Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020

Author Interview: Nancy Pearl and Jeff Schwager on The Writer’s Library

Tim interviewed Nancy Pearl and Jeff Schwager, authors of The Writer’s Library: The Authors You Love on the Books That Changed Their Lives. Nancy Pearl is, of course, the Seattle librarian, author of numerous books, action-figure model, and regular contributor on NPR. Jeff Schwager is a writer, editor, producer, playwright—and book lover.

If there is a “LibraryThing book,” The Writer’s Library is it! LibraryThing members may or may not be interested in a given book, but we are always interested in books! The Writer’s Library is, essentially, a whole book going deep on author’s reading history, personal libraries and recommendations. I loved it. I hope you enjoy the interview!

TIM: What sorts of books did you read as children?

NANCY: I grew up in a home that we’d now call dysfunctional, but to me, back when I was a kid, it was just not an easy place to be, so I spent all my time at my local public library – the Parkman branch of the Detroit Public Library system. Miss Frances Whitehead was the children’s librarian, my librarian, and she fed my insatiable need to escape through books. I read, when she met me at about age 8 or 9, only horse and dog books, but she soon expanded my reading into books like The Hobbit, Mary Poppins, The Wind in the Willows, all the Rosemary Sutcliff books, and all of the Newbery Award titles. Of course, I continued reading all the horse and dog books too. It was because Miss Whitehead saved me from total despair that I became a children’s librarian, because, at age 10, I wanted to do for other kids exactly what she did for me: gave me the world of books.

JEFF: From an early age I remember loving mysteries. I read Two Minute Mysteries and Encyclopedia Brown, followed by all of the Sherlock Holmes stories and Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot books.

TIM: Was there a book that made the turn for you into adult reading?

Nancy Pearl

NANCY: The first book I ever checked out from the adult section of the library was Gone with the Wind, and I loved it. Another adult novel I checked out early on was called The Headland, by Carol Ryrie Brink. I remember taking it from the bookshelf because I was familiar with the author, from having read Caddie Woodlawn and Family Grandstand, and all her other books.

JEFF: For me it was a paperback of short stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald called Babylon Revisited and Other Stories. I started on a rainy afternoon in high school with the story “Winter Dreams,” which is a sort-of early version of The Great Gatsby about idealized and therefore doomed first love. What hit me, other than the heroine, who was a composite of every girl I lusted after in high school, and the hero, who was almost as pathetic as I was, was the beauty of the writing, the amazing musical flow of the sentences. That’s still the thing I respond to most fervently in my reading. 

TIM: You’re both fine writers in different genres. Do you have any advice for other writers?

NANCY: Whenever I’m asked this question, I’m reminded of what Ernest Gaines once said in a talk at the Seattle Public Library when he was asked the same question: “I have eight words of advice: read read read read write write write write.” It’s hard for me to imagine how someone can be a great—or even good—writer without being a reader. And I think that comes through in the interviews in The Writer’s Library. I know when I wrote my first (and probably last) novel, George & Lizzie, I knew exactly what kind of novel it would be, because I was writing it for myself and I knew what kind of books I loved.

TIM: Can you tell me about your personal libraries? Are you collectors, hoarders, or something else?

NANCY: I am not a collector, but there are books that I keep just because I loved them at one time. I have many novels that I read as a young teen (mostly purchased at library book sales), which I will probably never re-read, but that I can’t bear not to have in my personal library. My favorite writer from those years is Mary Stolz. She wrote books for both teens and younger children, but I only love the teen ones. I have re-read some of her teen novels and they actually hold up quite well. Of course they’re long out of print, but if you can find In a Mirror or Second Nature, I’d highly recommend both of them. Other than those teen novels (other than Stolz I have books by Anne Emery, Rosamund du Jardin, and Lenora Mattingly Weber), I’ve kept a lot of my favorite novels and a few nonfiction titles.

