Posts By: Abby Rice

Beyond Manifestation: A 31-Day Guided Journal to Transform Your Life Through Emotional Awareness

Freedom from stress, anxiety, worry, fear, and suffering

Step back from the ups and downs of life and practice presence. You can find contentment in the here and now and discover profound freedom from stress and anxiety within this 31-day interactive workbook and planner.  Instead of constantly chasing manifestations, shed your worries and fears and eliminate the need for external changes. 

Reflect and ground yourself in the moment in these highly visual, calming pages. The School of Life Design, creators of Monthly Manifestation Manual and Monthly Magickal Record, show you in these pages that presence is key to attracting what you desire and finding true peace, love, and happiness. Embrace the infinite Now and see that life already is the way you want it to be. When you feel life is already perfect, it has no choice but to show you evidence of that truth.

Bookstore Solidarity Project: An Interview with Paul McKay of King’s Co-op Bookstore in Halifax, Nova Scotia

Welcome to the next installment of the Bookstore Solidarity Project! Every month, we’ll be highlighting indie bookstore owners and booksellers across the country (and beyond!)

For April, we’re featuring King’s Co-op Bookstore, in Halifax!

King’s is a kickass store, which they cheekily claim is “Canada’s hardest to find indie bookstore.” It’s Halifax’s only co-op bookshop, and they’re definitely good friends to the Microcosm community.

Check out our interview with Paul below!

Your name and pronouns?
Paul MacKay, he/him

Tell us a little bit about the store and your community!
Our store was primarily created in 2006 by students who needed an easy and affordable place to buy their coursebook texts. The Foundation Year Programme at the University of King’s College is about 45 books in very specific editions and translations and it could be incredibly hard to find exactly what you needed. A group of students got together and found a free spot on campus which is quite small but special shelves were created that allowed the bookshelves to open and close and lock up so that common areas could still be usable for the bookstore. (This shows an old video showing how it works, I’ve since updated the fixtures and it looks a lot better)

We’re pretty hard to find at first, being in the basement of a building on campus, so I leaned into it and describe us as Canada’s Hardest to Find Bookstore since even google maps will only put you on campus but not right at the store. Since we’re owned by the students we’re not like usual university bookstores and we’re also a regular indie bookstore with fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels, etc. We’re also totally open to the public and do special orders all the time either in store or on our website where we promote ourselves as a friendly and easy amazon alternative. We like to engage with things we think are important in the community and we like to champion books and reading, and work hard to bring authors to town who people might not usually have the chance to see.

Our standing in the community grew a lot as word of mouth got out of what we were doing during covid. Since the university closed we had to stay closed too, but I would run books outside for people and also delivered books on my bike. People really liked that idea and also were looking for ways to support local since so many businesses were struggling. Between that and a more personal approach to social media we’ve really become more of a community bookstore which was always my goal when I took over this place (about 6 years ago)

How did you choose your store’s name?
The store name was already chosen by the time I took over the store. I do appreciate it’s specificity, King’s co-op bookstore, a co-op bookstore at King’s. Does what it says on the tin.

What got you into bookselling?
This was never something I ever really intended to do. I’ve always loved books and would often cut classes in school to go hang out at the bookstore and learn things I cared about, but my real career plan was to be a musician and music professor. I picked up the guitar when I was around 18 and really took to it, earning a double major degree in music and psychology shortly after, and then went for more schooling in jazz guitar performance. That was my sole reason for being for years and it was all I cared about but eventually the strain and overuse of my arm caused repetitive strain injury that meant I had to quit playing. When I take to something I get kind of obsessive, so I was practising from about 8am to 10pm every day which my body just kind of revolted against.

