authors, other book stuff

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426457_10151528279906368_309430823_nUPDATE: This post is no longer in effect.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!


  1. saleema

    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.

  2. Steph Author

    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.

    1. Steph Author

      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!

  3. Anne

    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.

  4. Steph Author

    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.

  5. Steph Author

    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! :)

  6. 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.


  7. Steph Author

    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.

  8. Anne

    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!

  9. 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.

    1. Steph Author

      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.

  10. Devon

    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!


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