Book Lists

This category is for lists of books (example: Top 10 Books for Summer Reading)

#BrazosBest Picks for August

In August: check fraud as cure for existential dread; taxi rides and past lives in modern Beijing; the return of Pulitzer Prize-winning friendly giant Adam Johnson; broken relationships, weird crushes, and other people; Hurricane Katrina ten years later; the cultural mathematics of race in America.


Staff Pick Logo
Into the Valley Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9781616955090
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Soho Press - August 4th, 2015

ON SALE 8/4

For a while, the counterfeit checks and brand new Mustang give the nameless young woman in Ruth Galm’s debut novel a sense of agency. She finally feels she can escape both the oppressive strictures of her mother and the degenerate hippies that frighten her even more. Yet, is it ever truly possible to slough off the chains of society? And what if when you do get beyond all the meaningless claptrap, you only find a void staring back at you? At once a throwback to the novels of Joan Didion and Richard Yates and the arrival of a startling new voice in American fiction, INTO THE VALLEY is a relentless character study that refuses to turn away from the most unsettling of truths—that there may in fact be none.
—Keaton  


Staff Pick Logo
The Incarnations Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781501106781
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Touchstone Books - August 18th, 2015

ON SALE 8/18

A taxi driver in Beijing begins receiving mysterious letters from a person who claims to be his soulmate, detailing their past lives together as parent and child, as siblings, as lovers. As his personal life deteriorates, the letters spill forth vivid tales of lives entwining across eons of Chinese history, in this novel of obsession and buried secrets. Barker’s incredibly rich writing captivates even as it disgusts, empathizes even when the acts it portrays are unforgivable. Both an epic drama and an intimate painting of one man’s psyche, THE INCARNATIONS doesn’t let you go easy.
—Liz 


Staff Pick Logo
Fortune Smiles: Stories Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780812997477
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Random House - August 18th, 2015

ON SALE 8/18

Adam Johnson’s first book since winning the Pulitzer, these six stories deal in tragedy, technology and the the effort involved in gaining wisdom. He also returns to the subject of North Korea, the setting of THE ORPHAN MASTER’S SON, telling the story of two Pyongyang defectors who struggle to assimilate to their new life in Seoul. A masterful mixture of the everyday set against extraordinary circumstances, this collection is another example of Johnson’s gifts as a writer.
—Mark


Staff Pick Logo
Barbara the Slut and Other People Cover Image
$27.95
ISBN: 9781594633782
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Riverhead Books - August 4th, 2015

ON SALE 8/4

Girlfriends, boyfriends, siblings, dogs: the ways we form relationships are the core of this phenomenal debut collection of stories about sex, friendship, and breakdowns in communication. Every story in this book is so viscerally real, whether it’s a teenager enduring a family road trip to break up with her long-distance boyfriend, a worker in an STD clinic giving bad news, or a young woman pretending to be gay to work in a sex toy shop. All right, that last one’s a little out there, but no matter how outrageous some of the circumstances may seem, Holmes hits perfectly on the vulnerabilities, insecurities, and buried needs that live in us all.
—Liz 

 


Staff Pick Logo
Katrina: After the Flood Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9781451692228
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Simon & Schuster - August 11th, 2015

ON SALE 8/11

When the levees broke, Hurricane Katrina became a man-made disaster. Even once the waters receded, political infighting, bureaucratic inefficiency and corruption left the revival of one of the greatest American cities in doubt. Gary Rivlin’s meticulous rendering of the storm and its aftermath--published to coincide with the tenth anniversary of landfall--is journalism at its finest. It is quite literally a deluge of facts wrapped in a gripping narrative that provides the most complete understanding yet of this American tragedy.
—Keaton   


Staff Pick Logo
Multiply/Divide: On the American Real and Surreal Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781941411049
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Sarabande Books - August 11th, 2015

ON SALE 8/11

With MULTIPLY/DIVIDE, Wendy S. Walters steps out of poetry and into prose. Her topic? Race in America. Using fiction, non-fiction, and lyric essay, Walters explores the universal and the personal, ranging from contradictions within American identity and aspirations to her own entrance into motherhood as a biracial woman. Beautiful, compelling, and relevant, MULTIPLY/DIVIDE is one of those rare books that prompts self-examination without preaching.
—Annalia


#BrazosBest Picks for July

In July: a family history of drowned mermaids; surfing the swells of gender fluidity; ruination and renewal in the wake of unwelcome truths; assuaging grief through rocket science; occupied New Orleans as the Southern heart of darkness; literature, travel and the search for a meaningful life.


