An inspiring, #girlboss story is always one worth exploring. We had the pleasure of speaking with Domonique Wallace, owner and literary curator for The Livre Cafe. She created an online community dedicated to the global representation of people of color in literature and art. Domonique created a safe space for book lovers to build a community.
What shaped the idea to create Livre Cafe?
Livre Cafe means ‘book cafe’ in French. In my imagination lives a book cafe and wine bar where people can come and work, read, become inspired, and build a community. Livre Cafe is a practice of manifestation. I also wanted to be able to create what I consider to be a virtual book cafe: where people can work, read, and build a community of people with similar interests across the internet. When people visit Livre Cafe, I want them to feel both relaxed, yet invigorated–welcomed, yet ready to learn.
What made you want to start a book club for POC?
I have always loved to read. I’ve dabbled in just about everything you could imagine. Often, I turned to the recommendations given in the most popular magazines such as Elle and Cosmopolitan. I got tired of seeing books being recommended as “required reading” that I felt had nothing to do with me.
I made the personal decision myself, after struggling to find ways to connect with the primarily White stories pushed into the mainstream, to primarily read books by or about people of color (specifically Black and Latinx) from then on. After making this decision and sharing my current reads with friends, my friends began asking for book recommendations. That’s what inspired me to create the book club.
How do you go about picking the books for your book club?
Livre Cafe takes a casual approach when distributing book selections for the month. We choose four books per month that have similar themes and let the reader decide which book(s) from that list they’d like to read. We also encourage people to read books that aren’t on the monthly list. This is because, at the foundation of everything, we want to learn from each other. The monthly list includes one Classic Fiction/ Nonfiction, one Contemporary Fiction, one research-based extensive Nonfiction, and one Contemporary Nonfiction.
What is the Livre Cafe Mission?
The mission of Livre Cafe is to act as an incubator of Black and Latinx Literature. Our goal is to push our stories into the mainstream. We want to get our stories into the hands of others as a counter for those who assume that Black life is monolithic. Livre Cafe serves as a virtual home for themes of inclusion, representation, and intellectual expansion for underrepresented communities through all art forms, but primarily literature.
How has Livre Cafe allowed you to express your creativity?
My background is in Digital Marketing. My favorite part about planning projects for Livre Cafe is visual planning. I put a lot of creative energy into making sure the images in my mind are expressed visually on screen. I love playing with colors and understanding the way certain colors make people feel. The creation of mood boards, building the marketing plan, thinking about brand consistency, and making sure my thoughts are thoroughly expressed visually.
As a bookstagrammer and book blogger, do you sometimes feel the pressure to read an excessive number of books each month?
I used to. When you first get on Bookstagram, it’s almost like being a kid in a candy shop. You see all these books that you should be reading, and it makes you feel a little guilty. Publishers are sending you books left and right and asking for reviews. It feels like you can never catch up.
I’m also an emotional reader. If I’m overwhelmed with life, it’s hard for me to read anything at all. I had to learn how to give myself grace.understand that these books will still be here when I’m ready to read them. I always have a goal of reading four books a month. This is typically a practical number for me and my lifestyle.
Top book suggestions for today’s climate?
There are so many books for so many different topics we deal with today, but if I had to choose my top 10 books for readers to be able to navigate and understand today’s climate, I’d say:
- “The Warmth of Other Suns” by Isabelle Wilkerson
- “The Fire Next Time” by James Baldwin
- “Nickel Boys” by Colson WHithead
- “Hood Feminism” by Mikki Kendall
- “Sister Outsider” by Audre Lorde
- “Friday Black” by Nana Kwame Adjei- Brenyah
- “Kindred” by Octavia Butler
- “Children of Blood and Bone” by Tomi Adeyemi
- “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison
- “Native Son” by Richard Wright
Where do you see Livre Cafe in the future?
I just founded The Livre Cafe Foundation Inc., which is a nonprofit organization that provides both books and literary resources (such as help with publishing, editing, and financial costs of publishing and editing) for underserved communities of color through donations. As well as monetary contributions to provide the world more literature by and about People of Color.
I have been able to put this together through the selling of vintage and classic books and other merchandise through our website. One day, I’d like to have a physical location where people can host readings, art shows, buy books, land learn about and celebrate the vastness of Black culture.