The recent rise of female empowerment in the United States compelled me to really pay attention and listen to the women in my community. Months ago, I discovered Lizzy Evensen by way of her husband, James Stickling – the power duo behind the brick-and-mortar bookstore located at 15 N. River St. in Batavia, simply titled The Book Shop.
A second-hand store where perusers can discover their next nightstand read, The Book Shop is also the perfect place to chat about life and literature.
“The residents of Batavia and surrounding cities have gone above and beyond to support our dream of bringing a bookshop to our town,” Evensen told me over drinks at River's Edge Bar & Grill on River Street just across from her shop. “Book donations by the boxful poured in to help us get started.”
I learned that Evensen is no stranger to running a small business, having helped manage her father’s copier company for 13 years.
After we discussed the genesis of The Book Shop, we paused to order a second round and I could see something in Evensen’s eyes that said, “I’ve got more to tell you.”
While I was intrigued at her excitement about literature and bringing books to the residents of Batavia, I realized I was engaged in conversation with a woman so much deeper than brainstorming marketing plans and casually discussing books with customers. Our conversation about future plans for The Book Shop soon switched to her own writing.
“I’m a music writer – a music junkie, if I’m honest,” Evensen told me while I sipped a cocktail.
Her mind, exploding with ideas, resonated with me. You see, creative people rarely have just one passion. And herein lies Lizzy.
One aspect of her writing supports musicians with marketing and online presence – simply put, Evensen launches a buzz about their work. This artist development has brought to life Press Play Media & Marketing, a public relations service that supports artists all over the world with press releases, social media consulting and artist networking.
“I’m crazy about writing the stories about these artists, so they can go on performing and writing their music,” Evensen said.
She is a contributing author to Artist View, an art-centered platform where artists, actors, filmmakers, designers and music lovers can explore each other without the noise of the entertainment industry encroaching to sway opinions and interests. Evensen writes the column “Extended Play” with Stickling.
“'Extended Play' is an ongoing music series where we listen to music and really spill our honest and sometimes brutal opinions about the artists and their work,” Evensen said.
She also told me of a beautiful and heart-wrenching story she has worked on for years, a fictional memoir of sorts that tells the coming-of-age story of a young woman in vivid detail, tapping into an inner monologue that none have the opportunity to hear.
Intrigued to hear more, I asked Evensen to consider me as a beta reader for her story before it published.
“It’s got a long way to go,” Evensen said. “I’ve grown so much since then and I need to dive back into that woman again to pull out her entire story.”
I was amazed at the amount of creativity coursing through the woman across the table from me, and our discussion swayed to all things Batavia.
“I love my town,” Evensen told me, settling into a topic that brought her from the intensity of her own writing to a conversation that felt like home.
Evensen spoke enthusiastically of the recent launch of the Batavia Lyceum Association, a meeting of minds that features intellectual and educational speakers each third Monday. October marked the second successful meeting hosted by Bar Evolution, which featured Batavia High School history teacher Scott Bayer.
“October’s talk was an adaptation of a term paper Mr. Bayer wrote for a graduate history course on Nazi Germany," she said. "Much of the information in the presentation is sourced from British-American historian Charles Higham’s important book 'Trading with the Enemy: The Nazi-American Money Plot, 1933-1949.'”
Evensen is confident that stirring conversations about various topics, both historic and contemporary, will benefit society overall and perhaps open minds.
We could have spent hours talking in the bar, digging deeper into our creative lives, but we paused there because, after all, we both had families to get home to.
Readers, I implore you to be brave and talk to people. Visit with them offline, get together face to face. Do you know of a stellar woman I should get to know? I look forward to bringing you more intricate women from our community. Because, we all have a story to tell.
Smitten with domestic life but not to the point of unhealthy obsession, “The Modern Domestic Woman” author and St. Charles resident, Elizabeth Rago, is a freelance writer. You can visit her blog at thecircularhome.com or connect with Rago on Facebook at facebook.com/TheModernDomesticWoman. Feedback can be sent to email@example.com.