The Book of Speculation Cover Image
$26.99
ISBN: 9781250054807
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: St. Martin's Press - June 23rd, 2015

An old, handwritten book, delivered to a house perched precariously on a cliff over the sea—I got chills every third page reading THE BOOK OF SPECULATION. It’s a debut novel, but it feels like a classic: obsessions, mermaids, carnivals, and card-readers fill this story, as family secrets spill out and flood the pages like the oncoming sea that hammers throughout the book. A fantastic page-turner about the bonds between siblings, breathing underwater, and living side-by-side with a past that’s never quite gone. 

-- Liz


Becoming Westerly: Surf Legend Peter Drouyn's Transformation Into Westerly Windina Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781937402747
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Outpost19 - July 1st, 2015

In BECOMING WESTERLY, retired surfer and active journalist Jamie Brisick pens the transformation of young charismatic Aussie surf legend Peter Drouyn into bubbly, Marilyn Monroe-inspired entertainer Westerly Windina, age sixty-four. Brisick follows Windina to Thailand and back as she pursues her long coveted gender reassignment surgery and prepares for what she considers her greatest performance yet: a special appearance at the Fiftieth Anniversary Surfing Awards Ceremony. There, she will reveal herself not as the ghost of Drouyn (whom she claims is deceased) but her own woman. In this book, Brisick tells the story of Westerly, his close friend, with memoir-like intimacy.

-- Annalia


Among the Ten Thousand Things Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780812995220
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Random House - July 7th, 2015

In the first fifteen pages of AMONG THE TEN THOUSAND THINGS, a box addressed to the matriarch of the Shanley family arrives at her home in New York City. Inside the box? Page after page of dirty emails exchanged between patriarch Jack Shanley and his mistress. However, when the box falls into the hands of his teenaged daughter and not his wife, the Shanley family is ripped from their tenuous roots and thrown into a tailspin of self-discovery and self-destruction. This book was so compelling I couldn’t stop reading it throughout our meeting to choose this month’s favorites. 

-- Mary-Catherine


The Last Pilot Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781250066640
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Picador USA - July 7th, 2015

Jim Harrison is a test pilot in the U.S. Air Force who gives up his astronaut hopes—in the midst of the Space Race, no less—when his wife welcomes their long-awaited daughter. But when tragedy hits, their lives are thrown into tumult and neither knows what they want or who they are anymore. Pulled in a million emotional directions, Jim and Grace navigate one of life’s most dire griefs while trying to maintain their grasp on themselves, their marriage, and the changing world around them.

-- Mary-Catherine

 


Secessia Cover Image
Unavailable from Brazos Bookstore
ISBN: 9780802123619
Availability: Out of Print - Not Available for Order
Published: Grove Press - July 7th, 2015

Beautiful poetic writing, an unsettling Southern Gothic atmosphere, a dark undercurrent of sexual obsession—Kent Wascom’s second novel is another macabre feast of impeccably researched historical fiction. Set against the Union occupation of New Orleans, SECESSIA follows five very different characters clawing their way to power and prominence amid the waning days of the Confederacy. There are lies, murder, manipulation, and—in the guise of General Benjamin “The Beast” Butler—a steelfisted tyrant hellbent on breaking the will of the South’s largest, proudest, and unruliest city.

-- Keaton


The Journey Cover Image
By Sergio Pitol, George Henson (Translator), Alvaro Enrigue (Introduction by)
$12.95
ISBN: 9781941920183
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Deep Vellum Publishing - August 18th, 2015

Winner of the prestigious Cervantes Prize, acclaimed Mexican author Sergio Pitol’s second book in his Trilogy of Memory is a firsthand account of living in Soviet-era Prague and Moscow. Told in intelligent and warm prose, Pitol once again shows the reader the profound importance of literature and travel in living a meaningful life. Bursting with wisdom and memories, THE JOURNEY is another unforgettable trip with a masterful guide.

-- Mark


Further Reading: THE DOMINO DIARIES

by Keaton Patterson

No great work of literature exists in a vacuum, and all reading leads to...you guessed it, more reading. In “Further Reading,” Keaton picks one great book and discusses all the other books it leads him to.

Brin-Jonathan Butler is a man of obsessions. As a child, to avoid horrendous bullying and his family’s legacy of alcoholism and suicide, he escaped into his love of literature and boxing—passions that would last a lifetime. Books showed him a world of possibilities beyond the narrow prospects of his troubled upbringing. Boxing let him imagine a sense of pride and discipline he’d never known in his own life.

