Reverie Books: comfort community space, queer-friendly, with a little something for everybody

Harsha Ketavarapu, Life & Arts Reporter

Delicately tucked inside the small South Austin bookstore, a vast array of unique selections line wooden shelves and streak the room with assorted colors. Visitors enter Reverie Books in search for a safe getaway and leave with a sense of belonging and reminder of hope. 

Reverie Books co-owner Thais Perkins said COVID-19 delayed the start of the business, but the community gradually grew into the space. 

“It’s doing what we wanted to do, which was build community and give back and provide people a safe place with good representation of underrepresented voices,” Perkins said.

Growing up as a queer teen in the South during the 1990s, Perkins said she found solace in bookstores. 

“I spent a lot of time hunting down bookstores and hiding away in them, reading and discovering things,” Perkins said. “I’ve recreated a place that made me feel like I could figure out who I was, and I (am) just trying to pass that down to my kids and the community that we’ve got now.”

Francesca Turgeon, a radio-television-film junior, said she feels Reverie’s owners designed the shop in an incredibly thoughtful and intentional manner. She said she noticed how the shop spotlighted voices and stories of people who would usually get lost in between so many books. Turgeon said she felt excited when she first saw a book in Reverie Books highlighting her identity.

“I remember (picking) up the book, ‘Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter.’ It stuck out to me because I’m Mexican American, (and) … it was a little giddy moment,” Turgeon said. “I read the summary … and (could) identify with so many of these things. … It felt like picking up a little mirror and seeing myself in a book.”

After seeing herself reflected in the books offered at the store, Turgeon said the store intentionally curates a wide variety of books featuring different identities and communities, in efforts to represent all readers.  

“Books aren’t one-size-fits-all,” Turgeon said. “Books are for everyone, so it’s important that they reflect all different things and spotlight all different kinds of books for all different (types) of people.”

Maryann Cicala, Perkins’ wife and co-owner of Reverie Books, said after the Dobbs decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, she saw how the environment they created and the books they included could help the community.

“After the Supreme Court decision about Roe v. Wade, there was a young (couple) … carrying their protest signs headed to the Capitol, and they came in looking pretty lost, and ultimately landed on a book for teenage mothers. That was a real raw moment, and I’m glad to have … (had) that in our inventory.” 

In addition to the curated selections in Reverie Books, Cicala said with Banned Book Week underway, they put emphasis on a section of banned books with cards describing where and why certain books were banned.

“A lot of people begin to understand themselves in the context of history,” Perkins said. “(People understand) themselves and who they are by reading stories that reflect them. By removing (stories from) the hands of people, particularly young people, we’re doing a great disservice and causing much more misery down the line.”

Perkins said that she wants to foster an inclusive, progressive environment that reminds the younger generation that they matter and have a place in this country. 

“I want them to feel welcome and warm and comforted,” Perkins said. “I want them to find a little joy … (and) reason for hope.”