Book Lists

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

Our Year in Books: Liz

Anyone who’s talked to me for more than five minutes probably knows I graduated from Wellesley College, one of New England’s famous Seven Sisters. For 2014, my first full year out of Wellesley, I found myself missing the strong women I’d surrounded myself with for four years--so I filled my empty Wellesley bubble with strong women in stories, and the even stronger women who write them. My time in college taught me that as a woman with a voice, it’s my job to advocate for other women: for female authors and great female characters, all of them incredibly different and with vastly different stories, all told in amazingly diverse ways.

So here’s 2014, Liz’s Year of Ladies Living Dangerously.


The Book: REVOLUTIONARY by Alex Myers
The Lady: Deborah Samson/Robert Shurtliff
The Dangerous Living: As a colonial militia member in the Revolutionary War

Revolutionary Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781451663327
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Simon & Schuster - January 14th, 2014

I kicked off my year with REVOLUTIONARY, the true story of Deborah Samson (one of the author’s ancestors), who took on the identity of Robert Shurtliff to fight in the colonial militia in the last days of the Revolutionary War. As she slips further into Robert’s identity to avoid detection, something happens that I’ve never seen happen in a book before: the narrative changes, referring to Deborah as Robert, and using male pronouns instead of female. REVOLUTIONARY is an incredibly visceral, incredibly private book--Myers keeps us very close to Deborah/Robert, being very clear that neither identity is more or less real than the other. There’s an incredibly strong commentary running through the book about Deborah’s quiet realizations of how she’s been socialized to act as a woman, and how different it is to be a man. REVOLUTIONARY resonated deeply with me as I moved from a mostly single-gender space, as Deborah had, into a more mixed world.



The Book: THE UNFINISHED LIFE OF ADDISON STONE by Adele Griffin
The Lady: Addison Stone
The Dangerous Living: As a deeply troubled wunderkind of the New York fine arts scene


Staff Pick Logo
The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781616953607
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Soho Teen - August 12th, 2014

Addison Stone broke my heart. No, really. This fully-realized fictional biography, told via interviews with her friends and family, draws a compelling picture of a young woman struggling with both the burden of genius and her own mental illness. Addison’s art, displayed in full-color through the book, is both beautiful and haunting, and as someone who’s struggled with both making art and some very low periods, both her art and her story stayed with me long after I finished. Like so many young people who are both talented and vulnerable, Addison is surrounded by people looking to capitalize on her work, or well-meaning people who just don’t understand, or actively terrible people who use her up and spit her out--and naturally, bad things happen. Though we only get glimpses of Addison unfiltered, through her art, the pictures of her, and the few unaltered texts and emails from her we’re given, she is gloriously real. The ways the people in her life see her are so incredibly true to how teen girls are seen, especially teen girls struggling with their mental health: damaged, out-of-control, unladylike...the list goes on. This book would have mattered so much to me as a teenager, and I’m so glad that it exists for the girls like me to-be.



The Book: THE WORST PRINCESS by Anna Kemp & Sara Ogilvie
The Lady: Princess Sue
The Dangerous Living: As a bored princess who teams up with the dragon!


The Worst Princess Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780385371254
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Random House Books for Young Readers - April 22nd, 2014

This book, y’all. This. Book. I was raised on Disney movies--I love me a good princess story. But as an adult, y’know, I’ve come to realize that there are some problems with classical princess stories. Very often, the princesses have absolutely no choice in what happens to them; they’re objects, not actors, and that’s not the best role model to give little girls--someone who has things happen to them, instead of someone who makes things happen. THE WORST PRINCESS is a princess picture book that gives its heroine agency. Princess Sue doesn’t just accept the traditional princess narrative she’s handed--she decides she deserves better and to do what she wants to do. She doesn’t settle. I want to give THE WORST PRINCESS to every little girl who walks through this store.



The Book: BIRD BOX by Josh Malerman
The Lady: Marjorie
The Dangerous Living: As a single mother leading her children though a hostile outdoors she has never seen--blindfolded


Bird Box Cover Image
$25.99
ISBN: 9780062259653
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Ecco Press - May 13th, 2014

BIRD BOX, like the previous book on my list, is also heartbreaking--but unlike THE UNFINISHED LIFE OF ADDISON STONE, BIRD BOX is completely terrifying. This edge-of-your-seat horror novel takes place in a world where something outside drives anyone who sees it homicidally insane. So, naturally, what remains of the world are isolated communities of shut-ins, terrified of letting any outsider in. Marjorie lives in a boarded-up house with her two children--children she hasn’t let herself grow attached to; children she’s named nothing but Boy and Girl; children she’s ruthlessly and relentlessly trained to hear better than dogs or bats, so that when they make their blindfolded escape from the house, she can use her children’s ears as eyes. This book delves deep into the darkness in people, and I have to be honest with you: it messed me up a little. But it’s hopeful, at the end, and it’s a great book about humanity collectively pushing through their fear and terror and making something good together. Author Malerman, while admittedly a dude, did a great job with Marjorie. She’s so conflicted and fearful, but also so resilient and bold--she pushes through her fear, and I would challenge anyone who thinks being a “strong woman” means you can’t be afraid to read BIRD BOX.



The Book: THE GIRLS AT THE KINGFISHER CLUB by Genevieve Valentine
The Ladies: Jo, Lou, Ella, Doris, Hattie, Mattie, Rebecca, Araminta, Sophie, Rose, Lily, and Violet
The Dangerous Living: As a band of dancing sisters determined to live their lives in spite of their controlling father


The Girls at the Kingfisher Club Cover Image
$24.00
ISBN: 9781476739083
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Atria Books - June 3rd, 2014

THE GIRLS AT THE KINGFISHER CLUB are twelve young women--sisters--who’ve spent their whole lives locked in the upper floors of their New York brownstone in the 1920s, except when they sneak out at night to go dancing in speakeasies. Each girl is completely distinct from her sisters; they all have their own fears, motivations, likes, and dislikes--they’re all so REAL. Jo, the eldest, nicknamed “The General,” does her best to keep her sisters together and safe, and she worries if, in so doing, she’s becoming their father. Jo is the nominal main character, though we spend time with all of the girls, and her fears are so deeply-felt and completely understandable--she wants to protect her sisters, but they’ve all been so damaged by their controlling father that she wonders if she’s becoming him by trying to look after them all. For anyone who’s been torn between worlds, or a caregiver to their family like Jo is, her struggles will resonate. Without giving spoilers, I’ll just say that something happens in the middle of the book that forces all the girls to break out of their routines, and shows how incredibly strong and adaptable all twelve of them are. They may have grown up sheltered, but because of Jo, they all know how to make difficult decisions and take charge, and they all find different ways to survive with what skills they have. The Girls at the Kingfisher Club are another bold challenge to what it means to be a strong woman in fiction today.



