Shatoyia Moss

Safe and Civil City Director, City of Bloomington

Shatoyia Moss. Photos by Rodney Margison

Shatoyia Moss, 29, is a person who has to read the book before she sees the film or TV adaptation, which is how she got into Margaret Atwood, whose 1985 novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, was made into a television series in 2017. When we spoke, Moss was reading Atwood’s Oryx and Crake, published in 2003, and thinking about its parallels with biblical stories. The novel’s protagonist is a young man named Jimmy who has survived a human extinction engineered by his best friend. Jimmy becomes a god-like figure to the humanoid creatures who find him. “It’s one of those weird books that you have to read and then have a discussion with someone,” says Moss, who finds online chat rooms about books she is reading. “It’s really fascinating.”

Abby Henkel

Communications Director, Sycamore Land Trust

Abby Henkel.

Abby Henkel has been a fan of Barbara Kingsolver ever since the author’s locavore memoir, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, sparked Henkel’s love of farming. When we spoke, Henkel, 33, was reading Kingsolver’s 2018 dual-narrative novel Unsheltered, a story about two families who live in the same house at different times—one contemporary, the other in the 1880s. It contains the same environmental themes that Henkel has always appreciated in Kingsolver’s work, but engages politics in ways that previous books didn’t. Big themes aside, Henkel says, Kingsolver is a joy to read. “She writes really well about women,” Henkel says. “It feels authentic and deep, and all her main characters are very believable and lovable people.”

Dale Steffey

Owner, Dale Steffey Books

Dale Steffey.

As a rare-book dealer, Dale Steffey, 67, handles a lot of books every day; but as a reader, he studies the same half-dozen again and again. He had been a great lover of mysteries, but the genre lost its appeal 12 years ago when Steffey’s 19-year-old son died in an electrical accident in circumstances that were, for a time, mysterious. Since then, Steffy has read books that supplement his Buddhist practices. When we spoke, he was reading How Karma Works: The Twelve Links of Dependent Arising by Geshe Sonam Rinchen. Steffey describes it as a fairly technical book that his weekly study group at the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center will examine for at least six months. “I’m fortunate to have discovered this path and been able to surround myself with a lot of really good people,” Steffey says. “It’s given me a much more peaceful mind and a much better understanding about how the world works.” 

Doris Sims

Director, City of Bloomington Housing and Neighborhood Development 

Doris Sims.

Primarily a fiction reader, sometimes Doris Sims will feel called to read the biography of someone she admires, for example, Aretha Franklin or actress and comedian Tiffany Haddish. When we spoke, she was reading Michelle Obama’s autobiography, Becoming. Learning about Obama’s childhood on the South Side of Chicago helped Sims better understand the woman she admires. “She talks about her competitiveness as she grew up,” Sims says, “so you can see how as a first lady, with her grace and the way she carried herself, that a lot of that had to do with her upbringing and wanting to be the very best and do the very best.”