Brave Books encouraging the courageous act of reading

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Brave Books opened almost two years ago and has worked to improve literacy in El Paso ever since.

Jud Burgess and his wife Laurie founded the bookstore in a 1915 bungalow just off Arizona Avenue.

The warm atmosphere and the smell of old books that you can browse comfortably next to a fireplace is just one of the charms for attracting new, longtime bookworms.

“El Paso is still in the five least literate cities in America, each year we are the last five,” said Burgess, co-owner of the store.

The lack of literacy in the city was only one of the reasons the bourgeois were inspired to share and expand their powerful collection of books.

“My mother always read books, she read them to us as we grew up,” Jud said of her mother, who grew up in Juarez and came to El Paso when she was young.

He said she read many books in English which helped her learn the language.

“We think the pounds are a great equalizer,” Jud said. “It doesn’t matter if you live in a poor neighborhood or in the big, wealthy areas of the city, if you have access to books and you learn to read and you expand your mind and your mental horizon through mental activity, you you only have one chance to succeed in life.

Another goal that the Bourgeois wanted to set for themselves was to encourage civic engagement.

“We want to let people know that it is important to get involved in what we are doing in the city so that we can make El Paso the city we want it to be,” said Jud.

A valued member of the staff is the Yofi Bookstore Cat.

Jud found Yofi when he was just a kitten looking for shelter in the neighborhood.

“Yofi has become the face of Brave Books,” he said, adding that Yofi also had a book distribution program named after him, distributing 100 books to 100 children.

“He’ll sit on one of those shelves and when people come in he’ll say hello and meow.” As a Walmart host, he alone is a Brave Books host, ”Jud joked.

Jud said the store was not negatively affected by the pandemic as much as he expected. He believes more and more people are rediscovering the healing power of reading.

“We want to make people feel that your life is enriched when you walk in here as if you are surrounded by culture,” said Burgess.


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