The Book: THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS by M.R. Carey
The Ladies: Melanie, Helen Justineau, and Caroline Caldwell
The Dangerous Living: As survivors, scientists, and test subjects in a world of ravenous creatures and fraying civilization


Girl with All the Gifts Cover Image
$32.99
ISBN: 9780316278157
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Orbit - June 10th, 2014

Say it with me: zombie books are played-out. Have we all agreed? Okay. Now ignore everything I just said and pick up THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS. I wasn’t even sure this was a zombie book until I was fifty pages in, and by then, I didn’t care. Melanie is the most completely described little person ever; she’s smart and funny, wide-eyed yet wise, but for as intelligent as she is, she is still inescapably childlike and undebatably imprisoned, treated like a lab animal, and we feel for her. I felt as deeply for Melanie as I did for the teacher she lives in awe of, Miss Justineau (Helen, to the rest of us)--a scientist who grows too close to her subjects because it’s impossible not to see them as people, as we do. Carey’s intensely close writing style gets us deeply into the heads of our three female protagonists--the third being Caroline Caldwell, the slightly sociopathic head of research at Melanie’s “school.” I really did not want to come to understand Caroline Caldwell as much as I did, but that speaks hugely to Carey’s incredible ability to represent these three very different women. They’re three very different types of people, and Carey does a fantastic job of not making one woman more or less right than the others--their opinions are incredibly well-balanced. Since there isn’t just one female character to seem like an avatar for all women, each woman can be variably right and wrong, and not have it seem to reflect on women as a whole in these circumstances. THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS brings these three viewpoints seamlessly together in an ending that is shocking but curiously inevitable-seeming. Pick it up if you think this genre’s tired and boring--you’ll be pleasantly surprised.



The Book: DARK AEMILIA by Sally O’Reilly
The Lady: Aemilia Bassano Lanyer
The Dangerous Living: As a mistress, would-be poet and mother in plague-torn Elizabethan England


Dark Aemilia: A Novel of Shakespeare's Dark Lady Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781250048134
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Picador USA - May 27th, 2014

I love historical fiction. I write it. I breathe it. I love it, but the inescapable awfulness of how history has treated its female character is--well--inescapable. Most books gloss over this or flinch away from how painfully women were treated at times. DARK AEMILIA does not. Aemilia Bassano, one of the possible historical candidates for the famous Dark Lady of the latter series of Shakespeare’s sonnets, comes vividly to life in these pages, giving a voice to someone who is possibly one of the most famous objects in literary analysis and history. Aemilia wants to be a poet, something women had a very hard time being in Elizabethan England, but even while her ideas are stolen, her poems ripped to shreds, and her life at times put in physical danger, her voice refuses to be silenced. She’s by turns vicious and victimized, hysterical and maternal, loving and hateful, and she is a force of nature. Aemilia’s undoubtedly my new historical crush--a real life Lady M. (oh, yeah--there’s also a fabulous origin story for The Scottish Play, and the play’s curse, for any Shakespeare buffs like me!), glorious in her fury and unstoppable in her vengeance.



The Book: LOCK IN by John Scalzi
The Ladies: Agent Leslie Vann, Cassandra Bell and [SPOILER]
The Dangerous Living: As an FBI agent investigating mind-hopping crimes; as the leader of a separatist movement for the locked-in; and as [STILL A SPOILER]


Lock in: A Novel of the Near Future Cover Image
$24.99
ISBN: 9780765375865
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Tor Books - August 26th, 2014

LOCK IN takes place a few decades in the future, after a virus sweeps the globe and causes sufferers to lose total control of their voluntary nervous system, leaving them “locked in” to their own minds. A small percentages of sufferers don’t become locked in, but have their brains so altered by the disease that they possess the ability to let the consciousness of the locked-in jump into their body, letting the locked-in pilot their bodies and experience the world again. Sounds like nothing could ever go wrong, right? Riiiiight. LOCK IN is a brilliant thriller populated with equally brilliant characters, men and women alike--but obviously, I’m going to gush about the women to you. Agent Leslie Vann and Cassandra Bell are two very different people--Vann is a no-nonsense FBI agent who’s seen it all, and Bell was born locked-in after her mother passed the disease to her in the womb. Bell, therefore, has never properly been in the real world, living her whole life in the liminal cyberspace given to the locked-in to interact in. Vann’s cynicism spoke deeply to me as a fellow cynical jerk, and Cassandra’s peculiar viewpoint is presented like a vision of the future. I loved her. There’s one other character I need to include on this list, because she is amazingly down-to-earth, hardworking, and honorable, but to do so would be a definite spoiler. So, for those who have read the book, click through to hear the author himself discuss it. ...Are you back yet? RIGHT? The coolest. For everybody else who wants to get in on the conversation, read the book and get back to me. We still have signed copies from John Scalzi’s visit in August!



The Book: LUCKY US by Amy Bloom
The Ladies: Iris and Eva
The Dangerous Living: As a would-be actress and the behind-the-scenes help, respectively--and then as many other odd job-workers besides, trying to make a living between World Wars I and II


Lucky Us Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781400067244
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Random House - July 29th, 2014

You don’t get to hear a lot of stories about working-class women and disenfranchised women before World War II--at least, outside of the Dust Bowl. LUCKY US gives us those stories in spades. Iris and Eva, and the women they meet and love, are bright and resilient. Iris can be incredibly selfish, and Eva incredibly stubborn; like magnets, they push and pull at each other, always circling in a complex relationship of love and resentment. Anyone who has siblings can understand the complicated relationship between these two. From Hollywood to Long Island and even London, no matter how disappointed they become in each other, Iris and Eva’s relationship survives--despite Iris’ impulsiveness and Eva’s harshness. I cried when I finished this book--a good, cathartic, happy cry at the resolution.



The Book: THE GIRL FROM THE WELL by Rin Chupeco
The Lady: Okiku
The Dangerous Living: As a ghost who exacts horrible vengeance on the murderers of children (okay, so maybe she’s just dangerous to other people)


The Girl from the Well Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781402292187
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Sourcebooks Fire - August 5th, 2014

Okiku scares me. Not just with the vengeance thing (this story is based on the same legend that inspired The Ring, which tells you pretty much all you need to know), but in the way Chupeco perfectly paints how old and wise and sad she is. Can you imagine having to live for hundreds of years, with your only job to see, and punish, the worst in humanity? Okiku is ancient and almost past-human, yet she still cares so deeply for the souls of the children she saves. Her strength is in her resilience, to still feel such an undying caring after so many years of darkness. This book overflows with resilient and caring women--Callie, who is fearlessly determined to save her cousin Tark from a dark spirit threatening to overwhelming; Tark’s mother, present almost only in spirit, but dedicated to saving her son; the miko of the Japanese shrine where the story’s climax leads…but over it all, Okiku’s spirit casts her unearthly, beautiful shadow. She stayed with me long after I finished the book.



The Book: STATION ELEVEN by Emily St. John Mandel
The Ladies: Kirsten--and author Emily St. John Mandel
The Dangerous Living: As an actress in The Traveling Symphony, bringing Shakespeare to the outskirts of a wild civilization; and as an author unafraid to bend genre and convention with a beautiful novel.


Station Eleven Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9780385353304
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - September 9th, 2014

Everybody just...read this book. Don’t argue with me. I don’t have time to tell you why; they told me I could only put ten books on this list and I’m pushing my luck throwing on my eleventh ELEVEN here. Just take it home and read it. I’ll give you your money back if you don’t like it. But you will.


Our Year in Books: Mark

It wasn’t a conscious act, reading so many novels by Mexican writers this year. It just happened that way. Invariably, I’m always reading translated fiction from Latin America and Spain, but midway through the year, I realized Mexico was playing a larger role than many other countries. I’d chosen a theme, or perhaps a theme had chosen me. The rules for this list were casual. Some of these books are classics--Juan Rulfo’s PEDRO PÁRAMO, for instance--while most are contemporary, published this year or in the past two years. One will be published next year. One is a memoir by an American writing about Mexico City. Some experiment with genre and style; some are slim and can be read in a sitting; others are expansive, dense, and often drunk with language. All the same, these books demonstrate that our neighbors to the south are routinely producing fantastic literature, a cornucopia of styles and voices as exciting as anything being published around the world. Mexico’s literary scene is nothing short of vibrant. 

