Trinity University Press

Terra Firma: Trinity University Press blog

Celebrating the Freedom to Read

by Eliza Perez on

Yesterday, September 21st, marked the first day of this year’s Banned Books Week in which we celebrate the freedom to read and the importance of preventing censorship. Here at TU Press we know how powerful books can be in shaping the lives of current and future generations. Books offer us a multitude of interesting perspectives and inspire people to change the world, be it through involvement in environmental issues or through the understanding of one’s self in the world. 

Some of my favorite books, that have incidentally changed my life in some way, are regularly challenged or banned. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya and Animal Farm by George Orwell are both books I read as a freshman in high school and helped grow my love of reading and creative writing. Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza by Gloria Anzaldúa had me in tears the first time I read it as a junior in high school. It was one of the first books that spoke to me on a level no book had ever been able to. San Antonio’s first poet laureate Carmen Tafolla’s book of poetry, Curandera, has also been challenged and banned. It is also currently sitting on my bookshelf at home, a constant inspiration for me. 

As a lover of books and a supporter of the right to read, I understand that banning books isn’t good. However, parents and teachers can still be wary of allowing children to read certain books; the best thing we can do is talk to children about the issues these books present and figure out which books are appropriate for them. As they get older, they’ll be able to choose to read books that may have been deemed too mature for them as children. 

This year the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom is sponsoring a free webinar on Wednesday, September 24th over regional issues for banned books in 2014 which will showcase three activists from both the U.S. and the U.K. If you miss out on the webinar, there are still many ways you can get involved and exercise your rights. 

Even after Banned Books Week ends, I encourage you all to stay informed on which books are being challenged or banned, along with speaking out against censorship in your community. Head over to the American Library Association’s Banned Books website to see a list of Frequently Challenged Books and learn how you can help support the continued freedom to read. 

Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association.

All Hail to Trinity!

by Eddie Kolbinskie on

Late-night cramming sessions! Naps in between classes! Shortages on cash! For Trinity University students, school starts up again in less than two weeks. For some of us, it may be just another ordinary school year. But many others are dreading it because it will be our final year here. The next ten months will be filled with trips to Career Services to try to figure out what we want to do with our lives, an overwhelming pile of transcripts, resumes, and essays that we’ll try to compile into grad school applications, or an immeasurable amount of hours spent prepping for the MCAT, LSAT, GMAT, or GRE. Whether it’s the agony of having to abandon the small sense of freedom that we have left or the stress this final year inevitably brings upon us, it’s certain that leaving Trinity won’t be easy.

Unlike many of my fellow classmates, I’m actually looking forward to it. Although there are many bittersweet feelings that walking through this beautiful, green campus for the last time will bring, it’s important to realize that there are greater things ahead as we prepare to leave the great people and memories behind.

As I reflected on my final year at Trinity, I tried to think of what I would miss most about this school. I came to the conclusion that there’s way too much to love about this place (except for Mabee, of course) to select one thing. Instead, here’s a list of the top five things I love (and will miss) about Trinity University.

1) The traditions. Every university has its rituals that differentiate it from the pack, but many of the traditions we have at Trinity really make it special. Murchison Tower, which stands at 166 feet, is one San Antonio’s tallest and most recognizable monuments, and the tradition of climbing to the top on the night before the first day of classes has become something everyone looks forward to. Another favorite (or least favorite) is the birthday fountain dunk, in which our friends kidnap us from our rooms at midnight on our birthdays and dunk us into Miller Fountain. Also, who can forget about petting the beloved Trinity cats (Trinicats) that are always roaming through campus?

2) The convenience. While many students at LPUs couldn’t imagine going to a liberal arts school of our size, I think that is the reason everyone at Trinity really loves it here. There are only around 2,500 of us on campus, and it’s easy to run into someone we know and have a quick chat. Because we’re a small student population, the size of the actual campus is great, too! The walk to class is easy, and sometimes we even have time to grab a snack in between. There’s no need for buses and shuttles to take us to class, since most of our classroom buildings are only one (large) staircase away.

3) The professors. The professors truly do give their students the attention and assistance they need. In my three years at Trinity, not only have I had all my questions fully answered by my professors during their office hours, but I’ve also had the chance to work with them outside the classroom and develop great relationships. I’ve bonded with some professors so much that I’ve even taken certain classs just to be able to have them a second, third, or fourth time, and I know I speak for many others who have done the same.

4) The student involvement. I don’t know a single student here who isn’t involved with something on campus. Whether it’s Greek organizations, academic organizations, intramurals, work-study jobs, or volunteer groups, there is something that everyone can get involved with. I’ve had the pleasure to meet some of my best friends through these organizations, and I know my experience at Trinity would not have been the same without them. It’s refreshing to see how much students enjoy staying involved and keeping busy.

5) The sense of community. The thing that sealed the deal for me and many others is the sense of community students feel when they’re walking through campus. The previous four qualities shape this sense of community and define what it means to be a Trinity student. It’s an indescribable feeling that I can’t sum up in words. This final quality speaks for itself.

