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August Favorites

There are so many great books that hit the shelves every day. It can be hard to spot the gems, but that's where we come in. Each month, we highlight a special book in each of our big sections for kids: Picture books, Middle grades, Young Adult and Non-fiction. Here's what we're reading in August:

This Is Our Baby, Born Today Cover Image
By Varsha Bajaj, Eliza Wheeler (Illustrator)
$16.99
ISBN: 9780399166846
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Nancy Paulsen Books - August 2nd, 2016

"A baby is born and the world rejoices!" With a loving mama, a trumpeting herd, curious cousins, and even some dancing peacocks heralding this little one's arrival, it is apparent that the joy and wonder a new baby brings is shared by all.

Houston author Varsha Bajaj's lilting prose and Eliza Wheeler's enchanting scenes of a wide-eyed baby elephant and its smitten family celebrate the importance of family and community in every child's life. Set in the lush wilds of India, this is an endearing, beautifully illustrated tribute to little ones getting their first warm welcome to the world.


The Girl Who Drank the Moon Cover Image
$17.95
ISBN: 9781616205676
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Algonquin Young Readers - August 9th, 2016

A coming of age fairy tale of sacrifice, love, and magic by the author of the award-winning The Witch’s Boy. Once a year, the people of the Protectorate leave a child as an offering to Xan, the witch of the forest. But Xan is not what they imagine. She rescues the children, feeds them starlight, and delivers them to families on the other side of the forest. But one year, Xan feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight. That child is named Luna and the moonlight fills her with amazing magic. And so Xan raises her as her own. But when Luna turns thirteen, her magic rises, along with unexpected consequences, including the arrival of a young man determined to kill to free his people. And that’s just the beginning…


This Savage Song Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062380852
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Greenwillow Books - July 5th, 2016

There's no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from acclaimed author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains and friends or enemies with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books, This Savage Song is a must-have for fans of Holly Black, Maggie Stiefvater, and Laini Taylor.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent but he's one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who's just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August's secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives. In THIS SAVAGE SONG, Victoria Schwab creates a gritty, seething metropolis, one worthy of being compared to Gotham and to the four versions of London in her critically acclaimed fantasy for adults, A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC. Her heroes will face monsters intent on destroying them from every side including the monsters within.


Grover Cleveland, Again!: A Treasury of American Presidents Cover Image
By Ken Burns, Gerald Kelley (Illustrator)
$25.00
ISBN: 9780385392099
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers - July 12th, 2016

A gorgeous collection of American presidents filled with fun facts and sparkling with personality, from nonfiction master Ken Burns.

This special treasury from America's beloved documentarian Ken Burns brings the presidents to life for our nation's children. Each president is given a lushly illustrated spread with curated stories and information to give readers of all ages a comprehensive view of the varied and fascinating characters who have led our nation (with the exception of Grover Cleveland--the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms--who gets two spreads ). A must-have for Ken's many fans, classrooms, and anyone who wishes to gain a greater understanding and appreciation for our country.

"A buoyant gallery, up to date, handsomely framed, and, in this particular election year, timely too."--"Kirkus Reviews.


Translation Spotlight: On Kafka and Müller

Philip Boehm has translated some of the world’s great German-language authors, from Franz Kafka’s LETTERS TO MILENA to numerous books by Nobel Prize winner Herta Müller (THE HUNGER ANGEL and THE FOX WAS EVER THE HUNTER). His newest translation, THE LAMENTATIONS OF ZENO by Ilija Trojanow, has just been published. Besides translating over thirty novels and plays, Boehm is also a stage director and a playwright based in St. Louis.

The Lamentations of Zeno Cover Image
By Ilija Trojanow, Philip Boehm (Translator)
$19.95
ISBN: 9781784782191
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Verso - May 3rd, 2016

This latest book I translated THE LAMENTATIONS OF ZENO by Ilja Trojanow, there’s some little lines in Bavarian. Now, imagine if I set that in “Texan.” You can’t do it that way so you have to negotiate. I have this theory of balance: I accept the fact that something is gonna be lost. So I look for opportunities to hint at it in some other way—how can I convey that Bavarian-ness in some other way? The foreignness in translation is another thing to consider. And in this Kafka, which is a whole set of problems there. I translated a Polish novel that had a lot of German phrases in it. And the German sounds different to the Polish ear than it does to the Anglophone, and there’s all these ramifications, you know. So trying to get those, and then how do I do that all in English, and neither German or Polish?

