A wonderful new bookstore called Whose Books is bringing the joys of reading to Oak Cliff. Located at Tyler Station at 1300 S. Polk St., the bookstore is from Claudia Vega, an Oak Cliff resident, author, and former teacher who wanted to share her love and passion for the the written word.
The bookstore, which opened on November 19, is an ambitious and idealistic venture fueled by the belief that families should read together; that we grow and connect with the world through reading and writing; and that the written word can change lives.
Vega describes Oak Cliff as a "book desert" with limited access to book stores, and hopes Whose Books can help increase access to and ownership of books for all, as well as promote a more diverse representation in literature.
Books she's highlighted so far include Shoe Dog, the memoir by Phil Knight, creator of Nike; Freedom For All of Us, by Matthieu Ricard, Christophe Andre, and Alexandre Jollien, which she calls "a must read for those looking for peace and meaning"; Welcome to Dunder Mifflin, an oral history of The Office TV series; The 1619 Project, by Nikole Hannah-Jones; and Will, an autobiography by Will Smith with Mark Manson.
Hours are currently Wednesdays-Sundays, with Monday-Tuesday off for re-stocking.
She'll launch her programming in January 2022, including family-friendly options such as Sunday Story Time for Kids, Wednesday Wine Downs, and Poetry Nights.
The store will also host author events, readings by local teachers, and book club meet-ups. By showcasing these books and authors, Vega hopes to inspire and create new generations of readers and writers.
Both of her parents were teachers at DISD and she grew up around books.
"I always knew we needed a bookstore in our neighborhood, even as a kid, when I wasn't able to see stories about people like me," she says. "I've struggled to find diverse books for my kids and students, and wanted to provide something so we didn't have to drive across 75 to find it."
She was grateful to find a home for her store at Tyler Station, founded in 2018 by Monte Anderson and designed as a centerpoint for small business, entrepreneurs, and creatives in Oak Cliff and South Dallas.
"Finding a good location wasn't easy," she says. "People who lease space were skeptical. They said, 'Books? Nobody reads anymore.' But I said, 'You know what, yes they do.'"
Whose Books adds another presence on Oak Cliff/Bishop Arts' literary scene, along with Lucky Dog on Jefferson Boulevard, Poets Oak Cliff on Bishop Avenue, and The Wild Detectives, which opened on 8th Street in 2014.
For all her laudable goals, there's also a deeply personal side to Whose Books.
"I was a teacher and principal coming up on my 20-year anniversary," she says. "I said, 'OK, I'm at the next season of my life, what do I want to do?' I decided I wanted something where I was surrounded by books and where I could share books with other people."