Rare Birds, an online subscription book club, and now also a fully functioning book shop, is here to put the joy back into reading by helping you find the best of female authored fiction.
Loacted at 13 Raeburn Place in Stockbridge, Edinburgh, the shop is the first if its kind.
Owner and founder Rachel Wood opened the female authored book shop in early August and here is what inspired her to champion women writers:
“I’ve always been deeply interested in reading and writing, in particular women’s writing, so it was a natural place to start when I founded Rare Birds and started our online book subscription. The bookshop was the next step on that journey, and it just made sense to continue our mission to promote female authors as we grew. I dreamed of a really positive, welcoming space where we could showcase a huge variety of women’s writing across all genres and that’s what I hope the space will be.”Rachel Wood, owner and founder
Not only did the shop become Scotland’s first ever female-centric book shop in a time of uncertainty for retail, but in its first weekend, Wood welcomed over 1500 visitors and sold over 3000 books in the first month.
Which thankfully means the nations love of reading and buying books was not abated by lockdowns.
Women have come such a long way when it comes to writing and fiction and the adversity they have had to face has been and in many cases still is, discreditable and disheartening – which is why, in today’s society it is so important to celebrate and emphasise the work that women writers all over the world are doing (magnificently, might I add).
Rachel told Brig:
“Something I noticed, particularly when studying literature in Uni, was that the prevailing worldview was male. My reading lists were stuffed with male authors, and I was extremely conscious of the fact that the male perspective of the world was basically the default lens that we were viewing it through. I’m talking specifically about fiction here, but you could also make the argument that the male experience is the default lens we view a lot of things through in the world we live in.”
“Anyway, from there I started wondering what it would be like to have things the other way around – what if the default point of view was female? What would we learn? How would we view the world? What would we notice? What sort of subjects would come up again and again in fiction? It seemed like a really interesting experiment to me, and I wanted to try it. Women have such incredible experiences and perspectives and I wanted to celebrate them and bring them to the notice of other readers.”
“We’re not trying to devalue male writers in any way or say that their writing isn’t worth reading – it’s more like an experiment to see what would emerge if we created a space that focused really seriously on women’s writing. We’re lucky that in Edinburgh there is already a really vibrant community of bookshops that cater to a wide variety of readers – opening a bookstore with quite a specific niche feels possible because I know male authors are still being really well represented elsewhere.”
At Rare Birds, no matter your favourite genre or what you’re looking for, there’s something for you – and if you can think of a female writer, the chances of you finding her work in this shop are through the roof.
Now, it’s not just the books that people have flocked to purchase. The store has also had to re-stock what has become, their iconic tote bags and newly scented candles, which are made to be paired with whatever genre you are reading. With the ‘True Crime’ and ‘Writers block’ scents flying off the shelves in no time – but you can’t blame people, it’s genre scented candles! A bookworm’s dream in one stop.
Rachel muses on how things are going so far:
“So far online and in-store sales are neck and neck, so we like to think that our neighbours are enjoying visiting us in person, whilst the rest of our fans around the world continue to join us virtually month on month as we discuss our club picks. Now that we are allowed to start hosting events, we will be welcoming in readers from all over for shopping evenings, author events and in-person book club sessions – it’s going to be amazing!”
Brig asked Rachel if she had a favourite book or author:
“Impossible! That’s a boring answer though, so I’ll compromise by telling you some of my favourite book club picks of recent years. Oyinkan Braithwaite’s My Sister The Serial Killer is one I recommend constantly, particularly if you’re in a reading rut. I also loved Cho Nam-joo’s amazing book Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982, which is about the sexism that’s endemic in South Korea but resonated with us all hugely. I love a romantic comedy, Mhairi McFarlane’s book Who’s That Girl is great fun if you want to read in this genre, as is Elizabeth Gilbert’s City of Girls. I also really love Margaret Atwood – I grew up in Canada and she is truly one of Canada’s great novelists. Alias Grace, The Robber Bride and Handmaid’s Tale are all cracking reads.”
A little tip from Rachel: “Read and write what’s interesting to you! Everything is easier when you enjoy it.”
For more information on Rare Birds book shop, see their website or visit the store in person and find out for yourself just how many incredible women authors there are in our world of books.
Featured image credit: nen.press