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What Books are Texas Kidlit Authors Chris Barton, Jennifer Ziegler, and Crystal Allen Giving This Holiday Season?

We’re ridiculously excited for our newest installment of our feature on the books Texas kidlit authors are giving for holiday gifts this year! Because who better to recommend books than authors? And we have a huge, diverse and amazing community of writers for young people in Texas, many of them right here in Houston-- so many wonderful voices and stories and points of view. I hope you continue enjoy reading their choices as much as I did!

Step Right Up: How Doc and Jim Key Taught the World about Kindness Cover Image
$19.95
ISBN: 9781620141489
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Lee & Low Books - October 15th, 2016

This remarkable real-life tale -- as entertaining as it is touching -- will fascinate kids. Doc Key’s own story of post-slavery accomplishment is amazing enough. But when he teaches a once-hapless horse to spell -- and then some -- this picture book becomes truly enchanting.


Their Great Gift: Courage, Sacrifice, and Hope in a New Land Cover Image
By John Coy, Wing Young Huie (Photographer)
$19.99
ISBN: 9781467780544
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Carolrhoda Books - March 1st, 2016

Inspiring and lovely and recognizable to so many children, parents, and grandparents, this celebration of the experiences and contributions of immigrants brings together Coy’s brief, poetic text and Huie’s striking photographs.


Two Naomis Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780062414250
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Balzer & Bray/Harperteen - September 13th, 2016

Told in the alternating points of view of the 10-year-old title characters -- whose divorced parents have begun dating and start bringing their families together -- this contemporary middle-grade novel sparkles with smart humor and endearingly awkward drama.


And here are the titles Crystal Allen will be gifting this year.

She’s a new grandmother and new great aunt and so she’s focused on books for and about our littlest readers! Again, all these titles are on our shelves or coming soon.


School's First Day of School Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781596439641
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Roaring Brook Press - June 28th, 2016

With the school as the main character, this book was such a delight to read.  Whoever thought of how a school would feel on the first day of school?


Tiny Stitches: The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas Cover Image
By Gwendolyn Hooks, Colin Bootman (Illustrator)
$17.95
ISBN: 9781620141564
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Lee & Low Books - May 15th, 2016

I love this book about Vivien Thomas, a medical pioneer who, without a medical degree, developed a way to save babies with heart defects.


This Is Our Baby, Born Today Cover Image
By Varsha Bajaj, Eliza Wheeler (Illustrator)
$16.99
ISBN: 9780399166846
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Nancy Paulsen Books - August 2nd, 2016

This story follows the birth of a baby elephant with vibrant colors, beautiful illustrations and fun, repetitive text. **(Brazos Children’s Specialist Joy Preble wants to remind everyone that Varsha is also a local, acclaimed Houston author and friend of the store)**


Audiobooks Are Now Available!

Dive into one of our favorite bestselling audiobooks and listen anytime, anywhere.

We have partnered with Libro.fm to bring you the best digital audiobooks for adults and children alike. You'll find bestsellers and great books hand picked by Brazos Bookstore and other independent bookstores. You can easily listen on any device (phone, tablet, PC) as all our books are DRM-free.

Brazos Best 2016

Yep, you got us: we love books here.

$140.00
SKU: x4545

Get all ten of the 2016 Brazos Best featured titles for 20% off. Tax is included in the $140 price.


The Boy Who Stole Attila's Horse Cover Image
By Ivan Repila, Sophie Hughes (Translator)
$16.00
ISBN: 9781782271017
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Pushkin Collection - November 24th, 2015

January: Ben and Mark, Down in the Well…

“It’s part fable, part allegory. There are two boys in the well, Big and Small. We don’t know why they’re there, but they can’t get out. It becomes a myth-like story of love, humanity, and the struggle to survive. With customers, I’ve called it ‘haunting and beautiful.’” —Mark


The Vegetarian Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9781101906118
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Hogarth Press - August 23rd, 2016

February: Lose Weight! Lose Your Mind

“Her dreams start off the whole thing of her becoming a vegetarian. And it’s creepy to watch her slip into madness and how her family reacts to that.”
—Ulrika


Margaret the First Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781936787357
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Catapult - March 15th, 2016

March: Intangible Consciousness: A Q&A with Danielle Dutton

“Dutton’s novel, almost a fictionalized diary, alternately in Margaret’s own voice or that of a detached observer watching this brilliant woman work, gives a gorgeous realism and immediacy to Margaret’s longings, cravings, and intellectual agonizing.”
—Liz


Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780312425845
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Picador USA - April 18th, 2006

April: Painting with Water on the Walls

“Well, there was no one Chernobyl experience. That’s what comes through. [This book seems] to capture the essence more than the historical structure of the event.”
—Keaton


Night Prayers Cover Image
By Santiago Gamboa, Howard Curtis (Translator)
$18.00
ISBN: 9781609453114
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Europa Editions - March 1st, 2016

May: See the World with Santiago Gamboa's NIGHT PRAYERS

“For all the conversational tone, it’s a dense, complex novel, with a lot of points. And there’s always that sinister backdrop behind things. Things can get a lot worse really quickly.”
—Keaton


The Sadness Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781939419705
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Unnamed Press - June 14th, 2016