Pillar of Salt: An Autobiography, with 19 Erotic Sonnets Cover Image
By Salvador Novo, Marguerite Feitlowitz (Translator), Carlos Monsivais (Introduction by)
$35.00
ISBN: 9780292705418
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: University of Texas Press - April 1st, 2014

PILLAR OF SALT is the thrilling memoir by Mexico’s avant garde author Salvador Novo. This year saw the book in English translation for the first time. Packed with action--passages from PILLAR OF SALT read like an adventure story--and candid depictions of a man’s intellectual and sexual awakening, PILLAR OF SALT presents Mexico as it moves into the 20th century (there’s even a passage where Pancho Villa’s men murder Novo’s uncle that is especially harrowing). More important though is the culture and life of Mexico as it transforms into a modern nation. Novo’s straightforward and satiric insights about Mexico City’s art and cultural elite are also of singular benefit. PILLAR OF SALT gives a snapshot of Mexico’s birth into modernity with a powerful vision, coinciding with a man’s coming-of-age.


Pedro Paramo Cover Image
By Juan Rulfo, Margaret Sayers Peden (Translator), Susan Sontag (Foreword by)
$16.00
ISBN: 9780802133908
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press - March 10th, 1994

The Burning Plain and Other Stories Cover Image
By Juan Rulfo, George D. Schade (Translator), Kermit Oliver (Illustrator)
$17.95
ISBN: 9780292701328
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: University of Texas Press - January 1st, 1971

It’s not that modern Mexican literature wouldn’t exist without Juan Rulfo, but it would certainly be hard to imagine. Rulfo’s reputation rests on two slim books: the novel PEDRO PÁRAMO and the collection of short stories THE BURNING PLAIN. Both are exquisite, austere exercises in the form. Published in 1955, PEDRO PÁRAMO is the surreal and haunting story of a man searching the town of Comala for his father, a town populated by ghosts and whispers. The events and psychology of this novel exist deep in the surreal. If Franz Kafka had written a novel in Mexico, chances are it would have been very similar. THE BURNING PLAIN is one of the best collections of short stories I’ve ever read and includes the classic “Tell Them Not to Kill Me,” the story of a man’s fate arriving and his desperation to stay alive. Indeed, Rulfo’s stories, which all take place in bleak landscapes, are rich with themes of revenge and the carnal desire to avoid death. These stories, with their masterful narrative techniques and elemental language, unflinchingly show the violence that dominates the landscape. A precursor to the magical realism that would soon come to represent Latin American literature, Rulfo is indispensable.


Quesadillas Cover Image
By Juan Pablo Villalobos, Rosalind Harvey (Translator), Neel Mukherjee (Introduction by)
$14.00
ISBN: 9780374533953
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Farrar Straus Giroux - February 11th, 2014

I loved Juan Pablo Villalobos’ first novel in English, DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE, and his second, QUESADILLAS, is another gem of dark social satire. I can’t print the first line of this novel. Suffice it to say, it is explicit and a clear harbinger of things to come. QUESADILLAS is a novel about the struggles of a poor Mexican family--a family whose social and economic lives, and the economic life of Mexico, are displayed by the amount of quesadillas their mother can afford. There’s a lot of children in this family, by the way, so if you get two quesadillas, things are going pretty badly. Five? Eh, things are looking up. There are fabulous insults in this book: to each other, to the government, and even to oneself. There’s also alien spacecrafts, religious pilgrims, and a plethora of “your mama” jokes. This isn’t lowbrow, though; this is an indictment of a government bedeviled by fraud and an economy that can’t sustain itself or look after its own. Like all good satire, there’s a reason, a purpose, and a heart behind the laughs.


Almost Never Cover Image
By Daniel Sada, Katherine Silver (Translator)
$16.00
ISBN: 9781555976095
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Graywolf Press - April 10th, 2012

Daniel Sada was a giant in Mexico. A literary legend. Sadly, ALMOST NEVER is Sada’s only work in English, the translation just nearing completion when he died in 2011. The story is simple: a young man must choose whether to marry the prostitute he visits each week, or whether to court the young, provincial girl he meets when he goes back home for a wedding. Sada’s writing is dense, funny, and relentless: pages upon pages of unsurpassable prose, a parade of different voices and a cacophony of invention. A small, minute thought can end up meandering for pages (to the reader’s delight), which brilliantly exemplifies the narrator’s indecision. The story is simple, but the way it is told is not. Let’s hope more of Sada’s work will be translated into English in the future. He is a treasure.


Hypothermia Cover Image
By Alvaro Enrigue, Brendan Riley (Translator)
$14.50
ISBN: 9781564788733
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Dalkey Archive Press - May 2nd, 2013

The stories that make up Enrigue’s first collection in English are varied, bold, and startling for their range as much as their originality. They take place mostly in the United States, peopled by professors and professionals, and in ways both obvious and not-so-obvious, they deal with the immigrant experience. Gringos are mentioned in several stories, and an English-speaking reader immersed in the story will very likely find themselves nodding, Yeah, we are like that, aren’t we? A husband and father on vacation. A deranged garbage man. A family on a bike ride in Washington D.C. caught in a vicious storm. The possibilities of these situations offer Enrigue myriad opportunities to entertain and thrill, and he misses none. The table of contents at the front of the book has the stories grouped by subtitles, and for good reason: the sheer variety of these stories makes for adventurous reading. One is never certain what sort of story awaits them next. This, of course, makes the book exhilarating. The final section, “Two Waltzes Toward Civilization,” follows a Mexican chef who has been invited to compete in a television cooking show in Peru. What follows--told in first person--is by turns hilarious, thrilling, and very sexual. I caught myself thinking I was in the middle of a novel I didn’t want to end. Speaking of novels, Enrigue’s first in English, SUDDEN DEATH, will be published in 2015, and anyone who reads HYPOTHERMIA will be waiting anxiously for its arrival.


Natural Histories Cover Image
$18.95
ISBN: 9781609805517
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Seven Stories Press - June 10th, 2014

Quiet. Haunting. Surreal. The stories that make up Guadalupe Nettel’s collection NATURAL HISTORIES are subtle, yet they stay with you long after reading. The simplest way to describe these stories is to say they are about the relationships we have with one another and the animals in our lives, but that’s selling them short. Very short. Nettel’s characters are often found at moments of emotional distress. The way we act, behave, and treat ourselves in these instances says a lot about human nature. Is Nettel writing about human nature or animal nature? Or is she writing about the animal inside each of us? In any case, characters have epiphanies with the help of their animal counterparts. In “The Marriage of a Red Fish,” a woman witnesses the collapse of her marriage through the lens of a pair of Siamese fighting fish, whose fatal cohabitation reflects the actions of the husband and wife. Other stories are more subtle and perverse, exploring how the natural world dictates our lives. The English speaking world will be able to read her memoir THE BODY WHERE I WAS BORN in 2015. Additionally, this November, Nettel was awarded Anagrama’s prestigious Herralde Prize, whose past winners include Roberto Bolaño and Álvaro Enrigue. I am excited to read everything by this author.


