A New Microcosmonaut Enters…

Say Hello to Lydia Rogue!

Lydia Rogue was an intern back in Spring 2018 and, a year later, recently accepted a position as Marketing Associate, helping us keep all these books safe and managed!
You might recognize Lydia as the guest editor of Taking the Lane #15: True Trans Bike Rebel, and the upcoming Bikes in Space #6: The Great Trans-Galactic Bike Ride.
A few weeks in now, I asked Lydia a few questions about what it’s been like to return.

A black and white rat sniffs a small book with a blue van and punk cat on a bicycle on a pink background
Lydia’s pet, Queek, sniffs out True Trans Bike Rebel

How are you enjoying your first week as staff in the office? How does it feel?

It feels great! I’m so thrilled to be back in the office. I’ve been working a variety of jobs since my internship – not necessarily bad or even unfulfilling jobs, just ones that I didn’t necessarily care about. Now I’m doing something I love and something that I’ve been wanting to do for many years. 

Has anything changed since you left?

So much!
When I was an intern, we were all crammed up in the upstairs office, with room for just a couple more people downstairs. Now that the back area is open to us, we’ve got room to grow – and not everyone is trying to fit into a tiny room.
(Also, we have a microwave now. I’m so stoked!)

What do you wish more people knew about… you? Microcosm? publishing?

I’m completely obsessed with RWBY – and yes, I’m that Lydia Rogue, if you were wondering. I also love table top RPG and video games and drink more tea than is probably healthy. 

One thing about Microcosm that’s taken some re-adjusting to is remembering that a company that publishes books like Unfuck Your Brain doesn’t really care if you’re blasting the explicit version of a song on your work computer!

Last day at Lydia’s last job — on to new adventures!

As far as publishing goes, it’s that, No, I can’t help you get your manuscript published. No joke, had 3 of my coworkers ask within about 24 hours of announcing my departure from my last job!

What are some of your hopes and goals for your time and work here?

I’m hoping to expand my skills and knowledge of the publishing industry, as well as get back into my writing groove. Right now, I’m coming off a long run of jobs that just weren’t working for me – not necessarily bad jobs, just ones that weren’t for me – and so being back doing the thing I love most is completing one of my biggest goals right off. 

I’m hoping in the long term to help people find their voices and help promote them, particularly people who often don’t have a voice in the publishing world, or are only allowed to write in a specific niche. 

marketing associate Lydia Rogue with their pet rat, Queek
Lydia & Queek

Tell us about what inspires you these days.

Is it cheesy to say my girlfriend? 

Real talk, though, right now I’m mostly inspired by the people around me. I love doing collaborative storytelling and being able to bounce ideas off of other people. I’ve also been reading a lot of poetry collections lately, which has been wonderful.

What was the last book that brought on some serious feels?

Oh, jeez. I’ve been reading so much nonfiction lately, I can’t really remember the last fiction book I read…
Probably American War which… I’m processing. As a queer white person from the south, it elicited a strong reaction from me, but I’m still not sure what that reaction was, or how I feel about it in the end. It’s a good book, just elicits complicated emotions. 

the princess saves herself in this one and the witch doesn’t burn in this one also were very powerful and gave me some serious feels.

Where can people find you online?

On Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.

Last, what does your bookshelf look like?

A wooden bookshelf covered in books and home items, with a small rat on one shelf
Lydia’s bookshelf at home, with bonus rat!

New Faces in the New Year

The new year brings a new batch of friends around the office and shop. What kind of people volunteer at a publishing house? Well this season’s interns come from all over the country, with a love of books, writing, and stories that brought them, like so many of us, to this cozy green shop.


What do you like to be called? How would you describe yourself?

Neil (he/him): I’m pretty quiet, creative, and curious. I think of myself as an observant little rabbit. I’m very passionate about spreading kindness and learning self love. I spend most of my time drawing or knitting!

Kellie (she/her): Creative, quixotic, and adventurous.

Briana (she/her): Easy going, flexible, creative, fun, and adventurous.