June: In Pursuit of the Real Benjamin Rybeck

“In my book, yes, a character named Max is obsessed with cinema to the point where it’s all he sees when he looks out into the world. I used to be that bad, but I’m not that bad anymore (I don’t think, though I do still sometimes imagine a camera tracking in front of me when I walk through the grocery store).”
—Ben


Grief Is the Thing with Feathers Cover Image
$14.00
ISBN: 9781555977412
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graywolf Press - June 7th, 2016

July: Brazos Best is the Thing with Feathers

“It’s a polyvocal novel. It has a lot of different voices speaking in it. It’s also a very human story, and its universality lets you connect with it in the intense way you often connect with lyrical books. GRIEF IS THE THING WITH FEATHERS made me think a lot of poetry, especially whenever the boys speak—they seem to be in a Greek chorus. And the verbal acrobatics of the crow: very poetic.”
—Keaton


A Bestiary Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780996316743
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Cleveland State University Poetry Center - April 15th, 2016

August: Lily Hoang Does Not Sleep

“When I call Hoang, she knows that I have read her book, which means I know what kind of sex she likes (rough), the name of her best best friend (Dorothy), all of her hate (and love) for her Vietnamese parents. I know about her abusive ex-husband and her abusive on-again, off-again boyfriend, the fling she had in Albuquerque; I know that she masturbates every day. In other words, I already know everything I want to know, more than I deserve to know.”
—Annalia


Vampire in Love Cover Image
$14.95
ISBN: 9780811223461
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - September 27th, 2016

September: Vila-Matas Stories Translated at Last

“Vila-Matas is one of the most celebrated writers in Europe. His work has been translated into over thirty languages. His novels, artful and experimental and mixed with a strong tradition of storytelling, are ideal for anyone who’s a fan of Paul Auster, J.M. Coetzee, or Roberto Bolaño.”
—Mark


The Gloaming Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781937512477
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Two Dollar Radio - September 20th, 2016

October: A Rock-n-Roll Indie Press

“It’s definitely a psychological thriller, all wrapped up in how people punish themselves, mentally as well as physically. And I love how the book occupies the sweet spot between intellectual heft and also just page-turning thrills.”
—Keaton


Augusta's List of Ten

I had a harder time than usual coming up with a top 10 list this year—Ülrika and I often trade our favorite books back and forth and have similar taste when it comes to gift items, so many of my favorites were the same ones that she has already discussed in her top 10. Fortunately, there were a lot of exciting things that came out this year, both books and gifts, and in no specific order, here are ten items that captivated my attention in 2016.

The Veins of the Ocean Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9780802124890
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Grove Press - May 3rd, 2016

I visited Key West with my family this past spring and this was the perfect book to take along for the trip. After a shocking act of violence and the subsequent aftermath that rocks Reina’s family, she struggles to rebuild her life and learn how to exist without her brother in the Florida Keys. She meets a Cuban immigrant, Nesto, and the two, scarred from painful remnants of their previous lives, develop a friendship, exquisitely rendered in Engel’s beautiful prose. The complexity of the characters and powerful descriptive language left this one lingering in my mind for months after I finished it.


Love and Ruin: Tales of Obsession, Danger, and Heartbreak from the Atavist Magazine Cover Image
By Evan Ratliff (Editor), Susan Orlean (Introduction by)
$16.95
ISBN: 9780393352719
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - July 26th, 2016

The Atavist magazine, to those who are unfamiliar, publishes one longform narrative nonfiction piece each month and has, previously, only been available in digital format. I was one of those who was unfamiliar with The Atavist but as a lover of good narrative storytelling, thought I would give LOVE AND RUIN, a collection of some of the best pieces from the website, a try. I am now a convert. The topics are diverse, the styles are wide ranging and like any good narrative nonfiction, the author starts off investigating a particular theme of interest but end up somewhere entirely different and unexpected. By deeply exploring one very specific fascination, the essayists end up speaking to the much larger universal human condition and I feel greatly enriched by their words. If there is one essay collection not to miss this year, this is the one.


The Mothers Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780399184512
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Riverhead Books - October 11th, 2016

I find myself, over and over, gravitating towards debut novels, especially by women writers. I’m not sure if it’s the excitement of fresh voices wrangling the human experience or my desire to see women succeed and validated as capable of writing Literature, but with all the buzz around THE MOTHERS (and its beautifully designed cover), I knew it was one that I wanted to check out. It didn’t disappoint. Told by a chorus of voices, the narrative follows three African-American teenagers as they mature into adulthood and work through the interrelated complexities that life throws at them. Bennett possesses a perceptive and delicate approach to race, religion, family and love and I couldn’t put THE MOTHERS down. She has set the bar high with her debut and I can’t wait to read whatever comes next.


Appetites: A Cookbook Cover Image
$37.50
ISBN: 9780062409959
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Ecco Press - October 25th, 2016

I’ve always been a big fan of Bourdain’s attitude—towards food, towards life, towards cooking as a universal human experience. His latest cookbook is a more intimate look into where Bourdain is at this point in his life no longer the raucous, hard partying chef but a father and husband. The recipes are less focused on being of a particular style but more reflective of what he likes to make at home, with his daughter, for his family and friends. Some of the recipes are more complex than others, some don’t seem to fit a particular cuisine or style, but they all are representative of who Bourdain is, flaws and all, and that makes this all the more interesting. The awesome Ralph Steadman cover art doesn’t hurt either.


