Black Woman Opens Pasadena Bookstore Inspired by Octavia Butler
Her love for books landed her in the exact area of the author who inspired her.
Nikki High signed a lease on a 621-square-foot space on Pasadena’s North Hill Avenue to open her Black woman-owned bookstore featuring shelves of diverse authors.
According to The Los Angeles Times, High, 48, named her shop Octavia’s Bookshelf, inspired by author Octavia Butler, who wrote the New York Times best-seller, Parable of the Sower.
Butler’s 1993 novel gives an account of a post-apocalyptic society tangled in a climate crisis and wealth inequality.
“In school, we weren’t assigned a lot of books by Black, Indigenous or other people of color,” she said. “I started to read some sci-fi and I enjoyed the genre, but I was like, ‘Do these people think there are no Black people in the future?’”
High’s bookstore is located in the heart of the neighborhood where Butler walked Pasadena paths. She said she can recognize Butler’s ties to the city through her writings.
High believes everyone has an “Ocatavia” in their circle, “these different people in your life that have collections of books that make you curious and excited to read.”
To spread the word about her bookstore, High took to Twitter to let her followers in on her dream business move. “I took the leap and quit my job to open my very own bookstore,” High tweeted, accumulating millions of views and thousands of supportive interactions.
I took the leap and quit my job to open my very own bookstore. Octavia’s Bookshelf will open in February and features books written by BIPOC authors in Pasadena, Ca https://t.co/yJeGAZJKNq pic.twitter.com/YZbONk0fXp
— Auntie Nikki is a Virgo💛 🐝 (@gofetchgretch) December 31, 2022
Social media supporters also headed to High’s GoFundMe page, with donations exceeding the initial fundraiser amount.
Influenced by Butler’s favorite classics such as James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, Toni Morrison, and Langston Hughes, High chose diverse books to feature in her bookstore. Along with Butler’s works, authors will include newer writers of color, including author Roxane Gay, poet Elizabeth Acevedo, and Ugandan American Jessica Nabongo, who chronicled her journey to every country in the world.
After weeks of design planning, High will open the doors to Octavia’s Bookshelf on Feb. 18.