Noah

Noah (they/them): I am a queer, trans, disabled whirlwind with a passion for books, writing, and medicine.

Chris (she/her): Quiet and friendly.
[Chris has been with us since the fall season, you may have seen her book review of This is Your Brain on Depression last month.]


What do you like to spend your time doing?

Neil: Knitting is my very favorite activity. It’s like a challenging puzzle where you can choose colorful materials to make something warm and cozy and once you’re done you feel super accomplished!

Chris’s dog, Cat

Kellie: Drawing, writing, reading, making other people happy

Briana: Either reading a good book or taking pictures around the city. Most of my photography has revolved around activism in Portland.

Noah: I love to write, read, and sometimes draw in my free time. I also dabble in photography and crocheting, although I haven’t done the latter in a while now.

Chris: Coloring! And spending time with my dog, Catawba.


Where are you from? What do you miss/not miss most?

Neil: I go to school in Vermont; I really miss my friends and living in the beautiful mountains, but I’m fine without the heaps of snow.

Kellie: California. I miss my family, the thriving entertainment industry, and the sun.

Briana: I’m from sunny Southern California. I miss my family, the beach, constant 70 degree weather, and my friends. I do not miss the smoggy air and LA traffic.

Chris

Noah: I grew up in Ohio, then went to UW in Seattle for four years before moving to Vancouver. I miss the extreme seasons in Ohio (and the decent air conditioning!).

Chris: I am from North Carolina. I miss my family the most.


What’s your favorite thing about where you live now?

Neil: My roommate brings home donuts every night and my other roommate has a very sweet and cuddly cat named Deidre.

Kellie: Being closer to my boyfriend and the beautiful environment.

Briana: Besides Portland’s blend of urban living with easy access to nature, I’ve always been drawn to the fact that it’s one of the most literary cities in the country. I’ve spent many hours perusing the shelves of Powell’s.

Noah: I live in Vancouver, which is nice because it’s near friends and my husband’s family. That and the parking isn’t as difficult as it is in Portland.


What brings you to Microcosm?

Neil: My goal is to create and publish my own comic books! I knew that Microcosm could teach me a lot about the industry and I was drawn to the topics/goals that Microcosm stands by!

Noah

Kellie: A thirst for knowledge in the area of publishing.

Briana: I was drawn to Microcosm after seeing their selection of books at Portland’s Book Festival. I was impressed by the array of zines and books that were geared towards empowering its readers through self care, activism, and building healthy relationships.

Noah: Books! More seriously, I wanted to test the waters of the publishing industry, and this seemed like a good place to do so while also having my identities respected and recognized.


What do you want to get out of your time here, now that you’ve seen the basics of what we do?

Neil: I’m hoping to strengthen my skills with group work, problem solving and time management! I’ve never had an office job before and I can see I have a lot to learn, which is exciting!

Kellie: Information about the back end of publishing. I wish for my own book to be published in the future and so am interested in the ins and outs of this business.

Briana: I’d like to learn more about editing, and the relationship between author and publisher.

Noah: I just want to learn as much as possible, really.


What’s your favorite or least favorite thing about Microcosm so far?

Neil: My favorite thing is how kind and welcoming everyone is! I felt right at home on my first day. My least favorite thing is that the office is sometimes cold, but I’ve learned to bundle up a bit.

Kellie: I really like the atmosphere and friendly employees.

Briana: Microcosm has so many empowering and informative books, it’s amazing to be part of a publishing company with strong integrity and hard workers.

Noah: I’m editing a zine on accessibility in queer spaces right now, and that is RIGHT up my alley, so I’m really enjoying that kind of work. I also really like the atmosphere of the open warehouse.


Curveball: What is your favorite thing to watch/read/enjoy in the world right now?

Neil: Bob’s Burgers.

Kellie: Animated films; uplifting and atmospheric music. I’ve been really into the movie Smallfoot, for some reason. Does that count?

Briana: Now that it’s winter, I’m spending a lot more time binge watching Netflix, I just finished “You,” a pretty terrifying show from the perspective of a stalker. I’m also reading “Borderlands,”  by Gloria Anzaldua.