I moved back home and needed to get a job quickly so I applied at the same chain bookstore i used to hang out at when I cut classes. I got hired there and would shelve books with my one good arm. I got promoted to being one of the managers of that store after a few years and during that time I met a lot of great people who introduced me to amazing books that really changed my life and that I developed a real passion for books that has only grown over the years

What’s something about your store that you think will surprise people?
I think the most surprising thing about our store is how we fold up and close down every day like we’re a pop-up shop every day. As far as I know we’re the only bookstore in the world like it, and it’s always something I show people when authors come to visit. I wasn’t around at the time the bookstore was started but I do love that it was a very DIY project with a sort of “whatever, we’ll do it ourselves” punk attitude. Bookselling is getting harder and hard nowadays and there’s a huge financial barrier to opening a bookstore or even buying one that’s for sale, so I take pride in what we’ve been able to accomplish in such a weird space without much in the way of money

What are some of you favorite ways your community supports your store?
We recently started a program with Books Beyond Bars which is a local group that works to get books to inmates in the women’s prisons here. I asked them to share their book requests with me and I put them on our website with a promo code so people can buy the books to support the program at a 20% discount.

So far we’ve managed to get them close to 100 books and we’re all really happy about it. The people supporting the program get to pay less, we help give the prisoners books they actually want to read, and the money stays the community instead of going you know where. You never know how a certain initiative will land with people and I’ve been really happy with the response this has gotten.

Outside of that, I manage all the social media for the store and people taking the time to make posts about how much they like the store or recommending us to others is always nice. They absolutely don’t need to do anything like that so if they feel the desire to do something like that you know they mean it 🙂

What are two books you can’t wait for people to read, or your current favorite handsells?
I’m really stoked for the new Hanif Abdurraqib book There’s Always This Year: On Basketball and Ascension. I read an advanced copy of it and like everything he does it’s just amazing. I’m not a big sports fan at all and even I was taking breaks from reading it to watch slam dunk contents from like 30 years ago because the way he writes about them is so incredible.

Kaveh Akbar’s Martyr! is easily one of my favourite fiction books in the last year too. It’s his first novel after some poetry collections, and his writing is just beautiful. Another one that I just devoured and want everybody to read.

How can customers who aren’t local shop your shelves?
Our website has everything on it that we have in store and we offer a flat $5 fee for shipping whether it’s 1 book or 20 books. we can also order in anything we don’t currently have also, so instead of going to the evil A they can just go to our website instead 🙂

twitter and facebook are: kingsbookstore , instagram is kingscoopbookstore , my personal instagram is @talentedruins

(Talent is insignificant. I know a lot of talented ruins. Beyond talent lie all the usual words: discipline, love, luck, but, most of all, endurance. – James Baldwin)

Anything else you want to share?
I won the contest for Danny Caine’s How to Resist Amazon and Why a while back which was great. I sold tons of them and also left copies at busy places in the city for people to find. Danny mentions us in the book which was a nice surprise when I was first reading it 🙂

Be sure to follow King’s Co-Op on their socials, and check back in a few weeks for their podcast episode!

You can read our other Bookstore Solidarity Project posts here!
And click here to get a copy of How to Protect Bookstores and Why.

The Encyclopedia of Rootical Folklore: Plant Tales from Africa and the Diaspora

This A-to-Z treasury of stories and poems features plants of Africa and the wider Caribbean region. With each entry, plants become much more than material for humans to use. They serve as links to the orisha deities of African diasporic religions. They speak for themselves, forming alliances with people and animals. They serve as points of connection between the many generations of people who share their stories.

In The Encyclopedia of Rootical Folklore, botanical folklorist Natty Mark Samuels keeps the oral tradition of plant lore thriving in the present day. The stories sometimes involve characters of his invention (as well as age-old folklore staples like Anansi) and invoke contemporary situations, from bad bosses to mental health struggles. A baobab tree misses his old friend Birago Diop, a poet of the Négritude movement. Basil comes to the rescue for a woman who’s had a rough day. On moonlit evenings in a square in Kingston, kids gather round a Rasta elder to hear tales of dates, guava, and the orishas linked to each plant.

