Help Canadian Author Saleema Nawaz Rebuild Her Book Collection After Fire

426457_10151528279906368_309430823_nUPDATE: This post is no longer in effect. Please read this one!

In case you haven’t heard yet, Saleema Nawaz, author of the collection of short stories Mother Superior and the recently released and very well received Bone and Bread, lost her apartment in a fire last night. I can only imagine how devastating this must be, and I’m deeply saddened by her loss. She wrote briefly and bravely about the experience. She lost 16 packed bookcases of books. I’m very thankful that she and her partner are safe.

What I’d like to propose—since we are all book lovers and would be utterly destroyed by the loss of our precious books, which we’ve taken years and much time and love to collect and read—is purchasing one or more books to help Saleema and her partner rebuild their library. I’m thinking we could buy our favourite book(s) for her, so she’ll have a shelf or more to remind her she is supported both as a Canadian author and friend, and has our best recommendations as well.

We all know that a house without books is not a home. We know that books are friends and lovers. And we know that without our books, we would be uncomfortable, displaced. When I look at the familiar volumes on my shelves, no matter where I’ve just moved to, they help me feel instantly at home.

This idea is fresh, and admittedly I’m writing this without her permission. I haven’t been able to reach her. Saleema will likely find this out from this post. She may protest. I don’t know.

I bought Mother Superior on her birthday. If I can do something to give back to an author who’s enriched my reading experience, right now there’s no other way I can think that’s more appropriate.

There are few things more tragic than losing one’s home for whatever reason. If the fire didn’t annihilate the books, likely all the water did.

To help, please just leave a comment below and I’ll email you with details. Saleema doesn’t yet have an address, but I will arrange the particulars of this campaign and then get back to everyone. Either all the books can be sent to my home and I can drive them to her, or we may be able to send them directly to her. She will have an apartment soon, and it would be fun for her to keep getting mail at this new address, since books in the mail are not only exciting but also make a house feel like home.

Thank you so much in advance for your support of this endeavour. If anything changes once Saleema reads this, I’ll be sure to let you know.

PLEASE NOTE: I’d really appreciate if the books you buy or donate are your very favourite, not ones you just need to get rid of. Thank you!

43 Responses

  1. Steph 22 April, 2013 / 10:59 am

    Thank you, Dee. I’ll keep you posted for sure.

  2. saleema 22 April, 2013 / 11:13 am

    Steph, this is unbelievably touching and makes me feel safe in a time when I am sorely lacking that feeling. But we got in this morning and it is nowhere near as bad as we feared.

  3. Steph 22 April, 2013 / 11:19 am

    Are you sure? Because if the books are damaged at all, by smoke or water, we can definitely help you replace them!

    I’m sorry to have jumped the gun. I couldn’t imagine them being all right.

  4. Steph 22 April, 2013 / 11:20 am

    Are you still able to live there?

  5. Steph 22 April, 2013 / 11:21 am

    Let us help. The Q&Q’s picked it up, too. :)

  6. Panic 22 April, 2013 / 11:26 am

    I’m in! Alternately if she wants to make a list of books she needs, you could just assign books to buy (so we don’t double up).

    • Steph 22 April, 2013 / 11:31 am

      She just commented that it’s not as bad as they thought, but I still want to find out more. If she can’t live there, I assume water and smoke damage to the books, and still want to help, even if things in general aren’t as bad as they’d feared.

      I’d thought of your idea, too. It’s a good one. I don’t know if she’d be comfy with it, but we’ll see!

      Thanks, Heather!

  7. Anne 22 April, 2013 / 11:30 am

    I’m in agreement with “Panic.” More than happy to help out from way down in the land of California.

    • Steph 22 April, 2013 / 11:32 am

      Wow, thanks Anne! That’s great. I’ll keep you all posted for sure.

  8. Anne 22 April, 2013 / 11:43 am

    There was a horrible fire in the Oakland Hills, CA in 1990, destroying hundreds of houses and claiming many lives. There was a similar response and campaign to build up libraries for the people whose book collections were no more. Please let Saleema know, there are people who want to help, and knowing what books she would enjoy versus some random choice by me, is the way to go.

  9. Marci 22 April, 2013 / 11:50 am

    that is so nice of you! That is pure awesomeness on your part. Bravo! I’ll spread the word.

    • Steph 22 April, 2013 / 11:52 am

      That would be great, thank you, Marci!

  10. Steph 22 April, 2013 / 11:51 am

    I agree. Thank you so much, Anne!

  11. Amanda Earl 22 April, 2013 / 12:55 pm

    i am so sorry to hear. i would love to contribute a book.

  12. Steph 22 April, 2013 / 1:13 pm

    Thank you, everyone. I’m hoping to hear more from Saleema but in her circumstances it may take some time. Not as bad as they thought may still be bad enough that we can help.