Noah: The Adventure Zone, The Good Place… so many more.

Chris: The Good Place. (many of us in the office would like to 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th this one)


Where can people find you online?

Neil: Instagram: @spicy_s0up

Briana: Instagram: @brianaybanez_

Noah: Twitter: @noahyouknow

Chris: Instagram! @alexandria.vale


For information about volunteering or interning at Microcosm, check out our FAQ.

cover of This is Your Brain on Depression

Interns Review Things… This is Your Brain on Depression

When everything goes well, we love our books. But you don’t always have to take our words for it…
In the first review of 2019, fall intern Chris shares her thoughts on This is Your Brain on Depression.

Dr. Faith Harper brings us ‘This is your Brain on Depression’; a quick and insightful read that seeks to help the reader understand how Depression affects our brains; as well as the way we think and act.

I learned about this great little book from my sister, who was so excited to introduce it to me and other members of our family. You see we all have depression. To varying degrees and with different symptoms, but depression nonetheless. Upon reading the book I can see why she was excited.

I have always retained a significant amount of doubt for books that claim to explain or help you treat depression. I generally expect to find empty self help books that promise change and do nothing but repeat the same mantras over and over again.

But in this book I found something far different. The author breaks down depression on multiple levels in order to go over the varying stages, influences, and misunderstandings. She explains it all concisely and without making the writing seem stunted, or the information seem compressed.  

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Say Hello to Microcosm’s Fall 2019 Titles

Oh, 2019, how happy we have been for you to arrive. For one thing, now we get to tell you all about this Fall’s new books.

In a recent post we announced 2019 as “The Year of Adventure,” and this season exemplifies that theme. From exploring new cities to making new friends (or treating the ones you have right); standing up for your self to building underground music scenes; finishing projects to handling freak-outs; these incredible titles take on adventures big and small, all set for release between September 2019 and February 2020.

We are proud and excited to share these amazing books (and some pretty fantastic covers!) with the world this year.


SEPTEMBER

This is San Francisco:The Ups, Downs, Ins, and Outs of the City by the Bay
by Alexander Barrett

Through thoughtful and funny anecdotes, essays, and illustrations, Barrett takes you on a journey through one of America’s most famous cities and makes you wish you were right there with him.

Colorful depiction of a white bird, hills, and a bridge over water.

What About Tomorrow?: An Oral History of Russian Punk from the Soviet Era to Pussy Riot
by Alexander Herbert

This oral history takes you through four decades of Punk evolution in Russia, from its origins in St Petersburg and Moscow to uniquely thriving punk scenes in the provincial capitals.

A trio of punks look to the future on a red book cover with flags (soviet and Russian) and a radio tower in the background.
Cover art (freshly painted!) by Matt Gauck

OCTOBER

Unfuck Your Intimacy Workbook: Using Science for Better Relationships, & Dating
by Faith G. Harper, PhD, LPC-S, ACS, ACN

Made to be a companion for her book, Unfuck Your Intimacy, let this handy workbook guide you on your quest for healthier relationships and more excellent sex with the incredible Dr. Faith.

Colorful workbook cover featuring heart shaped puzzle pieces.

From Chaos to Creativity: Building a Productivity System for Artists and Writers
by Jessie L. Kwak

From Chaos to Creativity will help guide you through the clutter and teach you how to focus on the good ideas, manage your project, make time in your life, and execute your passions to completion. Make great art by changing your chaotic creative force into productive power!

NOVEMBER

Friending: Creating Meaningful, Lasting Adult Friendships
by Gina Handley Schmitt, MA LMHC

We’re pretty sure no other book like this exists. Here you will learn the art of choosing and making friends, supporting them and letting them support you, maintaining friendships even when your life paths diverge, repairing friendships after a conflict, the difficult decision to break up a friendship, and much more.
Life is so much sweeter with good friends by your side.

