Abby Adesanya has made a writing class the coolest new club in NYC with Novella - it might be teaching "chicks about lit," but it's certainly no fluffy book club.
Hi Abby! Thanks for replying to my social media stalking! Tell me a little about you? Where did you grow up? Have you always loved books and writing?
I grew up in the quiet New Jersey suburbs – Freehold Raceway Mall was our greatest source of entertainment, and it was still miles away... so there was a lot of room for imagination down there. Books and writing quickly became my form of escape. I could open a novel and enter an entirely different world, whether that was one of witchcraft and wizardry or one where I was a Bergdorf Blonde maxing out cards in Soho boutiques. Literature has always been a way for me to explore, and I have been forever thankful for that experience.
What is Novella?
Novella is a writing club and storytelling salon for women. After moving to NYC, I realized my love for writing had taken a back seat- and I knew I couldn't have been alone in that thought. I wanted to create an opportunity for like-minded women to bring our passions to the forefront again, and as a result, Novella came to be. We launched in September 2017, creating a space where women may share, connect, and learn from one another through written and spoken word, and have been rolling forward ever since.
Why do you think that it's important to give women a place to share both their written and spoken voices?
I've always thought there was something special about the camaraderie that women form, and how our experiences are both unique and connected all at once. All women have a story to share, and we do that in many ways- from our text message threads about last night's dates to mothers passing down life lessons to their daughters. We tend to say "now more than ever," but I think it's always been time to amplify those stories. There are so many emerging female voices, so many yet to be heard, and we want to make sure they are given the microphone.
Do you think that keeping a journal is important?
I love the idea of a journal! My execution, however, is not so great. I've started many a diary but they tend to fall by the wayside after a couple of entries. I'm not sure why it's been that way for me, but I truly admire those who do journal all the time. I think if you can, you should. I love the idea of being able to jot down where and when something happened, then going back to that experience after some time. We're thinking of ways for women to connect those entries with one another sometime soon, too.
I'd love your thoughts on why books are such important traveling companions.
To me, books are passports. Back when I had no money and nowhere to go, books were what took me to France, Hogwarts, Los Angeles, and more. Then later, once I was travelling for real, books only served to enrich the experience further. A book moves time on a long plane ride more enjoyably, and adds colour to the city you've landed in. Books are such a powerful tool! They help both when you need a bit of travel FOMO to finally pull the trigger and book the flight, and when you're wondering what your favourite author has to say about your temporary Paris arrondissement.
Could you share a few books that you would encourage all young women to read on the road?
Absolutely! My recommendations are always books that tend to immerse you in the culture, setting, and lifestyles of the characters in the stories, sometimes far different from my own. Here's a list!:
Call Me by Your Name - André Aciman
Just a beautiful story that truly takes you into the Italian scenery from cover to cover. Also, a must-see film to follow up with.
Crazy Rich Asians - Kevin Kwan
The first in this trilogy but definitely continue until you've completed the series. I've never been to Singapore or Hong Kong but my mind has, and she's obsessed with it. Another one whose film comes out this summer!
Slow Days, Fast Company - Eve Babitz
I have so much fun reading Eve Babitz! She is my go-to when I want to feel like an Angeleno full of ennui, surrounded by sun-bathed palm trees. Sex & Rage is another great one of hers.
Beautiful Ruins - Jess Walter
A fun, easier read that tells a love story and its travels across time and beautiful countries.