February 12, 2016

Ask a bookseller—the Strand’s Whitney Hu


Whitney2166In life, there are always big questions. But where can you find the big answers? From your local indie bookseller, of course! In this monthly feature, some of our favorite booksellers will answer those questions we know you’re dying to ask.

This month’s guest is Strand Book Store‘s Whitney Hu!

Whitney Hu is the marketing director at Strand Book Store. Prior to the Strand, she managed marketing and content strategy at Pager and Little Borrowed Dress. She’s been dubbed affectionately by friends as the Chief Millenial Officer and hails from the great state of Texas. She sought political asylum in New York City a few years ago and they haven’t sent her back to the South yet.

What’s your mantra? 
​A part of me wants to joke and say #YOLO but it’s actually something my Dad used to tell me growing up. “You already know what might be the worst answer. It’s no. So why not ask and see what happens instead?”

And I think that’s helped me live my life semi-recklessly and with a lot of luck. Especially when I’m trying to pull together sponsors, partnerships, etc, for things. I won’t rule someone out just because I think they might be interested and I’ve been really surprised instead.

Your greatest extravagance? 
Oh jeez. I might have a few extravagances. I’m a Taurus after all—but my crew loves to make fun of me for my ridiculously expensive haircuts. I was traumatized as a child when I had a haircut with someone who chopped my long stunning locks to a miserable short shag. To prevent that from ever happening again, I now pay $100-200 every time for someone to style me flawlessly.

That and a Kate Spade purse maybe once a year. When I’ve been on my best behavior.

Favorite size of book?
Anything that I can comfortably read with one hand on the subway.

Favorite sandwich?
I love fried egg sandwiches with a lil’ mayo and cheese.

The sound that you hate the most?
Listening to a recording of my own voice. That sounds horrible—but I’m always having an existential crisis when I hear my voice. Like—DO I REALLY SOUND LIKE THAT?

Favorite last name of an author?
I honestly just love saying that. So yeah, Elena Ferrante wins!

The book all teenagers should read?
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. It was one of my favorite reads when I was younger and I think had so many important lessons especially for young girls. Society indoctrinates girls to be obedient, etc, but Ella taught you that sometimes you have to say no, even to someone you love, and to have your own will is the best thing. She was a super empowering, kickass female character. The only shitty thing about Ella Enchanted was the horrible film adaptation.

If you could only play one album on repeat all day long in the store, the full 12-ish hours of the day, what would it be?
This is an easy one. Pat Benatar’s “In The Heat Of The Night”—when I was a kid, I had this on a cassette and it literally just became a muffled mess because I listened to it over and over and over and over. Spotify also let me know that I play an obnoxious amount of The Civil Wars too. But I’d have to go for their “Live At Eddie’s Attic” album.

What, in your opinion, is a book?
If you have a spine, you’re a book. SORRY E-BOOKS. ​

Book(s) most frequently stolen from your bookstore? 
​Gonna stay hush on this. Ya’ll don’t need to find our weak points of entry in the store.