JEFF: I am a collector and a hoarder–meaning I have some books I cherish and many, many more that I just can’t bear to part with because I might, just maybe, want to look at them someday. As a collector, I focus on specific authors I love, including Chekhov, Philip Roth, Denis Johnson, Ross Macdonald, Raymond Carver, Richard Yates, and John O’Hara (all dead white men), as well as modern signed first editions (a more diverse lot, including my favorite living writer, Alice Munro, who is a master of compression and manages to get the depth of a novel into each of her short stories), pulp paperbacks, old Random House plays, slipcased editions… the list goes on and on, as does my library, which has taken over my fairly large house like a monster from a ’50s sci-fi movie. 

TIM: I loved hearing authors talk about books as objects, such as Jonathan Lethem collecting books for their cover designers. Do you have books you treasure as objects per se?

NANCY: No, not really – for me it’s always what the books say, what that means to me, rather than as a valuable object.

Jeff Schwager

JEFF: I love books with slipcases, like Folio Society and Limited Edition Club books, as well as clean old books, which have such a wonderful smell. I love beautiful dust jackets–the best ever is the one for the first edition of John O’Hara’s Appointment in Samarra. I love deckle edged pages. I have some beautiful illustrated Limited Edition Club editions of Isaac Bashevis Singer books—The Magician of Lublin, Satan in Goray, and some short stories–that evoke the shtetls of my ancestors, that I love. Of modern books, I love the design of Dave Eggers‘ McSweeney’s Books–check out Samuel Johnson is Indignant by Lydia Davis and Maps and Legends by Michael Chabon, to name two, which are such beautiful literary artifacts. 

TIM: How did you pick the authors you wanted to interview? Did you fight over who would get to do them?

NANCY: We started out by each making a list of the authors we wanted to interview and discovered, to our relief, that there was some overlap (T.C. Boyle, Charles Johnson, Michael Chabon, Louise Erdrich, Donna Tartt). Then we each had authors who we were passionate about but that the other person wasn’t as enthusiastic about. I won’t say it actually came to fisticuffs, but I believe that voices were raised in the ensuing discussions. And we ended with, I think, a wonderfully diverse collection of writers, so, as Ma says in Little House in the Big Woods, “all’s well that ends well.”

TIM: My favorite interview was with Laila Lalami, an author I have not read but will now. You probably can’t say which was your favorite, but how about one you loved?

NANCY: For me, each interview is special in its own particularly lovely way. I think that’s because we didn’t have a list of questions that we asked each writer—we began each interview by me asking a general sort of question about reading as children, or growing up in a reading family, but after that, we let the interview basically go where the writer took it. I loved the interview with Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman because we talked so much about children’s books. I loved the interview with Luis Urrea because of the way his childhood reading was determined by the circumstances of his parents’ marriage. I loved the interview with Madeline Miller because she and I felt the same way about John Updike’s The Witches of Eastwick. I loved the interview with Jenny Egan because of her story about reading Rebecca. I loved the interview with Amor Towles because he also read a series of mysteries in publication order. I loved the interview with Jane Hirschfield because I love poetry, which she talked about with such precision. I loved the interview with Laila Lalami because I learned so much about the experience of colonialism. I loved the interview with Russell Banks because of the story of his 4th grade teacher and Brazil. And so on.

JEFF: I loved them all of course, but one that stands out was T.C. Boyle, who lives in Montecito, down the street from Oprah Winfrey, in the first house Frank Lloyd Wright built in California. I was really eager to see his home, which was gorgeous, and to talk again to Tom (as he is casually known), whom I had first interviewed when I was a young journalistic pup thirty years ago. He is as funny as his funniest short stories, and also as thoughtful as his most serious novels, including my favorites, World’s End and Drop City.

TIM: In her lovely foreword, Susan Orlean recounts how the dementia and death of her mother was, in a way, the death of a library. More literally, dismantling my parents’ library, which encoded so much of their lives, was a second loss. What will happen to your library—however defined—when you die? 

NANCY: I hope my daughters will look inside all the books and find the ones that are autographed and keep or sell those (especially a book of poetry by Stephen Spender and a beat-up copy of Langston HughesMontage of a Dream Deferred both of which are signed to me personally). Other than that, I’m trying not to care too much about them.