Vampire in Love Cover Image
$14.95
ISBN: 9780811223461
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - September 27th, 2016

I am a recent convert to (and lover of) books in translation but I must admit: I had never read any Enrique Vila-Matas. Recently translated into English for the first time, this collection spans his whole career and was filled with gems. Intellectual and witty, I found myself laughing out loud in waiting rooms over these brilliant stories. If you are looking for a way to get into translated fiction, this collection by arguably one of Spain’s greatest writers is an enjoyable introduction.


Have a Little Pun: Oh Snap! / Dill with It Tea Towels Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781452149653
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Chronicle Books - March 22nd, 2016

I’m a sucker for adorable kitchen accessories for the holidays so these punny tea towels are right up my alley. Literature nerds will love them and they make perfect gifts for the hosts of all those holiday parties you will inevitably be attending. Everyone will be bringing the requisite bottle of wine so why not bring something thoughtful that can be enjoyed year round?


$14.00
SKU: x3073

The new year is a time for starting fresh and what better way to do that than with these adorable clipboard weekly planner pads? They look great on your desk and are sure to keep you focused on the week ahead. Give the (pretty) gift of organization this holiday season.


$20.00
SKU: 846680028473

Yes, I’ll admit it—I am one of those people who organizes their books by color. This set of mini notebooks, arranged in a rainbow of colors (!) in a shiny gold slipcase (!!), immediately jumped out at me and I covet them daily. These will make the perfect stocking stuffer for those special colorful people in your life.


$15.00
SKU: X1326

I love everything Rifle Paper Co. makes. If I could style my entire home around Anna Bond’s beautiful designs, I would. The Joie de Vivre notebook set is no exception. The stripes and watercolor patterns are so striking and high quality, you may be tempted to just stare at them all day long. Treat yourself or someone you love to these gorgeous notebooks.


Lydia's Gift Giving Secrets

Dead Feminists: Historic Heroines in Living Color Cover Image
$24.95
ISBN: 9781632170576
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Sasquatch Books - October 11th, 2016

The Secret Keepers Cover Image
By Trenton Lee Stewart, Diana Sudyka (Illustrator)
$18.99
ISBN: 9780316389556
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - September 27th, 2016

Joy Picks Ten You May Have Missed

The thing about publishing is that not every book gets the publicity it needs or deserves. This is simply the way the business works, and it has little if anything to do with the quality of the writing and pretty much everything to do with months, if not years, of advance marketing decisions about what will sell the most copies and why. Even books that get a bigger push may still fly under readers’ radars.

Lion Island: Cuba's Warrior of Words Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781481461122
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Atheneum Books for Young Readers - August 30th, 2016

Set in Cuba in the nineteenth century, a time when the country was fighting for freedom from Spain, LION ISLAND is a middle-grade historical fiction novel-in-verse by award-winning author Margarita Engle. It’s the story of Antonio Chuffat and his journey to become an advocate of civil rights.

But it’s not just Antonio’s story. Told in multiple points of view, LION ISLAND starts in 1871, the year of the anti-Chinese riots in Los Angeles, and it’s also the story of Wing and Fan, a brother and sister who escaped those riots. It’s the tale of indentured servant and slaves and the overthrow of the Spanish sugar cane empire.

The verse format and multiple narrators makes this a page turner and a story set in a Cuba that few of us know makes it a must read for middle-graders who love history and based-on-truth stories. A great way to introduce social justice.


Lily and Dunkin Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780553536744
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Delacorte Press - May 3rd, 2016

From award-winning author Donna Gephart, LILY AND DUNKIN is a compelling dual narrative about two remarkable young people: Lily, a transgender girl, and Dunkin, a boy dealing with bipolar disorder. When they meet, their lives change forever. In lesser hands, this middle grade novel would digress into an “issues” book Instead, it’s powerfully crafted and a must-read for every middle-grader and adults, too.

And if you want to know more about Donna Gephart—and of course you do!—and how she’s also an amazing teacher of the craft of writing, check out this podcast from her time at Austin author Bethany Hegedus’s Writing Barn.


Just My Luck Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780062330659
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: HarperCollins - February 23rd, 2016

Oh how I love Cammie McGovern’s writing. She gets the complexities of teens and children, especially those struggling with illness, just right. I’m a huge fan of her young adult novel SAY WHAT YOU WILL. And now comes her middle grade debut—and it’s a gorgeous, moving book. There’s fourth grader Benny, whose life is sucking hugely. He doesn’t have a best friend and he wants one desperately. He can’t do tricks on his bike even though his autistic brother George can. And he’s worried that his dad’s recent accident might be his fault. And then things get worse. But Benny has a big heart and it’s going to help him get through tragedy and figure out that he was more to offer the world than he thinks he does.

McGovern’s writing is strong and sure and gentle. I am such a huge fan and I hope you will be, too! I’d recommend for age eight or nine on up, for readers who enjoy a quieter, thoughtful story.


