October 6, 2021
If you’re looking for a new title or just interested in browsing, stop by All She Wrote Books and explore. The place is more than a provider of good reading – its vision is to be an intersectional, feminist, and queer bookstore that celebrates and supports perspectives that are not often heard. All She Wrote strives to open conversations. We had one ourselves with founder and owner Christina Pascucci Ciampa, who seeks out often-overlooked stories and gives them the storage space they deserve.
What made you decide to open an inclusive, feminist and queer bookstore in Somerville? How do you hope to amplify under-represented voices?
As well as being inspired by Kristen Hogan’s The Feminist Bookstore Movement, I was also inspired by the old feminist / queer bookstore that existed in Cambridge, MA called New Words. With All She Wrote Books, we sought to not only create an independent feminist / queer bookstore, but also a safe community space that celebrates and amplifies under-represented voices. All She Wrote was born out of my desire to see the books of women, gays and other traditionally oppressed groups front and center instead of being sequestered on one shelf.
With the help of family and friends and the support of our amazing community, we have continued to develop the physical space at Assembly Row and our presence within the community. It is important to recognize the work started by those who came before us. All She Wrote Books recognizes and celebrates this work, but goes further, bringing intersectionality to the fore with every book we host and every conversation we have in our safe feminist / queer space.
How did All She Wrote Books get started, partnering with local businesses and bringing a small selection of books to their stores? Would you consider All She Wrote to have started out as a pop-up?
All She Wrote Books started out as a pop-up bookstore, with our first pop-up on April 20, 2019, at Bow Market. I showed up with a three-tier IKEA cart full of used books that I had taken from my library at home, a free version of Square on my phone for people to pay with cards and a notebook where browsers could subscribe to a newsletter. That day I sold five of the twenty-five books I had brought along and had some interesting conversations with customers as well. My thought was – okay, we’ve sold five. Its good. Let’s try again. Let’s see if we can sell some more. We went back two weeks later and sold seven.
But selling second-hand books on my own shelves, or through donations from friends, was not going to be sustainable – it also limited my titles – so I started researching how to order new books at a discount from stores. warehouses of suppliers like Ingram, which is what allows bookstores to stock new products and maintain a rotating inventory. From there, we spent the rest of 2019 popping up at breweries, cafes, restaurants, and craft fairs throughout the Greater Boston Area.
There are so many titles out there, but some of our favorites include Mikki Kendall’s Hood Feminism; Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay; Bodies Are Cool by Tyler Feder (children’s book); The book from the library of Susan OrlÃ©ans; Everything written by Samantha Irby, Lindy West, Langston Hughes and Gwendolyn Brooks.
How do you see the bookstore as a participant in feminist movements (like #MeToo), if applicable? Do you see books playing a role in advancing important discussions now?
Bookstores like ours are more than transactional. It’s more about having conversations about meaningful topics with customers, as it’s about getting them to read their next read. I believe we need spaces like queer and feminist bookstores like ours more than ever before, as we help open up topics for discussion and learning in the store – not on the #MeToo movement – but on topics. like gender identity, politics, intersectional feminism, disability, fat phobia, and more. These conversations can be difficult, but they can also be very nice conversations. Having the space to be able to have these conversations – or even just say to yourself, âI see myself in this bookâ – is the power that spaces like ours give.
Have your personal experiences or struggles played a role in your conviction to share stories?
The opening of All She Wrote Books is partly personal. As a survivor of domestic violence, I couldn’t find any stories of people who have survived domestic violence, not just women, but gay people or anyone else. Additionally, as a person with a cognitive disability, I also noticed a lack of portrayal of characters with disabilities. When I was younger, I didn’t see any books with a person in a wheelchair and this bold, amazing character, or someone that talks about autism, whether it’s fiction or not. fiction.
But I knew these types of books were out there so I was like, “Why can’t we show them to people, change their minds?” Let’s get them out of their reading and buying habits. Let them try something. different from what they otherwise would not have understood. Instead, let’s focus on those who have been consistently marginalized over time and who have great, beautiful stories to tell.
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