JEFF: I’m leaving mine to Nancy—she walks 5-8 miles a day while I obsess over MSNBC 24/7, so I’m sure she will outlive me!

TIM: I could imagine a series of these books. Would you consider doing another? Anyone you wish you could interview?

NANCY: I’d love to do another collection, so we could talk to more poets, more writers at the beginning of their careers, more science fiction/fantasy writers, more nonfiction writers. But one of the things that makes The Writer’s Library special, I think, is that we’re with the authors in person, mostly in their homes. I don’t want to do a series of Zoom interviews – I don’t think it would be the same.

JEFF: There are so many writers I’d love to interview! If I could interview one living literary writer it would be Alice Munro, but we were told last time she was retired and not doing any more interviews. Otherwise, more poets definitely, and writers in genres we didn’t get to this time, like mystery and sci-fi/fantasy writers and playwrights. Also, I love literate songwriters—especially Bruce Springsteen, whose autobiography was wonderful and who is so well read, and whose songs show the influence of his reading. Call us, Bruce! And the Obamas, whose memoirs are as thoughtful as they are. I can’t wait for his new book. If you’re reading this Barack and Michelle, let us know–we will go anywhere, anytime, anyplace to talk to you!

Labels: author interview, authors, interview

Tuesday, September 8th, 2020

September Early Reviewers batch is up!

Win free books from the September 2020 batch of Early Reviewer titles! We’ve got 87 books this month, and a grand total of 3,115 copies to give out. Which books are you hoping to snag this month? Come tell us on Talk.

If you haven’t already, sign up for Early Reviewers. If you’ve already signed up, please check your mailing/email address and make sure they’re correct.

» Request books here!

The deadline to request a copy is Monday, September 28th at 6PM Eastern.

Eligiblity: Publishers do things country-by-country. This month we have publishers who can send books to the US, Canada, the UK, Israel, Australia, France, Germany and more. Make sure to check the flags by each book to see if it can be sent to your country.

Thanks to all the publishers participating this month!

Akashic Books RootstockPublishing Revell
Black Rose Writing University of North Georgia Press Unsolicited Press
Allium Press of Chicago William Morrow Cloud Lodge Books
Greenleaf Book Group World Weaver Press Best Day Books For Young Readers
Petulant Child Press Consortium Book Sales and Distribution Science, Naturally!
NewCon Press Real Nice Books Anaphora Literary Press
The Ardent Writer Press Entrada Publishing City Owl Press
Red Adept Publishing Poolbeg Press Scribe Publications
Coach House Books Greystone Books Ooligan Press
Zimbell House Publishing Temptation Press Prufrock Press
Open Books BookWhisperer BHC Press
Book Publicity Services

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Friday, August 28th, 2020

TinyCat’s August Library of the Month: Solid Ground’s Anti-Racism Initiative Library

To read more about TinyCat’s Library of the Month feature, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

TinyCat is continuing its focus on amplifying libraries supporting the BIPOC community and Solid Ground’s Anti-Racism Initiative Library is a wonderful representation of that. Anti-Racism Initiative Manager Tiffany Lamoreaux was kind enough to field my questions:

Who are you, and what is your mission—your “raison d’être”?

Solid Ground believes that housing and family stability are foundational to ending poverty. We help families keep or obtain housing and get the support they need to overcome poverty and thrive.

Our mission: Solid Ground works to end poverty and undo racism and other oppressions that are root causes of poverty. Our vision: Solid Ground envisions a community beyond poverty and oppression where all people have equitable opportunity to thrive.

Tell us some interesting things about how you support your community.

Solid Ground has an Anti-Racism Initiative (ARI) and the Anti-racism library serves to strengthen and support our anti-racism work by providing rich resources from academic examinations of racism to literature by authors from marginalized groups.

What are some of your favorite items in your collection?

My personal current favorites in the collection are How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi, Emergent Strategy by adrianne maree-brown, and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.

What’s a particular challenge your library experiences?