Read Between the Lines Cover Image
$8.99
ISBN: 9780763691028
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Candlewick Press (MA) - October 11th, 2016

If you aren’t reading Jo Knowles’ amazingly crafted novels for young people, then you need to be. READ BETWEEN THE LINES came out in hardback last year, but is on our shelves now in paperback and so it’s a perfect time to become a fan of the author of such books as SEE YOU AT HARRY’S (one of my absolute favorites!) and more. RBTL is a novel—moving, gritty, unflinching, and humorous—of interlocking stories that follow nine teens and one teacher through a seemingly ordinary day. Everything begins with Nate, who, thanks to a bully in gym class, suffers a broken finger. Of course it’s the middle one and it’s splinted to give ‘the finger’ to the world. But that’s not the only middle finger that will be raised that day in that small town. The cover says it all. For age thirteen and up, particularly teens who like contemporary fiction.


The Great Shelby Holmes: Girl Detective Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781681190518
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Bloomsbury U.S.A. Children's Books - September 6th, 2016

Just named to the Texas Library Association’s Bluebonnet List, this adorable middle-grade debut from internationally bestselling YA author Elizabeth Eulberg gives Sherlock Holmes a fun, sweet twist with delightful young heroes and black and white illustrations throughout. You’ll love this tale of Shelby Holmes, who is definitely not your average sixth grader, not only because she’s tiny and only nine years old but also because she is the best detective in Harlem! And when eleven-year-old John Watson (you knew that was coming, didn’t you?) moves in downstairs, they end up teaming together for a dognapping case. Friendship and mystery-solving ensue. For age ten and up, mystery lovers or not!


Afterward Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781626722385
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Roaring Brook Press - September 20th, 2016

Friend of the store and one of our very favorite Houston authors of contemporary young adult fiction such as THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE, Jennifer Mathieu tells AFTERWARD, a wrenching story of the aftermath of a tragic kidnapping in her trademark steady, solid, and authentic teen voice. Like Donna Gephart’s work, Mathieu is able to elevate an “issue” book to something much deeper and more profound—a story of kidnapped and rescued Ethan and Dylan and Dylan’s older sister Caroline and the scary awful truths of what happened and how they will all get beyond it. As I mentioned when she made us all laugh with her reading of the BFG during Roald Dahl Day, I am such a huge fan of Mathieu’s work and you should be, too! A definite recommend for all teens, particularly those who enjoy stories inspired by real events.


A Fierce and Subtle Poison Cover Image
$17.95
ISBN: 9781616205218
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Algonquin Young Readers - April 12th, 2016

What more can you ask for in a debut novel than to be a stunning retelling of Hawthorne’s “Rapaccinni’s Daughter,” but set in Puerto Rico?  Dallas author Samantha Mabry’s A FIERCE AND SUBTLE POISON is a story where legends collide with reality when a boy is swept into the magical, dangerous world of a girl filled with poison. It’s stunning prose, magic realism, and star-crossed romance.

Everyone knows the legends about the cursed girl—Isabel, the one with green skin and grass for hair, who feeds on the poisonous plants that fill her family's Caribbean island garden. Some say she can grant wishes; some say her touch can kill. Seventeen-year-old Lucas is about to find out whether the stories are just stories, or maybe some strange kind of truth. But will he survive this weird new world? Mabry’s written a story on many levels—from fairy tale, to warning of cultural appropriation, to crazy love. For teens and up, especially readers who like something different and strange and wonderful.


More Happy Than Not Cover Image
$10.99
ISBN: 9781616956776
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Soho Teen - April 26th, 2016

MORE HAPPY THAN NOT debuted in 2015 and quickly hit the New York Times bestseller list while garnering numerous awards and starred reviews. It’s on our shelves this year in paperback with a gorgeous new cover and if you haven’t read this gritty, twisty, wrenching, set in a dangerous near-future New York, haven’t discovered Bronx native Adam Silvera, then now is a good time to do so! His voice is one of the most authentic of any author for young adults, and I don’t say that lightly. It’s the story of sixteen year old Aaron Soto, struggling to recover from his father’s suicide. He’s got support from his girlfriend and from his loving but overworked mom, but he’s also got sadness and a smile-shaped scar on his wrist. But when Aaron’s feelings for a new boy named Thomas turn into something he isn’t expecting, complications stir. And the existence of a shadowy hospital called the Leteo Institute offers the possibility of surgically altering painful memories. But the question becomes, Does Aaron want to forget, or has he already forgotten? An important read that confronts race and sexuality with unflinching honesty.


The Serpent King Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780553524024
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Crown Books for Young Readers - March 8th, 2016

Oh this story! Oh Jeff Zenter’s writing!! Oh THE SERPENT KING! This debut young adult novel is a story about friendship and family and forgiveness and casts an unflinching eye on growing up and finding your true self in the Bible Belt. It’s the story of the son of a Pentecostal minister, of extreme faith, of friendship and love and forgiveness. Like Zentner himself, it’s witty and funny and moving and different. Your teens will love it. So will you. And then you can all wait with me for March, 2017, when Zentner’s next YA novel, GOODBYE DAYS, arrives!!


The Memory of Things Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781250095527
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: St. Martin's Griffin - September 6th, 2016

With the proliferation this year of 9/11 fiction, you might have missed this one. I’m here to tell you that you need to read it! THE MEMORY OF THINGS is a beautiful young adult novel of friendship and first love, and the impossible yet possible ability to carry on with day-to-day living in the midst of horrific, unspeakable tragedy. It’s a hopeful, wonderful, wholly original story about sixteen-year old Kyle Donohue, fleeing the danger of the falling towers by running to safety across the Brooklyn Bridge. But when he meets a girl covered in ash, inexplicably wearing a pair of costume wings, a mystery unravels along with tragedy and survival. For teens who want an unconventional love and survival story. Once they’ve read it, they’ll want to read Gae Polisner’s other titles, like THE SUMMER OF LETTING GO.


