I wrote this interview piece a few years ago. Reading it today still makes me smile. The language belongs to an Aditi of the past. The spirit is quite the same. Enjoy.
In the meantime, a grande cappuccino for ‘Adibi’ coming right up!
It is not very often that one comes across a blog that touches something deep within, and fills the being with an oft forgotten love for words. This is a unique love. Unrequited, yet fulfilling.
This love is exactly what I felt when we came across Literary Starbucks, run by Jill, Wilson and Nora from Carleton College, Minnesota. It answers the question: What if famous writers and literary characters went to Starbucks and ordered a coffee? It uses wit and humour to bring out the essence of a writer. What this blog has done is inspire many to read and many more to re-read. It has enabled readers who don’t find the time anymore to connect with their passion, and make that time to read.
Learn more about the blog and its founders in this exclusive Q and A.
How did the idea of Literary Starbucks come about? When did you start it?
Jill came up with the idea for Literary Starbucks in an English class, when she and her professor made a joke about what Keats would order at Starbucks. She immediately went home and created the blog, and asked Wilson and Nora to help write posts! The blog was started on September 18, 2014, and has amassed 55,000 followers since then, which is astounding to us. (See: When Literary Starbucks amassed 50,000 followers)
And the three of you? What connects you with one another?
Nora and Wilson were next-door neighbours freshman year, and passed notes to one another through a hole in their closets. Jill hand-selected Nora for their co-ed a cappella group when the latter was a freshman, because her high notes are out of this world. Jill and Wilson met in a short story workshop, and they became friends when Wilson decided Jill used too many adverbs in a story and circled every single one.
What did you read as children?
Jill and Wilson are huge Harry Potter nerds (Wilson states that without Harry Potter, he wouldn’t read at all), but Nora’s favourite chapter books were His Dark Materials. Nora was raised on D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths, Maurice Sendak, Arnold Lobel, and James Marshall. Jill, as an English major, studies children’s literature, particularly fairy tales and structuralism.
Who are your favourite writers? Why?
Wilson swears by Italo Calvino. Jill is a huge fan of Kazuo Ishiguro and George Saunders. Nora would like to go back and time and live in 19th-century Concord, Massachusetts, with Louisa May Alcott.
What if these writers went to Starbucks and ordered a coffee?
Toni Morrison goes up to the counter and places her order, which is so novel that Starbucks immediately adds it to their menu. Twenty-seven years later, Morrison orders the drink again; she is pleasantly surprised to find that it might be even better than everyone has said.
What do you feel about the overwhelming response that Literary Starbucks continues to receive?
We are honestly amazed by the outpouring of positive feedback for the blog. When we started it, we had no idea that it would become this huge thing, and we are really honoured that people have responded to it so enthusiastically.
What do the three of you like the most about Literary Starbucks?
We love responding to questions and feedback we get via the ask box on the blog, and we think the best response we’ve gotten was early on — a girl wrote in to us saying that our Kafka post had inspired her to pick up his books and explore a whole new author. We were really excited that although our blog is funny, it actually inspires people to read!
How does the Barista respond when:
Jhumpa Lahiri takes a sip before she pays. In her bag, instead of chum change, she finds a culture or two. She offers to make amends in lost loves and twisted fates. Or in dreams, both in Boston and Bengali.
The Barista says, “We only accept VISA and MasterCard.”
Your advice to readers who cannot find enough time to read?
Reading doesn’t need to be a huge time commitment. A few pages a day — a page a day, even — can be enough to whet your mind. And be creative with where you read: a few pages of prose while water boils; an essay during your lunch break; a poem in the bathroom stall. Each opportunity is a vacation writ small; a reprieve from busy-ness that can be taken midday and can make each day easier.
All three of you love….
The smell of fresh ink. Also, whatever a fresh blog post smells like (victory?).
Follow Literary Starbucks on Twitter.
See a Literary Starbucks-inspired collection of tweets: Famous Indian authors have chai and coffee
A productive screen time app for ages 3 to 12, that focuses on improving English Language skills.
Online English classes for ages 5 to 12. Proven methods for children to improve academic performance and confidence.