We house our library at our headquarters building in the Wallingford Neighborhood, but we have a few other locations. Though the curated library is viewable online, and the books can be shipped through interoffice mail, the library remains underutilized by other sites. We are working to continue increasing awareness about the library to all of our locations.

What is your favorite thing about TinyCat, and what’s something you’d love to see implemented/developed?

Before transitioning to TinyCat we had our library in a conference room, but without a clear way to check out books and manage the inventory, it was largely ignored. In 2019 we moved the library to the central break-room and transitioned the library management to TinyCat. My favorite thing about TinyCat is how easily I can add books to the library and display them for our staff that are at various locations. Since making this transition, the library usage has seen a significant increase!

That’s so great to hear! It’s exactly why we offer TinyCat to small libraries.


Want to support Solid Ground’s Anti-Racism Initiative? Donations can be sent to their Social Justice Fund to support our Anti-Racism Work at solid-ground.org/donate/.

To read up on TinyCat’s previous Libraries of the Month, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

Calling all TinyCat libraries: become TinyCat’s next Library of the Month—just send us a Tweet @TinyCat_lib or email Kristi at kristi@librarything.com.

Labels: libraries, Library of the Month, TinyCat

Tuesday, August 18th, 2020

Interview with a Medical Library

John S Marietta Memorial Medical Library

LibraryThing is interviewing people in the book world who are affected by current events. This month, we caught up with Tim Kenny of John S. Marietta Memorial Medical Library, to ask about how their medical library is handling recent events. This library manages their collection through our catalog for small libraries, TinyCat.

1) What is the purpose of your library? Where is it located and what population does it serve?

We are a county hospital/health network library. We are located in Fort Worth, TX. Our
population served includes physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and all other clinical, support, and
administrative staff. We also provided patient level and consumer health support, but our
primary focus is health care professional support.

2) How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected library use and services? What are some solutions
you have found to deal with those changes?

Yes, COVID-19 has changed our service model. The library staff has been working from home
since late March. The library space itself is badge access so our community can still access our
computer bank and perform after hours check out. We try to get into the space every month
to clear the book drop and ensure all is well overall with the space. In our library we do a lot
of clinical and patient care focused searches. Fortunately, we can do 90% of our work
remotely as well as access all of our electronic resources. We have a lot of e-books in TinyCat
and our limited print collection is available for checkout to those with badges via a
rudimentary honor system while we are out.

3) If you could pick three items to represent your collection, what would they be and why?

Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine , Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS),
William’s Obstetrics

4) How is your personal library organized?

I don’t keep many books long term but for the one’s that make the cut, I probably go by
subject/genre/author. My physical media films are genre/title. Finally, my comics are sorted
by title, then year, then issue number. I’ve reorganized my comics many times and tinkered
with the organization but this method fits my style best.

5. What are you reading lately?
Letters of Note by Shaun Usher / A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn / Full
Throttle by Joe Hill.

Thanks, Tim! Want to learn more about how people in the book world have been weathering the changes this year? Check out the rest of the interview series.

Labels: interview

Monday, August 3rd, 2020

August Early Reviewers batch is up!

Win free books from the August 2020 batch of Early Reviewer titles! We’ve got 79 books this month, and a grand total of 2,733 copies to give out. Which books are you hoping to snag this month? Come tell us on Talk.

If you haven’t already, sign up for Early Reviewers. If you’ve already signed up, please check your mailing/email address and make sure they’re correct.

» Request books here!

The deadline to request a copy is Monday, August 31st at 6PM Eastern.

Eligiblity: Publishers do things country-by-country. This month we have publishers who can send books to the US, Canada, the UK, Israel, Australia, France, Germany, and more. Make sure to check the flags by each book to see if it can be sent to your country.

Thanks to all the publishers participating this month!

