This Virtual Book Club Is A Female & POC-Empowering Safe Haven To Read & Learn Together


Although official NAIDOC Week has been postponed until November amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Metro North has put together a stellar Virtual NAIDOC Week lineup to help spotlight talented and inspiring Indigenous Australians.

PEDESTRIAN.TV sat down with QueenMode Collective book club founder and proud Mamu woman Lauren Appo to discuss female empowerment, the Black Lives Matter movement, and of course, books.

Basically, QueenMode Collective uses the power of reading to help educate and empower women of colour in an attempt to “sharpen the way [their] readers see the world – themselves included.”

“It’s necessary to write, publish and read books that normalise our humanity and existence. We want to read stories about black people thriving, not just surviving. We explore books about black people falling in love, exploring life and living as their authentic selves,” Lauren explained.

Lauren, who has been an avid reader her whole life as a way to cope with stress and mental health, started out by simply posting her favourite books (primarily Black narratives) on social media. But after growing a bit of a following on her own, she was approached by the team at QueenMode, who helped her turn her love of reading into a thriving community. And boy, is it thriving.

“We decided to create a virtual book club as a sign of appreciation or a love letter to black women in our community. A space to showcase, promote and broadcast black women and HERstory,” she told PEDESTRIAN.TV.

But although the book club focuses on primarily Black narratives, the community is open for women of all ages and backgrounds to come, learn and empower each other through their love of reading. Honestly, what more could you ask for?

There’s no age or race criteria to join the virtual bookclub, you just need an open mind and a desire to be a part of an empowering community.

“I’d like our members to continue learning through reading and to discover something new,” Lauren said of the group.

The closed Facebook group boasts around 1,000 members, who are free to join in live discussions and share their thoughts in a safe, empowering community of like-minded women. They also share their recommendations on Instagramif you’re not really a book club person.

Following the death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement, there has been a huge spike in interest for Black narratives, so I asked Lauren (bookworm-to-bookworm) for her recommendations for books we should all be reading right now.

  • Anything by Anita Heiss – Growing Up Aboriginal In Australia, Tidda’s, Avoiding Mr Right, Manhattan Dreaming.
  • Bruce Pascoe – Dark Emu
  • Aileen Moreton – Robison – Talkin’ Up To The White Women
  • Stan Grant – Australia Day
  • Leah Purcell – Drovers Wife
  • Kevin Gilbert – Because A White Man’ll Never Do It

Outside of the virtual book club and her personal recommendations, Lauren also urged people to “listen to Black voices” if they’re trying to educate themselves on the BLM movement and Black deaths in custody.

“There are a range of very knowledgeable , passionate and articulate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices that are accessible for you to tap into,” she said, before reminding us that it isn’t Aboriginal people’s responsibility to do the work for us when it comes to education (which is very true).

“Our Activists talk about these issues every day so there is mountains of information available to you.”

You can hear Lauren talk on stress management, mindfulness and positive representation of First Nations women as part of Metro North’s virtual NAIDOC Week celebrations here.