Literacy Funding and WonTon the Bookstore Cat: Good Bookish News This Week


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Lately, Book Riot has been covering a lot of book challenge and censorship news. We always have, but it’s skyrocketed recently. It’s necessary to shine a spotlight on this, but it’s also disheartening. It seems like bookish news stories are always about a beloved author’s death, library funding being cut, or book bans. It’s enough to make you feel hopeless.

But here’s the thing: that’s not all that’s happening. Bad news, scandalous news gets the headlines, but good things are happening every day. Libraries are providing support for their communities in incredible ways. New bookstores are opening up. Progress is being made in diverse representation in literature. These wins can be small — not worth a whole post to themselves, maybe — but they mean something. Even better, they remind me to keep fighting the good fight. Despair is not useful.

So whether you want a pick-me-up read before the weekend of silly bookish happenings or you want to remind yourself that positive change is possible and that people are out there doing the work, this roundup is a little bit of everything good and bookish that happened this week.

Solange Opens a Free Library for Books by Black Authors

The good news story of the week is Solange’s new online library. Saint Heron Community Library offers 50 titles featuring out-of-print and rare books by Black authors. Borrowers request one of the books (on a first come, first served basis), and it is mailed to them, with postage covered. You can keep the book for 45 days.

Guest-curated by Rosa Duffy, who founded the Atlanta-based community bookstore For Keeps Books focused on Black rare titles and classics, Saint Heron Library’s first “season” runs through October 29; a second iteration will be forthcoming, with dates to be announced. Once returned, the books will become part of the library’s permanent collection.

Positive Change Being Made

While it’s easy to get bogged down in the bad news, there’s also progress being made on justice in the book world, and here are some of the positive steps that happened this week!

  • In the United Kingdom, publisher Frances Lincoln has partnered with school library supplier Peters to “give away a free copy of This Book is Anti-Racist by Tiffany Jewell and Aurélia Durand to all library and secondary school customers” to coincide with the UK’s Black History Month. A representative of the publisher said, “Librarians do such important work in promoting diversity and inclusivity in their communities. We are proud to be supporting them with this initiative and hope that with their help, This Book is Anti-Racist can inspire even more readers.”
  • Easily find Black-owned bookstores (and other businesses) around the world to support using the new Blapp app.
  • Utah libraries offer free Naloxone kits to prevent opioid overdose.

Literacy Funding

It makes sense that we spread the news when a library system gets gutted, but what about when literacy initiatives do get the funding they deserve? Here are some examples of money getting spent in the right places: on promoting literacy.

Cool Things Libraries Are Doing

I’m always so impressed with the creative things that libraries do to support their community. They’re so much more than just books on shelves. Here are some of the fun, interesting, and inspiring things libraries are up to this week.

Good Bookstore News

Good news/bad news. Bad news: you missed the chance to buy a bookstore (Chop Suey Books) complete with an included bookstore cat mascot, WonTon. The good news is it sold to longtime customers who are excited to keep the place going.

Egypt Otis was interviewed about running a Black-owned bookstore that acts as a community hub in Flint.

Marta Hernández discussed her family opening Utópicas in Coyoacán, Mexico — a bookstore that promotes women’s writing. They also have a gallery and sell other artwork, especially by women. They are “very optimistic about their future, because every day they grow and it is a cause that they are passionate about as a family.”

Libros Bookmobile is a bookstore operating out of an old school bus, and it’s started making appearances at farmers markets in Hutto, Round Rock, and Pflugerville in Texas.

Fun and Heartwarming Bookish Miscellanea

Now that you’re feeling better about the world, check out this anti-censorship toolkit to prevent book bans and consider running for a seat on your library board!


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