Miriam Chan: Owner of The Lev
Miriam Chan at The Lev. Shoot by Sarah Bosworth
Your book store focuses on female authors and children's books, which we love! What inspired you to focus on these categories?
Without specifically intending to, most businesses are patriarchal, and as such, some bookstores are. For me, reading books is a comfort -- I wanted to create a bookstore for women so that we have a place for comfort and security. This is seen not just in The Lev's space but also in our events.
As we all know, there’s a lot of polarization in the world right now. I think this can be solved with empathy. Reading other peoples’ stories helps build empathy and understanding. By focusing on children, I hope to impact younger generations in a positive way.
You have a fabulous section of books! Take us through your curating process?
One of the reasons I founded The Lev is to highlight and promote women and people of color writers. The Lev carries all genres. I select children’s books that have a message. With this in mind, I do a lot of research including reviewing what books the people I admire are recommending or reading. I also talk to Lev girls and get their personal recs.
After graduating you worked on the Obama campaign. Tell us about it and what lead you to Venice, and opening up your own book store?
My perspective of the campaign definitely has changed in this era of Trump. I am more appreciative to have worked for a president who served our country for the people and with heart. The campaign divided the country into five regions, and each region had its own "campaign" team. During a work trip, I had to go to LA, and during that trip someone on another regional team unexpectedly past in our Chicago headquarters. To comfort me, a co-worker drove me to Venice Beach-- that was my first time here. As such, Venice has always been a place of healing, and we’re always healing from something.
Flash forward four years, I started dating someone here and fell in love with Venice. This is the first time in my life where I can call a place home.
What are you currently reading and what are a few of your MUST reads?
Currently, I’m reading Elaine Castillo’s "America is Not the Heart." I haven’t quite finished it yet but it’s already a MUST read for The Lev. The book weaves Filipinx history and culture with themes of being queer in an Asian American community.
Other must reads are Donna Tartt’s "The Secret History", "Maggie Nelson’s Bluets", and "Virginia Woolf’s’ A Room of One’s Own".
What does empowerment mean?
The ability to instill confidence and strength onto another person--truly helping another human being to become a better version of themselves.
What is an Ideal Woman?
The Ideal Woman is every woman.
What do you like most about being a woman?
The unspoken sisterhood between all of us
Who are you crushing on and why?
This is soooo hard. Currently, I would say my older and only sister. She is constantly learning and improving herself. Not only did she teach herself how to code in three-months while working but she also does all of The Lev's graphic and web design. I wished I had her discipline! I do not have her discipline.