Bringing an Oasis to the Book Desert

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Welcome to Today in Books, where we report on literary headlines at the intersection of politics, culture, media, and more.


It’s been a quiet start to the week news-wise, and TBH, I don’t hate it. Let’s hit a few highlights and get to the “it” books of the week. 

p.s. Don’t know what to get your bookish mom for Mother’s Day? Call in the experts at Tailored Book Recommendations, our personalized book recommendation service offering a variety of gift subscriptions. 

An Oasis in the (Book) Desert

Is it too early to declare the hero of the week? Ymani Wince, who owns St. Louis’s Noir Bookshop, an indie emphasizing works by and about people of color, is on a mission to reverse the city’s status as a “book desert.” In her search for a community-oriented solution, Wince landed on the concept of book vending machines, and she has just launched one inside the Herbert Hoover Boys and Girls Club on the city’s north side. As she told PBS NewsHour, “The concept of reading is good, having literacy is good, and I think access to information is a human right, no matter what you look like.” Yes and amen. 

In the absence of systemic solutions to this persistent systemic problem, people like Wince are stepping up to make the life-changing impact of books and reading accessible to their communities. May their efforts succeed. 

The Next Step Toward AI Transparency? 

Representative Adam Schiff of California has introduced a bill that would require tech companies to disclose the copyrighted works they use to train AI models. Given that it has taken Congress twenty years since Facebook launched to start getting their heads around social media regulation, I’m heartened that they’re trying to move faster with the latest world-changing technology. But it’s still Mike Johnson’s House, so I’m also not holding my breath. May Schiff’s efforts succeed. 

Let’s Hear It for the Weird Black Girls

Elwin Cotman’s new short story collection Weird Black Girls uses a mix of reality and fantasy to explore the anxieties and absurdities of modern Black life. Dig into an excerpt and find your next great read.


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