Dear Readers & Nature Lovers,
The Nature of Reading Bookshop began on Earth Day, April 22, 2022 as an online and pop-up environmental bookstore. We specialize in nature writing, seasonal reading, and climate change books, pulling together the joy and wonder of the natural world with the knowledge and passion to fight for its survival.
This year we were able to secure a beautiful space on Main Street in our hometown of Madison, NJ. It’s the perfect place for starting out, and it’s just big enough to hold cozy book clubs and small events. The business has grown through bootstrapping so far, but now we need your help to renovate and stock our brick-and-mortar space. With your contributions, I know we can create a warm, welcoming environment where readers can come together to discuss all things nature and books.
Why do we need The Nature of Reading?
Morris county currently has very few independent bookstores, but Madison has long been home to other lovely in-print bookstores like Sages Pages and Short Stories, and I feel honored to carry on the tradition of new books in such a wonderful town. I actually got into the book business by working here in Madison at The Chatham Bookseller, starting when I was 17. I continued working there during my college breaks until I became manager after graduation, then in 2022 I left to start my own business.
Over the last few years I grew more aware of everything that was happening in the climate crisis, and I wanted to get involved in any way that I could. So I combined my experiences with bookselling with the desire to engage with the environment and I started The Nature of Reading to help other bookish people reconnect with nature and learn about the climate crisis in a less intimidating way. It's critical to strive for balance between climate action and delight in our natural surroundings.
Since I began doing pop-ups last spring, I've sold countless nature guides, plant-based cookbooks, eco-fiction novels, and nature kids books. With each pop-up event I feel so grateful to connect with readers and offer personal recommendations based on their favorite books or what they're in the mood to read. One of the most gratifying parts of the bookshop has been to see children entering the booth—they smile and point at all the butterflies, birds, and plants before lunging over to the tree stump chair to sit and flip through the picture books. It makes me so very happy, and children's books and story times will be a large part of the brick-and-mortar.
The Nature of Reading will be a space for environmentalist groups to share their messages, local authors to do readings, book clubs to meet, and a place where you can always go to hear overly enthusiastic book recommendations. All of the coziness and community I've begun to build in the pop-up will be expanded into a full-grown space where the beauty and whimsy of the natural world will blend with the literary realm.
What will the money go towards?
The business has been self-funded so far, and I've been working several freelance jobs to cover my living costs while running the pop-up shop at farmers markets and other local events. My husband and I have put a lot into the business, and I am so grateful for all the help and support we've received thus far from friends, family, customers, and community members. But now with this new chapter of The Nature of Reading, opening our first location, I’m in need of some additional funds to complete the buildout and order the first round of inventory.
About half of the funds will go towards purchasing inventory, which would allow me to fill the shelves of the shop and greatly increase the inventory size of the pop-up. I’ll be expanding my current categories such as nature writing, eco-fiction, nature guides, and children’s books, while also adding in some new categories as well to serve wider reading needs.
The rest of the money will be put towards the buildout. If you've been to my pop-up shop, you've likely noticed my love of decorating with all things natural & whimsical—I have so many ideas for the shop and I know it can become a beautiful space to inspire some of the awe we all feel when out in nature. As a lifelong crafter and woodworking enthusiast, I’m trying to DIY as much as possible with the help of dear family and friends. Contributions would greatly help in purchasing the materials to build the shelves, tables, counters, and more.
Why give to The Nature of Reading?
As independent bookstores make a joyous comeback across the country, there have been so many amazing niches that they've grown to fill—we can see feminist bookstores, Indigenous bookstores, romance bookstores, and more. But there has yet to be a bookstore focused on addressing the educational, literary, and communal needs of the climate crisis.
With our three main areas—nature writing, seasonal reading, and climate change books—we work diligently to curate a collection that embraces readers with the beauty of nature and gently guides them towards approachable action in the climate crisis.
I know from personal experience how existentially overwhelming engaging with climate change can be, and I want to both recommend books that allow readers to learn in a less intimidating manner, such as solar punk novels or environmentalist memoirs, and also supply a wealth of nature writing books so we can be strengthened by the very thing we seek to save.
By giving to The Nature of Reading, you're helping build a community space where environmentalist groups can spread their message, readers can find books that spark wonder, and book clubs can come together to discuss their latest reads. I've met so many amazing people and groups since starting the shop, and I can't wait to welcome them all into the space.
Even if you don't live in the NJ or NY area, your contributions will help us build up our online presence—curate more book lists, start an eco-anxiety newsletter, and launch eco-themed subscription book boxes.
I grew up in Chatham and have been working in Madison since high school, and now my husband and I live just a few minutes walk away from the bookstore. We’ve fallen in love with the people here and especially the wonderful environmentalists in Madison, Morristown, and beyond.
With your help, I know our bookshop can become a cornerstone of this community, helping spread the messages of local environmental groups and leading both children and adults to reconnect with nature and reading.
I've shed so many tears of gratitude over the months since starting this business, and it brings me so much joy to soon hopefully give back some of the wonderful gifts I've received from this town by opening this little bookshop. Thank you so very much for anything you can give, and if you can share this campaign on social media or with anyone who may be interested, I'd really appreciate it.
Thank you all!