Hometown: Hohenwald, TN
Occupation: Owner of Star Line Books, an Independent Book Store
Favorite Southern Saying: “Done gave down.”
What’s your inspiration for what you do?
This shop was born of necessity—mine. When I moved here seven years ago, I hoped to find an independent book store, a place where I would meet like-minded people and enter the community. But the last indie closed in 2010. I had to make do with the big box chains. Try as they might, the big box chains can’t do what an independent book store with passionate readers can do, they can’t build that community. An independent book store can anchor the area, it can be that “third space,” it’s not work, not home, but a place you can come and relax and interact with others and build community. It’s also my mission to embrace the reader and the writer, to bring them together. We hold so many events to do this.
What’s the most rewarding thing about it?
Connecting with a patron over a book. The greatest thing about reading and finding books you love is being able to talk about those books with someone else. I’m all inclusive, all are welcome. We need a place to be able to have conversations, to listen to all points of view, to grow. If you don’t read and aren’t exposed to the world and different points of view and what you don’t know, how can you be empathetic and contribute to the good of the community?
What’s your biggest challenge?
Getting the community to know I’m here and to buy into the importance of what an indie book store can be. Chattanooga has such a vibrant art scene, such an appreciation for that form. This is just a different form of art, it’s word art. There’s no difference to me between books and a work of visual art. I feel like I’m hidden in plain sight.
What does it mean to be a Southern woman?
I’m grit. I’m grit because I was made to feel from the earliest age that I could do anything, anything, I ever wanted to do. My dad had two daughters, and he couldn’t be more proud than being the father of two daughters. Never was I ever made to feel I wasn’t good enough because of my gender. My earliest memory was always being told “You are strong, you are important, you are smart.” I can do anything, and it doesn’t matter that I’m from the South or that I’m female. I can identify myself as Southern and a woman and take pride in that fact, and there’s a lot of women behind me that had a tough row to hoe to get us here.