Colorful young friends ride a tandem bike on a path through heart-shaped flowers.
Cover by the incredible Cecilia Granata

The Life & Times of Butch Dykes: Portraits of Artists, Leaders, and Dreamers Who Changed The World
by Eloisa Aquino

Throughout history, many women and nonbinary people have defied society’s expectations of feminine behavior and appearance in order to live a more authentic life. These short vignettes combine biographical sketches with evocative illustrations for an impact that is as bold, powerful, and inspirational as the brilliant artists, writers, and musicians they represent.

A purple, pink, and teal book cover featuring historical icons.

This Is Your Brain on Anger: Manage Your Irritability, Channel Your Frustrations, and Develop a Healthy Relationship with Your Rage
by Faith G. Harper, PhD, LPC-S, ACS, ACN

Your brain actually knows what it’s doing, and anger can be a good thing sometimes—just not if it’s ruining your life. Expanded from the zine of the same name, this is a brief, heady dose of neuroscience and cultural explanation of what anger is and what it does to you. There’s even a handy four-step checklist to help you deal with maddening situations after (or before) the fact, guidance on getting over things, and a chapter on forgiveness.

Red book cover with line-art of a person whose head is a lit bomb

Can’t wait for the book? Grab the quick & dirty zine version.

DECEMBER

Dragon Bike: Fantastical Stories of Bicycles, Feminism, & Dragons
Edited by Elly Blue

From the great, winged, fire-breathing lizards of the west to the wise, flying serpents of the east, dragons play a powerful role in our myths and imaginations. In these fourteen stories and one comic, bicyclists encounter a diversity of dragons, whether foes or friends, hoarders or helpers, powerful symbols or terrifying and very real beasts.

A fierce bicyclist battles a dragon with a lance
Another fantabulous cover from Cecilia Granata

JANUARY, 2020

Boundaries: Say “No” and Take Control of Your Life (Even if You’re Conflict Avoidant)
by Faith G. Harper, PhD, LPC-S, ACS, ACN

Expanded from the zine of the same name, Dr. Faith presents common problems people run into when it comes to personal boundaries, and offers advice on defining, understanding, implementing, and respecting the boundaries that are important to you and your loved ones.

COVER TBA

Can’t wait for the book? Grab the zine version until the book’s release.

If You’re Freaking Out, Read This: A Coping Workbook for Building Good Habits, Behaviors, and Hope for the Future  
by Simone DeAngelis, Faith G. Harper, PhD, LPC-S, ACS, ACN

Simone shares the vital skills that she’s learned over years of therapy, managing her mental health and remembering her reasons to live. Even if you can’t afford a therapist or hospital stay and the people around you are anything but helpful, you can still use those same tools to get better. With a foreword by the one-and-only Dr. Faith Harper.

Simple green background with the pink and white words "If You're Freaking Out Read This!"

FEBRUARY, 2020

Hardcore Anxiety: A Graphic Guide to Punk Rock and Mental Health
by Reid Chancellor

Nervous breakdowns, anxiety, seeking acceptance, attempting to overcome internalized demons, and reacting to harmful and oppressive symptoms—punk rock has always embodied and emboldened our feelings and experiences, positive and negative. Hardcore Anxiety charts and tracks punk movements from the 70s till today, from small towns to stadiums, from the struggles in our heads to the people actively harming us in our communities.

Comic illustration of a punk wearing a flower teeshirt plays giant medication bottles like drums with sketches of people in the background.

For questions related to sales or customer service, email Sidnee@MicrocosmPublishing.com
For media inquiries email Cyn@MicrocosmPublishing.com

The Microcosm Publishing 2018 Money Report (with pictures!)

Happy new year!

This is the week! After eight years with a trade distributor we have returned to distributing our books independently in the U.S. We hear from people almost every week that our books are saving their lives, and we feel that we have an obligation to extend that as far and wide as possible. Few events in the history of Microcosm have improved our morale and brought our staff together like this has. 

The stress relief as we counted down the days until we were free was worth it alone! And the proof is in the pudding—we’ve had to lay the groundwork for this for the past 18 months. Sales were up 24% in 2018 over 2017, making this, once again, Microcosm’s best year ever. Advance shipments for 2019 are already up 600% by doing it ourselves. It’s been a wild ride.