Staff Pick Logo
Faces in the Crowd Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781566893541
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Coffee House Press - May 13th, 2014

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

Subtle, intelligent, philosophical, Valeria Luiselli’s writing is hard to pin down. And that’s a good thing. This year saw the English debut of her novel, FACES IN THE CROWD, and her book of essays, SIDEWALKS. Both are elegant and multifaceted, and both should be read immediately. FACES IN THE CROWD focuses on a young mother living in New York who, while working on her novel, inadvertently begins blending with her own story the life of Gilberto Owen, a dead Mexican poet who haunts her. The past mixes with the future, and the book the young author is working on becomes the book you, the reader, are reading. It’s difficult to explain her novel--which, of course, is a good thing. It’s literary and original, and the prose leaves fingerprints on your mind. Luiselli’s essays are no less astonishing. SIDEWALKS roams the streets of the world, considering such things as the layout of Mexico City, the differences between walking and bicycling, and the psychology of place, which is especially important as the reader goes from the Bronx to Mexico and even to poet Joseph Brodsky’s grave. Luiselli’s novel THE STORY OF MY TEETH will be published in English this April.


The Interior Circuit Cover Image
Unavailable from Brazos Bookstore
ISBN: 9780802122568
Availability: Out of Print - Not Available for Order
Published: Grove Press - July 2nd, 2014

I fell in love with Mexico City through Roberto Bolaño’s THE SAVAGE DETECTIVES. Novelist and journalist Francisco Goldman (partly responsible for bringing Bolaño to the states) only confirmed my love with THE INTERIOR CIRCUIT, his heartbreaking paean to this dynamic mega-city. Part memoir, part reportage, it follows Goldman as he emerges from the grief of losing his wife, Aura, five years earlier. The book begins with Goldman wanting to learn to drive in Mexico City--no simple task, as seasoned taxi drivers are known to get lost in its serpentine routes. It is to honor his late wife that Goldman attempts this game of “destination and chance,” since both shared strong attachments to the capital city. Goldman writes that the streets suggest “a metaphysical limitless, a bewildering chaos that is actually possessed of a mysterious order that even those who’ve spent a lifetime exploring the city can only dimly perceive.” Reading THE INTERIOR CIRCUIT, I felt I had explored every chaotic inch of Mexico City, from youth marches and student rallies to art galleries and decadent cantinas. What stands apart from the amazing descriptions of restaurants and apartment houses and Goldman’s close friends is Goldman’s writing itself, which, quite simply, is something to behold. He is that rarest of authors that the reader feels he or she knows intimately after reading something, anything, they’ve written. For anyone interested in Mexico City--its politics, arts, and, yes, its police and government corruption--look no further: you have found an exalted guide.


A LOOK INTO THE FUTURE


Signs Preceding the End of the World Cover Image
By Yuri Herrera, Lisa Dillman (Translator)
$13.95
ISBN: 9781908276421
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: And Other Stories - March 10th, 2015

A stark, visionary tale of a young woman crossing the border from Mexico into the United States to find her brother and deliver a package, Yuri Hererra’s SIGNS PRECEDING THE END OF THE WORLD is a masterstroke of storytelling. The young woman, Makino, makes her way through this hellish and surreal landscape, only too aware of the constant threats of men, cartel, border patrols, and natural elements. Everything in this compact novel is expressed with economy. The dialogue rings true, and the language a hybrid of border lingo (with English being referred to as Anglo). There is something fantastical about this novel, yet one realizes it’s because it’s too true. The reader can't help but realize that, at this moment, someone is escaping something bad in hopes of finding something better. And not always with success. There are tinges of Cormac McCarthy and Juan Rulfo in Herrera’s story, yet he is a writer confident and assured. SIGNS PRECEDING THE END OF THE WORLD can be read in one sitting, perhaps two, and will stay with you much longer. It will be released in March of 2015.


Our Year in Books: Annalia

Here’s the thing: I’m bad at picking favorites. If given too many choices, I often make none. So instead of the traditional Top 10 of 2014 list, I made a “playlist” of the books that got stuck in my head this year. A mix of long and short form, fiction and non-, big names and local writers, these are the books published in 2014 that I would rescue if the store were on fire. 


PUNCHY WORKS BY PUNK BITCHES:

Staff Pick Logo
How to Build a Girl Cover Image
$26.99
ISBN: 9780062335975
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper - September 23rd, 2014

This book inspired the title for this section. What else can I say? Caitlin Moran tells her story with her middle fingers up. In HOW TO BUILD A GIRL, fourteen-year-old Johanna is sick of her situation: failed-rockstar father, too many siblings, stuck on government assistance, no notches in her bedpost. Instead of looking for a hero, she transforms herself into Dolly Wilde, a sexy, scathing music journalist and certified badass. Brilliant, disarmingly charming, and raw to the quick, Caitlin Moran deserves your full attention.


The Palace of Illusions Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9781593765422
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Soft Skull Press - September 1st, 2014

Kim Addonizio’s reputation as a poet should be enough to convince you. If it isn’t, PALACE OF ILLUSIONS is the love letter every outsider’s been lacking. Here’s a handful of her protagonists: two friends who seduce men only to steal their money while they’re sleeping, a man who toured with the circus when he was twenty-one, and a young half-vampire pursuing a theatre degree. Gritty and strange, these stories surprise not only through their twists and turns, but also through their blunt portrayal of humanity.


$14.95
SKU: R9780989275934

Most secrets are easy--easy to tell, easy to forgive--but there are a few that you only tell your friends, and even fewer for just your inner circle. Then there are the rare, ugly ones that don’t get told--not to your journal, not your best friends, not anyone. MISADVENTURE is about those secrets. Grider crafts each story with enough sincerity, poise, and bewilderment that reaching the end demands going outside and breathing in deep.

BOOKS I COULDN'T HANDSELL YOU BECAUSE I WAS CRYING ABOUT THEIR GREATNESS:


Staff Pick Logo
The Ocean at the End of the Lane Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9780062255662
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: William Morrow & Company - June 3rd, 2014

Even after six months of meditating on it, it’s still hard for me to say exactly what THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE is about. It’s about Amanda Palmer. It’s about Lettie Hempstock and her ocean. It’s about Neil Gaiman as a child. Mostly, it’s about feeling invincible, even though all evidence proves the contrary. I read this book in mere hours. Forget that you might not read or like fantasy. Forget that you’re not a kid anymore. This book is important for everyone of all ages.


We Were Liars Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780385741262
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Delacorte Press - May 13th, 2014

Before WE WERE LIARS came out, all the promotional materials made advance readers promise to lie about the ending if anybody asked. In solidarity! In the name of books and booksellers! I’m going to continue keeping that promise, but these are things I can say: WE WERE LIARS will make even the most avid John Green hater believe in young adult fiction, and the only time I’ve ever cried more reading a book is during Khaled Hosseini’s A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS. If e. lockhart ever comes to Houston, I will hug her for days.


God Is an Astronaut Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781620403563
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC - July 1st, 2014

Fact: all of us at one time or another have said something we wanted to take back. For Jess, it’s when she tells her friend Arthur about the accident: her husband’s space tourism company launched a shuttle that exploded seconds after liftoff. Liam, her husband, swears Jess to secrecy, but when news crews start showing up on the lawn and gawking at her children, she needs to tell at least someone. Away on sabbatical, Arthur is the perfect candidate--until her occasional notes become daily missives that start to disrupt her life. GOD IS AN ASTRONAUT is the archive of Jess’s emails--neurotic, honest, and quippy as any I have ever written or received.

