Brianne van Reenen never does anything quiet or small. The Pennsylvania native with a BA in history and English, and self-proclaimed bookworm, has called Lubbock home for more than ten years. In December 2021, she took the leap and opened Wild Lark Books just four months after leaving her Dallas-based job in marketing to pursue her dream full time.
Inspired by a quaint book shop located in Scotland, Wild Lark has turned into a community staple with a mission to not only elevate Lubbock’s reading community, but local – and worldwide – authors as well. While exploring the charming Scottish villages, she stumbled upon a bookstore she had no idea would change her life.
“It was just your typical bookstore,” she said. “There were stacks of books everywhere. You could barely walk around. I noticed a man behind the desk, who was obviously the owner, with his nose in a newspaper; not caring if we came or went. When I left that shop, I said to myself ‘I want that someday.’ I wanted to find an escape in a bookshop and provide that to others.”
With the chime of a bell announcing arrival, guests can escape into their very own fantasy land located on the east corner of Broadway in downtown Lubbock. With what she describes as a home library-feel, the mid-century modern design features art from local artists and photographs captured from Van Reenan’s sojourn to Scotland. The dark notes allow for the books to serve as the main character.
Keeping track of each book sold, van Reenen lines her shelves with thousands of titles that are said to be a collection of community curation. From the works of local authors to popular titles that can be found on #BookTok, as well as the beloved classics we grew up reading, Wild Lark responsibly stocks the shelves for book lovers to find their perfect match. Not only does van Reenen only order at most three copies of a title, but she also encourages her customers to take advantage of the online catalog, which allows for any book to be purchased and shipped to Wild Lark for pick-up.
When deciding on a location, van Reenen described Lubbock’s ongoing downtown revitalization as an opportunity she had to take part in.
“Downtowns act as the artery of a community,” she explained. “I wanted to put life blood into this area in more ways than one.”
As Wild Lark offers renowned titles to customers who visit the bookstore, it also doubles as an in-house publisher with a mission to elevate the voices of local authors and maximize their earnings to the highest potential. After years of working with authors trying to publish their work, she wanted to provide an alternative route that traditional publishers couldn’t provide. An unconventional approach to publishing, van Reenen is passionate about giving writers the opportunity to profit off their art.
“I’ve seen great stories passed up because it wouldn’t hit the market or sell the way the publisher thought it should,” she said. “I want to provide a better partnership model between the author and the publisher. Any writer who puts in the work shouldn’t have to compromise their art because of money.”
As a publisher, Wild Lark provides self-publication packages that offer full rights of their work, significant royalties, an author-branded landing page on the Wild Lark website, and thoughtfully created marketing plans to promote their art.
With local authors and writers who have utilized Wild Lark’s publishing services across the country and around the world, van Reenen celebrates the art of the written word and elevates each writer to pursue their dream.
“Every word written is emotionally charged,” said van Reenen. “Books have the power to spark meaningful conversation and inspire thoughtful debate.”
In addition to the bookstore and publisher, van Reenen has created the Wild Lark Books Fund, a nonprofit with a mission to make publishing accessible by providing funds to historically underrepresented writers and amplify minority voices.
“Every day this shop becomes a direct reflection of the community,” she said. “Talent is birthed, created and formed in Lubbock. We have the honor and duty of cherishing it.”
Stop by Wild Lark Books in downtown Lubbock today!