Loyal as a Book #6

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About Us

(The story of Misfit Press is inextricably linked to the story of Misfit Incorporated, which is inextricably linked to the story of AJ and Melissa Leon. These fascinating stories have been told at length on many other occasions – in newspapers, on TEDx stages, during numerous interviews and chance meetings in wine bars. If you want to explore the weird and wonderful company that is Misfit Incorporated, peruse our site. For the full backstory, check out this video interview.)

Misfit Press itself was established in 2014, with the publication of AJ Leon’s The Life & Times of a Remarkable Misfit. The little-known backstory to The Life & Times is that it was originally slated to be published by a major American publisher, who headhunted AJ after noticing the popularity of his blog, The Pursuit of Everything. About a third of the way through the writing of the book, AJ began to get twitchy about the compromises involved in traditional publishing: uncompromising editorial pressure, a lack of say on issues such as design and artwork. Not long later, AJ bailed on the contract, and decided to publish the book himself. The Misfit team created and ran a Kickstarter, aimed at raising $15,000 to cover publishing costs. By the time the fundraising had run its course, pledges totalled more than treble that amount. With the excess funds, AJ and Misfit decided to go one better than just publishing a book, and also founded a publishing house.

Since its founding, Misfit Press has steadily flourished. In 2015, we took under our wing Wolftree, the finest arts journal in the American Midwest; we released our 2015 Anthology, featuring the finest creative work we encountered over the preceding year; and The Life & Times of a Remarkable Misfit continued to find readers across the globe. In 2016 we published Destination Shakespeare, the debut poetry collection from esteemed Shakespeare academic Paul Edmondson; and we have more Shakespeare-related publications in the works for 2017, including Shakespeare On The Road, a tale of a Shakespearian adventure across the US.

Last  year was a big growth period for the Press, and there is lots more on the way for 2017. As you’ll see from our Forthcoming Publications section, over the next twelve months we will be publishing Saya Sayama: Three Years in Myanmar by incredible photojournalist Spike Johnson, a photonarrative account documenting a unique moment in Myanmar’s history: the violent shift from General Ne Win’s fifty-year dictatorship to the country’s first steps towards democracy. Also imminent is Tangentially Reading, featuring some of the most insightful, shocking, touching, and hilarious moments from the first 200 episodes of Christopher Ryan’s much-loved podcast, Tangentially Speaking.

These are exciting times at Misfit Press. To keep up to date with everything that’s going on, follow us at our blogFacebook, Twitter and/or Instagram. Into the future, we will always continue to work in the fashion we do right now: with authors we like, on projects that matter, in a way that leaves writer, reader and everyone in-between satisfied. We will also never renege on our One-for-One pledge; for every publication we ever sell, a child in India will receive money towards prescription eyeglasses, via the Misfit Foundation.

w: Matt

w: Matt

Loyal as a Book #1Emily Millen (Yoga Teacher)

Loyal as a Book #1

“There is no friend as loyal as a book.” – Ernest Hemingway

Misfit Press’s Loyal as a Book series is composed of short, illuminating interviews with readers. It uncovers and explores the reading lives of people from across the globe, coming from all walks of life.

Emily Millen grew up in a small town called Bridgenorth in Ontario, Canada. She has lived in Vancouver for nine years, having tried on Toronto and Los Angeles. Emily has been teaching yoga around Vancouver for six years, as well as leading local and international retreats through her company, Unity Retreats (a partnership with fellow yogi Susan Horning). When she’s not on her mat, you can find Emily dancing around her living room, tending to her garden, and supporting birthing mothers as a doula. 

What does reading mean to you? 

Reading before bed has been a longtime ritual of mine. When I was younger, I loved getting lost in colourful worlds and infatuating characters right before drifting off to sleep. These days, I read to continue to learn and stay inspired. As a yoga teacher and birth doula, it’s challenging to consistently be attending conferences, trainings and workshops, so I educate myself through reading. I use my work week to read up on anything related to yoga, spirituality, and childbirth; vacations are used for mindless fictions and fun!