As you’d expect, this dual love of books and boxing quickly led young Butler to Hemingway. From there, it was a natural progression for him to become enamored with Cuba. Like most kids of my generation, raised during the Cold War’s protracted denouement, the small Communist country less than 100 miles from American shores captured his imagination completely. Why did Hemingway—the lion of modern American fiction—spend the waning years of his life there, writing his final masterpiece and even helping aid the revolution that would ultimately send him packing? Why did so many Cubans choose to leave their beloved home with no chance of ever returning? Why did so many choose to stay? Why did such a small island nation exert such an immense psychic hold on the rest of the world? These were all questions that would never be answered without visiting. So, when the opportunity for an open-ended trip to Cuba presented itself, Butler jumped at the chance. With no contacts to aid him and no plan other than meeting the actual “old man” from THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA and training with Cuba’s bevy of olympic champion boxers, Butler boarded a plane, beginning an odyssey that would last nearly ten years.         

As the product of this journey, THE DOMINO DIARIES is far more than a travelogue or sports memoir. While boxing is the centerpiece of Butler’s pursuits, it’s through the lives of boxers (and other Cuban athletes) that he explores the strange relationship between Cuba and America, and between Cuba and Cubans. Hands down, Cuba produces the most world class fighters of any nation. Yet, they are forbidden by the Castro regime from ever turning professional and live in poverty like the majority of their comrades. Of course, it is well known that many Cuban boxers do defect to America in order to pursue their dreams, but far more decide to forego potential millions and remain. It is this impossible choice that fascinates Butler. And THE DOMINO DIARIES will fascinate any reader with an interest in culture, politics, literature, sports, and the ways they intertwine.

Over the course of his time in Cuba, Butler interviewed locals, expats and experts for THE DOMINO DIARIES. Even though (unapproved) books are banned in Cuba, it has one of the highest literacy rates of any nation, and Cubans are just as fanatical about literature as they are about sports. Numerous books related to Cuba are mentioned to Butler in passing or consulted by him during his research. So, if you’re interested in all things Cuba, here’s some further reading to consider: 


Old Man and the Sea Cover Image
$12.99
ISBN: 9780684801223
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner Book Company - May 5th, 1995

For Whom the Bell Tolls Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780684803357
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Scribner Book Company - July 1st, 1995

There is no American more revered in Cuba than Ernest Hemingway. The literary legend spent nearly a third of his life in the country, only leaving his storied Finca Vigia estate after the revolution made it impossible for him to stay. Still, to this day he is fondly remembered. Castro himself is a fan of Papa, and he even studied FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS while waging his guerilla war against the Batista regime. Several other locals and fellow travellers Butler meets are also seen reading the famous war novel. However, none of Hemingway’s works are more synonymous with Cuba than THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA. His love for the Cuba is apparent in every word of this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel—Hemingway’s last—effortlessly capturing the natural splendor of the island nation and the indomitable heart of its people. It is an unabashed classic, a near perfect book that everyone should read.  


Invisible Cities Cover Image
$14.95
ISBN: 9780156453806
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mariner Books - May 3rd, 1978

Upon a rendezvous with one of Castro’s granddaughters, she asks Butler if he has ever read Calvino’s INVISIBLE CITIES. For her, the Cuban-born Italian writer’s surreal ruminations on the way certain locales ingrain themselves within our consciousness—structured as a dialogue between Marco Polo and Kublai Khan—is the perfect metaphor for understanding Havana’s maddening effect on people. It is a city of desire that exists in memory as much as in reality, something all the more beautiful for its unattainability.      


Waiting for Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuban Boy Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780743246415
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Free Press - January 13th, 2004

In his attempts to gather as many perspectives on Cuban life as possible, Butler interviews Carlos Eire, author of this National Book Award-winning memoir. The story of one of the thousands forced to flee their homeland with no hope of ever returning, WAITING FOR SNOW IN HAVANA is simply heartbreaking. Perhaps no other book so thoroughly conveys the cultural chasm created by the post-revolution diaspora. 


The Duke of Havana: Baseball, Cuba, and the Search for the American Dream Cover Image
$19.00
ISBN: 9780812992564
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Villard Books - September 2nd, 1998

Cubans love boxing, but baseball is religion. No other sport arouses anywhere near the mania on the island. Ironic that the true passion of this communist nation is America’s national pastime. As with Cuba’s fighters, their baseball players are among the best in the world, possessing talents worth millions anywhere but where they live. Case in point: Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez. THE DUKE OF HAVANA charts the odyssey of his impossible decision to leave Cuba in order to play in the Major Leagues. Like many before him and since, Hernandez faced unmentionable hardships to chase his dream, sacrificing all he’d ever known in the process. Still, less than a year after making it to American shores, he was leading the New York Yankees to a World Series championship. An amazing true story.     