BOOKS TO READ WHEN YOUR INNER COMPASS IS BROKEN:


Hustle Cover Image
$14.95
ISBN: 9781936747771
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Sarabande Books - May 13th, 2014

If you hate poetry because it’s boring and weird, buy this book. Before giving up chasing skirts for writing poems, David Tomas Martinez grew up in San Diego, running with a gang and enlisting in the Navy. Honest, present, and open, HUSTLE is a collection of poems full of stories you go to bars to hear. From “The Only Mexican” to “Midterm Answers for English B,” Martinez reminds me that those weird, dirty teen years are always worth revisiting.


The Answer to the Riddle Is Me: A Memoir of Amnesia Cover Image
Unavailable from Brazos Bookstore
ISBN: 9780547519272
Availability: Out of Print - Not Available for Order
Published: Houghton Mifflin - January 14th, 2014

Once upon a time, David Stuart MacLean found himself in India without his memory. He never got it back. Impossible as it may seem, that’s the story in MacLean’s memoir THE ANSWER TO THE RIDDLE IS ME. After a rare reaction to a common antimalarial drug, MacLean attempts to follow photographs, family members, and old papers back to his former life as a jokester, scholar, and lover, only to discover more and more blanks. Terrifying and compelling, MacLean examines the degree to which memory is linked to identity and what happens when they become severed.


Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage Cover Image
By Haruki Murakami, Philip Gabriel (Translator)
$25.95
ISBN: 9780385352109
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - August 12th, 2014

For months, COLORLESS TSUKURU TAZAKI was inseparable from my fond memories of #MURAKAMANIA, but the experience of reading it and watching Tsukuru wander was much different from the hype that preceded it. When Tsukuru’s closest high school friends abandon him for no apparent reason, years of silence and strange dreams take their place. This daze continues until he meets Sara, who wants to know the full story and inspires Tsuruku to find out for himself what really happened. Stylized and jam-packed with feeling, Murakami is my trusty literary sidekick when I’m having Wes Anderson withdrawal.

THE QUEEN OF EVERYTHING:


The Other Side Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781935639831
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Tin House Books - July 15th, 2014

It took me at least a month to write a shelf-talker for this book, and when I did, this is what it said: “the most important book you will read this year. pinkie promise.” That’s still how I feel, but it’s hard to explain why. Most every synopsis available about THE OTHER SIDE will mention rape, kidnapping, and/or intention to kill. I cannot stress this enough: like the tip of the iceberg, that is only a fraction of Lacy Johnson’s story and what it means for her to tell it. This memoir is for anyone who has ever loved.


Visual Literature

Cinema can quite rightly be considered visual literature. The sheer emotional power behind the performance of a gifted actor or an expertly composed scene is undeniable. Film and literature enjoy an almost symbiotic relationship that is unique among the arts. Think of how many great movies started off as great books! Or how aspects of cinematography have influenced narrative structure! Needless to say, the Brazos film section is a perennial favorite among the staff. We're excited to host two great events this week that are all about the movies!  

Stella! Mother of Modern Acting Cover Image
$29.99
ISBN: 9781480355538
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Applause Theatre & Cinema Book Publishers - April 1st, 2014

Stella Adler is an unquestioned legend of the acting profession. She was the first great Stanislavski disciple to introduce the Russian master’s method to American dramatists, and a mentor to a veritable who’s who of Hollywood royalty--Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro, and Judy Garland just to name a few. In Sheana Ochoa’s new biography, STELLA! MOTHER OF MODERN ACTING, the incredible story behind this fascinating figure comes to light! Ochoa charts Adler’s life from her appearance as a toddler in the Yiddish Theatre of New York, to her battles against McCarthyism, and her ultimate triumph as one of the most influential acting coaches of all time. Sheana Ochoa presents STELLA! at Brazos Wednesday, November 5.

The newest offering from Austin publisher A Strange Object, OUR SECRET LIFE IN THE MOVIES blends fiction, memoir and film criticism into a highly entertaining collection of stories. After viewing several classic and cult films, co-authors Michael McGriff and JM Tyree each wrote short stories inspired by what they watched. By turns funny, cathartic and heartbreaking, OUR SECRET LIFE IN THE MOVIES illuminates just how much of a cultural impact cinema has on us. Join Brazos and A Strange Object at Grand Prize Bar this Thursday, November 6 at 6PM for a night of readings, screenings and cocktails!

Here are some other fantastic titles from our film section to check out next time you stop by: 


Martin Scorsese: A Retrospective Cover Image
$40.00
ISBN: 9781419710629
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: ABRAMS - October 7th, 2014

Martin Scorsese is hands down the greatest filmmaker of his era. Now, finally, there’s a complete overview of his iconic oeuvre. In MARTIN SCORSESE: A RETROSPECTIVE, more than 300 film stills, candid behind-the-scenes photographs, insightful interviews with the director, and expert essays provide unprecedented access into the process and philosophy of this cinematic genius. An indispensable volume for any film buff!


What I Love about Movies Cover Image
$36.95
ISBN: 9781623160623
Availability: Backordered
Published: Opus Books - September 1st, 2014

This terrific book will leave any tapehead drooling! Brought to you by ubercool British film magazine Little White Lies, WHAT I LOVE ABOUT THE MOVIES presents fifty profiles of the biggest filmmakers and actors in which they answer the titular question. Wes Anderson, Park Chan-wook, Helen Mirren, and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman all make appearances. Accompanied by sumptuous illustrations, the brief biographies and quotes in WHAT I LOVE ABOUT MOVIES are peepholes into the minds of those artists responsible for some of the most vibrant cinema being made today.


Film in Five Seconds Cover Image
By H-57
$16.99
ISBN: 9781623658335
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Quercus Books - October 7th, 2014

FILM IN FIVE SECONDS is quite possibly the most fun time-waster you’ll come across this year! Hilarious infographic-style summaries of famous movies will leave you scratching your head in confusion and busting your gut laughing. This is such a visual book, it’s hard to describe exactly how awesome it is. But take our word for it--if you love movies and pop culture, FILM IN FIVE SECONDS is for you.


Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters: Defending the Earth with Ultraman, Godzilla, and Friends in the Golden Age of Japanese Science Fiction Film Cover Image
$29.95
ISBN: 9781452135397
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Chronicle Books - April 1st, 2014

What do Ultraman, Godzilla, and all his enemies have in common? Eiji Tsuburaya created them all! More than any other filmmaker, Tsuburaya is single-handedly responsible for the aesthetic and content of mid-century Japanese science fiction films. EIJI TSUBURAYA: MASTER OF MONSTERS covers all of this cult icon's creations, and explores why in a post-atomic age his monsters resonated so much with moviegoers all around the world. Look out! There goes Tokyo!!!


Spine-Chilling Stories on Display

Shivers from a delightfully turned phrase, goosebumps from a great image: these are the chills books can give you year-round. But late October, the spookiest season, is for books that give you a numb tingle in your fingertips as you clench the covers so hard your hand cramps, and you feel an itchy pressure on the back of your neck as you force yourself not to turn around, because it’s just in the book, it’s not behind you, get a grip. Late October is the time to tuck your book under your arm as you walk to the kitchen for a refill of your tea, because you’re a little worried about what might slip out from between the pages if you don’t keep your eye on it. Each of these books on our Halloween display is just the thing to induce shakes, shivers, and wide-eyed late-night paranoia.

