“The pen is mightier than the sword.”
— Edward Bulwatt Lytton, 1839
Women have been fighting for space in the literary world for centuries. Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin knew about the power of the pen. So did Mary Ann Evans, and siblings Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. They understood the strength found through words, ideas, and narrative so well that George Sand, George Eliot, and the Brontë sisters — Charlotte, Emily and Anne — wrote and published under male pseudonyms. Underground, subversive, and determined to be taken seriously by a male world that valued them for little, if anything at all, they scorned the sword for the written word.
Here at GAL (Girls at Library) we, too, are committed to the power of the pen and to empowering the vast community of women whose thirst for books can never be quenched. GAL was created for those who read or write (or both), and for whom talking about literature is literally food for thought — and life. Women have plenty of spaces to explore and discuss fashion, dieting, mothering, and work-life balance. But we noticed a dearth of online spaces for women to speak frankly and personally about literature, and thus Girls at Library was born.
GAL is a wholly unique online magazine dedicated to interviewing women, from all walks of life, who share how experiences with literature have shaped their lives. From a favorite childhood book that started them on the path to reading, to books they reread to keep them sane (called the Sanity Shelf), and sharing books they’ve read but would never recommend, GAL introduces our readers to a community far wider than most book clubs can offer. Coupled with the interviews are striking photographic “essays” that peek into the worlds of these women’s homes, work, and — of course — their bookshelves.
GAL also offers regular features such as a prescriptive reading recommendations series titled “There’s a Book for That” and the “Nightstand Series,” a collection of original written works describing what books and objects stay close to each author during the night. Perhaps our most favorite aspect of GAL — besides the books — is when we move offline and engage our readers by holding events in different cities, such as “Book Swaps,” and “Food to Fiction,” a welcoming literary and culinary gathering centered around a specific theme. The success of these events in New York City and Los Angeles has shown us that women are yearning for an inclusive literary experience that combines a socially-supportive community with the intellectual satisfaction of discussing books, ideas, and the struggles and triumphs of life as a woman. Whether in person or online, GAL is there to serve its readers and bring to light the endless ways literature can empower, inspire, and shape the mind and spirit.
Since its inception in 2015, GAL has grown to include tens of thousands of unique and regular readers from across the globe. Receiving feedback from readers has been one of the most satisfying parts of building GAL: that’s how we knew we needed to expand GAL to satisfy its mission and ever-growing community. One of the nicest personal notes we’ve received has been from a fan named Ali: “As a girl who reads and a lover of your site, I’m so thankful for imagery of women, of all ages and races, looking smart and reading with style! Thank you for making this site and creating this space for women.“
Now GAL is in need of help to expand our offerings to a wider physical community alongside our digital space. We want GAL to be more about you, the reader, as a vital part of an online community of connected women who love to read. We want to encourage more frequent submissions and through that, support emerging talents. To meet the scope of our goal, we’ll need help from freelance editors and assistants. All of the ways we hope to see GAL grow can be explored on our Kickstarter page.
Please take a look at GAL and, if you enjoy the content and believe in our mission, consider contributing to our Kickstarter campaign. As of writing this, GAL is 83% funded (thank you!). We have only three days left to meet our goal ending on July 12th at 2PM EST, so please help to keep the pen mightier than the sword.
After all, girls who read become women who read — and women who read are empowered people.
Payton C. Turner