Entrada Publishing Candlewick Press Akashic Books
Revell Black Rose Writing Lavender Ink
RootstockPublishing Orca Book Publishers BookWhisperer
Plough Publishing House University of North Georgia Press Walker Books US
Prufrock Press Red Adept Publishing New Vessel Press
Etchings Press Ooligan Press John Ott
Suspense Publishing Greenleaf Book Group Post Mortem Press
West Margin Press ScareStreet Poolbeg Press
Odyssey Books Zimbell House Publishing Meerkat Press
BHC Press Book Publicity Services Literary Wanderlust LLC
City Owl Press BookViewCafe

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Friday, July 31st, 2020

TinyCat’s July Library of the Month: The Center for Black Diaspora at DePaul University

To read more about TinyCat’s Library of the Month feature, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

TinyCat is honored to feature a library this month that offers an amazing selection of resources centering on the Black Diaspora. The Center for Black Diaspora at DePaul University’s Assistant Director Juelle Daley was kind enough to field my questions this month:

Who are you, and what is your mission—your “raison d’être”?

The Center for Black Diaspora’s reading room is a non-circulating special collection of books, films and audio-visual materials at DePaul University focused on every topic as it relates to the Black experience in the United States and the rest of the world. Our center’s mission since 1993 is to promote the culture and history of the Black Diaspora through our programming and events but more importantly, to provide a space for scholarly work. Our reading room is an integral component to this goal.

Though the university has its main library system, our reading room is a gem because of the sheer diversity of materials acquired about the Black Diaspora not found in the main library. As such, researchers, faculty and students have first-hand access to our resources.

Tell us some interesting things about how you support your community.

The library primarily serves the DePaul University community which includes all students, faculty and staff. It is also open to Chicagoland individuals who need access to the Center’s private collection.

What are some of your favorite items in your collection?

My favorite part of our collection would be the film collection which has expanded over the last five years. We have scoured the globe and international film festivals looking for stories about the complexity of the Black experience and the multiplicity of its expressions. The diversity of these acquisitions and books are what makes us unique. Items that reflect this diversity include the following:

What is a particular challenge your library experiences?

One major challenge is making our vast resources more visible to the larger public.

What is your favorite thing about TinyCat, and what’s something you’d love to see implemented/developed?

We are delighted to finally have an online catalogue that individuals can consult remotely. TinyCat is a priceless additional step in promoting our special collection’s visibility.


Want to learn more about The Center for Black Diaspora at DePaul University? Visit their website here, follow them on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter), and check out their collection on TinyCat. If you’d like to support the library, please contact DePaul University’s Office of Development.

To read up on TinyCat’s previous Libraries of the Month, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

Calling all TinyCat libraries: become TinyCat’s next Library of the Month—just send us a Tweet @TinyCat_lib or email Kristi at kristi@librarything.com.

Labels: libraries, Library of the Month, TinyCat

Thursday, July 23rd, 2020

Interview with Harriet’s Bookshop

Harriet's Bookshop

LibraryThing is interviewing people in the book industry who are affected by current events. This month, we caught up with Jeannine Cook of Harriet’s Bookshop, which celebrates women authors, artists, and activists.

1) What is Harriet’s Bookshop and how did you get the idea for a bookshop like it?

Our mission is to celebrate women authors, women artists, and women activists. We’re named after Harriet Tubman, a profoundly influential woman abolitionist, activist, and writer. We are located in Fishtown, Philadelphia, and online.

2) What do you think is the purpose of a specific bookstore over a more general one?

Toni Morrison said that if you don’t see the book you want to read, and it hasn’t been written yet, then you have to write it yourself. I had never seen a bookstore full of Black women, Black authors, Black women activists, Black mothers. A bookstore that celebrated these women’s work and histories and passions. So, I made one. People told me not to go this niche—that I would limit my potential audience—but I’m happy to say that hasn’t turned out to be true.

3) How has COVID-19 changed business for Harriet’s Bookshop?

We actually opened our doors on Feb 01, 2020, then closed due to the virus in mid-March: so we were only formally open six weeks. It’s been a lot of continual adjusting. We moved our collection online for orders, and also have pivoted to figuring how to put the furniture of our store outside on the sidewalk for physical sales a few days a week. Also we increased communication with customers online. A lot of pivoting.