What is KidLit Author Jennifer Mathieu Giving for the Holidays?

We’re excited to continue our feature about what books Texas kidlit authors are giving for holiday gifts this year! Because who better to recommend books than authors? And we have a huge, diverse and amazing community of writers for young people in Texas, many of them right here in Houston-- so many wonderful voices and stories and points of view. I hope you continue enjoy reading their choices as much as I did!

Rad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries Who Shaped Our History . . . and Our Future! Cover Image
By Kate Schatz, Miriam Klein Stahl (Illustrator)
$14.95
ISBN: 9780872866836
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: City Lights Books - April 7th, 2015

What a delicious and necessary book this is, especially in light of our recent election. As some try to normalize misogyny, those who know better should be sure to get this colorful, inspiring book into the hands of the young people they care about. With bright colors and informative text, Rad American Women A-Z shares the stories of such trailblazers as Angela Davis, Dolores Huerta, and Sonia Sotomayor. Although this primer is intended for younger readers, adults are sure to enjoy reading about women who truly made America great.


Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781594485367
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Riverhead Books - September 6th, 2011

It's tricky to find a short story collection where every single narrative delivers, but Danielle Evans's compilation is a like an album full of number one hits. These stories - most of them focus on teenage girls and young women of color - are full of heart and aching authenticity, and they tackle race, friendships, and female sexuality with a bold and unique voice. I had the pleasure of teaching "Virgins" to my eleventh graders and they went crazy for it, debating its gut-wrenching ending until the bell rang. "Snakes" - about two young cousins whose summer spent with grandma has lasting ramifications on their lives - chilled me to my core. A must read.


The Book of Unknown Americans Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9780345806406
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage - March 3rd, 2015

Full disclosure.  The author of this novel is an old college classmate and dear friend, but I would recommend this novel even if she were a stranger on the street.  Set in a Delaware apartment complex that is home to Spanish-speaking immigrants from all over Latin America, Henriquez's novel centers around a teenage romance and a family that has recently emigrated from Mexico to the United States.  Using interchapters narrated by a variety of immigrants, this story shines a light on new Americans - both documented and undocumented - who play an integral part of our American story.  A beautiful book, but get the tissues handy.


The Best Ten Books Lydia Hasn't Talked About Enough This Year

The title pretty much says it all: for someone who talks about books for a living (and for fun), I still have not managed to shout about these ten books enough. In an ideal world, it wouldn’t be considered socially unacceptable for me to wander the streets, asking if you’d heard the Good News about my current favorite book yet, and in an even more ideal world, I’d have an unlimited supply of these books to press feverishly into your hands.

Him, Me, Muhammad Ali Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781941411315
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Sarabande Books - October 11th, 2016

#10

Jarrar switches easily from the brightly whimsical to the painfully real in this collection following Arab and Arab-American women as they struggle through love, lust, and longing. Whether rooted in fable or realism, whether following the journey of an Egyptian woman grieving her father or a woman with mountain goat legs searching for love, these stories hold truth.


Private Citizens Cover Image
$14.99
ISBN: 9780062399106
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: William Morrow & Company - February 9th, 2016

#9

Knife-blade-sharp social satire with deft characterization (as well as deft caricaturization, if I may), this debut novel set in the Bay Area is the greatest Feel-Bad Read of the year. Deliciously mean-spirited in tone but refreshingly equal-opportunity in scope, Tulathimutte spares no one, eviscerating the self-righteous, the branding-obsessed, the insecure navel-gazer, and the narcissistic in turn. You might end up hating many of the characters you come across in the book, but you'll also find yourself groaning in empathy and—let's be honest—in painful recognition. Mostly, you’ll find yourself laughing and turning page after page.


Another Brooklyn Cover Image
$22.99
ISBN: 9780062359988
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Amistad Press - August 9th, 2016

#8

The quiet coming-of-age story of four young black women "growing up Girl" in the frenetic, sharp-clawed Brooklyn of the 1970s. With her hazy, dreamlike narrative, her prose clear and resonant as struck crystal, Woodson perfectly evokes four talented girls scrabbling to take hold of their futures, trying to hold onto themselves and each other, filled with fear and despair and hope, so much hope.


Thrill Me: Essays on Fiction Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781555977597
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Graywolf Press - October 18th, 2016

#7

Equal parts personal essay and writing instruction, THRILL ME breaks away from Percy’s mountain-bear gruff-n-tuff persona to reveal the perfectionist nerd he really is—and writers and readers alike benefit from his generosity in doing so. Written with hilarity and clear-eyed, no-frills insight, THRILL ME is a quick read you’ll come back to again and again.