 

Staff Pick Logo
The Penguin Book of Witches Cover Image
By Katherine Howe (Editor), Katherine Howe (Introduction by), Katherine Howe (Notes by)
$17.00
ISBN: 9780143106180
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - September 30th, 2014

Think all witches are like the ones that knock on your door on Halloween, trick-or-treating with pointy hats, long noses, and brooms? If so, you’ll want to learn about their rich historical tradition, at last brought to life in this new collection edited by Katherine Howe (author of witchy YA hit CONVERSION). THE PENGUIN BOOK OF WITCHES tours witch lore and legend from 1582 to 1813, including texts like King James I’s DAEMONOLOGIE, stories of possession from early America, and actual transcripts of the Salem Witch Trials. Reading these conversations, full of severe judges and the interjections of the “afflicted” girls, it’s easy to understand how the frenzy of these trials has captivated our collective imagination for so long. Howe’s introductions to and notes on each text (really, read the notes at the end!) add incredible depth and little-known witchcraft knowledge to these stories. With centuries worth of real experiences here to plumb, it’s clear that truth is far more fascinating than fiction.


Horrorstor Cover Image
$14.95
ISBN: 9781594745263
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Quirk Books - September 23rd, 2014

We all agree: enormous soulless home stores are creepy, right? In this inventive horror story set in a haunted Ikea knockoff, the supernatural seems all the more frightening when placed within the sterile surroundings of a massive home goods showroom. When a group of employees stays overnight to determine the cause of some mysterious inventory damages, HORRORSTÖR takes the typical haunted house and closed-asylum narratives and smashes them against the maybe-too-normal backdrop of Orsk’s picture-perfect home displays. It’s a startling contrast that’ll make you shiver in your own Ikea-decorated living room. The design of this book adds a visual touch to Hendrix’ already-evocative, highly sensory writing style: pages of ads for the store, employee files, and chapters prefaced with catalog pages of the home goods items about to be destroyed (items that become steadily less normal-furniture and more terrifying-torture-device as the book progresses). HORRORSTÖR has all the horror fixtures you could want: a resilient heroine, a terrifying villain, and amazing set design and atmosphere. And on your next Ikea trip, remember to check for ghosts in every polished cabinet and modular bookshelf.


Dark Aemilia: A Novel of Shakespeare's Dark Lady Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781250048134
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Picador USA - May 27th, 2014

This (literally!) spellbinding tale of passion, poetry, and a mother’s love will enrapture you from the start. Aemilia Bassano Lanyer, a historical contender for the “Dark Lady” of Shakespeare’s later sonnets, comes vividly to life in this bewitching novel. Famed for her intelligence and “dark” looks, Aemilia lives comfortably at court as the mistress of Lord Henry Hunsdon—until a young William Shakespeare ensnares her, heart and soul. Their passionate, violent affair, short-lived though it may seem at first, binds them together for the rest of their lives, as Aemilia strives for recognition as a poet and playwright in a world where women can be no such things. Despite the odds against her, Aemilia’s powerful voice refuses to be silenced by the betrayal of lovers, the despair of plague, and more. Sally O’Reilly paints Aemilia in enchanting, lyrical prose, making her a Lady Macbeth who swings between lucid fury and a daze of pain. There’s plenty here for Shakespeare fans to love: though the man himself doesn’t exactly come off as a prince (probably rightfully), a reverence for his work above all else shines through in dozens of tidbits and treasures, including a brilliant origin story for “The Scottish Play” (and its curse). With wonderful detail and agonizing sensuality, DARK AEMILIA spins a compelling tale of a literary affair that might have been.


Bird Box Cover Image
$25.99
ISBN: 9780062259653
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Ecco Press - May 13th, 2014

This claustrophobic dystopia grabs you at page one and doesn’t let go. Marjorie lives in a boarded-up house with her two children, who have never seen the outside world. Something outside has driven everyone who’s seen it completely mad, and in the years since the first sighting, humanity has become isolated pockets of terrified shut-ins, never daring to trust each other or grow attached to anything--even Marjorie refuses to care for her children enough to name them anything but “Boy” and “Girl.” After mercilessly training her children’s precise hearing since birth, Marjorie finally decides to make their escape--all blindfolded, stumbling through a landscape they have never seen. The story of their escape, interwoven with the story of Marjorie’s arrival at their house and the community of survivors that once lived there, shows both the darkness and resilience in humanity.


Staff Pick Logo
The Bloody Chamber: And Other Stories Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9780140178210
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Penguin Books - January 1st, 1990

This creepy and, yes, bloody collection of fairy tale retellings will draw you in with its sensual, graphic prose and its brave and brilliant cast of heroines. Angela Carter turns the damsel-in-distress tradition of fairy tales on its head in THE BLOODY CHAMBER: all her stories invert the power structure handed down from the Grimm brothers, and her characters are sharp, cunning, and unafraid to get their hands dirty. Fierce and wild transformations abound in this gorgeous collection, all written in luminous prose by turns both dreamlike and viscerally real. Try “The Company of Wolves,” a play on werewolf and Red Riding Hood stories, for a perfect example of the shifting landscapes of violence and sexual power Carter invokes. We’re not going to tell you what the protagonist does with the wolf who impersonates her granny, but we can promise you’ll--dare we say--devour it.

Come in and browse the rest of our Halloween display before it’s gone--and before sunset, just in case!


The Supernatural Enhancements Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9780385538152
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Doubleday Books - August 12th, 2014

The Poet and the Vampyre: The Curse of Byron and the Birth of Literature's Greatest Monsters Cover Image
$29.95
ISBN: 9781605986142
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Pegasus Books - September 15th, 2014

The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft Cover Image
By H. P. Lovecraft, Leslie S. Klinger (Editor), Alan Moore (Introduction by)
$39.95
ISBN: 9780871404534
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Liveright Publishing Corporation - October 13th, 2014

The Witch: And Other Tales Re-Told Cover Image
$25.95
ISBN: 9780399170584
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Blue Rider Press - September 25th, 2014

Changing Clothes: Great Guides for Men's Fashion

Men in This Town: London, Tokyo, Sydney, Milan, New York Cover Image
$19.95
ISBN: 9781742707815
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Hardie Grant Books - September 2nd, 2014

This book seeks out everyday men from five fashion cities around the world--New York, Milan, Sydney, Tokyo, and London--and each man speaks to the sense of dress in the city where he lives. Santamaria photographed a handful of men from each city, showcasing their approach to fashion and their style in regards to modern menswear. (The book also includes a profile of each male subject.) This collection not only shares wonderful photography but also gives the reader a glimpse into fashion and the street-style that influences men across the world.


Why Fashion Matters Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780500517376
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Thames & Hudson - June 17th, 2014

A great introduction to fashion, and an inside look at how it touches and influences our lives from perspectives of design, the use of technology, creating sustainability, and business. In our current culture, what we wear tells a story of who we are or who we want to be.


100 Years of Menswear Cover Image
$19.95
ISBN: 9781780670218
Availability: Backordered
Published: Laurence King - October 3rd, 2012

Looking for a comprehensive overview of menswear packed with images that capture the changing zeitgeist throughout the last 100 years? This is it. With over 380 pages featuring not only designers like Ralph Lauren but also the influence of punk and street culture, this book will be an indispensable resource for fashion lovers and fashion historians.


