For the past 4 years, MailChimp has sponsored the Decatur Book Festival, a world-class literary gathering hosted right down the road from our Atlanta headquarters every September. Last year, we asked the writer Roxane Gay to curate a track of diverse, up-and-coming authors to appear at the festival. It was such a hit, we had to do it again.
The novelist Alexander Chee has picked an awesome roster of authors for us this year—so awesome, in fact, we immediately wanted to read all their books ourselves. This got us thinking about the summer reading programs of our childhoods and the unique excitement sparked by hot weather and great stories. And that’s how Read This Summer was born.
In June, 202 MailChimp employees picked the book of their choice by one of the authors on Chee’s list of novelists, memoirists, journalists, and poets. Ashley Wilson, our Employee Happiness Ambassador, worked with Little Shop of Stories to order all the books. Then we spent the summer diving deep into the stories, many of us trading books when we were done and organizing lunches to discuss what we’d read. Our designer Andrew Lawandus made commemorative t-shirts and bookmarks, and we’re celebrating with a little party later this week.
This might seem like a weird diversion for a tech company, but our culture of learning is critical to the success of our employees and to our business. From formal opportunities like MailChimp University to casual mentorship relationships to our commitment to experimentation, we try to make it easy for our colleagues to learn widely and often.
At MailChimp, we’re inspired by the people doing great work around us. Our sponsorship here in Atlanta is our best effort to help make the city better, weirder, and more human. In particular, the Decatur Book Festival has been a terrific partner over the years.
We also just love sharing cool stuff with the world. So we built a Read This Summer website to celebrate this incredibly talented group of writers and their great books. Anyone can visit the site to learn more about the authors, their books, and their Decatur Book Festival appearances.
Summer isn’t over for a few weeks, so you still have time to read along! If you want to Read This Fall, that’s cool too. Either way, we’re so proud of the work the Decatur Book Festival does every year, and we’re honored to help them celebrate such a talented group of writers.