Meeting Ideas

Reading Ada's Rules is a great opportunity for book clubs to shake up their monthly meetings. Instead of a traditional seated gathering with food, try adding movement to the meeting.

Walk and Talk.
Take the book club questions on an hour walk. Then join back up at the hosting house for a healthy meal or snack.

Positive Regression
Incorporate jump ropes and/or Hula-Hoops into your club meeting. Ask each of the club members to bring a healthy sack lunch, which will allow the hostess more space to enjoy the child's play.

Meet at a Farmer's Market.
Shop for a healthy meal. Go to a home to jointly prepare, then move into a book discussion.

Have an herbal tea exchange.
Invite each of the members to bring a box of their favorite herbal tea to exchange with another member of the group. Discuss how the rules apply to your own lives. Share healthing rules you've come to in your own journey.

Live the book!
Don't talk at all. Instead of a meeting to discuss Ada's Rules—go as a group to a Zumba® class, a restorative yoga class, or a capoirera class.

Meet at a community garden.
Provide assistance to local gardeners. Then have a book club picnic.

Share a playlist.
Members can bring their favorite pick-me-up and their favorite cool-me-out song playlist. Free style dance while you listen.

Ada's Rules Book Club Questions

Ada has a lot of things on her plate: running a daycare center; keeping in touch with young adult twin daughters; cooking for the vestry and other responsibilities of a Preacher's wife; as well as cooking and cleaning for her parents who are battling both hoarding and depression. We might say she has way too much on her plate—except everything she does needs doing and there's no one else around stepping up.

1. Does Ada find any kind of joy or satisfaction in performing mundane daily tasks and simply doing her duty?

2. Which of her "jobs" seems to bring her the most pleasure?

3. Which of her "jobs" presents the greatest challenge to her sanity and self-esteem?

4. Is there a sense in which Ada has to learn to step back to allow others a chance to step up?

5. How is being overworked detrimental to Ada's health?
Ada's Rules is about loving the body you have while being willing to transform that body in the service of your own health.

6. What are some of the things that Ada loves about being big?

7. At the outset of the novel, it seems that Ada is estranged from her own body—has fallen out of love with it. What does she do that helps her fall back in love with her body?

8. Ada's concern with her fitness is not only about her health, it is also about the physical health of her daughters. Which do you think was the stronger motivator for Ada's change—her daughter's health or her desire for a romantic adventure?
Soul Food. Ada loves food in general and soul food in particular. Over the course of the novel, she becomes a food culture revolutionary.

9. What are some of the changes she makes in her own eating to affect change?

10. What are some of the changes she makes in her community to affect change?

11. What is the George Washington Carver diet?

12. Ada's primary exercise is walking in her neighborhood. How does her new habit—a daily walk–influence her community? How does it influence the way she and her daughters celebrate birthdays? How does it allow her to make new friends?

13. Does Ada get too small?
About Matt Mason. Over the course of the novel, Ada contemplates an affair with her old college beau ,Matt Mason.

14. Did that shock you? Why?

15. Do you think Ada ever really intended to sleep with Matt Mason or do you think she only dreamed about it to motivate herself to change?

16. Matt Mason and Preach are about the same age and they went to the same college. But there's a sense in the novel that Mason embraces a kind of "New Black Aesthetic" while Preach embraces "old-school black values" How does this effect each man's sense of what is beautiful in a woman?

17. Have you ever been inspired by a fantasy to undertake action in real life? For example, have you ever imagined yourself on stage at Carnegie Hall to get yourself to practice the piano?
On money. Ada coins a phrase "blutter" which stands for black clutter—in bodies, bankbooks, and houses. Ada herself is attracted to a kind of chaos of the body; Preach is attracted to chaos in his financial records; Ada's parents are attracted to chaos in the home.

18. What purpose does the chaos serve in the lives of these characters?

19. How does the chaos get in their way?

20. Ada is a clear proponent of establishing order in bodies, bankbooks, and houses. In what sense is her love of order a love of the freedom order allows? According to Ada, what sort of freedom does order allow?
Allies. Ada gets a little help from a lot of people to help her along the way of her journey. Some of her allies are family, some friends, some complete strangers, and some might even be considered enemies.

21. Who are Ada's most significant allies?

22. Temple is a very complicated father. What are some of the things he gets right? What are some of the things he gets wrong?
Marriage. At the center of Ada's Rules is a love story about falling back in love with the one you're with.

23. Ada makes a few very difficult discoveries about Preach. What are they?

24. Ada also discovers some wonderful things about Preach's commitment to her and their marriage—from four most unlikely sources. Who are they and what did each of them teach her?

25. Toward the end of the novel, Ada and Preach are in the bathtub together. What do you think is the significance of this scene? Is it the climax of the novel?

26. What's your favorite of Ada's Rules?

Plain Baked Sweet Potatoes and Peanut Butter spoons
Cucumber slices
Water with Lemon or special ice cubes
Herbal teas

A Recipe

Black-eyed Pea and Kale soup with Sweet Potato broth

In the spirit of one of author Alice Randall's very favorite cookbooks, Vertamae Grosvenor's Vibration Cooking: Or the Travel Notes of a Geechee Girl, this recipe is not meant to be exact. Improvise with what you have on hand and according to your taste, particularly when making the sweet potato broth.

  • Olive Oil
  • Medium Onion
  • 3 ribs of celery
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 large Sweet potato
  • Whole Cloves

Step One:
Make your Sweet Potato stock. In a large stockpot, sauté sliced Onions, Celery, and the Carrot in a very small amount of Olive Oil. While the vegetables are cooking on low-heat, peel, then quarter one large Sweet Potato. When Onions are tender, add Sweet Potatoes to vegetables in pot along with six cups of Water, five Cloves, and Salt and Pepper to taste. Bring to a boil then simmer until Sweet Potato is completely soft—about 30 minutes. When Sweet Potato is completely soft, liquefy contents of stockpot in blender or food processor. Refrigerate if you are not going to use immediately. Makes about four cups.

  • 1 tablespoon Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 large Onion, diced
  • 1 large Carrot, sliced
  • 1 stalk Celery, sliced
  • 3 cloves Garlic, (4 sliced and 1 whole), divided
  • 5 sprigs fresh Thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed Red Pepper
  • 4 cups homemade Sweet Potato broth
  • 1 15-ounce can diced Tomatoes
  • 5 cups Kale leaves (bagged is fine, home grown better. You may substitute collard greens)
  • 1 15-ounce can Black-eyed Peas, rinsed

Step Two:
Heat Olive Oil in stockpot over medium heat.

Step Three:
Add Onion, Carrot, and Celery and cook, stirring until vegetables are soft.

Step Four:
Add sliced Garlic, Thyme, and crushed Red Pepper. Keep stirring.

Step Five:
Add Sweet Potato stock and Tomatoes with their juice. Keep stirring.

Step Six:
Raise heat to high. Add Kale. Keep stirring.

Step Seven:
Rinse Black-Eye Peas and then add to stockpot.

Step Eight:
Reduce heat to simmer. Taste. Correct seasoning. Serve.

Suggested Cookbooks

Vegan Soul Kitchen
by Bryant Terry

The New Soul Food Cookbook for People with Diabetes
by Gaines and Weaver

Patti LaBelle's Lite Cuisine
by Patti LaBelle


Organize a group to explore the rules together over an eight week period. We like to call these groups regiments. Name your regiment, then claim the name on our Facebook page. Post pictures of your activities to our Facebook page. Or upload videos of your group in action. Let's collaborate to document the one person changing their body changes the community in which they live.