We are a black-owned, woman-owned children's bookstore located in South Bend, Indiana in the Near Northwest Neighborhood Center. We partner with local schools and universities to help build an inclusive, welcoming community. We specialize in juvenile and young adult literature written by/for the BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and Disabled communities as well adult nonfiction about ending white supremacy, promoting anti-racism, and becoming a social activist. We can help you find the books you need.
Meet our staff:
Kathy, the founder, is an avid reader who believes there is a book for every reader and every situation.
At Brain Lair Books, she does ALL the things. But with a goal to open more stores in more states, she will remedy that.
Favorite Recent Read: Seton Girls by Charlene Thomas
Books I recommend most: Jennifer Chan is Not Alone by Tae Keller, After the Fall by Dan Santat, War that Saved my Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds, The City We Became and the 5th Season by NK Jemison, Version Zero by David Yoon, all of the Rick Riordan Presents series, any and all things by Jacqueline Woodson, Watch Us Rise by Renee Watson, and Legendborn by Tracy Deonn
Other favorite job: Drinking coffee
Fun facts: In college, Kathy won contests for hula hooping and doing the limbo.
Mykale is a South Bend local who enjoys community outreach and spends their spare time volunteering at the local community gardens.
At Brain Lair Books, Mykale co-hosts our bi monthly Social Justice Book Club and is learning the ins and outs of being an independent bookseller.
Favorite recent read: Emergent Strategy by adrienne maree brown
Books I recommend the most:
Other favorite job: Movement Art Performance
Kelly is a thinker, questioner and activist who finds their favorite ideas, challenges, and people in books.
At Brain Lair Books, Kelly does mostly behind the scenes ordering and social media work with occasional shifts in the shop and author events.
Favorite recent read: All This Could Be Different by Sarah Thankam Mathews
Books I recommend most: Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler, N.K. Jemisin Broken Earth series, Pleasure Activism by adrienne maree brown, Mediocre by Ijeoma Oluo, Heavy by Kiese Laymon, All About Love by bell hooks, The Body is Not an Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor
Other favorite job: Raising and adventuring with 3 amazing little book loving humans
Fun facts: Kelly loves hiking, rollerblading, and doing flips into the pool
Ryan is an avid reader and activist, whose years of exploring life through literature gave him the dangerous belief that we can make a difference when a good group of determined people work together.
At Brain Lair Books, he supports store guests in finding their own next interest, whether it’s in fiction or not. He also helps host book clubs focused on social issues.
Favorite recent read: On the serious side, Laboratories of Autocracy by David Pepper. On the heart-wrenching but hopeful side, "The Secret Garden on 81st street” by Ivy Noelle Weir
Books I recommend most: The Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Luo Guanzhong and the original Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
Other favorite Job: Working with people to connect them to activists and leaders that will help them live or advocate for a better life.