl’s Harlem Book Club meets at various restaurants throughout New York City. Usually the theme of the book is tied to the restaurant. We started seven years ago on, and we currently have more than 600 members. The tone of the book club is fellowship, having an open mind, and coming with a point of view. We have in depth discussions of the books we read—so reading the book beforehand is highly recommended!

When, where, and how often do you meet?

We meet monthly at restaurants throughout NYC. Sometimes we’ll attend book fairs, movie premiers, and fun nights out.

How does your group make its reading selections?

In the past we have voted on books month-to-month, but lately the organizer picks books that might make for a great discussion.

Which book did your group collectively like the most this past year?

the tempest talesIt may be debatable which book we liked the most, but our highest attended discussions this year were The Tempest Tales, by Walter Mosley and Loving Donovan, by Bernice McFadden.

Which is the most divisive book your group has read?

The most divisive book our group has read is Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, by Steve Harvey. We invited men to come and share their thoughts on the book, and it was a very lively and informative discussion to say the least!

How do your group discussions work?

Our discussions are fairly informal. We meet, eat, talk about the book, and enjoy ourselves. There’s no set list of questions. We talk about the parts of the book that stood out to us, unforgettable characters, and juicy plot twists.

Act Like a Lady Think Like a ManWhat is your group most looking forward to reading this next year?

Our next three books are Binti, by Nnedi Okorafor, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, by Issa Rae, and Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates—and we’re excited to read them all!

What is the best piece of advice you’d give a group that is just getting started?

Be consistent! This doesn’t mean you have to meet at the same place, or read only one genre—but don’t have frequent cancellations, try to show up early, and most importantly, respect everyone who attends your meeting. It’s a very precious gift for someone to set aside time to attend your meeting. Treat that person and their time in high regard.

Are you looking for new members?

Always! The more the merrier! Find us at

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About the Author:

Sarah Grant is the Marketing Associate for Booklist. Follow her on Twitter at @Booklist_Grant.

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