The member diversity in the Women’s National Book Association (WNBA) makes our goal of connecting, educating, advocating, and leading possible. As Bookwomen, we believe “Books Have Power.” The Bookwoman welcomes Bebe Brechner (WNBA-Nashville) to the “Power Behind the WNBA” interview series!
Tell us about yourself.
My work in the information industry involves managing and developing academic databases of periodicals, newspapers, reports, working papers, dissertations, books, videos, and blogs for the global library industry. It helps that I have a MLIS degree.
In 2017, I was awarded a patent for the personalization of digital gifts (primarily aimed at books), so I’m in the startup world as well.
My family includes 3 adult children, a daughter-in-law, a son-in-law, a grandson, and 2 rescued dogs. In 2016, after losing my husband to cancer, I moved from Nashville to Las Vegas to be near my daughter. I’ve telecommuted for my work with ProQuest LLC since 2004. Luckily, the move didn’t interfere with my job. Regretfully, there isn’t a WNBA chapter here. But I still maintain my affiliation with the Nashville chapter.
Why did you join the WNBA?
Shortly after we moved to Nashville in 2004, I discovered a WNBA brochure at my local library. Intrigued and interested in meeting some like-minded people who love and value books and reading, I joined the chapter. It was a perfect match!
Once I joined, I immediately jumped in to help revive the newsletter and, eventually, the website. It was a bit scary at first, as I had no skills for this. But I found a wonderful group of inspiring, encouraging women in the WNBA-Nashville!
I eventually served as the Nashville chapter president for 3 years and was able to contribute from the chapter level, as well.
When the national board met in Nashville, Joan Gelfand, then national president, invited me to attend the meeting. Joan knew that I set up a new website for the Nashville chapter and that the board planned to talk about a new national website.
Attending the national board meeting and hearing the larger picture of the WNBA organization discussed, thrilled me. I was delighted to be asked to join the board to help the new website committee. My involvement at the national level continues today.
Great Group Reads
I became a reader for the National Reading Group Month program, Great Group Reads. When Roz Reisner stepped down, I took over as coordinator. That was a wonderful experience — contacting publishers, organizing the awesome group of readers, collecting their opinions, and developing an annual list of Great Group Reads.
Why I Serve
My years with the WNBA at the chapter level as well as the national level, where I currently serve as co-vice president, development chair, and co-chair of the website, have produced one of the most meaningful periods in my life.
I’ve met incredibly talented women, from many backgrounds and locations, with a shared mission of active work promoting our local and national book communities and the women in those communities.
The collegiality keeps me going and encourages me in every aspect of my life. I have found very close, very dear friends through the WNBA. And I developed some great skills in website development, social media marketing, organization, and leadership.
The WNBA is a perfect organization for you to grow professionally and personally in so many aspects of your life.
What value does the promotion of books bring to your community?
Through the Nashville chapter’s work with the Southern Festival of Books, I got to see firsthand how books and authors can excite a community. In fact, a member of our chapter, Carolyn Wilson, initially organized the festival, which celebrated its 30th year in 2018.
The Nashville chapter’s strong presence at the festival led to us organizing the most attended session of this 3-day event — Coffee with Authors. The session serves as the NRGM event for the chapter. Due to its growth over the years, the event moved to a larger venue. Now, 200+ people can attend! People come back every year because it inspires and excites the community.
What book has had a lasting impact on you?
One book that has had a lasting impact on my life is Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which I read some 5 years ago. I chose this book because it remains in my consciousness as a beautifully rendered, timely story of race, identity, immigration, and relationships, presented from a female perspective.
I found reading this exquisitely written and innovating story deeply enlightening. The story addresses all the changes — mentally, physically, and culturally — that a young female immigrant encounters. A really good book will expand your mind and change your perspective. Americanah did that for me.
Interview compiled by assistant editor Pam Ebel (WNBA-New Orleans).