Now, let the year begin!

RIP Robin Williams

by Eddie Kolbinskie on

If you’re like me and browse social media feeds waiting for something interesting to start trending, then you, too, probably found out about the unfortunate death of Robin Williams through an online news source as it went viral.

Robin Williams was the type of actor who was so talented and recognized that he was easy to take for granted. He left us with timeless classics like Good Morning, Vietnam, Mrs. Doubtfire, and one of my personal favorites, Dead Poets Society. It wasn't until I read what happened and rewatched one of his films that I realized what we'd lost and, more importantly, what a tremendous person we had in Robin Williams.

While there is much good for us to remember about Williams’s life, there is also much that we should take away from a tragedy like this. Out of respect for his family, I won’t acknowledge what is believed to be the cause of his death. I will say, however, that his passing was stunning to many who were unaware of his struggles with depression. We hear about it all the time. We hear about the hotlines, counselors, and therapies that are supposed to prevent this type of thing. But it isn't until we see it happen to someone we care about that we start to realize how important it is to discuss.

Depression is serious. Admitting to having a mental illness takes strength and courage. Regardless of how tough it is, it is critical to talk about it with someone—a friend, family member, therapist, or even a stranger. Being the outlet for someone means so much more than we realize. As we mourn the loss of a beloved actor, let us remember to be kind to everyone we meet, because anyone, even the funniest person on the planet, could be struggling with something more substantial than we realize.

When someone dies, it’s important to reflect on that person’s life, not his death. Williams's death certainly serves as a lesson for us all, and I, personally, have received some of the greatest lessons from his films. Growing up with divorced parents, I always loved Mrs. Doubtfire because it provided a comedic outlook on a tough issue families deal with. Attending an all-boys' school and having the pleasure of being taught by some of the most inspirational people, I always admired Dead Poets Society, especially Williams’s character, Mr. Keating, for his advice to stray from conformity, appreciate literature and poetry, and be our own selves.

Mr. Keating’s message that the themes we find in poetry—like beauty, romance, and love—are "what we stay alive for" is one of the reasons I've come to love reading so much and why I love working at the press. From Williams's comedic roles in lighthearted films like Aladdin and Flubber to more serious roles in dramas like The Fisher King and Good Will Hunting, there is such a range of messages that it’s hard not to find one we love and relate to.

I want to end this post by remembering the inspirational person Robin Williams was to millions and by quoting one of his most memorable lines: "Carpe diem. Seize the day. Make your lives extraordinary."

Rest in peace, Robin Williams. You will be missed.

Viva la France!

by Eddie Kolbinskie on

Now that it’s been more than a week since we grilled burgers and enjoyed fireworks for the Fourth of July, it’s time to celebrate a different red, white, and blue. Bastille Day, also known as French National Day, is this Monday! While I don’t have any direct French descendants, how could I pass up an excuse to practice my elementary French and indulge in gougères and macarons? 

Just as Americans celebrate the Fourth to commemorate the declaration of our independence from the United Kingdom, and Mexicans celebrate 16 de Septiembre to honor independence from Spain, France’s Bastille Day is observed to celebrate the beginning of the French Revolution, a period in which the French broke free from monarchical rule within their own country. 

Bastille Day traditions in the states are usually more low-key than those that honor our independence. However, if you’re lucky enough to celebrate in France during the holiday, you’re in for an amazing weekend. Parades and festivities are held nationwide and more closely resemble the ones we have here in the U.S. If you’re like me and don’t have the time to travel to Houston or Dallas where huge French festivals are being held on Monday night, then you make up your own celebration! 

Eat at a quaint French bistro. Sport a snazzy beret. Break out those leftover sparklers. Or crank up Phoenix to channel your inner-Francophile. Viva la France, San Antonio!


Summer Reading!

by Eddie Kolbinskie on

Things have been hectic in San Antonio. We've been preoccupied with the madness surrounding the Spurs’ fifth NBA championship and the World Cup, the release of blockbuster films like The Fault in Our Stars and Maleficent, and the lake, river, and beach (OH MY). As temperatures rise, here are some great titles to check out when you're ready to take a break from the heat.

Two of our favorites are from Rebecca Solnit, author of our forthcoming The Encyclopedia of Trouble and Spaciousness. The first, Men Explain Things to Meaddresses the cultural phenomenon in which men believe that what they have to say always takes priority over women's opinions. It's a serious topic, but Solnit manages to get the point across while putting readers at ease. The second, Solnit's collection of memoir-heavy essays, The Faraway Nearby, is a must-read for anyone who enjoys storytelling.

The Woman Who Lost Her Soul, a novel from Bob Shacochis, author of Domesticity: A Gastronomic Interpretation of Love, shows that war is essentially never ending. The Good Lord Bird by James McBride, which won the 2013 National Book Award, tells the story of a boy who meets abolitionist John Brown in a tavern and recounts his historic raid on Harpers Ferry.

Finally, we recommend The Keillor Readera compilation of Garrison Keillor's work, including some of his best-loved essays and monologues and never-before-published poems.

Happy reading!