Through the Wise Women Collective, we spotlight women whom we admire and who inspire.
Meet Uli Beutter Cohen, author of Between the Lines: Stories from the Underground, and the fifth pick for our #BoozyBookClub series.
OB: Could you tell us how you came to write Between the Lines? Your nonfiction book is about the books people read on the subway as well as their own life. How did your project come about?
UBC: I started Subway Book Review eight years ago to document who we are and where we are going. Talking to readers is a fabulous way to find out about New York City’s state of mind because readers are curious, imaginative and they’re asking important questions about their identity and our shared future. Between the Lines is an evolution of that creative work. It allowed me to go into more depth and give people a chance to hang out with these fascinating readers just like I did on the subway.
OB: Reading is a lifeline for so many of us. Does that apply to you?
UBC: Absolutely! Books hold all the answers to all of our questions. Reading is literally better than googling something because a book holds so many layers and stays in our system long after we’ve read the last page. We just have to know where to look which is why talking about reading and sharing what we read is so important. Reading doesn’t end when you close the book. Reading comes alive when you start talking about what you’ve just read and how it affects you.
OB: Each subway stop has a vibe. How did you come to choose each locale?
UBC: Over the years I’ve ridden every subway line end to end and I’ve talked to over 1,000 readers in all five boroughs. I particularly love hanging out at Union Square station because it’s such a fantastic hub where so many New Yorkers pass through. But I also went deep into the Bronx and deep into Brooklyn and Queens and Staten Island because I wanted to represent the whole city — which is harder to do than it looks. At some point I had to let go of the idea to talk to “every” New Yorker but I think I found amazing representatives who speak on behalf of the city beautifully.
OB: What is the most significant point you’d like readers to take away from your book?
UBC: In order to find your place in the world, you have to see yourself reflected in other people. That, like noting else, will clarify your journey and your purpose.
OB: Have you had female mentors along your career path? How has that affected your work?
UBC: So many amazing women have helped me along the way — my list is a mile long! What has helped me most is to change my idea about what a mentor looks like because they’re not always older and wiser than me. Some of the best advice I’ve gotten is from someone who’s ten years younger than me. The world is changing rapidly and, let’s be honest, the old systems are not serving us *that well*. We need new ideas from fresh minds.
OB: Your book came out quite recently. How has the book campaign been and what are you hearing from your readers?
UBC: Honey, my book tour was virtual, in-person, I stood on the corner across from Fort Greene park with a foldout table and sold my book there — I did it all! Bringing anything into the world during a pandemic is wild and you have to get creative to reach people. A huge thank you to everyone who has bought my book so far (and has made it an Amazon bestseller!!) I love hearing from you!! Drop me a line! Post those posts and tag me! I love seeing you with my book!
OB: What’s next? Are you working on another book to follow this one?
UBC: Sign up for my newsletter https://theubc.substack.com/ (it’s chaotic right now but it’s about to get real good) I’m launching some cool things and you don’t want to miss them.
OB: The Boozy Tea you recommend sipping while reading Between the Lines ?
UBC: As I am writing this I am admittedly sipping on the white tea, raspberry & watermelon but honestly *any* of the Boozy Teas is a great reading companion.
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