Hakim Hopkins says his life changed with a book. Hopkins was 15 and in juvenile detention when his mother gave him a copy of Native Son by Richard Wright, a literary classic about the downward spiral of Bigger Thomas who lived in Chicago in the 1930s.
“That book just took me out,” Hopkins, now aged 37, remembers. “I didn’t know that a book could be that good. I became a book lover, and a thinker.”
Now he’s trying to change an entire community with a book shop. “It’s not so much we sell books,” Hopkins says. “We’ve become a light in the community.”
Along with the fiction section, there’s the “conscious” section, with books including Raw Law, “a hip-hop guide to law,” and the New York Times best-seller The Secret. There’s a stand of shea butter, natural soaps, and hand-dipped incense. There are movies, documentaries, and music CDs, including gospel and hip-hop, mostly from unsigned talents. Hopkins’ employees mentor independent authors, artists, and DJs on promoting and distributing their work.