The 88 entries, each accompanied by botanical information, blend age-old lore and modern sensibility to bring the plants of Africa and the Caribbean to life. Includes a glossary, illustrations, multilingual species index, and references.

Mostly True: The West’s Most Popular Hobo Graffiti Magazine

In Texas in the early 1900s, a little chalk drawing started to appear on boxcars: a minimalist sketch of a figure with a 10-gallon hat, smoking a pipe, signed “Bozo Texino.” This famous railroad tag defied the human lifespan, appearing over 100,000 times over 90 years. Who was Bozo Texino? Artist and filmmaker Bill Daniel set out to solve the mystery of the man behind the pipe and hat. It turned into a 25-year quest, taking Daniel on a tour of railyards and graffiti throughout the US. The result was the documentary Who is Bozo Texino? and the book Mostly True—a chronicle of modern-day hobos, rail workers, and a forgotten outsider subculture. Obscure railroad nostalgia, freight-riding stories, interviews with hobos and boxcar artists, historical oddities, and tons of photos of modern-day boxcar tags are all presented in the guise of a vintage rail fanzine. 

The book spotlights beloved railroad artists Matokie Slaughter (Margaret Kilgallen), Colossus of Roads (Russell Butler), Herby (Herbert Meyer), Mind Detergent (Big Will), Twist (Barry McGee), and others, including an interview with itinerant sign painter Heidi Tullman. Contributing writers, researchers, photographers and artists include: John Held Jr., Joey Alone, Duke Riley, Old Broads, Daniel Leen, Eden Batki, Andy Dreamingwolf, North Bank Fred, Michele Lockwood, The Historical Graffiti Society, Susan Phillips, Walt Curtis, Beau Patrick Coulon, O. Winston Link, Murray Hammond, Brad Wescott, Marisa Evans, Roxy Gordon, and many, many others.

The book’s design team was Rich McIsaac, Gary Fogelson, Phil Lubliner, Jordan Swartz, and Vald Nahitchevansky.  

How does a book publisher deal with failure? (A People’s Guide to Publishing)

Not everything that you do will be a great success. It’s a matter of how we navigate these less-than-graceful moments that determine our ability to respond and move on with being reactive. This week on the pod, E & J walk through some of their own failures and how they could have handled them better as well as what they handled well. You are forever judged by the last thing that you’ve done, so make it count!

Get the People’s Guide to Publishing here, and the workbook here!
Want to stay up to date on new podcast episodes and happenings at Microcosm? Subscribe to our newsletter!

How to Get Your Period: A Guide to Performing Menstrual Extraction

Take charge of your reproductive rights, learn about your body, and build a supportive community.

In 1971, as part of their work with their feminist reproductive collective, Lorraine Rothman and Carol Downer invented menstrual extraction (ME), a suction process to pass the entire period all at once, which has the side effect of ending any undetected early pregnancy. An underground network of providers has kept ME alive ever since, and now, in a post-Roe era, the demand is surging. Written by an anonymous medical professional, this book provides a short history of ME and detailed instructions and diagrams explaining how to safely and effectively perform a manual exam, use a speculum, assemble a Del-Em kit, and complete a menstrual extraction procedure. You’ll also learn when not to perform ME and find an overview of other safe and effective options for bringing about menstruation or ending a pregnancy in the first trimester. In addition to heralding the incredible discovery of these historical heroes and affirming the need for abortion rights, this book offers menstrual extraction as a method to understand and protect our own bodies, choices, and reproductive rights even as they are under attack.

Joe got an award!

This past week, Joe and Elly attended the annual PubWest conference in Maricopa, AZ.

Surprise! Joe was announced as the winner of the Innovator Award for “Reimagining what publishing can or should be” and “Exceptional efforts to develop new skills that expand publishing into the future.”

Here is Andrea Fleck-Nisbet’s speech and Joe’s Q&A period from the awards ceremony.

Congrats, Joe! We think you’re pretty great too.