Havana Real: One Woman Fights to Tell the Truth about Cuba Today Cover Image
By Yoani Sanchez, M. J. Porter (Translator)
$16.95
ISBN: 9781935554257
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Melville House Publishing - April 26th, 2011

Yoani Sanchez is a dissident blogger, chronicling all the harsh realities of living in Castro’s Cuba. Even though her life is in constant peril, she persists in releasing her missives and in hoping for a brighter future for her country. She is a testament to undaunted courage and an unwavering voice recounting the daily life of a people most of the world has never seen. In a land where freedom of speech is banned, telling the truth is the most revolutionary act.


#BrazosBest Picks for June

In June: Waterloo witnessed by a rabbit; getting to know THE STRANGER from an Algerian perspective; a portrait of the artist as a young woman; killers caught in the hallucinatory heart of the Old West; the appeal of nudism and the necessity of sunscreen; finding humor amid the absurdity of life in modern Israel; love...Tom Haverford-style 


The Sage of Waterloo: A Tale Cover Image
$22.95
ISBN: 9780393246919
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - June 1st, 2015

I thought the same thing you’re thinking now: why would a debut novelist write about one of the most decisive battles in history from the point of view of a rabbit, or a family of rabbits to be more precise? Yet, this narrative choice puts enough separation between humanity and its history to approach a well-told tale in an entirely new way. We see our history enmeshed in the natural world, at once of us and not of us. We see how our actions reverberate through time and space and that we are never truly shed of them. 

 


Staff Pick Logo
The Meursault Investigation Cover Image
By Kamel Daoud, John Cullen (Translator)
$14.95
ISBN: 9781590517512
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Other Press (NY) - June 2nd, 2015

While primarily a postcolonial re-rendering of THE STRANGER, recounted by the brother of the anonymous "Arab” killed by Camus’ anti-hero, THE MEURSAULT INVESTIGATION is also an unnerving psychological thriller, an absurdist origin story of (post)revolutionary Algeria, and a virulent screed against the nationalism and religious fundamentalism that have overrun Daoud’s home country ever since its independence. Much like the book with which it converses, this slender novel belies its multilayered profundity.


The Body Where I Was Born Cover Image
$22.95
ISBN: 9781609805265
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Seven Stories Press - June 16th, 2015

Guadalupe Nettel is a badass—one of the most impressive authors of contemporary Mexican fiction (a pantheon with no shortage of impressive writers). This autobiographical novel shows how she got that way. A coming-of-age tale wrapped in a rousing appeal for outsiders and the ostracized to accept their flaws.

 


Haints Stay Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781937512323
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Two Dollar Radio - June 2nd, 2015

Brooke and Sugar. Brothers. Killers. They make their way through a nightmare of the Old West just trying to stay alive in a land teeming with death. The literary equivalent of Jarmusch’s DEAD MAN or Peckinpah’s PAT GARRETT AND BILLY THE KID, this is the joyously violent, supremely strange head-trip of a novel you’ve been bleeding for. 

 


Naked at Lunch: A Reluctant Nudist's Adventures in the Clothing-Optional World Cover Image
Unavailable from Brazos Bookstore
ISBN: 9780802123510
Availability: Out of Print - Not Available for Order
Published: Grove Press - June 2nd, 2015

Whether you call it immersive, participatory, or gonzo journalism, Smith goes all in, giving us the full monty if you will. His latest obsession? Nudism (or naturism, depending on who you ask). While an insightful social commentary and (sub)cultural history, what really drives this book is Smith’s own comic exploits in letting it all hang out. As an experiment, read it naked.

 


The Seven Good Years: A Memoir Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9781594633263
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Riverhead Books - June 16th, 2015

Have you heard of Etgar Keret? You will. An Israeli author known for brief and comically absurd fiction, he is poised for a huge breakthrough. And this breezy, delightful, thought-provoking memoir might just be the ticket. Set during the seven years between the birth of his son and the death of his father, it is filled with ruminations on everything from pilates (because he’s lazy) to terrorism (because he’s anxious). But he always comes back to a sense of love and humor that is unflappable. Keret is an immediately likable writer. To read him is to want to have a beer with him. 

