BookPeople sponsored the Austin Chronicle Short Story contest complete with author readings, an impressive food spread, red wine and prize money. Sure, I would have turned a back flip had I snagged first place honors and the $800 prize money—who wouldn’t?—but I was thrilled to place in the top five (out of nearly 500 entries) and receive a $50 gift card from BookPeople.
A gift card in the hands of a writer/reader feeds an obsession, an addiction. Brilliant move BookPeople.
From the moment the Austin Chronicle editor placed that gift card in my excited palm (and yes a palm can be excited), I thought about how to best leverage it, to get the most bang for the gift card buck.
Immediately, it called to me from the bottom of my messy purse. Use me before returning to Dallas, it said.
But what to buy?
Something significant like an artfully designed coffee table book to display as a permanent reminder of my contest victory? Something inspirational to build upon like a collection of poetry? A writing reference book to further hone my skill? Hmmmm. Huge decision. After all, books can be life-altering wielding power beyond the mere words on a page.
The next morning I hightailed it straight back to BookPeople with my gift card in hand. I wandered the aisles, strolled through each section, touched volumes, read dust jackets, and watched for any sign to help in narrowing down my selection.
I was there a while.
So how did I spend my $50? I bought $125 in books. I couldn’t help myself. (Like I said, brilliant move BookPeople. Next year you might consider giving gift cards to the top ten finalists or all entrants for that matter. You WILL make money…)
In no particular order, my purchases and thinking behind each:
- Honky Tonk Debutante—the History of Honky Tonk Music as I Care to Tell It by Christine Warren. I couldn’t resist the title, nor the cover graced with an armadillo. Each chapter concludes with a honky tonk soundtrack. As someone who often ends blog posts with a musical pairing, I adore this. And as a girl who grew up listening to Waylon, Willie and David Allen Coe, I’m majorly annoyed I didn’t write this book.
- The Parallel Apartments by Bill Cotter (signed first edition). Bill Cotter was one of the judges for the Austin Chronicle Short Story contest. Since he’d read my short story (and presumably liked it), it seemed only fitting I should read his. Right? Plus his first sentence hooked me.
- This is How—Surviving What You Think You Can’t by Augusten Burroughs. I’m convinced I’m related to Augusten. At least a distant cousin. This book on the sale table was a no brainer. And once I read it, I’ll know how to survive everything I think I can’t, so there’s that.
- How Best to Avoid Dying by Owen Egerton – Egerton is a local Austinite who writes zany, dark short stories which I enjoy. Supporting local writing is important. Plus once I read it, I’ll know how best to avoid dying, so there’s that.
- The Letters of Ernest Hemingway 1907 – 1922. I’m a Hemingway groupie. My favorite place on earth to write is inside the Hemingway barn in Piggott, Arkansas, where he wrote a portion of A Farewell to Arms… yes…let that sink in… Reading letters penned by Hemingway himself is the ultimate voyeurism. And apparently he was a letter-writing machine because this is Volume One. This too was on the sale table. Score me.
- I also bought a journal. I write each day and quickly fill up journals. Those with owls on the cover make me particularly happy.
So there you have it.
What would you buy with a $50 BookPeople gift card?
Grace Grits and Gardening
P.S. Check out the first, second and third place winners of the Austin Chronicle Short Story Contest HERE.
Bad Suns – Cardiac Arrest
Even the bathroom stall graffiti is cool at BookPeople…