BB: The first interview I did when I started doing this was George Henson. He’s translated from the Spanish for that Dallas press Deep Vellum. He translated Sergio Pitol and I got to speak to him. He was the first one that mentioned the whole idea of the exoticism, the foreignness. You know, back in the 60s and 70s, they would try to stress how different it is and there’s that belief of you would try to make it as flat and American as possible. There’s all these different schools of thought.

PB: I know very little about translation theory. What I do—and this is what I do with the plays, I think each book is its own being, and I try and figure out what works best for that particular book.

BB: That to me makes sense. Every book, every novel, is kind of its own universe.

PB: It is its own universe, and I dunno. Sometimes, I hear these academic school of thought—“We want to feel the roughness of the translation!”—but most readers are just gonna say, “That’s just basket translation! It’s a mistake. Something was messed up in the translation.” And sometimes, you know, they talk about improving or not improving, you know, but an author doesn’t…

If an author makes a mistake, as they might, then they usually are grateful that you can correct it. You know, if you catch a name that wasn’t followed through two hundred pages later or something, they go, “Oh! I didn’t see that.” And the editors are different, in different countries—there’s a different degree. I’ve been very fortunate to work with Sara Bershtel, who’s like wow. She’s...

BB: Is she here? Is she in Europe?

PB: She’s here. She’s the publisher at Metropolitan Books. She’s just remarkable, really. I mean, she sees things, and she always improves things. She hones in, right on—“We can make this sharper and keep it with that.”

BB: That’s a great editor. That’s a gift.

PB: Truly.

BB: I’m not sure how it came about that you were able to translate Kafka’s LETTERS TO MILENA. Was there a self-induced pressure because you were translating Kafka?


Letters to Milena Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780805212679
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Schocken Books Inc - November 3rd, 2015

PB: It came about this way. A new edition had come out in German. The original letters had been published, and the story was that something had been entrusted with the letters. He then published them. But his version...it’s as if you took them through a blender. I mean, they were little fragments and they weren’t dated, all this stuff. So, these German scholars—very organized, very specific. They even used chemical analysis on the paper just to date it, and they were able to reconstitute this order of letters. In some cases, they weren’t sure, but also, someone had left out a lot of stuff, just randomly or some of it understandably.

BB: So when he left it out, it’s not as if he destroyed anything. He just edited.

PB: He edited. In particular, his wife was one of the people who edited. But these German scholars, they published this new annotated version, and I looked at that. I can also make my way through Czech a little bit, because of Polish. I talked to Sara, who was publishing this. At first, we were talking about just updating it—I said, “You can’t do that. You have to do the whole thing.” You can’t have different styles. And also, I wanted to add those things that we ended up adding, like Milena’s obituary of Kafka. I looked around and the Germans had published a few things by Milena in their book, but I had a slightly different suggestion. Anyway, so that’s how it happened, and it kind of mushroomed. The funny thing is that I was living at that time in Poland, and it was still communist Poland. So the communication back and forth was challenging. This is way pre-internet. I would have to go to a friend’s house, wait hours for the phone call go through.

BB: That’s its own novel right there.

PB: I know. I think at one point, I was going to the airport to get somebody a manuscript because it was going to the United States, because the government was suspicious of all these...Anyway, so that came out—it must have been 1990. They had just gone through all these changes in Prague—they were still going from 1989 on—and I was in the middle of all this stuff. There was a strange circumstance that I found someone who had a connection in Prague, and someone had found a book in a used bookstore and a bunch of letters that fell out. They were a bunch of letters—they weren’t to Milena but they were bunch of letters to his parents!

Anyway, the book came out and we had to decide what to do with the Czech, since it was these letters, and I wanted to keep the fact...People don’t think about Kafka being bilingual but of course he was. Whether or not his Czech was really good or not is another matter, but he still was bilingual. He talks about it. Milena also was a translator—that’s how they met, because she was translating one of his short stories. So, you know, what greater gift can there be to a translator than this book? Also, I was an unknown translator at the time—this was my first.