 


Modern Romance Cover Image
$28.95
ISBN: 9781594206276
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Press - June 16th, 2015

Comic Ansari could have just written a funny little book on trying to find love in the age of social media, and it would have been a bestseller. I mean, is anything more rife with humorous material than the pitfalls of dating? Yet, while MODERN ROMANCE is hilarious, Ansari also brought in bona fide social scientists to help ground his comedy in actual research. So, now you can bust a gut laughing and learn something at the same time. Bonus!  

 


Dispatch From the Buyer

In May: warrior women usher Japan into the modern era; intimate missives from the radical vanguard of the American family; orphans, acrobats and lunatic asylums on Coney Island; when your body is made of paper, you can become art; yes, that Special Agent Dale Cooper; the comedy of romance amid the gender wars.

Daughters of the Samurai: A Journey from East to West and Back Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9780393077995
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - May 4th, 2015

Three young Japanese girls are chosen by their empress to learn the strange ways of a foreign land, only to return after ten years to a home they no longer know—“other to everyone except each other.” Such are the incredible lives of Sutematsu, Shige and Ume, lived on the cusp of modernity, witnessing the collision of East and West, tradition and progress, history and the future.


Staff Pick Logo
The Argonauts Cover Image
$23.00
ISBN: 9781555977078
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Graywolf Press - May 5th, 2015

There is no separation between the personal and the political. So, how do we live outside the oppressive strictures of heteronormative society, truly honestly openly loving beyond the conventions of gender and cultural conservatism? How do we connect with our deepest selves, when identity itself is an endless process of becoming? The journey of Maggie Nelson’s family—through her troubled pregnancy and her partner’s transexuality—provides the perfect example.


Church of Marvels Cover Image
$26.99
ISBN: 9780062367556
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Ecco Press - May 5th, 2015

No matter the era, lives lived outside the purview of normal society are always the most interesting. Circus performers exist in a realm of fantasy that can nevertheless come crashing down. Orphans born in tenement squalor may yet fulfill their destiny. Those unfortunate souls deemed insane and locked away, might just be the most rational of us all. Still, the most marvelous things occur when such lives intertwine and become part of something bigger than themselves.


The Paper Man Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781939419224
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Unnamed Press - May 19th, 2015

If our body is a medium, a surface to reflect the world around us, what does that say about who we are? If we let our world dictate the form we take, how will we ever truly know ourselves? To become an object of art, must we sacrifice our humanity? These are heady questions, especially when considered by a boy made of paper.


The Guild of Saint Cooper Cover Image
$14.95
ISBN: 9781936873616
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Dzanc Books - May 12th, 2015

Twin Peaks’ beloved Special Agent Dale Cooper is undeniably a cult hero. So, is it surprising that an actual cult should form around his name and image? And is it surprising that this cult springs from the ashes of a post-apocalyptic Seattle, determined to rewrite the history of a doomed city in order to save its own primitive future?


Eat My Heart Out Cover Image
$17.95
ISBN: 9781558618855
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Feminist Press - May 5th, 2015

Damned if you do. Damned if you don’t. Navigating the terrain of modern romance is never easy. But for a lovelorn, twenty-something “anti-Bridget Jones” type it’s a virtual minefield. Caught between the rom-com illusion, loneliness and militant feminism, is there any way to find that happily ever after we’re all looking for?


Dispatch from the Buyer

Each month, we preview the books we can’t wait for you to read.

In April, the cruelest month: ecstatic suffering on the New Mexican desert; unrequited love warps the space-time continuum; what to say about Tracy K. Smith; poetry--like life like a garden; the evolution of one Thomas Stearns Eliot from reluctant war-time ambulance driver to silent sea scuttler; bare-knuckle lady boxing in Georgian era England.

Night at the Fiestas: Stories Cover Image
$25.95
ISBN: 9780393242980
Availability: Backordered
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - March 23rd, 2015

There is a moment in every one of Quade’s stories when someone meets the source of her suffering. A sudden realization gives worth--if not meaning or purpose--to a lifetime of pain. And to witness humans persevere against an existence as harsh as the great American desert is undeniably beautiful.


The Lost Boys Symphony Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9780316323994
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Little Brown and Company - March 24th, 2015

Our relationships with friends, lovers, even music define our reality. Upset these, well...then it’s perfectly logical that a slacker college student might lose his tenuous grasp on sanity and find himself held hostage by three versions of himself from the future demanding he win back his ex-girlfriend before it’s too late. But what if she’s already gone?


