Jane Doe Books: Bringing Together Women Writers and Readers, Wallets not Required.
Before visiting Jane Doe Books in Bushwick, get your nomenclature straight. As anyone involved will quickly remind you, Jane Doe is not a bookstore. In fact, almost nothing in the homey space at 93 Montrose Ave. is for sale. Not even the coffee, which is donated. It’s more accurately a “free lending library” or “resource center,” depending on who you ask. But clearly, Jane Doe Books revolves around women -- with an emphasis on feminism, queer and transgender politics and radical activism.
Currently, Jane Doe’s collection is up to 600 books—a library card is free and allows the holder to take out one book at a time for two weeks. Every text either addresses women’s issues or has been authored by a woman. Their stock is growing weekly; in fact, during my initial visit in early November, volunteer Kisha Henry was busily cataloguing a case of newly arrived donations from Bluestockings, a Lower East Side political bookshop. The sections are fairly typical: Health/Self-Help, Fiction, Theory/Philosophy, Poetry, and Cultural Studies. But the books themselves are anything but ordinary—you probably won’t find Lesbian Ethics by Sarah Aucia Hoagland, Revolution, She Wrote by Clara Fraser, or Talking Back by bell hooks in your neighborhood city library.