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.
This is the first of a 2-part blog series:Around Town with Khalila, the WXNA Intern
In this week’s post, Khalila explores her favorite local coffee shops and the way that they, like WXNA, create people-powered community.
I think local coffee shops are great places to find bits of Nashville that have remained authentic and unique. The shops listed below are a few of my favorites, but this is by no means an exhaustive list. I encourage you to get out and explore all the great coffee shops Nashville has to offer and find your own favorite spot.
Frothy Monkey first opened its doors in 2004. The 12 South location is the original and has been my favorite coffee shop since I was young. This little coffee shop is a great place to meet friends, old and new, with a welcoming atmosphere and a robust lunch and dinner menu that can accommodate almost any diet. Frothy Monkey offers a coffee shop buzz, vibe, and environment that has provided me with joy over the years being here. Their other locations offer different vibes, but share killer playlists, beautiful art, and the smell of coffee, tea, and extraordinary food filling the air.
Three Brothers Coffee
The owners of Cumberland Transit, a local outdoor activity supply store, created Three Brothers Coffee to “bring venture-ready customers, locals, and travelers a truly unique coffee experience.” The bicycle parts, hanging bicycles and images of travel adorning the shop may put visitors in a travelling state of mind, but Three Brothers is all about living local. Their menu features goodies from local bakeries Dozen and Star Bagel. The walls feature both rotating and permanent displays by local artists including a mural by Adrien Saporiti, founder of DCXV Industries and creator of the “I Believe In Nashville” murals. Even the magazines and newspapers on offer are local. The coffee selections rotate throughout the seasons and there are plenty of seats, couches, and outlets for you to work, study or catch up with a friend.
Bongo Java East
As the owner of Fido, Bongo Java, and Jefferson Street Cafe, Bob Bernstein has created a local coffee shop empire. My favorite outpost of this empire is Bongo Java East in East Nashville in the heart of Five Points. They have a full menu of coffee beverages, breakfast, lunch, snacks and, yes, board games. Thanks to their partnership with Game Point Cafe, you’ll find almost any board game you can think of on the shelves that line the walls. Whether you want to play a simple game or cards or Cards Against Humanity, Bongo Java East provides not only the game, but a game coach who will explain rules, settle disputes, and share the passion of gaming with you. Besides games, the cafe has a rotating display of local artwork in addition to a must-see mural of the types of people often found in a coffee shop. Grab a coffee, explore their rotating menu of seasonal drinks, and play some board games. What more could you ask for?
Brandon and Tracy Stakelbeck came up with the idea of Portland Brew after they visited Portland, Oregon, and fell in love with the coffee shops there. They were attracted to the creative and artistic aspects of Nashville, and wanted to bring the Portland hippie coffee shop vibe to Music City. Portland Brew offers a welcoming space for people to do homework, have meetings, and relax. They have a small menu comprising of muffins and baked goods, sandwiches, and breakfast sandwiches and you’ll know you’re a regular when the friendly staff calls you by name. Portland Brew has locations in 12 South and East Nashville.