6 Prizes I’m Giving Away in My Imaginary Bookish Lottery

Tracy Shapley Towley

Staff Writer

Tracy is a freelance copywriter, all-around ne’er do well, very-adult graduate of the University of Iowa, and occasional waterer of plants. Her hobbies include writing fiction, reading fiction, mixing together various flavors of soup, and typing letters to her friends on an old red typewriter that doesn't have a working period so all sentences must end in questions marks or exclamation points? She has read every Pulitzer Prize-winning novel and has a lot of thoughts on them. Her old Iowa farmhouse is shared by her husband Sean, a pair of cats, a pair of dogs, and the ghost of Kurt Vonnegut.

I don’t play the lottery regularly, but once in a blue moon I’ll get a hankering to throw a few bucks away and I’ll buy a ticket. As soon as I have it in my hand, I become convinced that luck is on my side this time and I’m about to be a few hundred million dollars richer. I start dreaming about all the things I’m going to buy, and while your average person would likely imagine buying a dream home, driving the car of their dreams, or, hell, with that kind of money, an island off the coast of their favorite coast. But me? I imagine all the bookish things I could then afford.

Once I get stuck deep and good in that rabbit hole, I start feeling guilty, as I’m wont to do, because I’m keeping all these literary goodies to myself and that’s when I realize that my true calling in life is to win a trazillion dollar lottery and spend my trazillions dollars giving away the ultimate in literary gifts. So here are the six prizes you can win from me in my imaginary Book Lover’s Lottery. No purchase required obviously – imaginary me is very generous.

1. Private book subscriptions provided by an author of your choosing

I’m working on a project this year in which I’m reading only books sent to me in bookish subscription boxes and am tracking a variety of diversity goals. It’s an interesting experience, but I can’t help but think: What if I just had some badass author who would send me a box of books every month and then I’d send back my feedback and then they’d send me even better books and it would just be the most amazing thing ever! You pick the author and they pick the books – fantastic!

2. Hire fired teachers for us all

I’m going to build an amazing school for us all. There’s no credit given at this school but classes are always free and the staff is made up of teachers who’ve been fired for offenses I don’t find offensive. Like that teacher who could “magically” make toothpicks disappear and was fired for wizardry, or the numerous teachers fired for being gay, or teachers fired for having previously worked in legal professions.

3. A book that knows what I want to read at every moment

My boyfriend and I like to fantasize about a magical refrigerator that you open and it has exactly what you want to eat, prepared for you – even when you have no idea what you want to eat. This is the type of magical book I want. I want to open it, start reading, and it’s exactly what I need – funny, informative, sad, enraging, etc. but the key is that it must know what it is I want to read at every given moment – I am horribly indecisive!

4. Fund diversity

As my compadre Rachel Smalter Hall once said, We Need Diverse Libraries. We need diversity in book publishing too, and that doesn’t begin and end with publishing books by marginalized people – it requires changes in the way books are marketed, in who’s choosing what’s published, and in who’s editing books.

What’s the answer to this supposedly complicated problem? There are a lot of issues at play, and a lot of ways to address them, but what warms the cockles of my old, bitter heart are the paid publishing internships that are beginning to be funded, thanks to a partnership between the United Negro College Fund and the Association of American Publishers Partners.

Why is this so important? Because, though there are of course exceptions, most people who break into the publishing industry do so after spending a significant amount of time as an unpaid intern in New York City. Though the internships may technically be open to anyone, if they’re not paid and a person has to somehow survive in NYC, then these internships are really only available to people who are already moneyed.

Which is why I’d fund the hell out of some internships, and I’m not just talking about stipends that make it possible to barely hang on. I’m talking about reasonable wages that allow folks to splurge on Hamilton tickets once in a while. Sure, I could create my own publishing house to compete with the Big 5 and make diversity my core goal, but my preference is to make diversity the norm in publishing – not to create a niche product.

5. A never-ending series of amazing books

Is there anything worse than your favorite book ending? Yes, the ending of a series you’ve spent years of your life invested in! That’s why I’d magically create a series that never ended – and when I say never ended I mean that books would continue to be written, not that there would be no conclusion (looking at you, Game of Thrones).

New books would come out once every eight months or so, which I just arbitrarily decided would be the perfect amount of time – it’d be enough time to let the tension build as I waited but not too much time that it would drive me crazy.

6. The creation of a movie studio run by book nerds

There’s a reason that “The Book was Better” t-shirts exist – 99% of the time, the book is better. But what if it wasn’t? What if, instead of a movie dude running the writing and making of our favorite book-to-move projects and focusing only on how much return they’d get on their investment, it was book nerds? Like, legit, over the moon, tattooed-with-their-favorite-lines-from-the-book book nerds? What if they were in charge of writing (or at least overseeing the writing of) the movie script and were on set at all times to ensure the movie was accurate?

One of the biggest problems with turning a book to a move is that books are long and movies are two hours. But what if we made a 17-hour movie? I’ve got no problem with that, and I own the studio, so let’s get on it!

So, there you go, six gifts from future me, who’s won the lottery. You’re welcome! This list isn’t set in stone though – what else can I do for you? Let me know in the comments and I’ll consider them.