For Galentine’s Day, here’s one of the most impressive groups of women I’ve encountered, created for the sole purpose of supporting other women. The Bad Bitch Book Club, BBBC for short, was created by Mackenzie Newcomb in 2018 to celebrate female authors. She initially challenged herself to read 50 books after just reading three the year before. She tracked her progress on her personal blog Mack in Style. This passion project turned into an ever-growing group of “bad bitches.” What’s a bad bitch? “Any woman who is unapologetically herself.”
Newcomb’s ability to create the inclusive club and her never-ending support of its members makes her the baddest bitch of all. The group uses its online presence to an advantage. The club connects through a Facebook page filled with a multitude of resources for the avid reader. It’s easy to join too; prospective members simply need to request to join the Facebook group and answer a few short questions. Each month members are emailed to decide on a selection of books for the next month. Once the book of the month is chosen, BBBC then gives its members the freedom to start their own discussion threads. The page is filled with lively discussion, allowing members to decide how much participation they want. It’s their prerogative if they want to read the Book of the Month, and how much discussion they want to take part in. Through my experience, most people are excited and active to engage with one another. The flexible nature increases the enjoyment for many.
Newcomb has selected many page-turners since the club’s inception.The reads are relatively light (as to not stress members), but meaningful. BBBC started 2020 with Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gotlieb. The book explored a therapist’s journey through her sessions with her patients, as well as what happens when she herself is the patient. Personally, it was one of the most compelling reads I’ve come across in years.. The book explores the many nuances of the human experience and stirred up a lot of great discussion among BBBC members. For February, the club is focused on reading black female authors in honor of Black History Month. Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson, a coming of age story which explores how community can shape someone, is February’s BOTM.
Newcomb has created a tracker for members to document their progress on their book goals. It includes sections for those reaching for 25, 50, and even 100 books in the new year. The tracker helps members remain accountable for these goals, and serves as inspiration for one another. By receiving the support from the entire community, it pushes people to continue. Members also share their helpful tips for making reading a priority. With the constant distractions in our society, we often forget to pick up a book. Some of the most helpful suggestions include reading during daily commutes to work, listening to audio books (yes, it’s 2020, this should count as reading), and reading during lunch breaks.
Another one of the many resources Bad Bitch Book Club offers is a plethora of book suggestions. Newcomb documents most of her personal suggestions on her blog. She also created a sheet full of books she’s read with a star rating as well as comments to help guide members for their picks. Other members can also contribute to the “Community Recommendations” on a shared sheet that anyone can access. Members also post in the group frequently requesting suggestions for a niche book genre – and they are always met with enthusiastic replies.
In light of the huge success that the online book club has, Newcomb recently launched a merch store. It is filled with trendy pieces splashed with catchy phrases. The merch includes cropped t-shirts, sweatshirts, long sleeves, mugs, and crew necks. They are inked with both the Bad Bitch Book Club logo as well as “Strong Female Protagonist” gear. She’s also launched other social media platforms, including an aesthetically-magnificent instagram (@badbitch.bookclub). While the merch and social media are a great perk of the club, it’s the foundation that still holds importance to its members. Having a community to openly discuss literature, specifically written by women, is never taken for granted.
Mackenzie Newcomb was just one woman with an incredible idea. An idea that was rooted in supporting female authors, and female readers. It’s a revelation how she’s turned that into an unbelievable club that is only continuing to grow. Women supporting women, now that’s what bad bitches are all about.
Brenna Sarantides is the Long River Review Marketing Director and a poetry panel reader. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.