Thongs, Pole Dancing, and Recipes -- Book Club Spices Up Meetings with Unique Themes

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Essence of Books Book Club educates and entertains with uniquely themed book club meetings, including their most recent gathering wherein the members relived the 60's and 70's in honor of the club's chosen work for the month of March "Daughter Denied."

Chatter and excitement filled the air as the women of Essence of Books Book Club gathered for their monthly meeting. "I love your afro!" Diana Glasgow, the founder of Essence of Books, tells a fellow member. "I'm digging your bellbottoms!" the member shouted back. Soon a chorus of accolades and high fives rung out as the women adored the platform shoes, tie-dyed t-shirts, Dashikis and other nostalgic wardrobe and jewelry from the 60's and 70's on display.     

The host of this month's meeting is Yolanda Oliver, a forty-something grandmother of three. Yolanda chose Alretha Thomas's debut novel "Daughter Denied" http://www.Daughterdenied.com - a family drama that takes place in the late 60's and 70's, as the book for the members to read in March. Essence of Books has a unique tradition wherein they bring books to life by creating themes for their meetings based on elements of the chosen work.

"I discovered "Daughter Denied" while at a book fair and after reading it, I couldn't wait to tell my fellow book club members about the book. It's told through the eyes of a precocious 7-year-old and her mother who's trapped in a co-dependent relationship and on drugs. The mother promises to end the relationship and the drug use but never seems to stick to it. She then decides to take the family down south. The question then becomes, will the south be the Promise Land or just another broken promise. The book had me going. Crying, laughing, you name it. It was the perfect book to present to the ladies of Essence of Books and I knew they would get a kick out of dressing up in 60's and 70's garb," said Yolanda a member for eight years and an avid reader since childhood.

Essence of Books, founded over a decade ago, is the brainchild of Diana Glasgow, a serious lover of books and a huge fan of Oprah Winfrey and the Oprah Winfrey Book Club. As a child, Diana, like Yolanda, loved books. "I couldn't live without my books," Diana said with a laugh. I'm not surprised I ended up creating a book club," she added. Diana says that the themed meetings encourage members to tap into their creativity. She says the meetings are fun as well as educational and at times can be a little risqué.

A few months ago, the women of Essence of Books were introduced to pole dancing as a result of a member choosing a book whose main character poled danced. "We actually had someone come in to teach the ladies pole dancing. I can't remember the last time I had that much fun!" Diana exclaimed. "The Secret" was another favorite of Diana's and she recalls the group watching the video as well. Yolanda recalled the time the club read Big Boom's (of the Steve Harvey Show) book "If You Want Closure in Your Relationship Start With Your Legs." She said that she surprised the women by bringing in a panel of men to answer relationship questions. "It was a total surprise and the women were in shock when I took them to meet the men."

Other meetings have resulted in the women participating in activities ranging from wearing thongs to participating in wine tasting and one Christmas, after reading Kathleen Flinn's book, "The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry" Essence of Books members created dishes from the recipes in the book for their annual Christmas Party.

What's next for this innovative club? Diana says the ladies are in the process of starting a mentoring program. The women of Essence of Books, ranging from early twenties to early fifties, are all professional women who definitely have a lot to offer.

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Kathleen Proust

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