We constantly get really wonderful feedback on Microcosm’s reborn independence and it seems to be really inspiring to other independent publishers and bookstores. Speaking of, there are 38% more indie bookstores than there were ten years ago! They are also each selling an average of 34% more books!

We took our staff from 12 to 14 in 2018 and experienced many growing pains. We expanded both our warehouse and our offices so everyone has a bit more space and we added several additional storage buildings. Nate Beaty (who will have been with Microcosm for 18 years this July) finished our new software so that we can use our existing database to send our book data to everyone who wants it. This has been a ton of fun and a ton of work to do. Our big surprise for next year is that we hope to be ready to package the software that we have made and hopefully revolutionize our fellow publishers and help give other independents a fighting chance in our industry.

In the past year, we’ve published 29 new books and 52 new zines as well as adding over 1,000 titles to our distribution catalog (which we were intending to completely dismantle in 2016 in favor of publishing). The sharp increase in witchcraft books continues and we are continuing to focus primarily on gift and specialty accounts.

Instead of our previous Dinner & Bikes tours, we now focus on attending conferences and events in other cities and having more time at home. Which is a good thing, because our publishing schedule is filling up through 2025 and we finalize Fall 2019 covers this week. 

We sold about 218,500 books last year; that’s about 600 per day!

Here’s a breakdown of some math about our year, with handy charts created by our WorkingLit software: 

Our total income for the year was $947,142.77 Here’s what we’re selling:

Here are our bestsellers, by profitability: 

As you can see, the shift continued this year towards new releases of lifetime evergreens. The older books are still there but they are no longer holding the key positions. We’re succeeding because we’re publishing new books.

And here’s our distributed bestsellers, by net income:

And here are our expenses, totaling $946.292.41. We are again able to afford to finance our own growth and have increased employee wages, with four more people receiving raises this month. 

Here’s each month in 2018 compared to 2017:

And a friendly reminder: While we’re legally a “for-profit” organization, we choose to operate on a break-even basis. This means that when we have profits (which isn’t all the time, but we try), they don’t go into our owners’ yacht fund; they go into staff wages and taking a chance on publishing new books we believe in. Getting to do work we care about every day and put books out there that help people change their lives is way better than a yacht. Which is an important attitude to have in the publishing industry!

The Year of Adventures

Instead of New Year’s resolutions (ugh), at Microcosm we like to have loose themes to organize our year’s goals and activities around. And we’ve decided that 2019 is our year of adventure!

For us, it’s our first year of being independently distributed. This has already proven to be a serious adventure — not so much a leap into the unknown as a voyage back to our homeland, which has changed considerably since we last visited.
There’s a lot to remember and a lot of new skills to learn. And like on any good adventure, the way we can navigate it safely and have fun is to work together, believe in ourselves, and stay flexible.

But What Is Adventure

Here’s a little from some of our staff about what adventure means to us (in general and in terms of this transition)…

Elly: When Joe and I met 10 years ago, he asked me what my needs in a relationship are, and top of my list was “adventure.” 

Elly rides a bike through Portland with a trailer full of book boxes and event stuff.

He reminds me of this every time I’m pedaling a cargo bike overloaded with books in the rain, or setting off in a cab to pick up event supplies that didn’t make it to our destination, or pulling late nights to make sure our database transition goes smoothly.

And while I don’t require the constant adrenaline to get through my day that I did at 30, I do love that this work is full of unexpected revelations, surprising new areas of growth, and always a problem to solve and a challenge to learn from.


Sidnee: “Adventure” is the word I use when I’m afraid of what’s gonna happen next; but being afraid isn’t going to help me. To me it’s a prettier word for “holy fuck, here we go!” But I’m starting to believe that adventure is in our DNA. Like growing teeth or developing chronic aches. A will for the pursuit of adventure will appear in each of us at some point, programmed to persist and emerge.

cartoon character jumps over an explosion and a vampire dragon
visual representation of Sid’s feels about 2019

The thing about adventure is that uncertainty is a necessary ingredient. I’m ripe with uncertainty. The other thing about adventure is that it forces you to grow. After ten short months, I’m bursting at the seams with growth too.