The Fashion Resource Book: Men Cover Image
$29.95
ISBN: 9780500291320
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Thames & Hudson - May 20th, 2014

Leach divides his book into three sections: The first section delves into the research process. The second section discusses research and inspiration. The third section presents case studies in particular garments. With each section, the reader gains insight into the study of men’s fashion, along with illustrations filled with inspiration for designers and students alike.


The Mr. Porter Paperback, Volume 1: The Manual for a Stylish Life Cover Image
$29.95
ISBN: 9780500291269
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Thames & Hudson - November 12th, 2013

A must-have title for anyone interested in the stylish lives of modern men. This collection features interviews with style icons and profiles of well-known men, all providing advice on how to master the current trends. Beautifully packaged, this book covers it all.


A Hit Parade of Music History

Books, music...these are the important things in life! It’s no secret that the booksellers at Brazos are also certifiable music geeks as well as book nerds. Not too long ago, we gave you a list of our favorite music-centric novels. But the actual history behind the music is intriguing enough on its own, and we couldn’t be more excited about two tuneful author events coming up in the next couple of weeks! 

The Next Elvis: Searching for Stardom at Sun Records Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780807157985
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: LSU Press - August 11th, 2014

First up, Barbara Barnes Sims stops by on September 25 to discuss THE NEXT ELVIS, her amazing memoir of working at the legendary Sun Records in the late 1950s. Her tales of rubbing shoulders with icons such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, and (of course) the King himself, will delight any music lover. Sims was lucky enough to be an eyewitness to popular music history. Now, with THE NEXT ELVIS, the reader can share her behind-the-scenes perspective and see these legends as never before!


Austin City Limits: A History Cover Image
$24.95
ISBN: 9780199812417
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Oxford University Press, USA - October 2nd, 2014

Then, on October 2, Tracey Laird presents AUSTIN CITY LIMITS: A HISTORY. For decades, Austin has been known as “the live music capital of the world,” and the TV series Austin City Limits has been there to chronicle it all. Now, Laird recounts the story behind the beloved series that has showcased acts from Willie Nelson to Stevie Ray Vaughan to Arcade Fire. Austin City Limits is a living testament to Texas and American music, and Laird’s history is essential reading for anyone who appreciates its lasting impact.

But the hits don’t stop there! Here are some more great titles from our music section to check out on your next visit.


Staff Pick Logo
The History of Rock 'n' Roll in Ten Songs Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780300187373
Availability: Backordered
Published: Yale University Press - September 2nd, 2014

Greil Marcus is hands down the greatest rock critic/historian of our era. He knows American popular music the way most people know their parents. His newest release, the astonishing THE HISTORY OF ROCK ‘N’ ROLL IN TEN SONGS, is destined to become a modern classic. Eschewing the obvious canonical choices and traditionally-accepted master narrative of rock history, Marcus instead opts for deep cuts and b-sides in charting a free-flowing, non-chronological take on this most American of art forms. His idea is that you can find the “DNA” of rock ‘n’ roll in any song. So garage rockers, doo-wop groups, and even Beyoncé (as Etta James) make the cut, in an always entertaining and illuminating read. Of course, everyone wants to know who makes the top ten, but Marcus’ painstakingly detailed alternative lives of Buddy Holly and Robert Johnson are worth the price of admission alone. The what-could-have-beens are almost enough to make you cry...or sing.


I'll Take You There: Mavis Staples, the Staple Singers, and the March Up Freedom's Highway Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781451647853
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Scribner Book Company - January 21st, 2014

Mavis Staples is without a doubt one of the most important American recording artists of all time. Whether leading the Staples Singers from gospel glory to the top of the charts or out on her own, few musicians have had such an impact as the great Miss Mavis. In I’LL TAKE YOU THERE: MAVIS STAPLES, THE STAPLES SINGERS, AND THE MARCH UP FREEDOM’S HIGHWAY, Greg Kot delves into her history-making career, though the most amazing facet of the story is how Mavis and the Staples Singers inspired and empowered the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Hits like the title song “I’ll Take You There” served not only as the soundtrack to the struggle for racial equality in America, but also as a rallying cry in the darkest of times. Staples is proof that music can help make the world a better place in this triumphant story of a true living legend.


Blues People Cover Image
$13.99
ISBN: 9780688184742
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper Perennial - January 20th, 1999

The book that started the career of the late great Amiri Baraka (aka LeRoi Jones) was not a collection of poems or a play but his insightful study of African-American musical heritage, BLUES PEOPLE: NEGRO MUSIC IN WHITE AMERICA. Focusing on the music as both a product and a chronicle of African-American cultural history, Baraka traces the evolution of blues and jazz from call-and-response slave songs to the gospel spirituals of the black church, and on to the secular works of early bluesman and jazz pioneers who laid the foundation for all of American popular music. Quite simply put, BLUES PEOPLE is a classic.


Do Not Sell at Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World's Rarest 78 rpm Records Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9781451667059
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Scribner Book Company - July 8th, 2014

Many of our customers are dedicated collectors of books. Some just want to amass a personal library. But others carefully speculate on first editions and diligently search for rare books that have great historical and financial value. The same can be said for record collectors, and none are as intense as those who collect 78s--very old, incredibly rare 78rpm recordings of early American music, most of which is on the verge of being lost forever. In Amanda Petrusich’s DO NOT SELL AT ANY PRICE: THE WILD, OBSESSIVE HUNT FOR THE WORLD’S RAREST 78RPM RECORDS, enthusiasts and conservationists scour the countryside from garage sales to conventions for these prized finds that can ultimately be valued at tens of thousands of dollars. Filled with quirky, real-life characters and a bevy of knowledge about the obscure history of early American recording, DO NOT SELL AT ANY PRICE is the perfect read for music lovers and obsessives alike!


Not Just for Kids

“Comic books? Those are for kids.” The next time someone in your life tells you this, gently berate them for their close-mindedness and hand them one of these incredible works. Graphic novels cover as many different topics as traditional novels, and they’re nothing if not literary, challenging, and--as these new releases show--definitely for adults. The recent boom in graphic novel-inspired films has created a huge resurgence of interest in the genre, and fans of non-traditional storytelling have a plethora of choices available to captivate them. Whether you’re new to the genre or a longtime fan, here are five of the most thought-provoking, exciting, and straight-up weird graphic novels on our shelves.

Kill My Mother: A Graphic Novel Cover Image
$27.95
ISBN: 9780871403148
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Liveright Publishing Corporation - August 25th, 2014

Jules Feiffer’s career has spanned decades. Since getting his start in comics working with Will Eisner, grandfather of the form, he’s written numerous books, plays, and screenplays. He won an Academy Award in 1961 for his animated short film MUNRO, and a Pulitzer Prize in 1986 for cartooning. His newest graphic novel, KILL MY MOTHER, brings all his talents to bear in this funny, frantic noir. Feiffer’s figures--all your favorite noir tropes, including the femme fatale and the cigar-chomping bruiser--move with outrageous expressions and chaotic lines that feel incredibly classic, yet still completely fresh. The vintage style of Feiffer’s art lends great atmosphere to this complicated story. Don’t miss it if you’re a fan of the classics brought to life in new, wonderful ways.