Ordinary Light: A Memoir Cover Image
$25.95
ISBN: 9780307962669
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - March 31st, 2015

Knocked the breath out of me in five pages.


Deep Lane: Poems Cover Image
$25.95
ISBN: 9780393070231
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - April 6th, 2015

These are poems only an older poet could write. Doty, now in his 60s, reflects on his past, on memory itself. He confronts his ghosts. He says goodbye to them. There is much hurt here. There is also reconciliation and acceptance, joy and love. As with the metaphor of the garden running through the entire collection, we find growth and decay inseparable.


Young Eliot: From St. Louis to the Waste Land Cover Image
$35.00
ISBN: 9780374279448
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - April 7th, 2015

You might feel shortchanged by a biography ending when its subject is only thirty-four. But if it’s about TS Eliot, those first three decades include World War I, Ezra Pound, The Waste Land, and the birth of little thing called ‘Modernism.’ What is it about youth that makes you think you can change the world? What happens when you actually do?


The Fair Fight Cover Image
$27.95
ISBN: 9781594633294
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Riverhead Books - April 14th, 2015

The best fighters come from nothing. They have nothing to lose. And when you’re a plug-ugly orphan girl raised in a 1700s English brothel, you don’t have much choice in the matter anyway. The women in this violent yet elegant debut novel, fighting each other, men and themselves, are all searching for one thing: a place in a world that has no place for them.


Dispatch from the Buyer

Each month, we preview the books we can’t wait for you to read.

This March: Puppets and Morse code redeem humanity; Moshin Hamid: Citizen of the World; the troublesome vice of keeping a diary; what the Lusitania can teach us about modern warfare; girls’ basketball, abortion and the apocalypse in Texas; the perils of boredom for an American expatriate housewife

Staff Pick Logo
I Am Radar Cover Image
$29.95
ISBN: 9781594206160
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Penguin Press - February 24th, 2015

ON SALE NOW
Somewhere in the middle of I AM RADAR’s 600+ pages, everything clicked into place for me. All of the seemingly disparate storylines, the multitude of quirky characters, the graphs, illustrations, footnotes, particle physics, puppet theater, ethnic cleansing, communication, identity, the interplay of war and art, linked together like dots and dashes making up some vital Morse code transmission I suddenly remembered how to decipher. Only now, I was unsure of what was real and what was not. I have never read another novel that so thoroughly imbeds itself in reality for the sole purpose of instilling uncertainty in the reader. The effect is a work of artifice that becomes more real than real. And, in this hyperreality, I AM RADAR hones in on the myriad fictions underlying our perceptions of truth, illuminating the best and worst humanity has to offer.


Discontent and Its Civilizations: Dispatches from Lahore, New York, and London Cover Image
$27.95
ISBN: 9781594633652
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Riverhead Books - February 24th, 2015

ON SALE NOW
Mohsin Hamid wants you to collaborate in DISCONTENT AND ITS CIVILIZATIONS, his first nonfiction collection. For him, we are all foreign correspondents, enriching the world’s life, art and politics with our various points of view. The writer/reader relationship is no different. Living in three major cities on three continents over the past fifteen years has given Hamid a unique, global perspective on the 21st century. Yet, it’s striking--a testament to his emphasis on inclusivity, really--how easy it is to identity with his experiences, far as they are from the Western norm. This is reportage that makes the world smaller in the best possible way.


Ongoingness: The End of a Diary Cover Image
$20.00
ISBN: 9781555977030
Availability: Backordered
Published: Graywolf Press - March 3rd, 2015

ON SALE NOW
Is writing a vice? Sarah Manguso thinks so, considering her twenty-five-year, 800,000+ page diary. But her composition is also based in fear, rumination, and anxiety. If we don’t record the events of our lives, if we forget all about them, then did they ever happen? Why did Manguso not publish her magnum opus, instead opting for this brief collection of aphoristic statements orbiting the abandonment of her life’s work? What can we really say about time, mortality, the sheer ongoing flow of life constantly slipping through our fingers? Anything? Nothing?


Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780307408860
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Crown Publishing Group (NY) - March 10th, 2015

ON SALE MARCH 10
Erik Larson’s newest historical blockbuster has everything you’ve come to expect from him: a total immersion in a bygone era, a Ken Burns-esque ability to weave numerous primary sources into one seamless, suspenseful narrative. Yet what seized me the most about DEAD WAKE is just how much the events surrounding the sinking of the Lusitania have in common with our own war-torn times. Like a pre-9/11 America, nobody in 1915 thought a disastrous enemy attack of that magnitude was possible. The atmosphere of terror engendered by the new technology of World War I--the submarine, especially--seems to directly parallel the unease brought on by terrorism and drone warfare. As with the best historical writing, Larson cuts through the skein of myth that accrues with time and makes the past relevant to the present.


