By Anjali Enjeti
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) In “Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves”, Glory Edim gathers 21 essays from today’s most celebrated authors. The women describe how books from various genres by black women authors empowered them as readers and helped them to see themselves in the world.
Glory Edim is an avid reader who always has a book in her hand. Her book habit prompted her partner to design a custom T-shirt for Edim’s 31st birthday with “Well-Read Black Girl,” her birth date and the names of her favorite black women authors emblazoned across the front. Everywhere Edim wore it, African-American women asked her what she was reading. The conversations inspired her to start the Well-Read Black Girl Instagram account in May 2015. A picture of the T-shirt’s design was the first post.
A newsletter and monthly book club discussion soon followed. In September 2017, the inaugural Well-Read Black Girl Festival brought 300 readers to Brooklyn.
In the new anthology she edited, “Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves” (Ballantine Books, 272 pp., $20), Edim gathers 21 essays from today’s most celebrated authors, including Tayari Jones, Jacqueline Woodson, Rebecca Walker and Lynn Nottage, describing how books from various genres by black women authors empowered them as readers and helped them to see themselves in the world.
Edim spoke about the book to Newsday by telephone; the interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Q: Were you surprised at how quickly Well-Read Black Girl took off?
A: I would have been content with WRBG just being a monthly book club, newsletter and Instagram account. But then in early 2016, a woman named Ivie Arasomwan (we’ve since become friends) wrote me a letter. “Thank you for being bold, building community, and sharing love without limits. It’s women like you that enhance the legacy of African women in this country and beyond,” she wrote. Letters like Arasomwan’s and the many others I received from black girls and women of all ages made me think, “Wow this is bigger than a book club.” I then began envisioning WRBG as a powerful movement, a significant part of black women’s lineage and inheritance.