What is the first book you remember really loving?

The Thorn Birds, by Colleen McCullough. It was a real coming-of-age experience for me, because the novel was passed down to me by my Mom who had just finished reading it with her book club – that made me feel special. For the first time, I felt connected to the mature content. I became emotionally involved with the characters, the romantic drama, and story line.

What are you reading right now? Why did you pick it up, out of all the millions of books out there? 

I just finished a book by Clarissa Pinkola Estés called Women Who Run With the Wolves. I picked it up on a second date with my current partner. I purposely took him to my favourite bookstore in Vancouver, Banyen Books. This magical place is a New Age, metaphysical bookstore which smells of incense and is full of crystals, candles, and gongs. Curious folk sit crosslegged in every corner, soaking up books on everything from Judaism to gardening to self-help. I feel at home there and, at the time, I felt that I’d find out a lot about my date based on how he’d react to Banyen’s environment. At one point we split up and I found him in the Nature section, nose-deep in a Primatology book. At that point, I knew we’d get along just fine. That was back in 2012. It’s now 2016 and it took me that long to finish Women Who Run With the Wolves. It’s a profound, meaty book, full of folklore and myths of the wild woman archetype. I suppose I wasn’t ready to receive the content and wisdom until this year. Some books are like that.

So now I’m onto something lighter with less text and more pictures: Birthing From Within, by Pam England and Rob Horowitz.

What is the strongest emotional response a book has ever provoked in you?

A few years ago, I was in a book club and we chose to read Diary, by Chuck Palahniuk. At the time, I knew nothing about the author or his style of writing, and I definitely wasn’t prepared for the content. Psychologically, the book rattled me. Throughout the time I was reading it, my days felt abnormally heavy and dark. To me the book was messed up, but I couldn’t stop reading it because (a) I was in a book club and (b) I can’t stand not finishing a book. It’s a personal pet peeve of mine.

If you could go for dinner and drinks with one author, alive or dead, who would it be, and why?

I would take out author Ina May Gaskin, who has written a number of books on midwifery and child birth. She’s known as “the mother of authentic midwifery.” She has over 1,200 births under her belt and also runs The Farm Midwifery Clinic in Tennessee which is known for its low C-Section and intervention rate (less than 2% C-Section rate compared to a national rate of 32.8%). She does a incredible job of normalizing birth, and is helping our society remember that birth is natural and primal. I could pick her brain for hours. I know from the lecture of hers I attended that she also has a wicked sense of humour, so I’m sure we’d have a fantastic time!

If you could go for dinner and drinks with one character, who would it be, and why?

I would venture to the Siberian Taiga to hang out with Anastasia from the Ringing Cedars of Russia series. There is controversy surrounding the question of whether the books’ author, Vladimir Megre, invented Anastasia, or in fact spent time with her in the flesh. Either way, if I could detach from modern day society – kick off my shoes, run around naked in the woods, sleep under the stars, talk with the plants and animals – I most definitely would!

Do you have an all-time favourite book, or selection of books? 

In no particular order:

Gift From the Sea ~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Maps to Ecstasy ~ Gabrielle Roth
Anatomy of the Spirit~ Caroline Myss
Fierce Medicine ~ Ana Forrest
The Birth House ~ Ami McKay
Summer Sisters ~ Judy Blume (I read this every summer as a teen).
Ina May Guide to Childbirth ~ Ina May Gaskin

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MattMatt is Chief Editor at Misfit Press. Alongside overseeing all activity at the Press, he is in the latter stages of a PhD, working on a thesis examining the intersections between literature, neuroscience and the philosophy of consciousness. Soccer, snowboarding, prog metal, Dostoevsky, a good Chianti and strangers' dogs all rank amongst his favourite things.

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