St. James' Diversity Book Club

The Diversity Book Club’s Spring Season

Curl up with the Spring Season picks of the St. James Diversity Book Club (formerly the Adventure Book Club). The Diversity Book Club is an outreach ministry of the St. James’ Racial Justice and Reconciliation Commission.

Group discussions will be held once a month in the St. James’ Toppie Bates Lakeside Room immediately following the 10:45 a.m. worship services. Light refreshments will be served. The books and dates for the Spring Season are listed below. There is no obligation to participate in both discussions. Join us when you can. Our goal is to enrich your reading experience through fellowship and sharing ideas—along with tasty treats.

April 21

There There (2018) by Tommy Orange. 

Critically-acclaimed author Tommy Orange, an enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes explores identity and what it means to be an urban Native American in There There, the next installment of the Diversity Book Club spring series. The discussion will be held April 21 at noon in the Toppie Bates Room. Light refreshments will be provided. All are invited regardless if you have read the book.

A finalist for the 2019 Pulitzer Prize, “There There” tells the story of 12 characters from Native communities as they travel toward the Big Oakland Pow Wow. Their lives intersect in unexpected ways as the novel builds towards its searing climax.

Tommy Oranges debut novel There There feels like a reflection of my own childhood and presents a well-needed dialogue on the urban Indigenous identity,” wrote Krystyna Printup (Tuscarora, Turtle Clan) for “A Gathering of the Tribes” online magazine in 2018.   There There is a powwow in itself, a gathering of nations, of tribes, of ideas; a celebration (or in this case tragedy). Orange has successfully presented to us a new voice for the contemporary Native community and the Urban Native generation.”

There There earned the PEN/Hemingway Award, National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize, the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, and was one of the New York Times10 Best Books of the Year.

In February 2024, Orange published Wandering Stars, a follow-up to There There. Wandering Stars follows the descendants of a Cheyenne survivor of the 1864 Sand Creek massacre, catches up to the present day and moves into the aftermath of There There.

June 2

If Beal Street Could Talk (1974) by James Baldwin

The Diversity Book Club ends the 2024 Spring Season with iconic American writer James Baldwin. “The grandson of a slave, Baldwin was born in Harlem in 1924. He grew up in poverty, but recalls: ‘I knew I was black, of course, but I also knew I was smart. I didn’t know how I would use my mind, or even if I could, but that was the only thing I had to use.’ By the time he was fourteen, Baldwin was spending much of his time in libraries and had found his passion for writing.”

(From PBS American Masters James Baldwin Biography 2006 ( ).

Baldwin wrote If Beal Street Could Talk after the assassinations of his friends Medgar Evers, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr and Malcolm X. The book focuses on the bonds that hold Black people together against a backdrop of white racism. The novel tells the story of a young, Black couple whose lives are torn apart by false criminal accusations amid a justice system that is broken. The book was made into a movie in 2018.

Past Book Discussions & Suggested Reads

Once I was you

March 17- Once I was You: A Memoir of Love and Hate in a Torn America (2020) by Maria Hinojosa

The Lemon Tree

February 2024The Lemon Tree: An Arab, A Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East by Sandy Tolan


November 2023Black Klansman: Race, Hate and the Undercover Investigation of a Lifetime by Ron Stallworth


October 2023Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler


June 2023 – Justified by her Children: Deed of Courage Confronting a Tradition of Racism by Roy G. Pollina  

April 2023Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi

March 2023Woman of Light by Kali Fajardo-Anstine


Feb 2023 – The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times by Michelle Obama

band of sisterhood

January 2023 – This Band of Sisterhood: Black Women Bishops on Race, Faith, and the Church Edited by Westina