Joining the Microcosm team is my first post-school adventure. It’s like going from Chutes and Ladders to cross country parkour some days. Other days it’s like going from only ever wading in a swampy pond to sailing on a calm ocean during a brilliant sunset.

What adventures do you look forward to in 2019?

Continuing to survive adult life.


Trista: For me “adventure” means to seek change either from one state of being to another, or in the pursuit of something more meaningful like a change to one’s character. Often this will take the form of a journey, literally or metaphorically, where in the end a person will have experienced something new or experienced something old in a new way.
In my own life the adventures I’ve enjoyed the most are the ones that have altered the way I view the world, the people in it, or the way I view myself.

What adventures do you look forward to in 2019?
Something more gentle, like camping. Or getting to see more of my favorite bands. I got to do a little bit of both earlier in 2018 and I think I should do it more often.


Cyn: Adventure can feel like a loaded word. A big red X on a theoretical treasure map we never get to see. Some expensive, aspirational vision quest into new territory. Ugh. In my reality, my social anxiety makes it so my partner has to push me out of the door to get me to go to any social event, even when I know the people attending or it’s with a close friend. Why isn’t that ordeal considered adventure?

I guess I’d say that adventure is anything that pushes you outside of your boundaries in a way that is unexpected, daring, and propels you forward in some way. For me it has meant everything from the most daring trips to the simplest new get-togethers, to anxiety-ridden standard experiences or exciting, bizarre new friends. The experiences that push at our boundaries and fears and expectations are the ones that give us the space to grow, but those don’t have to be big, giant experiences of exploration, success, or conquest.

I don’t know about you, but just getting outside and meeting someone new is just as much of an adventure as traveling to a new place — and really, aren’t you doing that anyway, emotionally, by putting yourself out there, both literally and psychologically?
With that in mind, I’d like to think that “adventure” for our (and the future) generation will be less about conquest, personal excitement and glory, and more about exciting changes, growth, and building new experiences and communities for each other.

What adventures do you look forward to in 2019?
I’ve started “bullet journaling” and am working on making both productivity and self care balanced priorities in my life. I suppose I look forward to figuring that shit out and clearing out the mess that is my life right now for my future.
Am I adult now?


Joe: Ten years ago, Elly told me she wanted adventure. I don’t think she realized what I was capable of providing in this department. Cars caught on fire unintentionally and it feels like we spent many years fixing the Millennium Falcon during combat.

What adventures do you look forward to in 2019?
Getting WorkingLit [our secret work project] into a form that other publishers can use it, trips to new regional book trade shows, and continuing to grow as an independent publisher. It seems like we ship more boxes every single day around here.



Gifts for Rebels

This week our staff recommends their favorites for the holiday gift-giving season. Some things overlap, because sometimes we’re just all really fucking excited about a project or book, and it’s on everyone’s minds and shopping lists. So here are our picks this year, for spreading rebellion, and fun, because it’s our new favorite activity. Stay strong, keep reading, keep resisting.
-The Microcosmonauts

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End of Watch — Hanna’s Last Day

Each month we share a little bit about our selves, our staff, and our volunteers. Earlier this Fall, on her last day, intern Hanna B. wrote on her last day about her time here for this month’s issue. What she learned, loved, and hated.
A couple of months ago I was lucky enough to be accepted as a summer intern at Microcosm Publishing. I’m from California, which meant that I would be spending the summer moving to a brand new city completely separate from my family, friends, and basically everything I know. I won’t say that this wasn’t a little scary; it was. But the opportunity was far too great to pass up. So I moved up the coast and settled myself into the City of Roses.
Moving away from California was hard, it meant being on my own for the first time in my life. But Microcosm gave me a home. The experience has been one I am incredibly thankful for; I learned more than I could ever have imagined. Microcosm truly attempts to make the world a better place.