An Interview with Karen Finlay, owner of Alibi Bookshop in Vallejo, California

Welcome to the next installment of the Bookstore Solidarity Project! Every month, we’ll be highlighting indie bookstore owners and booksellers across the country. This month, we’re featuring Alibi Bookshop in Vallejo, California, owned by Karen Finlay.

Your name and pronouns?
Karen Finlay, she/her

Tell us a little bit about the store and your community!
We moved to Vallejo from Oakland in 2017, and there was a tiny used bookstore with a small selection; I was disappointed that we didn’t have something *more.* Some people can’t live away from water, and I can’t live far away from a bookstore. One day I said, “I wish I could open a bookstore in Vallejo!” Well, be careful what you wish for — we wound up buying the store and opened in 2019. Not the greatest timing because a pandemic was looming, but our community has kept us here and we are so, so grateful.

Vallejo, the most diverse city in the US, is an interesting and historical town with its share of issues, but the best community anywhere. It was a navy town , but the navy left in the late ’90s and the city declared bankruptcy in 2008, and our downtown still reflects that. But we are working hard to bring back some vitality, and it’s been fantastic! The pandemic derailed our initial efforts, but we’ve been ramping up again. We’ve had sold out events at the local movie theater, two active book clubs, author events, a writing group, partnerships with local businesses… And anchoring downtown to bring in more businesses. We love it here so much. We try very hard to explain that shopping locally is one of the best things you can do for your city, and the message is starting to take hold. We have a ways to go, but the baby steps are getting bigger.

We don’t have a shop cat — we have two enormous “kittens” who are useless at shelving, so they have to stay home.

What got you into bookselling?
In high school I got a job at Upstart Crow, was an English/Creative Writing major in college and grad school, worked in publishing for nearly 20 years (a year of that with THE GREAT ANNA-LISA), and voila, now I own a bookstore!

What’s something about your store that you think will surprise people?
There are continual surprises and delights in this store — sometimes I think it MUST be haunted. For years this space was a legendary cigar shop, but it was also a jeweler, an egg store in the 1930s, the Democratic Headquarters for Vallejo for Robert Kennedy’s campaign so Teddy Kennedy was here, but my favorite incarnation was that it was “Foxy Lady Boutique” that specialized in hot pants. And I just discovered that the movie star Raymond Burr lived in this building as a child!

I think the thing people are surprised about that there’s a bookstore here at all! People think that bookstores are a thing of the past, and we gladly prove them wrong. Just now a woman was in here — she drove here from a different town because she had heard about us and wanted to see what the “fuss was about,” and said that I proved them all right! Take THAT, Amazon.

What are some of you favorite ways your community supports your store?
Vallejo SHOWS UP for us. We have a dedicated core group of customers, and they try to support by buying books/gifts, sharing on social media, spreading the word or even bringing us strawberries or flowers from the farmer’s market, and today a lady brought me a donut because she was thinking of me. But my favorite are the people who stop by to make sure I’ve gotten something to eat! I love our community so, so much.

What are two books you can’t wait for people to read, or your current favorite handsells?
My favorite handsells are “Tell the Wolves I’m Home” and right now, “The Great Believers” and “Just Kids.”

How can customers who aren’t local shop your shelves?
On our page!

Be sure to follow Alibi on Facebook and Instagram, and check here for Karen’s podcast episode!

You can read our other Bookstore Solidarity Project posts here!
And click here to get a copy of How to Protect Bookstores and Why.

How Do I Know if My Book is “Good?” (A People’s Guide to Publishing)

Taste is subjective and arbitrary, but still, everyone carries a certain amount of imposter syndrome, wondering if their book if any good. So this week on the pod, we take a look at what makes a book good, successful, and resonating with readers!

Get the People’s Guide to Publishing here, and the workbook here!
Want to stay up to date on new podcast episodes and happenings at Microcosm? Subscribe to our newsletter!