Reader Profile: Dorothy Roberts

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!

Dorothy Roberts doesn’t go to church, she goes to bookstores. She’s a public servant and a professional wrestling expert with a weakness for really good whisky. Formerly, she competed in Bookstravaganza—an annual, friendly reading competition in December that raised money for the Edmonton Public Library—and will gleefully tell you she read more books than Matthew Stepanic every year.

How did books and the act of reading come to be meaningful to you?
My parents will tell you I was reading before I was talking. That’s hagiographical at best, but in fairness to them I have no memory of a time that I wasn’t looking for books to read.

What is your relationship now to books and reading?
I took out a mortgage because I ran out of room for books at my apartment. Now, I’m running out of room for books at my house. I’m not sure what my next steps are.

Is there a book that has had significant impact on you?
This is maybe a cliché, but East of Eden by John Steinbeck. There are books that aren’t by dead white guys that talk about the same kinds of things, but I read a lot of Steinbeck at a formative time in my life and all the “thou mayest” stuff got knitted into my brain.

How does literature influence your sense of community?
Literature—especially literature representing diverse voices—shares stories about how people live in the world. It’s easy to think that all that’s out there is the heteronormative white patriarchy, but literature reminds me that there are reasons to be hopeful and it helps me connect to something bigger than myself.

How do you find new books or writers?
Lots of ways! I’m in a phenomenal book club and those folks get me hooked on all kinds of stuff. I also keep an eye out for new releases from reliable publishers, and I check out new bookstores whenever I travel (the “local” section is a gold mine when you’re far from home).

Can you share a memorable experience you’ve had in a bookstore? What makes it stand out for you?
I made a deal with myself that I would never order John Steinbeck’s works online—I had to find them somewhere. I had a nearly complete collection and was only searching for Zapata, which was the basis for the script of Viva Zapata!, a film about the life of Emiliano Zapata. This book was impossible to find. I would search and search for it, almost reflexively, whenever I went a bookstore. After years of this, I wandered down the stairs into the Untitled Bookshop—which sadly doesn’t exist anymore—and it was waiting for me on the shelf, like magic. It felt like the universe had finally heeded my call. It stands out because—well, how often does the universe talk to you like that?

What do you think Glass Bookshop could offer Edmonton’s community of readers and writers?
LGBTQ2SIA and IBPOC writers are doing incredible work all of the time and the bookshop will provide an important space centring their writing. Among all of the things that Glass Bookshop will do for Edmonton’s community of readers and writers, that’s got to be the most important.

It will also provide a new venue for me to drink wine with Matthew, which is key to my lifestyle.

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:

Dorothy Roberts
Matthew Stepanic