Bookstore brings new perspective to campus

Daybreak Press Global Bookshop opened Tuesday in Stadium Village.

Anse Tamara Gray, the owner of the newly opened Day Break Press Global Bookstore in Stadium Village sits with the book she wrote herself.

Sam Harper

Anse Tamara Gray, the owner of the newly opened Day Break Press Global Bookstore in Stadium Village sits with the book she wrote herself. “In my mind, this is sort of an alternative classroom. We have all of these amazing books that are about places all over the world, where we can learn about each other and read about each other.”

Nick Wicker

A new bookstore  near the University of Minnesota will fill a campus-area void for literature on Islam, women’s issues and social movements.

 

The Daybreak Press Global Bookshop set up shop Tuesday in Stadium Village on Washington Avenue Southeast, a move from its St. Paul location, which opened last year. Founder and shop owner Anse Tamara Gray said the venture introduces a type of reading otherwise unavailable on campus.

 

Daybreak Press, a nonprofit publishing company which owns the new shop, has released three children’s fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction books to date, including one written by Gray.

 

She said she hopes the publications serve as teaching material in grade schools.

 

“A child builds his or her identity based on the characters that they read,” Gray said. “And there’s a real dearth of Muslim characters in fiction literature.”

 

The store also offers free Arabic lessons and group meeting space for the community.

 

Kristen Eide-Tollefson, owner of the Book House in Dinkytown, said the Dinkytown and West Bank neighborhoods have a history of hosting political bookstores, but this is a first for Stadium Village.

 

“It stimulates and informs a very lively and immediate sense of the issues before us and the different ways that we can approach them,” she said. “That’s not necessarily an approach that we take in classes.”

 

Bruce Roman, a retired furniture salesman, visited the bookstore’s St. Paul location a few times each month over the last year because he said the books weren’t available elsewhere.

 

“I converted to Islam about three years ago,” Roman said. “I’m in my 60s now. … I’m always interested in trying to learn something new.”

 

In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris this month, Gray said she hopes her shop will combat Islamophobia.

 

“We’re generally afraid of what we don’t know,” she said. “We didn’t open Daybreak originally in order to sort of walk on that road of educating people about Islam … but I think it would certainly be appropriate and the right thing to do.”

 

Sarah Abe, a public policy master’s student at the Humphrey School of Affairs, has volunteered for the bookstore since its 2014 opening on Grand Avenue in St. Paul.

 

She has worked with Rabata, the nonprofit that owns Daybreak, since its creation online in 2012 and moved from Michigan to Minnesota to help with the store’s opening last year.

 

“I love [the store’s] mission, and I love the work that they’re doing,” she said. “I love that it’s specifically focused on women.”

 

Abe said the experience she’s gained with Rabata and Daybreak contributed to her education, as she hopes to concentrate her graduate degree in nonprofit management.

 

Eide-Tollefson said bookstores have struggled in recent years because of the high costs of maintaining a storefront.

 

“The economics of it is the biggest challenge,” she said. “I always applaud any place or landlord that makes it possible for a bookstore.”  

 

Gray said she hopes the store, which sports yellow walls, brings light to the community.

 

“There’s a lot of depressing stuff in the world and … one of my goals here is, when we’re talking about the issues, not to get depressed but to find solutions,” she said. “I adamantly refuse to believe that nothing can be done.” 

The Daybreak Press Global Bookshop will host a grand opening event Nov. 28 featuring rapper Brother Ali.