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Conversations with the Inspiring Thomonique Moore

Today we’d like to introduce you to Thomonique Moore.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Thomonique. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I started Books&Shit (@Bookssandshit) about six months after graduating from undergrad in 2016. After spending half a year enjoying that transition period between school and adulthood, with my big girl job as a consultant, in a brand new city, I quickly realized how much I missed leisurely reading and casual learning (that didn’t include googling and watching YouTube videos on excel functions). When I was in 12th grade, I “read” Invisible Man in my honors English class and I always remembered feeling like I missed something.

I chopped it up to me being a graduating senior who wasn’t exactly prioritizing discussing the impact of racial identity on marxism. I told myself I would try again later. In late Dec of 2016, I finally decided to re-read Invisible Man and started a virtual bookclub so that I could talk about the book with other people who were interested, no matter where they were located. One Instagram post later, Books&Shit was born! The book club has continued to thrive and just celebrated its 3rd birthday in January. It is 100% virtual so some people can opt to dial into a video chat while others engage directly on the Instagram page or on Slack where I post a lot of the content as well.

My favorite thing about running this book club is that it’s so flexible. I’ve had people join for just one month and others who’ve been involved since it first began. People bounce when life gets too busy, and then they actually come back later when they have time. It’s become an online community where people often engage and respond to content about the books we’re reading. It’s cool because not everyone needs to join the video chat meetings to be “in the club”. Since starting the book club, I’ve met and made such genuine friends. We’ve had over 40 people join since 2017 from various parts of the country and even outside of the U.S.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
There have definitely been “growing pains”. When people became interested and started to spread the word and join, I didn’t really have a game plan for how it would run. I just wanted to read books and talk about them with people. I had to do research on several things including which tools to use that were free and easy for everyone. In the beginning, I continuously asked for feedback from the members.

And so over time, I just integrated the things that worked and threw out what didn’t work. On a personal level, I had to step out of my comfort zone and realize that people were looking to me to facilitate the actual meetings, so I began preparing a “study guide” before each call. I’ve also become less discouraged when people join but then don’t return. I don’t take it personal because at the end of the day, we’re just reading books and discussing them, so it’s not meant to be high pressure at all. And people can always come back if they want anyway.

Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
Right now, I am in the middle of switching careers, so that’s exciting! For the last 3.5 years, I worked in management consulting as a digital consultant working with data sets and a lot of excel. I’m currently applying for several master’s degree programs centered on tech education. I’ve been passionate about education for some time now and I’m realizing how my goals and skills can fit into that space. I’m working toward becoming an Edtech researcher and designer. So ultimately, I want to be among the group of individuals building media and tools used specifically for instruction and learning. These tools can be used for museums, K-12 schools, higher education, and so on. And I’d like to focus on college and high school-aged students from marginalized communities specifically.

As far as what I’m most proud of — I think I would have to say the first book club retreat that I and my friend Maleke planned and coordinated last summer (2019) in Washington, D.C. We planned a weekend of events that centered on a book we were reading by Toni Morrison called Sula, as well as some selected speeches and essays. It was beautiful in hindsight because she ended up passing away a few months later, so we were able to sort of give her her flowers while she was still with us. I remember thinking I don’t know if people are actually going to pay and fly in for this. But then people legit started sending me money and booking transportation! It turned out to be an amazing weekend and people were immediately like “I can’t wait for next year’s retreat!” I have ideas and plans for the next one so we will see!

It would be great to hear about any apps, books, podcasts or other resources that you’ve used and would recommend to others.
Podcasts: Clever Girls Know, Myleik Teele’s Podcast, and Stuff You Should Know.
Books: The Power of Now, All About Love.
Blogs: Clever Girl Finance and Wait But Why.

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