This was fun!

All throughout July, I participated in a Pinterest/Instagram/Twitter photo project called #dailybookpic. Proposed by Cassandra Neace of Indie Reader Houston* and BookRiot, the daily prompts ranged from current read to reading glasses to book fetish to did not finish.

I was thrilled to make several of BookRiot’s daily lists of featured photos (I had seven photos chosen, to be precise). I also used the different uploads on Pinterest and Instagram in order to publish outtakes of each day’s photos (although I have to admit, I still don’t really like Instagram).

Sometimes the serendipity of the day’s assignment and whatever was going on in my life was spooky. On July 11, for example, the prompt was new release, and that very same day I just happened to win a copy of Cheryl Strayed’s new book Tiny Beautiful Things from BookPeople.

I think my favorite photo – and I’m not just saying so because this blog has an Irish theme – is my book and beverage photo (July 6). My boyfriend got strep throat over the Independence holiday, and only let me coddle him when I promised there would be whiskey involved.

I made us some hot toddies with two types of whiskey (Tullamore Dew and Michael Collins), raw honey, cloves, and lemon, and told himself to pick out a book so I could stage my #dailybookpic photo. Darling that he is, he chose the copy of How the Irish Saved Civilization that he gave me before my trip to Ireland eight years ago.


*I think she is changing the name of her blog soon… to Houston Reader.

Ethical Editing

Two stories that broke today got me thinking about literature and publishing.

First, Jonah Lehrer resigned from The New Yorker after Tablet Magazine called out the fabricated Bob Dylan quotes used in his book Imagine, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in March 2012.

Then #countriesbyvoguewriters began trending on Twitter in response to the Newsweek article by Joan Juliet Buck that told her side of the story surrounding the glowing March 2011 Vogue profile of Asma al-Assad, the first lady of Syria.

All of which led me to ask:


A Bookstore in a Library


Yesterday was my last day volunteering at Second-Hand Prose, the used bookstore inside the Georgetown Public Library. SHP is the cornerstone fundraiser run by the Friends of the Library, who also led the bookmobile campaign and host the Hill Country Author Series.

I have been volunteering once a month for the past 18 months, at first filling in whenever I could as a substitute, then finally landing a regular 10am to 1pm shift every fourth Saturday. Georgetown is home to a Sun City retirement community, which makes volunteering a competitive sport. Not a bad problem to have, if you ask me.

It seems counterintuitive, selling used books inside a library, but the store turns a healthy profit. Since the library provides the space rent-free, the store is staffed entirely by volunteers, and all of the stock is donated by the community, there is absolutely no overhead. The money gets donated back to the library, and it is one of the best libraries out there.


Volunteering at Second-Hand Prose can be dangerous, as the books are ridiculously cheap and there is plenty of time to peruse the shelves. I still regret the book I let slip through my fingers; a Texas Monthly Press edition of Bud Shrake’s Strange Peaches. It sat in the Collector’s Corner for months as I waited for the price to go down so I could pay for it with my $5 Book Bucks; then one day, it was gone.

Not too long ago, I hit my quota for volunteer hours, which meant a bookplate in a library book dedicated to me. The book was a work of juvenile fiction called Kitten’s Winter by Eugenie Fernandes. I brought it into the library’s coffee shop one day to read with my Literary Latte, and I found the story delightful.


Breakfast at Tiffany’s


The Paramount Theatre

Every summer, the Paramount Theatre in Austin hosts a program of classic movies. Last Sunday the movie was Breakfast at Tiffany’s, preceded by martinis and manicures. I went with a few friends to celebrate my 30th birthday.


Nail polish by China Glaze; photo by Kendra.

I’ve talked a lot about why and exactly how the movie should be remade, written extensively about the Holly Golightly – Carrie Bradshaw genealogy, and have plans to revisit a connection between Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Franny and Zooey that I only just noticed on this past reread… but this viewing had to do with Mr. Yunioshi.


What happened is that a Goodreads friend lambasted the book, which I love, on the basis of Holly being a racist. I thought this was inaccurate; if anything involved with Breakfast at Tiffany’s was racist, it would be the casting of a white man to play the Japanese-American photographer.

As a member of the oppressive class, it took me a few years and a viewing of Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story before I could really understand how harmful the Mr. Yunioshi caricature might feel to someone of Japanese heritage.

The thing is, the book is pretty bad as well. The slurs that Holly lets fly can make your hair stand on end, and the narrator’s description of a group of ethnic youths employs some unfortunate metaphors. The only disenfranchised population to be treated with any delicacy is, fittingly, homosexual males – most likely because the narrator and the author both belong to this group.

My final verdict, however, is that the movie is worse. I might be a little biased, but I do believe Holly’s ignorance is part of her character, to show how morally underdeveloped and culturally insensitive she is. The small but significant role Mr. Yunioshi plays in the book is left out of the movie, and his multiple appearances on screen are used for nothing more than comic relief. Except it’s not funny. Not at all.


I’m Leaving on a Jet Plane…

At the end of the summer, I will be moving from Texas to Ireland for a postgraduate program in Literature and Publishing. I plan to blog my way through the year it takes to earn my masters.

I chose this program because I have a lot of questions about how we make money doing something we love. Books contain literature, and publishing is the business of books, so what can the intersection of literature and publishing teach me about creative integrity?

I want to keep a blog while I’m in school because I want to add that extra layer of analysis as I process what I learn in class. I also hope to come closer to deciding what to do with my life. And I need to develop a daily writing habit.

There will be a slight travelogue element to the blog as well; that’s part of the fun of going to grad school in Ireland.

Finally, as a former journalist, I know nothing motivates me like a deadline. I turned 30 yesterday, so this year is a pivotal one. A year abroad, a year of grad school, a year of blogging. Are you ready?