BB: Really? Wow. To come out of the gate with this! This is probably my favorite book of his, because I think you get a window of his soul, a lot more than his fiction. I mean, it’s fiction but it’s exquisite—the writing! A good, good, dear friend of mine, a really great reader, says, “I don’t like reading him because I get claustrophobic.” So I would say, “Read the letters!”

PB: There’s an intensity applied to the prose. He’s crafting things—you see him starting, scratching it out, and starting again while he writes the letters.

BB: So Herta Müller—I’ve read about her and she sounds incredible. The new book that’s coming out THE FOX WAS EVER THE HUNTER.


The Fox Was Ever the Hunter Cover Image
By Herta Muller, Philip Boehm (Translator)
$28.00
ISBN: 9780805093025
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Metropolitan Books - May 10th, 2016

PB: Well it’s way before THE HUNGER ANGEL. It’s one of her first novels. It’s much more about Romanian dictatorship than anything else.

BB: What’s it like working with her? Do you work with her directly?

PB: I know her very well. We went on tour together once. I was hoping, actually, that she’d be coming. We’re friends, you know, but she doesn’t necessarily like to travel very much. She has...You know, some people change a great deal, when they these big prizes like this, but she’s very much her own person. She has an integrity to her and she has this electricity about her, and she has this energy. When it got the Nobel Prize, it was very...Obviously, it catapulted her. To Sara Bershtel’s credit, she had been publishing her for years and there had been very little resonance—you know, ‘Herta who?’

BB: Not anymore.


Houston Reads: Marian Luntz

One of the joys of working in a bookstore is finding out what our friends and customers are excited about. This month, we check in with Marian Luntz, Curator of Film and Video at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston!

Before We Visit the Goddess Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9781476792002
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster - April 19th, 2016

One of our Movies Houstonians Love presenters in Season 12 will be Chitra Divakaruni, a suggestion somewhat inspired by several of our Film Committee members who attended her recent reading at Brazos. So her book would be one (because I have been wanting to read it).


Larose Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9780062277022
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper - May 10th, 2016

Then I’d go with the new novel by Louise Erdrich, which I also haven’t read yet. But we were dorm neighbors our freshman year at Dartmouth, and have remained in touch via a mututal friend. I am a huge fan and admirer of her work.


100 Things Astros Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die Cover Image
$14.95
ISBN: 9781629371962
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Triumph Books (IL) - April 1st, 2016

Next, let’s go with Brian McTaggart’s book, since I'm a huge Astros fan. I have the game they’re currently playing minimized on my computer as I write this!


Two Weeks in the Midday Sun Cover Image
$18.50
ISBN: 9780226314433
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: University of Chicago Press - April 6th, 2016

Finally, this gem. I was fortunate enough to be at a luncheon at Cannes with his widow, Chaz, and she gifted the organizer of the lunch with a signed copy of this book.


Marian Luntz has worked in the film and media arts fields for over three decades, including positions with Kino International and the American Film Institute. As Curator of Film and Video at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston since 1990 she had overseen and programmed over 200 screenings annually. She also manages the museum’s archive and distribution of films by Robert Frank, the renowned photographer and filmmaker. She served as Director of Exhibition at the Southwest Alternate Media Project from 1983-90, and continues to serve on the selection team of the SWAMP-Houston Public Media PBS shorts showcase, The Territory. She serves the Board of Directors for the Houston Cinema Arts Society and chairs its programming committee. She is a founding member of the Houston Jewish Film Festival’s selection committee and the advisory board of the Texan-French Alliance for the Arts. Ms. Luntz is a community blogger for the Houston Chronicle under the banner, “SmArtFilm.”


Start Your Summer Reading!

The Great Escape is a collection of books that takes the reader somewhere else. There's escapist fiction such as SATIN ISLAND alongside non-fiction books about literal journeys, like BARBARIAN DAYS. Go around the world with globe-trotting novels like THE LITTLE PARIS BOOKSHOP and A TALE FOR THE TIME BEING or dive into travel essays such as SIDEWALKS. Go back in time with THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS or take an inner jounrey with JOURNEY TO THE END OF NIGHT. ON THE MOVE will move you as well. There's something special for every reader and every taste.