4) If you could summarize your bookshop in a few books, what would they be?

First, I would say Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman: Portrait of an American Hero by Kate Clifford Larson. It’s one of the best biographies of her. Larson’s in-depth research is impeccable.

Next, Toni Morrison’s Beloved. She asks what freedom is, what it really means. Through deep questions and an intense narrative, Morrison asks what freedom is in the context of the choice of slavery or death.

And a more recent book: Brit Bennet’s The Vanishing Half. This book is about the questions we have when creating ourselves, our identities: racial identity, gender identity, political identity, all identities. I think if people come into the bookshop and end up asking more questions than finding answers, that is a good thing.

5) How is your personal library organized?

It’s minimalist and rotating. I’m very much not a book hoarder, which people have questions about because I have a bookshop, but that’s what I like: having just what I’m reading out to view. What you see are the books I’ve rotated to read soon, not the whole collection.

6) What are you personally reading lately?

The book that is really staying with me these days is Colson Whitehead’s The Nickel Boys. In the same way that we now look back at slavery—particularly chattel slavery in this country—and ask how was that allowed to continue, how did people not just stop it, Whitehead’s book asks that of us and our issues right now. When our grandchildren look back at now, they will ask how putting children in jail is still allowed, how it is still happening and no one is stopping it. The Nickel Boys asks that question with this book. It’s easy for people to buy a book, read it, and then move on, but I don’t understand how anyone does that with this one. How do you just move on to the next book after The Nickel Boys?

Labels: bookstores, interview

Wednesday, July 8th, 2020

July Early Reviewers batch is up!

Win free books from the July 2020 batch of Early Reviewer titles! We’ve got 91 books this month, and a grand total of 3,068 copies to give out. Which books are you hoping to snag this month? Come tell us on Talk.

If you haven’t already, sign up for Early Reviewers. If you’ve already signed up, please check your mailing/email address and make sure they’re correct.

» Request books here!

The deadline to request a copy is Monday, July 27th at 6PM Eastern.

Eligiblity: Publishers do things country-by-country. This month we have publishers who can send books to the US, Canada, the UK, Israel, Australia, France, Germany, and more. Make sure to check the flags by each book to see if it can be sent to your country.

Thanks to all the publishers participating this month!

Entrada Publishing Candlewick Press Black Rose Writing
University of North Georgia Press Akashic Books Revell
Equinox Publishing Ltd. ClydeBank Media Red Adept Publishing
Prufrock Press Catalyst Press HighBridge Audio
Tantor Media Crystal Peake Publisher Verdage
Diálogos Lavender Ink Three Rooms Press
Odyssey Books Alcove Press Book Publicity Services
BookViewCafe City Owl Press Zimbell House Publishing
Temptation Press ScareStreet Open Books
The Ardent Writer Press William Morrow Lance Schaubert
Bellevue Literary Press Poolbeg Press RootstockPublishing
NewCon Press Ooligan Press BHC Press

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Wednesday, July 1st, 2020

TinyCat’s June Library of the Month: The LGBT Library at Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center

To read more about TinyCat’s Library of the Month feature, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

In honor of Pride Month, we’re thrilled to feature The LGBT Library at Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center. Executive Director Adrian Shanker was kind enough to field my questions this month:

Who are you, and what is your mission—your “raison d’être”?

The LGBT Library at Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center celebrates LGBT literature, history, and culture with our collection of more than 2,300 LGBT library materials, frequent book talks, and community reading groups focused on memoir and poetry.

Tell us some interesting things about how you support your community.

All of our programs are free for the community, from borrowing books—which often are not available from mainstream libraries—to attending book talks or reading groups, where we even provide free copies of books to interested community members. We try to remove participation barriers and provide leading-edge programs on topics that need to be discussed. We do hope that soon more public libraries will expand their LGBT collections. For now, we are often the only place in our region where people can access the library materials we provide.

What are some of your favorite items in your collection?

