Reader Profile: Brnesh Berhe

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!

Brnesh Berhe is a graphic designer and freelance writer, who’s written for CBC, Vue Weekly, Avenue Edmonton, and Afropunk. In 2012 she started the independent print and online magazine Marker which ran for three years and garnered two Alberta Magazine Award nominations; it covered local and international arts, culture, music, and social issues. While she started her writing career focusing on music and the arts, she has since also focused her attention writing stories that centre marginalized voices and communities. With eight years of graphic design experience, some of her clients have included the Make-a-Wish Foundation, the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights, and the Council for Alberta University Students. Read on to learn how her reading life has changed and what value she thinks Glass Bookshop will add to the community!

How did books and the act of reading come to be meaningful to you?
My dad instilled in me at a very young age the importance of books and reading in general. Growing up I don’t think I went a day without seeing him with a book in his hand; topics from politics to science to religion, he even read the dictionary. (Yes, he read the dictionary.) 

I have very early memories of my dad taking me to the downtown Edmonton Public Library. We’d both take out a few books – me from the kids section, him from the less interesting sections (the rest of the library/not the kids section), grab some snacks nearby, and sit in “the forest” across the street where I’d read one of the books I just took out. (I’d later come to know the forest as the Citadel Theatre.) 

What is your relationship now to books and reading?
The older I got, I unfortunately fell out of reading books as much as I did as a kid, but in this last year in particular I’ve been making an effort to read more regularly and to try to consume more books by writers of colour, in particular Black women. It’s been a conscience act of self-care and self-discipline to get back into a habit I unfortunately let slip away from me over the last few years.

Even so, I have always loved going to bookstores and can easily spend an hour in one without realizing it. I’m working on reading books I’ve bought over the last while that have been on my need-to-read pile for a bit too long. 

What do you think Glass Bookshop could offer Edmonton’s community of readers and writers?
With their focus on prioritizing marginalized voices and independent publishers, Glass Bookshop will carve out a space for themselves in Edmonton as curators of exciting, necessary writing, and will no doubt build a dedicated following in the process.

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:

Brnesh Berhe
Matthew Stepanic