Out West student blog

The minds behind the books

Jada Hallman exploring the science behind the ecosystems around her at the California Academy of Sciences. Image credit: Jada Hallman

By Jada Hallman '23
Hometown: Tracy, California
Major: Communications
Marketing and Development Intern, Heyday Publishing



There is both an art and a science behind the stories on the shelves of your favorite bookstores. Careful thought is given to how a book might entice you to pluck it off the shelf, how the design of the spine draws you in, how the cover’s colors catch your gaze, how the thickness of the pages feels when pinched between your fingertips. The font size and shape and color are chosen with your eyes’ comfort in mind. Years can be dedicated to close collaboration with authors to ensure that the structure and development of the book is clear and immersive. 

Image credit: Jada Hallman

I had spent much of my life floating up and down bookstore aisles, standing too close to the books themselves. I never saw the heart that went into transforming these stories into something that I can hold close to my chest and bring into my own life.

That was until I met the minds behind the books. The authors who craft the stories need a conduit to share their work with the world, and Heyday is a very special one that allows them to do so. A nonprofit, independent book publisher in Berkeley, California, Heyday uplifts the voices of a diverse community of writers. At its core is a mission dedicated to serving readers, elevating authors, and inspiring thinkers. Heyday especially carves important spaces on our bookshelves for works that promote social justice, celebrate the beauty of nature, and advocate for California Indian cultural renewal.

My experience as a Marketing and Development Intern at Heyday this summer has not only equipped me with the appropriate tools to serve this mission alongside the other twelve members of the Heyday staff, but it has also encouraged me to grapple with an overwhelming sense of place and belonging. Heyday heartens readers to explore geographic identity as something that can be transformative and impactful; it positions readers to become revitalized by the idea of home and all of its hidden-in-plain-sight pockets of wonder.

Image credit: Jada Hallman

I’ve lived in California my whole life, but it was never something I considered a part of what made Jada, Jada. I grew up in the region of the state that rests along the perimeter of the Bay Area, where dry farmlands unfurl in every direction. It was where I relocated when the Stanford University campus closed due to the coronavirus pandemic and from where I’ve completed my remote internship.

This summer, one spent taking slow steps out of a pandemic year and a half, I’ve learned that sometimes you can miss the magic of what is before you because you are standing too close to it. Heyday reminds me to take a step back and appreciate the magic of my home: the territory on which I stand that belongs to the Tachi-Yokut tribe; the Mexican, African-American, and Filipina heritage that colors my family history; the beautiful ecosystems that flow abundantly with life just outside my door.

It can be powerful to soak in what it means to be home and to revel in the magnificence of belonging. And there is power in sharing it with others, too. Heyday demonstrates how to do it with pride and encourages us to go out and to swell with the stories of life around us.


Read more at the Out West Student Blog »

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