The booksellers at Housing Works Bookstore and Cafe, New York have renovated their space and are preparing right now for June’s Pride Month celebrations! They do wonderful work with the New York community, setting themselves apart as a bookstore you shouldn’t miss if you’re in the area. Not only that, almost all of their stock is donated and they are staffed almost entirely by volunteers, so 100% of their profits got towards funding lifesaving services (what absolute gems!). We caught up with booksellers, Katherine, Josh, Gabe, Julia, Emily, Kyle, Katy, Willa and Eddie.
And Other Stories: What is your favorite thing about Housing Works Bookstore?
Julia: Having the opportunity to work with an amazing group of people towards a fulfilling mission. It’s incredible that sharing our excitement for books and coffee with our customers funds our efforts to combat AIDS and homelessness.
Katherine: The people, from our customers and our staff and volunteers. Our bookstore brings together so many different people from different places in the world each with their own unique story. I think it really represents the make-up of this incredible city and neighborhood.
Josh: It has to be our amazing community, especially the volunteers. It’s really empowering to be around people that are so driven by our mission.
And Other Stories: How / why did you get into bookselling:
Emily: I saw the movie “You’ve Got Mail” – I felt inspired. Can I say that?
Kyle: I needed to tell more people than just my (very patient) friends and family about the books I love!
Josh: Accidentally, I suppose. My background is in non-profit administration and development, so becoming the Donation Coordinator at the Housing Works Bookstore was a happy union of two parts of my life that hadn’t intersected yet.
And Other Stories: We’re excited to hear about your celebrations for Pride Month in New York in June. Whet our readers’ appetite – tell us what they should put in their diaries if they’re around then!
Emily: Our annual All Ages Pride Party on the 29th!
Kyle: Our “Real Queer America” event is going to be something special
And Other Stories: What’s the funniest thing you’ve heard someone say in the shop?
Katy: “We are going to be living in a voice-activated world any minute now.”
Willa: “Days don’t matter. It’s Unicorn Day.”
Julia: Some of the funniest things I’ve heard in the shop are our closing announcements. We all have cute and funny ways to encourage people out of the store.
Josh: Our amazing Director of Public Programming, Rosie, at an event titled Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism:
“Raise your hand if you’re a socialist!”
“Raise your hand if you’re a communist!”
“And if you’re a capitalist, the doors are locked so you’re trapped in here with us now.”
And Other Stories: What’s your favorite And Other Stories book?
And Other Stories: What book published in 2019 do our readers need to get their hands on?
Kyle: Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage by Bette Howland from A Public Space Books should be mandated reading for everyone this year. It is so good. Also Good Will Come from The Sea by Christos Ikonomou, from Archipelago. Ugh. These books.
Gabe: The World Does Not Require You by Rion Amilcair Scott—a mix of Asimov and James Baldwin, what’s not to love?!
Josh: It isn’t out yet so it’s kind of cheating, but I am so, so excited for Carmen Maria Machado’s In the Dream House (November 2019). I loved Her Body and Other Parties, so I am excited to read more of her work and continue supporting queer authors.
AOS:What would be your desert island book?
Emily: The Once and Future King by T. H. White, because it’s very long.
Katy: The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien, because it’s an adventure and it’s long enough to keep me entertained and there are many characters—characters I’m already fond of, so it’s like hanging out with friends.
Eddie: Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters because dead people are hilarious.
Josh: Danez Smith’s Don’t Call Us Dead. Not only do I think it should be mandatory reading for everyone, it’s such beautiful writing on so many poignant subjects that I could ruminate on it until a boat did (or didn’t) rescue me.
If you haven’t already, you should visit their bookstore, they have a fantastic space and a jam-packed events calendar, which you can check out here.