The Unraveling of Mercy Louis Cover Image
$25.99
ISBN: 9780062319098
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper - March 10th, 2015

ON SALE MARCH 10
Joan Didion once wrote of “a realm of miseries peculiar to women.” For Mercy Louis and the other teenage girls of Port Sabine, Texas, this peculiarity squarely falls within the purview of apocalyptic religion and refinery town corporatocracy. In a setting all-too-familiar for anyone who grew up in Port Arthur, Texas City, Laporte, or Pasadena, THE UNRAVELING OF MERCY LOUIS exposes how easily the sexuality of young women can become the scapegoat of a community’s own iniquity. Hypocracy, suspicion, greed, high school sports: these are the makings of tragedy in smalltown Texas.


Hausfrau Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780812997538
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Random House - March 17th, 2015

ON SALE MARCH 17
Can misery be erotic? Anna, the protagonist of Austin-based poet/author Jill Alexander Essbaum’s debut novel, is undeniably miserable. She is also drawn to illicit sexual encounters like a moth to the flame. It is only as an object of desire that she finds respite from the boredom, loneliness and alienation of her married, expatriate life. It provides the only heat in her snow-filled Swiss existence. There is no romance here, save the unreciprocated kind for which you destroy yourself. What remains is the psychological turmoil of a woman unable to find her own agency in an impassive world. Like Nora Helmer or Anna Karenina, the Anna of HAUSFRAU is at the mercy of the choices she makes, and especially those she doesn’t.


Green Eggs and Spam

When I was in preschool, I was promised green eggs and ham. Our class had just read Dr. Seuss’s classic, and I couldn’t wait to get my little paws on some green victuals. We lined up at a long table, and the teachers set down Styrofoam plates heaped with scrambled eggs and little bits of Spam splotched with green food dye. My disappointment was crushing.

This column will attempt to right that wrong. Every time I read a delectable description of food, I wish I had the ability to reach into the pages and pull out that delicious pie or that steaming pot of coffee. In this column, I will attempt to approximate that as closely as the laws of physics will allow. Each column will feature a fantastic book and a restaurant, bar, food truck, or gas station snack that complements that book. I hope this column makes you hungry.

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Prayers for the Stolen Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9780804138802
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Hogarth Press - November 4th, 2014

The Book:
Think Barbara Kingsolver meets Sandra Cisneros with a pinch of Breaking Bad. Jennifer Clement’s PRAYERS FOR THE STOLEN has lots of hot desert scenery, a bunch of drugs and some very bad men.

Meet LadyDi Garcia Martinez, named after Princess Diana by her alcoholic, gun-toting, TV-loving mother. LadyDi lives with her mother in Guerrero, Mexico where drug lords steal girls right out of their living rooms in the middle of the afternoon.

Now, I hear what you’re about to say. Why is modern fiction so depressing? THE ROAD, anyone? And I hate to say it, but Marilynne Robinson is not always a barrel of laughs. But I am here to tell you that a book about drugs, kidnappings, cheating husbands and a grandma who gets killed crossing the road to buy milk is hilarious.

PRAYERS FOR THE STOLEN gets off to a rollicking start as LadyDi shares her first memory: her mother saying, “Now we make you ugly,” and breathing beer breath all over her. In LadyDi’s world a pretty girl is a liability. You might as well have a big red target on your chest that says Shoot Me. Various methods are employed to uglify the ladies, but taking a yellow or brown marker to the teeth was pretty standard. Hope Crayola was not lying when they claimed their products to be Non-Toxic.

I haven’t read a book with this much fantastic world-building since Karen Russell’s SWAMPLANDIA! about a clan of alligator wrestlers in the Florida Everglades. Clements has created a world where the houses have dirt floors and big TV’s and the women refrigerate their pillows during the day so they are cool by bedtime. There is only one place where there is cell-service so it is always choked with women waving their phones in the air, hoping to hear from their husbands and sons. “Some sat there for days that became weeks, months and years, and their cellphones never rang.”

The women of Guerrero are funny, resourceful and resilient. When one of LadyDi’s friends runs away with her mother to escape Guerrero, LadyDi and her own mother explore the abandoned house. The TV was still on, as though the residents had just stepped out. As they are leaving, LadyDi notices that her mother has taken a pair of flip-flops, a bag of chips and a bottle of tequila with her.

