“Bookrageous,” said Jenn Northington, who is about to become events manager at WORD, “is all about celebrating books in whatever way is most fun for you – and hopefully in the process sharing great books with new readers.” Now the “bookrageous” concept has been applied to a grassroots fundraising project in which booksellers and other book lovers have posed for a calendar to benefit childhood literacy.
Independent booksellers were among the Bookrageous calendar's earliest supporters, though their participation was on a personal basis, not connected to their bookstores. “A couple of us were joking about it, and then suddenly people were sending me photos,” said Northington, who organized the calendar's production. “Really, it developed organically.”
The participants sent Northington pictures of themselves enjoying favorite books – reading them, swimming in them, and making book art.
Josh Christie, a bookseller at Sherman's Books and Stationery in Portland, Maine, was the first to volunteer a picture of himself. “I was under the mistaken impression that it was going to be like those charity calendars a lot of local groups do – namely, a swimsuit calendar,” he said. He posed with Tom McCarthy's Remainder to keep with the nautical theme. Christie also did the calendar's layout and editing.
“I love books, and I think books get a bad rap too often of being stuffy, snooty, or just not fun,” Christie said. “Bookrageous is a great way to get excited about books.”
Emily Pullen, a bookseller at Skylight Books, was happy to be part of the “growing momentum of awesomely crazy things that people are doing for the love of books.” For her calendar photo, Pullen covered herself with Journey to the End of Night, The Big Book of Legs, LA Woman, Unforgivable, and David LaChapelle Stern Portfolio. “The best thing about everything that falls under the Bookrageous umbrella, and that culminates in the amazing calendar, is that it shows enthusiasm and passion and fun and deep love and a culture of book lovers that is decidedly not gasping for its final breath, flopping on the concrete, ruing the death of the book,” she said.
The Bookrageous project also drew international participation, with Australian Booksellers Association president Jon Page, of Pages & Pages Booksellers, appearing on the June 2011 page. “I left teeth marks in the book I was biting,” Page admitted.
Northington posed for her calendar page with the opening lines of Nick Harkaway's The Gone-Away World written across her face. After seeing the picture, Harkaway wrote, “It’s actually both incredibly cool and slightly awe-inspiring. No one’s ever turned themselves into a living page of my text before.”
Booksellers Liberty Hardy, Katherine Fergason, Suzanna Hermans, and Lauren Strohecker also contributed photos to the Bookrageous calendar, as did bloggers Amy McKie, Christina Oppold, Jen Karsbaek, Ali Colluccio, Rebecca Joines Schinsky, Michelle Shannon, Dawn Rennert, Amanda Gignac, Trish Collins, and Paula Longhurst.
The 18-month Bookrageous calendar, which covers January 2011 through June 2012, is available from Zazzle. All proceeds will go to First Book, a non-profit organization that distributes books to young children.