Satin Island Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9780307739629
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage - January 26th, 2016

Staff Pick Logo
Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780143109396
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - April 26th, 2016

The Little Paris Bookshop Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780553418798
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Broadway Books - March 22nd, 2016

A Tale for the Time Being Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780143124870
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - December 31st, 2013

Sidewalks Cover Image
By Valeria Luiselli, Christina Macsweeney (Translator), Cees Nooteboom (Introduction by)
$15.95
ISBN: 9781566893565
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Coffee House Press - May 13th, 2014

The Signature of All Things Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780143125846
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Riverhead Books - June 24th, 2014

Journey to the End of the Night Cover Image
By Louis-Ferdinand Celine, Ralph Manheim (Translator), William T. Vollmann (Afterword by)
$17.95
ISBN: 9780811216548
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - May 17th, 2006

On the Move: A Life Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780804170932
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage - February 23rd, 2016

The Golem and the Jinni (Helene Wecker)

The Golem and the Jinni Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780062110848
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper Perennial - December 31st, 2013

Two fantastic creatures find their way through turn-of-the-century New York in Wecker's intricate debut novel. Weaving multiple strands of mythology and immigrant folklore with more human and grounded concerns, like the always-understandable desire for belonging, THE GOLEM AND THE JINNI draws you into its vivid, sprawling, magical world--this historical fiction is anything but sepia-toned. Just try to put it down, if you can.


The Most of Nora Ephron (Nora Ephron)

The Most of Nora Ephron Cover Image
$35.00
ISBN: 9780385350839
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - October 29th, 2013

Nora Ephron's life and work is celebrated in this survey of her best pieces, crossing all genres and including essays, screenplays, journalism--even the commencement address she delivered at Wellesley College in 1996 (she was an alumna of the class of 1962), exhorting each student to "be the heroine of your own life." Always wise, violently brilliant, and above all funny as hell, this enormous collection is a fitting tribute to one of our best.


Little Brother (Cory Doctorow)

Little Brother Cover Image
$12.99
ISBN: 9780765323118
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Tor Books - April 13th, 2010

When its young hacker protagonists are detained by Homeland Security after a terrorist attack on San Francisco, LITTLE BROTHER brings us 1984 for the modern generation (with a more optimistic ending, thankfully). Winston might have done better if he could hack the government with an Xbox. Particularly relevant in our era of government surveillance and terrorism paranoia, Little Brother is a breakneck-paced, all-nighter kind of read.


Hyperbole and a Half (Allie Brosh)

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9781451666175
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Touchstone Books - October 29th, 2013

Based on her award-winning blog mixing the absurdity of ordinary life with the evocative simplicity of MS Paint art, this first book by Allie Brosh is pure funny distilled into solid form. Her genius for storytelling, especially when discussing her neurotic pets or out-there childhood, will result in the most undignified laughter you may ever produce in your lifetime. The highlight of the book, however, is her spot-on and keenly felt recounting of her struggle with depression.


Sex and the Citadel (Shereen El Feki)

Sex and the Citadel: Intimate Life in a Changing Arab World Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780307390295
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Anchor Books - January 21st, 2014

El Feki perfectly balances a journalist's eye and a creative writer's turn of phrase to offer us an incredibly important look at an underrepresented aspect of Egyptian life. With Arab women and their culture often othered and alienated in Western eyes, this intimate yet open mix of bold analytics and deeply personal stories gives us a complicated and multidimensional view of sex in a changing region, and what that means for its future.


Good Omens (Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett)

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780060853976
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: William Morrow & Company - August 7th, 2007

This longstanding favorite collaboration between two clever and inventive writers tells the story of an Apocalypse thrown off-kilter when the Antichrist is switched at birth. There are dozens of comic asides in footnotes, an incredibly rich ensemble (including a demon who threatens his houseplants into growing instead of watering them), and a deeply moving meditation on destiny from an eleven year-old boy. Yet somehow, in the face of all the supernatural messes, the ordinary humans become the heroes. Good Omens is not only going to make you laugh until you cry, but also provoke some of the most interesting questions about faith and reality you've ever considered.


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