The hardy heroines and poetic language make PRAYERS FOR THE STOLEN an unforgettable read. You’ll almost wish you could visit Guerrero yourself, provided you could get a guarantee that no one would shoot you and/or kidnap you while you sight-seeing.

The Meal: Beef Fajitas at Ninfa’s on Navigation
Houston is filled with great Mexican food. Sure, I could send you to a greasy little taqueria you’ve never heard of with the best tacos in the world but, frankly, I’m not cool enough to know where that is. So I’m going to send you to Mama Ninfa. But you have to go to the original Ninfa’s on Navigation. What better way to pay tribute to the ladies of Guerrero than by knocking back a few cold ones and stuffing your face with sizzling fajitas? Mama Ninfa herself was a hard-working widow who turned her taco stand into a bona fide Houston institution.


Translation Anticipation: Latin-American Edition

Being the reader of a single language can be a sad and unenviable predicament for someone in love with the literature of another language. Patience is not only a warranted attribute, it’s downright necessary. You hear that a book has come out by a beloved author, and then you hunker down for the long, often interminable wait. Have the translation rights been sold? Has the translation even started? Who is translating it?—all questions an obsessive asks as the months sometimes stretch into years. What follows is a short, highly-abbreviated list of books translated from the Spanish coming out this year that I’m highly (highly) excited about and think you should be, too.

Sudden Death
Álvaro Enrigue
When I read HYPOTHERMIA by Álvaro Enrigue, I was overwhelmed with the desire to read everything by this author. His stories displayed a deep understanding of literary tradition. And what does a serious writer do when they’ve read the books, learned the rules, and know the hard truths? Turn around and ignore them. There is a fine intelligence at work in Enrigue’s stories, as well as a sense of humor and, yes, even danger.

The Story of My Teeth
Valeria Luiselli, Christina MacSweeney
Auctioneer Gustavo ‘Highway’ Sanchez plans to replace every single one of his hideous teeth. To do this, he will sell the jewels of his collection, mainly the pearly whites of Plato, Petrarch, Virginia Woolf, and more. If you think you understand Luiselli’s quiet and philosophical style, dive into this bold and exhilarating story that examines the idea of worth and value, and that’s never wanting in imagination. APRIL 2

My Documents Cover Image
By Alejandro Zambra, Megan McDowell (Translator)
$15.00
ISBN: 9781940450520
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: McSweeney's - April 14th, 2015

Zambra has already proven himself to be one of Latin America’s most exciting young writers. BONSAI and WAYS OF GOING HOME were brilliant, disembodied works, dealing with first love and life during and after a dictatorship. MY DOCUMENTS, his first collection of stories, contains a world of young lovers, liars, ghosts and armed bandits. FEBRUARY 10


The Body Where I Was Born Cover Image
$22.95
ISBN: 9781609805265
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Seven Stories Press - June 16th, 2015

My favorite discovery of last year was Mexican author Guadalupe Nettel, whose short story collection, NATURAL HISTORIES, was a magnificent example of mixing the quiet and the strange. THE BODY WHERE I WAS BORN discusses Nettel’s unconventional childhood in 1970s Mexico. From a psychoanalyst's couch, the narrator looks back on her bizarre childhood. Guaranteed to be stunning. JUNE 2


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The Art of Flight Cover Image
By Sergio Pitol, George Henson (Translator), Enrique Vila-Matas (Introduction by)
$15.95
ISBN: 9781941920060
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Deep Vellum Publishing - March 17th, 2015

Winner of the prestigious Cervantes Prize, THE ART OF FLIGHT is Sergio Pitol’s first book to appear in English. I know very little about this literary memoir, only that my Spanish-speaking friends use words like “a treasure” and “indispensable” to describe Pitol. The excitement these readers display when describing his books is hard to contain. Additionally, his second book in English, THE JOURNEY, is scheduled to be released later in 2015. MARCH 17


The Musical Brain: And Other Stories Cover Image
By Cesar Aira, Chris Andrews (Translator)
$29.95
ISBN: 9780811220293
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - March 3rd, 2015

The word “prolific” was coined for writers like César Aira, whose books, in Spanish, number over sixty. Of course, his novels (or novellas, or micro-novels) aren’t very long but are always a great treat. They’re often whimsical, philosophical, and a touch delirious. At his best, Aira manages to create a world slightly off-kilter but not very different from our own. This is Aira’s first collection of stories in English: a perfect introduction for the novice, or another gem for longtime fans. MARCH 3


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