    I’ll keep you all posted.

  13. Jenna 22 April, 2013 / 1:18 pm

    My father just purchased _Bone and Bread_ as a gift for me. I’m so sad that this has happened. I’d be very happy to help.

    • Steph 22 April, 2013 / 4:37 pm

      What a wonderful gift. I’m sure you’ll really enjoy it. Thanks, Jenna.

  14. Robert Whiteley 22 April, 2013 / 1:41 pm

    I already have a book picked out.

    • Steph 22 April, 2013 / 4:36 pm

      :) I’m curious! Thank you!

  15. Denise Bukowski 22 April, 2013 / 1:45 pm

    If you really want to help her, buy her book so she has some income to help her replace whatever she wants and needs to replace in her home. Put her book on the bestseller lists!

    • Steph 22 April, 2013 / 1:50 pm

      Great idea, Denise! I have both of her books already, but could also purchase them as gifts!

  16. Steph 22 April, 2013 / 1:52 pm

    I also thought of doing a campaign for funds so she could go on a book shopping spree. But as a book blogger, knowing how special it is, how I’ve never tired of the treat of getting books in the mail, I thought this would be more fun.

    We’ll let her decide! :)

  17. Jennifer Dawson 22 April, 2013 / 2:07 pm

    Steph, I am wondering if Saleema uses Goodreds or LibraryThing as a catalogue for their books? And if so…maybe once things are a little calmer, we can figure out which books need replacing and work from there?

    I am more than happy to pass along some books from my personal library or contribute new books or a gift card for Book City (or whichever shops Saleema and her husband prefer).

    I am so glad they are safe and things are not as bad as first thought. Thank you for coordinating this effort and for empathetically supporting other book lovers. I shall keep checking in for updates.


  18. Steph 22 April, 2013 / 2:11 pm

    Jenn, fantastic idea about the sites! She may!

    I’ve asked her to email me so we can figure out what’s going on and what to do. As soon as I hear anything, I’ll post it. Gift cards for Chapters or Indigo are a good idea, too. I’m not sure if she has a local bookshop or if she does, what that is.

  19. Mark Abley 22 April, 2013 / 3:03 pm

    Very glad to help. Wonderful initiative!

    • Steph 22 April, 2013 / 4:36 pm

      Thank you very much, Mark!

  20. Anne 22 April, 2013 / 6:17 pm

    Great idea from Denise Bukowski. I just bought the book, “Mother Superior” by Saleema. Keep me posted on status of a possible personal wish list for Saleema. Thanks for all you’re doing, Steph!

  21. Steph 22 April, 2013 / 6:27 pm

    Anne! That’s excellent! Thank you for doing that. :)

    I haven’t heard from Saleema yet but will let you all know when I do! Thank you so much, everyone.

  22. Michael Blouin 22 April, 2013 / 6:55 pm

    I’m in. I will leave my Canadian favourite “Coming Through Slaughter” with Sean Wilson at the Ottawa International Writers’ Festival where I’m interviewing the night before Saleema reads. Unfortunately I cannot be there the next night to give it to her in person.

    • Steph 22 April, 2013 / 7:08 pm

      Michael, that’s wonderful! Thank you so much! It’s too bad you’ll miss her, but leaving her the book will thrill her, I know.

      Just about to do another post to update. I’ve just heard from her.

  23. Devon 22 April, 2013 / 7:36 pm

    Fantastic idea. I haven’t spoken to Saleema since we graduated. I still have a lot of the books we read in those years, and I’d love to help her refill her shelves!

    • Steph 22 April, 2013 / 7:37 pm

      Oh Devon, how lovely of you! Thank you!

  24. Natasha 22 April, 2013 / 9:07 pm

    I was in grad school with Saleema. I cannot believe what happened. This sounds like a fantastic plan. Please count me in!

  25. rr 22 April, 2013 / 9:34 pm

    I’m in. Keep me posted!

  26. Cait 23 April, 2013 / 9:29 am


    I’d love to donate my fav book to her. I think this is a great idea!

  27. Steph 23 April, 2013 / 10:42 am

    You guys are so awesome!! Thank you!

    I’ve posted an update from Saleema and am pulling together a “How to Help” post so as not to leave anyone confused.

  28. Anna 23 April, 2013 / 3:08 pm

    I’m in. It’s my nightmare to lose my library — the least I can do is help with hers!

  29. Shannon (Giraffe Days) 30 April, 2013 / 3:29 pm

    Oh how awful. I would be so distressed if this happened to me. Count me in for getting her a new copy of a book she loves.

    • Shannon (Giraffe Days) 30 April, 2013 / 3:30 pm

      Oh whoops, I only now read your updated post! This is what happens when you’ve only had 4 hours of sleep…

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