They want to bring books that diversify people’s understanding of the world, that help people’s voices be heard, that improve communities, to their readers. They are always looking for new experiences, new voices, new books, things that hadn’t been done before. I don’t have much experience within the corporate world, but it was touching to see how this company truly focused on things that mattered. I felt this in every single aspect of the company, from the books I saw being edited and published, to their outreach with the community, to every single detail.

And the company cares; about its readers, about its employees, even about the lowly interns. They wanted my experience to be positive; they wanted me to feel that my contribution was valid, that I wasn’t just doing busy work that no one else could be bothered to do. There was a purpose for everything I worked on. I got a hands-on learning experience that I would never have expected normally. I was able to work on and help edit actual books, and do tasks that I would never have dreamed of with normal intern duties.

I want to thank all of my bosses and co-workers for making me feel so safe and welcome – when I struggled or was confused they were there to support and teach me. I was able to learn with some great teachers, and I truly feel that I have grown and learned a lot over this summer. I know I am incredibly lucky in this aspect, many people simply do internships for the small line on their resume, they send meaningless emails for a couple of months, and then leave with no true impact being made. I hope that I have been able to leave my footprint in this company, and cannot express my thanks and gratitude enough to everyone working here for their support, the work they helped me accomplish, and the world-view they allowed me to see.

This internship, most importantly, succeeded in doing what all internships aim to do: showing me what it was truly like working in this industry, and showing me that it truly was what I wanted to do.

 


 

If you want to know more about volunteering or internships at microcosm, check out the FAQ and send us a message.

Please Let Me Help, Out Today!

Last month Jordan took on the giggle-filled task of reading and reviewing our latest hilarious book, available in a bookstore near you this month, Please Let Me Help. This unique book of letters may be too wild to be explained, but Jordan did a pretty good job. 

Book cover showing a leaking pipe fixed with band-aids

Starting my internship here only two weeks ago, I immediately started hearing perplexing comments on our new book Please Let Me Help. One coworker enthusiastically encouraging me to read it, referencing a multitude of tiny, hand-drawn vampires. From another, an elusive comment of, “It’s weird…” And a lot of conversations about who the heck our target market is.

So I committed a couple hours to sitting down and reading through it.

I’m not sure where to start.

But I’m a feelings person, and  Please Let Me Help: “Helpful” Letters to The World’s Most Wonderful Brands. makes me feel snarky, slightly rebellious, and like I’m “in” on inside joke with Zach Sternwalker at the companies’ expense.

Reading Please Let Me Help put me in that beautifully drifting and nonsensical mindset one has when musing on something absolutely ridiculous that also makes an element of sense. Like a modern epistolary Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, where Port-O-Potties all have flowers and Christian Slater stars as Princess Diana. A place where the brief and formal rejections of Zach’s ludicrous suggestions become that which is laughable. Go fuck yourself, Taco Bell legal department. You obviously don’t get humor.

A strange and humorous letter to Michael Jordan

And that is the real value in the book, I think. Perhaps it was because I read it straight-through in one sitting, but Zach Sternwalker sucks you into this realm of nonsense, until you stand there with him looking across at the rest of the world with altered eyes. And we see its prude stuffiness. Please Let Me Help defamiliarizes us from our world’s business and consumer norms, showing its puffed-up silliness in an ironic, counter-silly way.

But the book doesn’t have to be all this. It stands on its own as just a gosh-darned funny read. It has that unadulterated silliness that reminds me of being deliriously tired, laughing over ridiculous ideas with an equally loopy friend. Who cares if none of it is realistic? For a moment, that which is realistic means nothing. And scheming up Dunkin’ Donuts’ marketing plan for toast is the most logical thing one can do. Like a much-needed breath of fresh air.

So I’d recommend Please Let Me Help to anyone who could use a break from the no-nonsense, logical professional environment we’ve become so accustomed to. Because you know what’s more fun than that? A teeny vampire in a pear suit. Or imagining how to pitch a post-workout human refrigerator to General Electric.

