Sara Berchoz @Peter McEwen

Roost Books: Bringing Cooking, Creativity, Nature, Beauty, and Upliftedness Into Our Lives

Sara Berchoz @Peter McEwenShambhala Publications was founded in 1969 in Berkeley, California, by Samuel Bercholz. From the start, Sam’s vision was to create a publishing house that focused on bringing “an enlightened approach to every aspect of life”; religion and philosophy were key components of the Shambhala publishing program. Then, in 2012, Sam’s daughter Sara Bercholz launched a new lifestyle imprint: Roost Books. While Roost Books focuses on different topics, the vision of encouraging an enlightened approach to life remains the same.

Sara is now executive vice president and publisher of Roost, and she and her brother are the co-owners of Shambhala Publications, which remains a family business after almost five decades. As the owners, Sara and her brother recently moved the business back to Boulder, Colorado (it was also based in Boulder for about eight years in the 1970’s and 80’s), after many years in Boston, identifying the Front Range town as a community-oriented, entrepreneurial, and forward-thinking enclave.

Though Sara was initially reluctant to take over the business, she eventually realized that what her father had always told her was true: She could feed all her passions by working in publishing. That journey began long ago. Sara first interned at Shambhala when she was just 12 years old. Then, in college, she studied English literature, art history, and publishing. After graduation, she did a short stint at another publishing house before joining the family business, where she worked her way up the ranks. She began as an editorial assistant, then an assistant editor, and then an editor.

With Sara at the helm, Roost now has almost 100 titles, each carefully selected to give readers the encouragement and information they need to live inspired, creative lives. Roost publishes books in four primary categories: cooking, creativity, family, and nature. Sara explains that through Roost she gets to meet fascinating people and publish books that are useful and delightful.

Roost BooksShe says that Roost’s values are grounded in the idea of bringing “beauty, ‘upliftedness,’ and a sense of inspiration to activities or areas that are often considered mundane or domestic.” She goes on to say that, for her, those values spring from the word “Shambhala,” an ancient kingdom that was thought to be an enlightened society. This didn’t mean that everyone sat around meditating all day. Instead, it meant that everyone did their jobs as blacksmiths, kings, grocers, or artists, and they did their chores, like washing dishes, gardening, or sewing clothing, with a sense of enlightened activity. For Sara, Roost is an expression of Shambhala; the company reinforces the idea that the lay practitioner, the householder, can engage in mediation even when he or she isn’t sitting on a cushion in a sacred place. Instead, Roost emphasizes that even within the act of mopping the floor or cooking dinner lies a quality of beauty and awakening.

Roost is also committed to the idea of community. “Though reading books is sort of a solitary endeavor, we believe that through the books we publish, we are creating a sense of community,” Sara says. Many of Roost’s books are activity based, focusing on cooking, quilting, or doing crafts and activities with your kids; Sara hopes that through these activities families can weave an interconnected web.

As Sara sees it, Roost brings the beauty of everyday life into the light. She explains, “We work to find authors who teach really well and who have something to share that can enrich the lives of our readers.”

SourdoughWhat does Sara do to bring beauty and creativity into her own daily life? She loves to cook. “Food is really my thing. It’s what gets me most excited. And I love sharing through it. Most of the time when I’m cooking, I’m cooking for my family or friends or maybe for a community or people that I love. I find it deeply satisfying.” She also enjoys the relaxation it brings: “In the evenings I often bake to unwind, once my kids are in bed. It’s such a nice quiet time to use my body and my hands.” Her current obsession is sourdough (she’s even shared a Beet Sourdough recipe with us from the Roost book Sourdough). She loves that the sourdough is alive, that it requires care to nurture the starter, that her older son loves making this fermented bread as much as she does, and that the sourdough-making process takes focus and patience over several days. Sourdough as contemplative practice sounds just about right.

We’ve partnered with Roost Books to bring you the Inspired Living Book Set, which includes three Roost books: Seedswap, Compost City, and The Healing Kitchen.

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photo credit: photo: Peter McEwen and Ngoc Minh Ngo.

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