As a small library, our collection is unique in that it is reserved only to materials that celebrate LGBT literature, history, and culture. We have been intentional about ensuring that our library collection includes materials celebrating multiple- or further-marginalized populations, such as BIPOC LGBT people, queer people of faith, asexual community members, and trans people.

What is a particular challenge your library experiences?

It’s always a challenge for a small library like ours to acquire newly-released library materials. Much of our collection has been acquired by donations of used books, but we strive to keep our collection relevant to current community needs and interests.

What is your favorite thing about TinyCat, and what’s something you’d love to see implemented/developed?

We love that the community can access our catalog from our website with the Tinycat search widget! It would be great if there could be an integration with GoodReads so community members can see reviews when searching our catalog.

I’m happy to say that LibraryThing actually offers some of the best reviews around, with over 2.5 million members! You can include your own review, published media reviews (such as from the NY Times, etc.), and LibraryThing member reviews from your Detail page sections settings.


Want to learn more about The LGBT Library at Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center? Visit them at bradburysullivancenter.org/library, follow them on social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram), and check out their collection on TinyCat. If you’d like to support the library, monetary donations are always welcome at www.bradburysullivancenter.org/donate and donations of new books can be mailed to the library at 522 W. Maple St., Allentown, PA 18101. (Used book donations cannot be accepted at this time.)

To read up on TinyCat’s previous Libraries of the Month, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

Calling all TinyCat libraries: become TinyCat’s next Library of the Month—just send us a Tweet @TinyCat_lib or email Kristi at kristi@librarything.com.

Labels: libraries, Library of the Month, TinyCat

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2020

Interview with Sistah Scifi

Sistah Scifi

LibraryThing is interviewing people in the book industry who are affected by current events. This month, we caught up with Isis Asare of Sistah Scifi, founded to uplift sci-fi and literature written by Black women. 

1. What is the mission of Sistah Scifi and how did it come about?

Sistah Scifi is a cauldron of all things afrofuturism; afro-mysticism; Black sci-fi; and voodoo casting spells to uplift literature written by Black women

2. How would you define afrofuturism as a genre and why do you love it? What are some good books to start with for people unfamiliar with afrofuturism?

I love this definition from Wikipedia:

Afrofuturism is a cultural aestheticphilosophy of science and philosophy of history that explores the developing intersection of African diaspora culture with technology. It was coined by Mark Dery in 1993[1] and explored in the late 1990s through conversations led by Alondra Nelson.[2] Afrofuturism addresses themes and concerns of the African diaspora through technoculture and science fiction, encompassing a range of media and artists with a shared interest in envisioning black futures that stem from Afrodiasporic experiences.

Sistah Scifi

I enjoy Afrofuturism because I love thinking about technology and the future. Afrofuturism layers core tenants of African diasporic culture – ancient African religions, equality, freedom, family – in a way where I feel seen and valued as a reader.
Ytasha Womack literally wrote the book on Afrofuturism: “Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture.” That would provide great context.
Isis Asare of Sistah Scifi
I would recommend Octavia E. Butler’s work as a place to start. Folks unfamiliar with her work can join the Octavia E Butler Read-A-Long. You can find details here.

3. What are some things that the wider sci-fi community could do to better support Black sci-fi literature and authors?

There are two things all readers can do:

1. Read and recommend science fiction books by Black authors – not simply because they are Black or because it is trending now but because these are compelling and highly imaginative stories.

2. Look for independent authors in the space. Sistah Scifi will launch two titles by independent authors Nicole Givens Kurtz and Venus Kalie this week.

Isis Asare of Sistah Scifi

4. Tell us about your home library—what’s in it? How is it organized?

My home library is organized in four sections – business strategy books like The Innovators Dilemma; race, gender and political studies such as Women in Tech; self awareness such as Being Black: Zen and the Art of Living With Fearlessness and Grace; African American Literature such as The Bluest Eye; and Afrofuturism such as An Unkindness of Ghosts.

5. What are you reading now?

I am reading Pet by Awaeke Emezi for the SOULar Power Book club.

Thanks, Isis and Sistah Scifi!

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