Cannibal Cover Image
$17.95
ISBN: 9780803290631
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: University of Nebraska Press - September 1st, 2016

#6

A gorgeous, weighty debut collection, CANNIBAL explores Sinclair’s homeland of Jamaica, wrestling with the nation’s fertile land and turbulent history. Both the author’s home and her female body are war-torn, foreign, and post-colonial—the poet is an exile from both.  Evoking THE TEMPEST and Old Testament mythology, these brutal, ravishing poems bring forth a landscape at times raw with anger, at times lush with longing and beauty.


The Other Boy Cover Image
By M. G. Hennessey, Sfe R. Monster (Illustrator)
$16.99
ISBN: 9780062427663
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: HarperCollins - September 20th, 2016

#5

A sweet, sometimes painful but ultimately triumphant story about first love, true friendship, and the greatest game ever played: baseball. Shane, a white transgender boy in middle school, has settled into his new school, made the team with his best friend, developed a crush on the cutest girl in his class, and has almost forgiven his dad for his parents’ divorce, but of course things can’t stay simple for long. Though Shane struggles with discrimination, the story stays lighthearted and upbeat without sacrificing realism. THE OTHER BOY is as enjoyable a book as it is important.


What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9781594634635
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Riverhead Books - March 8th, 2016

#4

Helen Oyeyemi may have started her career as the prodigy darling of the literary world, but she’s published her seventh book now and shows no sign of plateauing. Oyeyemi effortlessly injects fantasy into the social and political realities of these stories, loosely centered on the theme of keys and the literal and metaphorical doorways they lead to. Playful and mysterious, often queer and always fun, these are stories you can escape into.


Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube: Chasing Fear and Finding Home in the Great White North Cover Image
$25.99
ISBN: 9780062311566
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Ecco Press - July 5th, 2016

#3

At the time of my writing this, Blair Braverman’s Twitter handle is “Feminist Jack London”—a more perfectly apt description of the contents of her brilliant memoir than I could write myself (but of course I’m going to try). WELCOME TO THE GODDAMN ICE CUBE is ostensibly about the author’s experience learning to race sled dogs in the coldest parts of the world, but like the best of memoirs, it’s about a lot more—it’s about fear, about being the perpetual outsider, about her great longing for the North and her desire to test herself, and we can’t help but hold our breath for her as she throws herself into the dangerous, dark winter to pursue a lifestyle dominated by men. Her story, told with a measured, even voice, is exciting, contemplative, gritty, and so, so real—this a book of a woman’s triumph over the discrimination we all face but in a place most of us will never see.


Du Iz Tak? Cover Image
By Carson Ellis, Carson Ellis (Illustrator)
$16.99
ISBN: 9780763665302
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Candlewick Press (MA) - October 18th, 2016

#2

Yet another gem from my favorite can-do-no-wrong publisher, Candlewick Press. A sweeping drama of life and death played out by fancifully-anthropomorphic insects speaking a non-existent but still understandable language, DU IZ TAK? is an “empires rise, empires fall” tragicomedy for all ages. Seriously: no matter who you’re reading to, you won’t get tired of Carson Ellis’ gorgeous, intricate watercolor illustrations or her simple, perfect story anytime soon. 


The Fifth Season Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9780316229296
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Orbit - August 4th, 2015

#1

I admit, including these two books is somewhat of a cheat—first, because I’m using one slot for two books that both deserve awards in their own right, and second, because I have already spent a good part of this year telling everyone I know about this brilliant, un-put-downable series by N.K. Jemisin, but I argue it fits the theme because I truly can't praise her work enough (and besides, it's my top ten list).

There have been many, many books, both recently and not, about the end of the world and what comes after. I have read many of these books, and enjoyed many of these books, but N.K. Jemisin’s brilliant new series managed to do something wonderful—surprise me.

Part fantasy, part prophetic warning of our possible future, THE FIFTH SEASON and its equally sharp sequel THE OBELISK GATE are set in a far-future world, so desiccated and wracked by earthquakes that its people carry emergency “runny-sacks” in anticipation of “fifth seasons,” the environmental aftermath of world-breaking quakes. Ecstatically imaginative in scope, with the most meticulous world-building a sci-fi/ fantasy nerd could ever hope for, this series is a finely-polished mirror for our own broken society, with our history of racism and imperialism, our cavalier disregard for an environment we’ve largely wrecked. Jemisin’s characters are superb, achingly human and each as complicated and angry and imperfect as the last, their battles set against the backdrop of a world in its death-throes, a civilization eating itself from the inside out.

If you only read one more book this year, make it two and make it these.


Ben Picks His Favorites

Making a “best of” list for 2016 is, I confess, either an act of self-aggrandizement or self-pity (I’m not sure which yet, because I haven’t gotten to the end of this paragraph). See, when I’m honest with myself, my favorite novel of the year was my own, THE SADNESS, which came out in June. Was it actually the best novel of the year? I can’t say (except, no, obviously it wasn’t--it was maybe somewhere near the middle). But it was the book in my life that needed the most help.