 


Thank you to Jordan Ellis, our Fall intern, for writing up this review. Get a copy of the book for yourself at Microcosm.Pub

Let’s Get Sour: 5 Books on How to Ferment Your Foods

We’ve all been there – you left something in the back of the fridge too long and it went sour. Maybe your favorite bottle of wine became vinegar when you weren’t looking, or maybe you left the vegetables in your crisper for too long. Oof.

But fermentation, when done intentionally, is both tasty and a great way to preserve your garden bumper crop. Rather than leaving pounds of zucchini in your neighbor’s mailbox when you have too many, why not leave a jar of zucchini pickles? Why celebrate with overpriced sweet wine when you can make fresh honey wine with only a few items? Or, save money on yogurt by making big batches of your own.

Don’t know how? Here are our recommendations for books to get you started….

 

Basic Fermentation: A Do-it-yourself Guide to Cultural Manipulation

by Sandor Ellix Katz

If you’re a visual learner, Basic Fermentation: A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Cultural Manipulation is packed with full-color photos that will walk you step-by-step through the art of fermentation.

 

This book is where Sandor Ellix Katz got his start as a fermentation super-star, so it’s a perfect starting point for you, too. It will help you learn techniques and teach you tasty recipes for all your fermentation needs. Even if you’ve tried your hand at fermentation before, it’s a great addition to your shelf for the recipes. This version is even updated with full step by step photos to get you going.

 

Everyday Fermentation Handbook

by Brandon Byers

When you think of fermentation, chances are your mind goes to staples like sauerkraut, kimchi, and even pickles. But there’s a whole world of fermentation out there beyond vegetables.

Everyday Fermentation Handbook is a primer on fermenting just about everything. Ever wanted to start making your own cheese and sourdough? What about brewing your own kombucha? This book takes you to vegetables and beyond, letting you add fermented foods to every meal. (Fermented waffles are amazing, FYI.)

Even better, this book includes ideas of how to use your tasty treats – taking them from just a side dish to a whole meal.

Fermented Vegetables

by Christopher Shockey and Kirsten K. Shockey

So you’ve got a green thumb for more than just zucchini, which is great. But it also means that you don’t have six million pounds of zucchini to use – you have six million pounds of everything to use.

Fermented Vegetables: Creative Recipes for Fermenting 64 Vegetables & Herbs in Krauts, Kimchis, Brined Pickles, Chutneys, Relishes & Pastes (a mouthful, I know) is a fantastic reference for when you’re drowning in vegetables. This book helps you preserve a lot of different types of vegetables – not just cabbage and pickles – in creative and tasty ways.

Like it spicy? The same authors also wrote Firey Fermentation, which provides a spicy twist on fermentation.

Art of Fermentation: An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from Around the World

by Sandor Ellix Katz

No list on fermentation is complete without the Art of Fermentation: An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from Around the World. If there was a religion based on fermentation, this would be its bible.

If you’re acquainted with fermenting already and looking for a comprehensive book on the subject, this is the one for you. With over 500 pages, it covers the history and cultural nuances of many different types of fermentation, as well as providing illustrations and recipes. It’s great for the experienced fermenter who wants to know more, or for the newbie who wants to jump right in.

Fermenting is a great way to preserve fresh foods without losing their nutritional power. With just a little bit of effort, you too can be fermenting in no time!

 

Brew It Yourself: Professional Craft Blueprints for Home Brewing

by Erik Spellmeyer

Kombucha and kimchi not what you’re looking to whip up? Brew It Yourself outlines the key methodologies of the two most common home beer-brewing techniques: extract and all-grain brewing. It provides professional advice on how to get started from square one at home, introducing the reader to the industry jargon and terminology, while providing clear instruction on the formalities of home brewing.

Equipped with illustrations, images, glossary, photography, and step-by-step assembly instructions for building your own equipment, Brew It Yourself is your craft brewing bible.

 

 


 

This book list (with the exception of #5) was written by past intern and occasional contributor/editor, Lydia Rogue. Follow them on twitter and patreon.

Do you have a favorite fermentation book we missed? Let us know!