Reader Profile: Alexis Kienlen

For every day of our Indiegogo campaign, we’ll be sharing profiles from readers and supporters of Glass Bookshop both local to the city and from across Canada. Visit our campaign page now to claim cool perks and support us in building a beautiful brick-and-mortar space in downtown Edmonton. And read on to discover why today’s featured reader is excited to one day visit Glass Bookshop!

Alexis Kienlen is an Edmonton-based poet, journalist, and fiction writer. She is the author of two collections of poetry, She Dreams in Red and 13. She shared some of her favourite reads with Glass Bookshop and how bookshops can make her feel at home, even when she’s travelling.

How did books and the act of reading come to be meaningful to you?
As soon as I knew that there were stories inside a book, I wanted to read them. I’ve loved books all my life. I learned how to read when I was four and was a heavy reader ever since.

What is your relationship now to books and reading?
Books are a huge part of my life. I spend a lot of time reading, and literary events and literature are huge parts of my life. I read over 100 books a year. I meet a lot of writers every year and follow writers on Twitter. Books are my preferred form of entertainment. They are a way to understand the world.

Is there a book that has had significant impact on you?
So many of them. I would say that one that has a significant impact on me is Charlotte’s Web. It’s a seemingly simple story, but it’s much deeper than it appears. And every single word is perfect or meaningful. It’s only 158 pages and it took E.B. White four years to write it. I learn something new about writing and storytelling every time I read it.

How does literature influence your sense of community?
The people I associate with are mostly writers. Writing, reading, and books help me learn more about the world, especially worlds that I might not be a part of. I have learned a lot about the transgender experience by reading some of the brilliant transgender female writers we have in Canada: Casey Plett, Gwen Benaway, and Kai Cheng Thom.

How do you find new books or writers?
I read a lot of literary news and get Quill and Quire, and use I read CBC Books and the 49th Shelf and have a lot of writer friends on Twitter. Word of mouth and good reviews mean the world to me.

Can you share a memorable experience you’ve had in a bookstore? What makes it stand out for you?
I can share two: I travelled to Stockholm and asked the Swedish bookseller what Swedish books I should check out. She told me, and I wrote the list down. Then I showed her all the Canadian writers that they had in the shop. (It was an English language bookstore, not a Swedish one.) She hadn’t known how to distinguish the Canadian writers from the American ones. So we were just two book lovers, teaching each other, learning about literature, and drooling over books, even though we lived in different countries.

In Cape Town, South Africa, I attended the launch for a Short Story Africa book called Migrations. This launch was attended by writers from all over Africa. They started talking about their difficulties with South African literary culture, and how they needed to distinguish themselves from American and British literature. I could understand and relate to everything said. After the panel, I chatted with some writers. It was very easy and familiar. I had travelled to the other side of the world, only to feel that I was completely at home.

What do you think Glass Bookshop could offer Edmonton’s community of readers and writers?
I think Glass Bookshop can offer another venue for readers and writers to go to. I would like it to be a place where people could hang out. It can be another place where people can celebrate, buy, and learn about books.

Want to help make this reader’s dream for Glass Bookshop a reality? Support Glass Bookshop’s Indiegogo campaign by buying some cool perks today here:

Alexis Kienlin
Matthew Stepanic