Art is important.
Books make you a better
version of yourself.
You deserve to be seen.
There are some things—some thoughts—that make Carpe Librum what it is. A few weeks ago I found myself reflecting on those thoughts, and on why I do what I do, after an intense interaction with a family in my booth.
A mother with three daughters came by. The kids were a wide age range, preschool to older teen. The girls all seemed intrigued by the book stuff, but the oldest had definitely “found [her] place.” She had some of her own money, and she was determined to come look around. When she saw our “BORN TO READ—forced to socialize” shirt, her eyes lit up. I looked at this petite young woman, so easy to overlook as a child due to her size, and told her, “We carry all of our shirts in an extra-small, as well.”
Her whole body shifted. She stood straighter, her face brightened. It was one of my favorite moments in the booth all weekend; I love being able to offer my art on clothing sizes that make people feel seen and accepted.
And then her mother started to berate her about even considering paying the cost of one of our t-shirts. “You can get a shirt for $15, you shouldn’t pay $29.” “It’s not worth it.” “Don’t waste your money.” This young woman gave her mother some resistance, and I pointed out that our shirts are made by hand from my own designs, crafted on antique typewriters, that art is important. The mom’s barrage continued, and I watched her oldest daughter literally shrink back into herself. And then her mother walked away, with the stroller and the two younger girls, and the oldest smiled at me sadly and followed her.
Robert came out from behind the tent and gave me a hug. I cried. I told a friend later, “I don’t like to say anyone is a bad parent, because I think everyone is doing the best they can…” but I also think that if you can’t see actual value in something that lights up your child’s entire being—something that makes them feel appreciated for who they are—then you’re probably missing some of the big picture parts of parenting.
Look, what do I know? I don’t have kids. But watching that young lady stand up tall and glow from the inside because we had her size in a t-shirt (and didn’t expect her to wear kids’ clothes) was like a minor miracle. It was like a little gift from God, to see a person shift from overlooked to understood. I wish her mother could have seen it.
This is why we carry extended sizes in our t-shirts: because being able to buy and wear a shirt that says exactly how you feel about books helps you feel seen and helps you be seen. For people like that young woman, we carry extra-small, so that our bookish friends can dress in adult sizes without swimming in their clothes. Sometimes we sell kids—or even toddler—sizes to adults (the crop tops are a thing this year). For folks like me, on the other end of the spectrum, we carry the larger extended sizes; as large as we can get in each style of shirt we carry. Usually, that’s a 4X-large. In sweatshirts, we can carry a 5X. I am adamant that whatever size a book lover is, we do our best to keep them comfortable in their Carpe Librum swag.
Art is important. I hope you seek out art that sets off sparks in your soul, that speaks to you, that opens your view of the world a little bit wider.
Books make you a better version of yourself. Studies show they make us more empathetic, help us process and understand the world around us from a different perspective.
You deserve to be seen. Whether you’re tiny or big, awkward or a social butterfly, neurodivergent or so average you feel invisible, you deserve to be seen for who you are and how special you are. One of the reasons I appreciate the book community so much is that when we dive into what we love, we all go into our heads, and what the world sees just doesn’t matter as much to us.
Thank you for being part of the Carpe Librum community. We are so grateful for your support and participation in our mission to remind people how much fun it is to read.
Be awesome. Read books.
The Remington Portable (Model 2) Typewriter used to create most of Elizabeth’s Carpe Librum designs.
We had a new friend stop by the booth in Stone Mountain, GA, looking for something to read!
WHAT WE’RE READING: Cozy mysteries Bayou Book Thief and Wined and Died in New Orleans by Ellen Byron. Ms. Byron will be the keynote speaker at the Livingston Parish Book Festival on October 21!