Friday, August 21, 2009

Heights Books- Libros

The world is full of talented and creative people. There are people who can create something special, unusual or beautiful. We may never even know that the person in the cubicle next to us is a gifted writer or the guy who mows our lawn also paints gorgeous landscapes. You see, while there are many creative people it’s a very small percentage of them who get to make a living doing what they love. Blanca Alanis was one of these people. After working for 10+ years in the non-profit sector (something I am familiar with- a lot of work and little financial reward), Blanca decided she was going to do something to become part of that artistic minority- making a living from her creativity and passion.

Blanca has written poetry for more than 20 years. Artistic talent must be genetic. Her brother, Dante Rodriguez, is a talented artist as well. Like most people, she did the whole work to live thing “just making money and spending it” and then writing when she could. Eventually she got married and kids came in to the picture. Suddenly, just going through the daily grind wasn’t going to cut it anymore. Blanca wanted to do something better for herself and her family- she wanted to juggle family and work and have time to be creative as well. She also wanted an outlet for what the right side of her brain was producing. Her desire for balance and a “general love of literature” lead her to open a tiny bookstore in the neighborhood she grew up in. The Heights.

Currently over a dozen artists are represented on Heights Books-Libors' walls.

Blanca’s shop, Heights Books- Libros, opened last May in a little strip on 20th Street. She has been able to realize her dream and find balance, living and working surrounded by books and art. But Blanca’s shop isn’t just about her own work. Heights Books is an outlet for all kinds of artists. Anything handmade or any art is welcome. On the walls there are paintings and photography. Every shelf without a book has something else to offer- sculpture or pottery or gift items. Currently she is displaying work from 13 local artists. She also has written materials from 10 local writers and poets. Her own poetry is available on gorgeous picture cards. Did I mention she does photography as well?

While any artists are welcome to display their art for sale (on consignment), the store definitely has a mission to promote Blanca’s own Mexican American heritage through Mexican art and culture. Because she has a focus on her and her brother’s own Latino art, other Latino artists are “naturally attracted to the shop.” They find Heights Books/ Libros on line, via the store’s own webpage or social media sites like Facebook and a MySpace page.

Blanca's own poetry printed on photographs she has taken

And, of course, there are books. Heights Books sells both new and used books. Blanca has a great selection of bilingual books, including many classic and loved kids books in Spanish! She will order books for you and the store also buys books. Had enough of fighting traffic to get to ½ Price Books? Here is locally owned and operated shop that can give another life to the books you are finished with. She will also take donations of unwanted books.

A great kids' selection of English, Spanish and bi-lingual books

Now that she has settled in to owning and running her own bookstore, Blanca is ready to branch out and do more to support arts and literature in The Heights. In July she hosted the 1st poetry reading at the store. She looks forward to giving a showcase to local writers more often. In fact, she would love to do readings and events all the time, but Blanca and her family also love to get out of the store and be a part of the greater Houston arts scene- attending events elsewhere. Then there is that balance thing. The next scheduled event will be a reading at the store the 1st Saturday in November, in conjunction with the Día de los Muertos celebration. Blanca would also love to have bilingual story time for neighborhood kids, so any of you moms reading this post can email her via her website and let her know you would be interested!

It was a lot of fun stopping in the store and finding out more about Blanca’s mission to promote literature, heritage and creativity. This is a great little gem in The Heights and I look forward to a little Donde Viven los Monstruos soon myself!

Blanca with a pretty cool Dia de Los Muertas head made by her brother, Dante

502 E. 20th St. #D
Houston TX 77008
Business Hours:
Monday - Friday 9 - 6pm
Saturday - 9 - 5pm
Sunday - Closed

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