The Well-Stocked and Gilded Cage: Essays Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781944853013
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Outpost19 - August 2nd, 2016

Surveys Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781584351788
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Semiotext(e) - February 12th, 2016

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Since 2009, I have spent many nights skirting the edge of trouble with Natasha Stagg and Lawrence Lenhart. No, not actual trouble, but MFA-style trouble: too much drinking, awkward confessions and admissions, arguments that start friendly then slow-boil for hours, late nights that lead to bad freshman composition teaching at 8am. Recently, I gave a reading with both of them in Tucson and was surprised to learn that they’d never met each other before: their time at University of Arizona never overlapped (I was there longer than either of them). Here’s my point: I’m not qualified to objectively review either of these debut books. Stagg’s short novel is simultaneously sly and grim, a terse and lovely look at the pitfalls of youthful aimlessness and living a life online. Lenhart’s essay collection consists of erudite, form-shattering pieces about animals, Greek mythology, painful childhood memories. Do I sound biased if I say that bother books are terrific? I do, and they are. I couldn’t be prouder of my friends.


Better Living Through Criticism: How to Think about Art, Pleasure, Beauty, and Truth Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9781594204838
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Press - February 9th, 2016

#5

Here’s a cliche: everyone’s a critic. This--often said derisively--sort of gets as Scott’s argument in this book, but for him, the notion of criticism being a communal cultural project is an optimistic one. This is the best book on the philosophy of criticism--as vocation, as art, as essential practice--I’ve ever read. Scott is one of the lead film critics at the New York Times, oftentimes a fierce canine in print, but in this work, he ranges far from cinema, sniffing around in the gardens of ancient texts, literature, performance art, returning the the reader with a historical map of the discipline between his teeth. Nothing arrogant or pretention here. Scott proves with this book that he’s not only a great critic--he’s a great writer, period. One day, a family member saw this book and its title and asked if it was a book about how to better your life through being able to take criticism. At first, I scoffed inwardly. Then I realized I was wrong, and my family member was kind of right.


How to Set a Fire and Why Cover Image
$24.95
ISBN: 9781101870570
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Pantheon Books - July 5th, 2016

#4

Will this novel be known as the moment when Ball--one of the most formally inventive avant-gardists of his generation--went “mainstream?” Hell, it almost qualifies as young adult fiction. His narrator is a teenage girl at odds with her life, too eccentric for her peers, to perceptive to fit in. Her response? Be sassy, and set some fires. The first-person narration recalls the brash, blunt elegance of, you guessed it, Holden Caulfield, but Ball is even more unforgiving in what he puts his protagonist through, and his novel feels less like a sustained narrative (though it is) than a litany of the fragmented and often contradictory thoughts fighting for attention in a young person’s brain. So see? Still experimental--but more human.


Eve Out of Her Ruins Cover Image
By Ananda Devi, Jeffrey Zuckerman (Translator), J. M. G. Le Clezio (Introduction by)
$14.95
ISBN: 9781941920404
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Deep Vellum Publishing - September 13th, 2016

#3

This novel pulverized me, and more than nearly any other book I can think of, it demands to be read in one sitting. Set in Port Louis, a tourist town on the island of Mauritius, its four narrators are all looking into mirrors and not liking what they see. All are trying to realize a different version of themselves in their impoverished neighborhood, trying to be sexier, tougher, smarter. As their stories intersect, they all learn the ways that these other lives are impossible to live, and they glimpse truths about one another. So what the heck is this book actually about? No way am I telling you here, except to say that halfway through, something happens that changes everything. At that point, you realized Devi’s strategy, making you focus so much on character, voice, and setting that you haven’t noticed the tense thriller uncoliningling in the background. Why read this in one sitting? The book is short, yes, but the couple sustained hours you’ll spend with it make you realized just how far Devi gets in such a short space.


The Art of Waiting: On Fertility, Medicine, and Motherhood Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781555977498
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Graywolf Press - September 6th, 2016

#2

Here’s the thing: I’m an idiot, often stubborn, not wanting to read outside my comfort zone. When I first was given a copy of this book, I buried it in my stack. Maternity? I will never give birth to a baby, nor am I even thinking right now about becoming a father. How would this book speak to me? Like I say, I’m an idiot, because I finally picked it up, it became one of the most engrossing reading experienced so of my life. In this memoir, Boggs recalls her experience trying to become pregnant, but “memoir” should be in quotes, because her book is also a study of infertility from artistic, economic, and cultural perspectives. Every wondered why Martha’s childlessness in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Seems deployed to make her appear even more monstrous? What cultural expectations underpinned that decision? I think I had wondered, but it took Boggs to make me realize it--to realize that, specifically, and to realize many other things.


White Sands: Experiences from the Outside World Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9781101870853
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Pantheon Books - May 3rd, 2016

#1

More and more often, my barometer for great literature is whether or not I hear the author’s voice in my head long after I’ve finished the book. To put it mildly: Dyer changed the way I see the world. In these travel essays--or are they short stories? memoristic blips? ekphrastic exercises?--Dyer uses his signature wit and urbanity to craft limber pieces that remind us of all the ways our lives intersect with art, culture, politics, you name it. Hell, why do I say “us” here? I mean me--me--and the “me” in Dyer’s pieces goes to the desert to look at installation art, travels to Asia to find unexpected personal connection, picks up a hitchhiker who may be murderous, visits the former home of Theodor Adorno, and confronts his own mortality in a very “Los Angeles” way. Travel essays, sure--but Dyer would be the ideal travel companion, smart and perceptive and curious. But then again, why would you need to actually travel with him? Read this masterpiece, and you’ll hear his voice in your head wherever you go.


