This is another installment of our blog-series:Around Town with Khalila, the WXNA Intern. You can read parts one and two here and here.
In this week’s post, Khalila explores the Alkebu-Lan Images Bookstore.
When Brother Yusef Harris opened Alkebu-Lan Images Bookstore in 1986, he wanted to create a space where African Americans could develop positive healing, positive feelings, and connection to their own history and culture. Alkebu-Lan Images Bookstore is not just for people of color, but anyone who searches for a safe space for healing from racism and gentrification.
The store is located on Jefferson Street, long a center of Black life and culture in Nashville. When you visit, you’ll likely be greeted by Executive Manager Deborah M. Stewart. As you walk through the store, you’ll find shelves full of children’s books with Black characters, giving children the ability to relate to characters and see themselves in these stories. Books on African American history, protest, and prophetic scholars fill the walls. Along with books, Akelbu-Lan Images offers beauty products meant specifically for black people, incense, healing soaps, and more.
To me, this is the most important bookshop in Nashville. It has stood strong amidst the changes in Nashville, and provides healing, knowledge, and a safe space for Black people. While talking to Deborah Stewart, she told me that people come to the store to heal, to talk, to vent, to cry, and to just be in a space that is meant for them. That is so powerful, and I can say truthfully that there is no other bookstore in Nashville that is so focused on Blackness.
Alkebu-Lan Images Bookstore is located at 2721 Jefferson Street in Nashville.
This is the second of a 2-part blog series:Around Town with Khalila, the WXNA Intern. You can read part one here.
In this week’s post, Khalila explores two of Nashville’s local bookshops and the way that they, like WXNA, create “people powered” community.
Who doesn’t love a good bookstore? My favorite bookstores are run by local Nashvillians who have a love for this city and a passion for building community through reading.
Black Dog Book Co.
Black Dog Book Co. is the realization of Amy Jo Bradford’s childhood dream. Amy Jo worked at Rhino Books on Granny White for many years learning the used bookstore business. When she learned that the store was going to close, she knew this was the time to make her dream come true. Amy Jo is from Nashville and has lived here her whole life. She values the role that little local stores, especially bookstores, have played in her life here in Nashville, and wanted to share her love of books with the community. The fact that Rhino Books was replaced with a store run by someone who used to work there and has a true love for books makes this place very special to me.
Amy Jo redesigned the space to be friendly and relaxing with comfy chairs and an open floor plan that maximizes the natural light. Her book collection is extraordinary, ranging from local and southern books that she has collected over the years, to the classics. Amy has a lifetime of knowledge about books and genres. She’s full of great suggestions about what to read next. If you want to hear tales of Nashville, Amy will fill you in on both the dreams and realities of our growing city.
Black Dog’s is located on Granny White Pike across from Lipscomb University and next to Copper Kettle.
Located in the heart of Green Hills, Parnassus Books has a whole world inside of it. Parnassus opened in 2011, the brainchild of Ann Patchett, well-known novelist, and her business partner Karen Hayes. The name Parnassus comes from Greece’s Mount Parnassus, mythological home of literature, learning, and music. Ann and Karen strive to make this bookstore Nashville’s own Parnassus. Parnassus offers a wide range of books, including fiction, non-fiction, children’s books, mysteries, and local interests. And if you can’t find what you’re looking for, they’ll order it. The staff family there welcomes trying new things, and exploring the world of books through different lenses and they’re always ready with a recommendation. And if you can’t come to Parnassus, they may just come to you in the form of Parnassus On Wheels, their mobile bookstore. The walls inside the big blue bus are lined with new titles and classic favorites. To me, Parnassus in any form is an oasis of uniqueness and comfort.
Parnassus Books is located at 3900 Hillsboro Pike in Green Hills behind the Donut Den.
The Bookshop, located in East Nashville, is a store for people who love beautiful books. The Bookshop is owned by author Joelle Herr. The white interior puts all the focus where it should be: on the books. They offer a full range of new books including classic and contemporary literary fiction and books about authors and writing. If they don’t have what you’re looking for, they will happily order it for you. They offer Saturday Story Time every Saturday at 10 a.m. for kids of any age, a wonderful way to meet other readers in our community.
The Bookshop is located just off of Gallatin Rd at at 1043 W Eastland Ave.