Uptown Online Bookclub Features Local Artists, Authors And Stores

Anna Quinn

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS, NY — Two neighborhood bookstores an a local nonprofit have teamed up to bring book clubs online during the coronavirus crisis.

Community League of the Heights, Sisters Uptown Bookstore and Word Up Community Bookshop will kick off their first book club on Saturday, and continue with events each week through Aug. 29, the organizations announced.

Each event will feature a local author, artist or artisan and business through offering free books to the first five participants and a raffle for a gift card to the business and work by the artist.

"In this very difficult time, the book club will provide an opportunity for our community to take a break and positively connect with others over a good book," said Yvonne Stennett, Executive Director of Community League of the Heights.

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The book club — which will be available via Zoom through the Heightsites website and newsletter — is funded in part by the Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC) as part of their Commercial Corridor Challenge grant.

"Events like these that bring together our diverse communities around the ideas of education, culture, and conversation are urgently important and necessary,” said Niria E. Leyva-Gutierrez, acting executive director of Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance, who partnered for the book clubs as part of their 2020 Virtual Uptown Arts Stroll.

The book club comes as Word Up bookshop raises money to help with the financial strain of the pandemic, which has led the store to sell only online instead of at the store or with in-person events, its biggest money-maker. The GoFundMe has so far raised more than $19,000 of the store's $75,000 goal.

The first book club event will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 13 and will be hosted by Janifer Wilson, proprietress of Sister's Uptown Bookstore and Cultural Center. It will feature author Karen Taborn, artisan Ife Felix and 5 Estrella Bakery. The registration link can be found here.

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This article originally appeared on the Washington Heights-Inwood Patch