Those five, and these five, in alphabetical order:


A Bestiary Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780996316743
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Cleveland State University Poetry Center - April 15th, 2016

Hoang, a shape-shifting writer, breaks out with a shape-shifting essay collection, a raw-nerved examination of race, family, sex, abuse, and the shapes we’re all expected to shift into over the course of a lifetime in order to survive.


Good People Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781942658023
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Bellevue Literary Press - January 12th, 2016

Do you need me to tell you that this title is ironic? Well, maybe it is. Lopez writes stories about characters who spin themselves into self-destruction spirals of self-delusion, and he has a better ear for interior monologues than nearly any contemporary writer I can think of. Great stuff--dark, funny, brutalizing. These “good” people are me, and they’re you.


The Mothers Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780399184512
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Riverhead Books - October 11th, 2016

Rumors ripple through a community Southern California--rumours about a young woman’s pregnancy and her family’s response. A great debut novel about gossip told from the point of view of the gossip itself. A pernicious game of telephone between two covers.


Of This New World Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781609384432
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: University of Iowa Press - October 1st, 2016

A debut short story collection, but no navel-gazing here. Hyde embodies cults, outlaws, even life on Mars. Her interests and talents feel infinite. I have no idea how much of herself is in these stories, and I don’t want to know.


We Eat Our Own Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781501128318
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Scribner Book Company - September 6th, 2016

Another debut--this one a novel about a tortured film production in the middle of the jungle (based on the notorious found-footage forbearer Cannibal Holocaust). A tyrannical horror filmmaker intersects with guerrilla warfare. Totally original, and scary storytelling so smart if feels high-def.


Made in Texas

At Brazos, we think of ourselves as having something for everybody, wherever they’re from, but of course we cannot escape a key part of our identity: Texas. Good thing for us that Texas means a lot more than just cowboys and ranches. It also means great food, natural beauty, art, and multiculturalism. If you’re in love with all things Texas, or if you just want to give a taste of the Lone Star State to somebody else, we have some great books and gifts for you.


Pretty Paper Cover Image
$23.00
ISBN: 9780735211544
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Blue Rider Press - October 25th, 2016

Nothing says Texas like Willie Nelson, and his song “Pretty Paper” is a holiday classic. Now, Nelson brings us a companion piece to his song: a charming book that imagines the life of the Texas street vendor who inspired his song. An inspirational holiday tale, and perhaps another classic by Nelson.


Marfa Modern: Artistic Interiors of the West Texas High Desert Cover Image
By Helen Thompson, Casey Dunn (Photographer)
$50.00
ISBN: 9781580934732
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Monacelli Press - October 25th, 2016

It’s hard to argue with the fact that Marfa, TX, is one of the nation’s most renowned artistic getaways. This photography book takes another look at Marfa and the West Texas desert: by looking at the region’s beautiful artistic interiors of the people who live there. A perfect way to take a trip to Marfa any time you want!


Seeing Texas History: The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum Cover Image
By Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, Victoria Ramirez (Introduction by), Jan Bullock (Introduction by)
$40.00
ISBN: 9781477310892
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum - November 29th, 2016


Texas has a rich and varied history, one that remains tied to its present identity. The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum has been presenting artifacts of Texas history of years, and this volume brings together some of the most striking items. This beautiful book is perfect for lovers of Texas history, and also a great way to get newbies acquainted with the state.


The Enchilada Queen Cookbook: Enchiladas, Fajitas, Tamales, and More Classic Recipes from Texas-Mexico Border Kitchens Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9781250082916
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: St. Martin's Griffin - November 1st, 2016

Food! That’s right, no Texana list would be complete without it. We’re crazy about enchiladas here, and Sylvia Casares has been dubbed “The Queen of Tex-Mex Cuisine.” This new cookbook reveals some of her secrets of how to make delicious Tex-Mex dishes, and just flipping through and looking at the images will make your mouth water.


Houston on the Move: A Photographic History Cover Image
$45.00
ISBN: 9781477310946
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: University of Texas Press - October 25th, 2016

America is figuring out what Houstonians have always known: that H-Town is one of the nation’s leading cities for food, culture, and architecture. This delightful coffee table book presents a photographic history of the Bayou City, which makes it the perfect gift to give someone who wants to understand all the ways Houston has developed, and continues to develop, into a great American city.


$12.00
SKU: GeotoysHOU

Do you know a Texana geek who needs a fun way to pass the time? Pick up this magnetic Hosuton puzzle. It contains 100 pieces and comes in a beautifully designed canister that is itself a work of art.


Last but not least, check out our exclusive t-shirts that map out Houston’s bayous. Exclusive because, well, we made it ourselves! Houston is nicknamed “Bayou City” for a reason, and this shirt shows the intriguing and evocative shape of Houston’s water.



Exclusively in store:

TEXAS POETRY CALENDAR 2017
The poetry of Texas is on display in the Texas Poetry Calendar! An always popular item, the new edition keeps it simple: clean calendar pages paired with great Texas poems. A wonderful way to acknowledge Texas art and culture while planning your new year!

NOSTALGIC VIEWS OF HOUSTON 2017
Another calendar, this one for a desk or easel. The title says it all! Here are twelve great views of old-fashioned Houston, from the state flag to the San Jacinto Monument to city hall and downtown. A great piece of nostalgia to remind you of the past while you move into the future.

Call us at 713-523-0701 to reserve your Texas calendars


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