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The Art of Reaching Out: How Two Average Girls Started a Movement With Florence Welch

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Dear reader, when was the last time you wrapped yourself in the pages of a paperback and became lost in its narrative? For centuries the print book has been whatever we’ve needed it to be — a record keeper, a translator, a glimpse into another culture, a portal into the human mind, a time capsule, and a way of saving those words that burn brightest in our hearts, whose fire is integral to our development.

Some of these printed gems remain treasured by literary devotees, tucked in the corners of streets not yet forgotten. Powell Books in Portland, OR is one of these wonders that still stand. It was there that a small-scale revolution encouraging a literary lifestyle caught momentum. Who were the founding mothers? Leah Moloney, Heather Hale, and Florence Welch, lead singer of Florence and the Machine.

Days after Welch tweeted a picture of herself in front of the bookstore in 2012, 14-year-old Moloney responded with a tweet saying that a book club should be made for Welch, where fans could read her recommended books. Other fans joined in on the conversation, including co-founder Hale, who was 16 years old at the time. Welch ran wild with the idea and one week later Between Two Books was born. “The name was inspired by the Florence and The Machine song ‘Between Two Lungs’, and the social media accounts were up and running. Florence quickly caught on to the idea, loved it, and it has gone up and beyond from there,” shared Moloney and Hale who continue to manage the book club.

Welch’s involvement in the club varies from suggesting a book to reading the chosen book with the members to facilitating discussions and even encouraging close friends and fellow artists to suggest a book. “On some occasions, she has gotten other musicians like The Maccabees and her friend/pianist of F+TM , Isabella Summers to recommend our current reads. She has recently asked the poet and author, Nayyirah Waheed to recommend a second book to read on the side of her book Salt, which was Bone, by Yrsa Daley–Ward,” shared the two young book lovers.

Although Welch has been a great force in molding the book club, Moloney and Hale have also played an integral role in its development. Not only does the book club provide reading suggestions for its members, but it encourages a healthy literary lifestyle by hosting writing projects and inspiring readers to practice a healthy balance of being on and off social media, among other things. “We believe that being a passionate, avid reader is about opening up your own mind, looking deeper inside it and further creating from what has inspired you from past experiences and what you have learned from anything in life,” shared the dynamic duo, who are proud of the literary collaborations that have flourished between club members.

“We believe that being a passionate, avid reader is about opening up your own mind, looking deeper inside it and further creating from what has inspired you from past experiences and what you have learned from anything in life”

Although larger bookstores sell books at more convenient rates, and technology offers us instant gratification,  it is often small bookstores that support rising authors and make room for the sort of collaborations that have blossomed from book clubs such as Between Two Books. The two founders also work to shift consumer consciousness saying, “To think that original book shops that have been around for ages, struggle to stay open to continue selling literature to people is quite sad, and something that we have never thought about. Before heading to a huge bookstore in a mall or in the city or even searching online, it would always be a much better choice to pop into your local bookshop and have a little browse.” If print book lovers worldwide fought the convenience urge every now and then and took the road less traveled to a local bookstore, it would truly make all the difference.

“Although larger bookstores sell books at more convenient rates, and technology offers us instant gratification,  it is often small bookstores that support rising authors and make room for the sort of collaborations that have blossomed from book clubs such as Between Two Books.”

More on Moloney and Hale… 

What are your favorite genres to read? Fantasy, romance, mystery or a combination of all 3.

What’s on your personal summer reading lists? Of course, many of our past and current reads…. Fates and Furies by Luaren Groff, The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney, Tristimania by Jay Griffiths, Bone by Yrsa Daley–Ward, Salt  by Nayyirah Waheed and The Wind–Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami, among many others.

What are your favorite books? The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, of course, Salt by Nayyirah Waheed, Bone by Yrsa Daley-Ward and many more…

If you could have dinner with any author, dead or alive, who would you choose and why? I think we would both choose Yrsa Daley-Ward. Bone is an incredible read. We have both read it straight through and still delve into it now and again. Daley-Ward’s work is revelatory, affirmative. Mixed in with beautiful biographical prose. It’s firmly uplifting, stunningly melodic. Raw, honest. Sprinkled with truths. As two 20 year old girls, Bone has given us advice. There is no prohibition. The reality of womanhood is examined, to the very bone of it. It’s something truly appreciated as someone just entering adulthood.

By Mireidys Garcia