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Juno Books: Books for every body

New bookshop is here for raising up marginalised voices, showcasing new work and highlighting independent presses.

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Having first heard the murmurings that a new intersectional feminist bookshop was in the pipeline way back in 2020, I was naturally thrilled to see Juno Books come to life in April this year. Founders Rosie and Sarah have made quite a splash in just a few short months, and I caught up with them to hear more about their exciting literary adventure.

Hey Rosie and Sarah. As the wonderful humans behind Juno Books, we'd love to know a bit more about you both and what led you to set it up?

We met five years ago, at a Sling Spot meet-up in Ponds Forge with our wee ones. Rosie had just moved here, and we hung out a lot with our kids and friends while they were small. Juno Books was born out of a back garden wine drinking session during the summer of 2020. Like everyone else, we keenly felt the lack of our usual community-based activities and it led us to think about ways we could encourage a re-establishment of this post-pandemic.

We both share a huge love of books, and a strong intersectional feminist approach to life, and this seemed like a good place to start creating the sort of place we would like to visit ourselves. We’ve been thinking about the shape that we want Juno Books to take since then, and it has really come together since launching our website in April.

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You've really hit the ground running in the last few months. What have you been up to since launching?

The past few months have been a really busy and exciting time for us! We launched our website with a carefully curated selection of intersectional feminist and queer books in April, and have been gradually adding books by theme, bringing out our Summer Reads selection last month, and preparing to add some incredible books for August’s Women in Translation month.

We’ve also been to several markets, including the Moor Market and Sharrow Festival. It has been so lovely to meet people who have been following us on social media since the beginning, and to be able to chat about books and recommendations face to face. We’ve also held three book clubs (more info about these below), and we’re in the process of making some VERY exciting plans for Juno’s future.

A recent article in Now Then highlighted the emerging LGBTQ+ scene in Sheffield. What are your thoughts on the need for more queer venues and bookshops in the city centre?

I (Rosie) am queer and have always been a bit shocked by how small Sheffield’s gay scene is compared to the other big Northern cities, but I’ve been so excited to the brilliant DIY queer scene burgeoning in recent years. There’s so much great stuff going on, but it is often club nights. There is a real need for more daytime queer spaces that don’t revolve around drinking: we want to help plug that gap with a friendly queer space, and lots of events and groups which allow people of all ages and backgrounds to meet each other over shared interests.

Similarly, for a city with two universities, and a vibrant writing scene, there is also a lack of independent bookshops. The ones we have, like Rhyme and Reason and La Biblioteka, are fabulous, but we need more and feel we can complement the offer with a space for queer and feminist booklovers right in the heart of Sheffield.

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No bookshop is truly complete without a book club, and you've got two! What can folks expect at Juno Reads?

Juno Reads is a real jewel in our crown, we love it so much! At the moment we have two groups a month, one at Hagglers Corner and one online. We will always provide an online option as it allows those who find it difficult to get to a physical group for disability, health or childcare reasons, or those who are away from Sheffield, to join in. Making the joy of books as accessible as possible is really important to us.

The groups themselves are really friendly, often hilarious, and surprisingly intimate and touching. We like to introduce people to weird and wonderful works that they might not discover otherwise and so far have discussed Chilean women killers, lesbian deep sea divers, and sisters with secrets in the Belfast Blitz. We will be reading You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty by the incredible Akwaeke Emezi for our next group in September. People can join by buying the book on our website, and you don’t have to come every month. In the future we also hope to run different groups for parents with babes in arms, young adults, and queer and ESOL reading groups.

We hear that you've got a Crowdfunder in the pipeline. What can you tell us about this and your future plans for Juno Books?

We are hoping to open a real-life shop in the city centre by autumn, and we are so excited! We’re just finalising the details of it all, so watch this space. As we said before, we really want this space to be a community hub as well as a commercial bookshop and we want to offer free or low cost events for the community as much as possible. We will be offering pay it forward books, but will also need funding to run the events, as well as help to get the shop fabulous and cosy for opening. Anything people can spare to help us make Juno Books a reality would be so very gratefully received.

by Felicity Jackson (she/her)

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