The Importance of Being Earnest-ly in Love with the Power of Literature

Hello and welcome to Bookcase Australia! Mel here, Creative Director, Designer and Co-Founder of this little bookish endeavour, and partner-in-crime to Jordan, who will be introducing herself to you shortly! It’s always tricky to know where to begin with these things, but as this business is all about books why not tell you a little about myself through my favourite Australian authors!

Like many teenage girls, when I picked up Obernewtyn by Isobelle Carmody I was immediately intrigued by Elspeth, the independent and determined protagonist of Carmody’s epic Sci-Fi series. Her psychic powers were incredibly cool and her friendship with that crotchety cat, Maruman, inspiring. I found myself trying to talk to animals but in the end what I learned was that even grumpy people who frighten you at first need friendship, and sometimes all it takes is a little persistence. I also learned that the majority can be very, very wrong, and that the rise of minorities will always provoke fear and uncertainty in the privileged. As one of the privileged, with my white skin and good education, I learned that my ignorance was a part of a systemic problem, and that the best I could do to reduce it was to be open to the stories of those I didn’t understand.  As for my own disadvantage, I discovered through Carmody that the female protagonists that were missing in other media could be found aplenty in the library, in the Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Romance, Historical and Classic Literature sections, if one only looked. There were daring princesses, powerful sorceresses, Lady Knights and bold thieves. Proof to me that women could be in positions of importance, responsibility and power. That we could be fierce and argumentative without cause for apology.

 
 

I owe Isobelle Carmody, and other Aussie authors like her, such as Garth Nix, Fiona McIntosh, Kate Constable and Penni Russon for the development of my unapologetic ambition and the staunch belief that representation is integral to the realisation of potential, and the recognition of identity that is so sorely needed for minorities.

So you may think I’ve gotten off-topic, but in fact this is one of the central reasons I am so excited and determined to make Bookcase successful. We want to be a part of the diversification of Australian Literature. We want to use the opportunity you have given us by following our progress, to showcase the talents, the personalities, and the stories of people from all backgrounds in our corner of the world. We want to show as many Australians as possible that women, men, non-binary/genderfluid people, people of colour, LGBTQI folk, those suffering from mental illness and the many more people with lives that cannot be labelled or categorised, are all equally deserving of respect, human rights and kindness. We want to share stories that set an example, educate us and move us.

I intended this first post to be a tad lighter in tone, but to rewrite now would be disingenuous and cowardly of me so I won’t apologise. This is what Bookcase stands for. Raising voices, using strong words, sharing stories, and celebrating diversity. Oh and also sending you books and cute stuff in the mail.

To be fair I make no promises that these books will be perfectly inclusive, representative, and unproblematic, but I do promise that they will be fantastic, interesting, and bearing lessons in some way or another that promote the above ideals. No person nor book is perfect, but we’ll send you bloody good ones!

If this post has alarmed or offended, by all means please continue to follow us, as having one’s perspectives challenged is good for you, you know.

I wish you all a fantastic week, thank you for reading!

All images are sourced via creative commons

Melissa Coates

Melissa is a genre-junkie, graphic designer, and illustrator. She’s a firm believer in the power of imagination and creativity, and loves getting parcels in the mail. She’s super keen to send happy little bookcases to excited binge-readers like herself. You can find her illustrations on most social media and Etsy @TheLittleInkery