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 #4Golnoush Alamian (Neuroscience & Travel)

Loyal as a Book #4

“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.

Born among the delicious fig trees of Esfahan in Iran, Golnoush grew up in the vibrant city of Montréal, Canada. Forever a student, she is currently working on her PhD at the Université de Montréal, studying the neural signature of psychiatric patients’ brains. Some of Golnoush’s current goals are to help with knowledge translation, and to change the world by teaching elementary schoolkids how to properly communicate and understand emotions within themselves and in others. In between all of this, Golnoush wanders the world to admire the astonishing beauty that exudes from it and its people.

What does reading mean to you? 

For me, reading is inherently intertwined with writing. Reading allows us to lose ourselves and find ourselves all at once, and it happens through the words and thoughts of individuals who are actually separate entities from us. How incredible is that?

But books do not only act as a means of pure catharsis; they help connect people across cultures and continents. Looked at this way, emotions are dispersed through books in a similar fashion to the oscillatory behaviour of the electric pulses in the brain: local neural avalanches of information reach far-away brain regions to communicate key elements that helps us makes sense of the world around us.

What are you reading right now?

I am currently reading two books, for two very different reasons. Firstly, I am reading Rhythms of the Brain, by György Buzsáki. While initially educationally-driven, this book deliveres on so many other levels. It is a beautifully written work describing various brain processes. It explains how the oscillations in the brain must move rhythmically in order for different areas to communicate properly, and thus integrate all the facets of an element. This same process is important for us to be able to articulate ideas and feelings metaphorically, in order to capture palpable images in poems and novels. Meanwhile, as an escape from my day-to-day, and as company during my commute, I am also reading the novel All the Light we Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr.

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

Book have gotten the best of me countless times. They’ve made me laugh out loud in the middle of a metro (subway) ride so hard that I spilled my coffee all over myself. They’ve made me cry so much that my glasses were too blurry for me to continue reading. They’ve made me reflect on my life choices. They’ve made me travel to locations in the world in order to truly immerse myself in the bewitching universe of those same books.

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

For drinks: Charles Baudelaire, literary genius, but tormented soul. The man needs a stiff drink and a good chat. For dinner: Raymond Queneau, hilarious and smart writer. Maybe we could try out of some his style exercises?

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

Genie from Aladdin. He’s been around for hundreds of years, he must have some wisdom to share…or, at the very least, an impressive amount of entertaining stories!

Do you have an all-time favourite book, or selection of books? Why is it/are they your favourite?

Throughout every move, I have carried with myself the same set of books. Four of which are the following: Fleurs du Mal, by Charles Baudelaire. Because the edition I picked up by the Seine river over ten years ago is just so damn beautiful. The Complete works of William Shakespeare. Because, it’s not even a question. The Book of the Persian poet, Hafez. To keep me connected to my roots. And the Harry Potter books. Because I can always use a bit of magic in my life.

Any last words?

Thanks for making pause and remember that, f**k, books rock.

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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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