Lena Finkle's Magic Barrel: A Graphic Novel Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780143125242
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Books - July 29th, 2014

Anya Unlinich’s emotional story of family, immigrant identity, and the ups and downs of online dating comes to life in rough, powerful black and white drawings. LENA FINKLE’S MAGIC BARRELL is hilarious and in-your-face, confronting the emotional rollercoaster of defining oneself, in relationships and out of them, with perfect wit and a lot of heart. Ulinich fills her story with free-form text and speech bubbles that flow around and over pages. You'll need to do a lot more reading than you might expect in a graphic novel, but written by hand, the words are cathartic and confessional; you can feel how heartfelt Lena’s story is.


The Undertaking of Lily Chen Cover Image
$29.99
ISBN: 9781596435865
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: First Second - March 25th, 2014

When Deshi accidentally kills his brother Wei, his mother sends him to find Wei a corpse bride--a recently deceased young woman to be buried with him, to accompany him into the afterlife. What Deshi finds is a woman named Lily Chen, who seems perfect: she’s beautiful, spirited, and--unfortunately for Deshi--very much alive. Novgorodoff paints Deshi’s conflict in gorgeous watercolors--the art seems simple at first, but the power of her incredibly complex uses of color and expression capture the painful, complicated emotions of this story without needing to be as literal as a traditional novel would be. THE UNDERTAKING OF LILY CHEN has a great sense of individual and cultural history, of personal desperation and conflicting motives. The humor and humanity of this story blend as seamlessly as the colors and lines of the art.


Seconds Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780345529374
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Ballantine Books - July 15th, 2014

This full-color and gorgeous story is Bryan Lee O’Malley’s first standalone graphic novel after his epic series SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD. There are a few shout-outs to the series for fans, but they’re not related works, which makes SECONDS perfect if you want to sample this artist’s work. In SECONDS, Katie's life is falling to pieces--she's losing control of the restaurant she helped start, and her personal life is a shambles. When a mysterious girl gives her some literally magic mushrooms with the power to give her unlimited do-overs, Katie gets the second chances she's always wanted. The madness that follows unfolds in O’Malley’s trademark cartoonish style, with panels full of action and emotion. O'Malley mixes some more traditional narrative elements with his own chaotic twists, making this graphic novel a wonderful hybrid of storytelling that’s sure to resonate with twenty-and-thirty-somethings, still trying to figure out what the heck they’re doing in life.


Nijigahara Holograph Cover Image
By Inio Asano, Matt Thorn (Translator)
$29.99
ISBN: 9781606995839
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Fantagraphics Books - March 19th, 2014

Manga has always been one of the great innovators of the graphic novel form, and NIJIGAHARA HOLOGRAPH is no exception. Asano is one of the great manga-kas of the current crowd, and this manga is a great example of how graphic novels use the freedom of their form to be nonlinear. This psychological horror story takes place in two timelines, has a huge cast of characters, and uses its incredible art to balance amazing atmosphere and excruciating close-ups. Asano’s level of detail is insane, compared to the looser comic styles of American artists, and it lends a crushing sense of reality to this strange story of the end of the world. Dealing with the choices humans make in difficult moments, NIJIGAHARA HOLOGRAPH is cyclical and multilayered--definitive proof that comic formats are NOT just for kids. This story is complex, challenging, and confronts incredibly powerful themes of sexual abuse, suicide, and the darkest things of which humanity is capable. It’s a difficult book to read, but one of the best examples of how graphic novels have matured over the years. This book is a full sensory experience you'll have to pick up to understand.


Perfect Pairings: Books to Read with Your Kids

As summer winds down and the kids head back to school, don’t think you have to give up time with your family, parents! If you’re missing the time you spent together over the summer and looking for ways to keep conversation going with your children over the school year, we’ve got a solution: read together! Our kids specialist Mary-Catherine has put together a list of perfect books to read simultaneously with your kids, along with suggestions for discussion topics and fun related outings. You’ll have great things to talk about over dinner, and maybe get your kids sharing about their lives in addition to the books.

Lost for Words Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780374280291
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Farrar Straus Giroux - May 20th, 2014

I Kill the Mockingbird Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781596437425
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Roaring Brook Press - May 20th, 2014

You read: LOST FOR WORDS by Edward St. Aubyn

Your child reads: I KILL THE MOCKINGBIRD by Paul Acampora

Bond while discussing: Bookish inside jokes, buzzy topics in the world of books like book banning and the politics of who wins awards, reading and books as a social force and community builder.

Quality time idea: A reading at Brazos! Perhaps Jasper Fforde on October 15 at 7PM?


The Infatuations Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9780307950734
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - April 22nd, 2014

We Were Liars Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780385741262
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Delacorte Press - May 13th, 2014

You read: THE INFATUATIONS by Javier Marias

Your child reads: WE WERE LIARS by E. Lockhart

Bond while discussing: How it’s impossible to really know someone by their appearance or perceived lifestyle, the dangers of assuming that someone’s life is perfect, the excitement of reading thrillers and how satisfying you found the endings of each book.

Quality time idea: People watch together at a mall, park, or restaurant and create stories for the people you see.


A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal Cover Image
By Ben Macintyre, John le Carre (Afterword by)
$27.00
ISBN: 9780804136631
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Crown Publishing Group (NY) - July 29th, 2014

Spy School Cover Image
$7.99
ISBN: 9781442421837
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers - April 2nd, 2013

You read: A SPY AMONG FRIENDS by Ben Macintyre

Your child reads: SPY SCHOOL by Stuart Gibbs

Bond while discussing: The cool and not so cool parts of spying, highlights of cold war and espionage history, various trench coat styles.

Quality time idea: Pick up one of our awesome spy kits and unravel the mysteries of your neighborhood!


Saving Italy: The Race to Rescue a Nation's Treasures from the Nazis Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780393348804
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - February 3rd, 2014

Under the Egg Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780803740013
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Dial Books - March 18th, 2014

You read: You read: SAVING ITALY by Robert M. Edsel

Your child reads: Your child reads: UNDER THE EGG by Laura Marx Fitzgerald

Bond while discussing: Bond while discussing: The forgotten history of the Monuments Men and their role in WWII, the importance and value of art, the different artists discussed in both books.

Quality time idea: Field trip to one of Houston’s many art museums together!


The Undertaking Cover Image
Unavailable from Brazos Bookstore
ISBN: 9780802122452
Availability: Out of Print - Not Available for Order
Published: Grove Press - August 19th, 2014

Prisoner of Night and Fog Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062278814
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Balzer & Bray/Harperteen - April 22nd, 2014

You read: THE UNDERTAKING by Audrey Magee

Your child reads: PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG by Anne Blankman

Bond while discussing: WWII and the Holocaust, the factors that compel people to be complicit with evil, the power of cross-cultural friendships.

Quality time idea: A trip to Houston’s powerful and moving Holocaust museum.


Night Film Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780812979787
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Random House Trade - July 1st, 2014

Staff Pick Logo
The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781616953607
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Soho Teen - August 12th, 2014

You read: NIGHT FILM by Marisha Pessl

Your child reads: THE UNFINISHED LIFE OF ADDISON STONE by Adele Griffin

Bond while discussing: The different reading experience of books with multimedia and art included along with text, the pressure of fame--especially as it impacts young stars or prodigies.

Quality time idea: Create art together! Film a movie in the backyard, paint a ceramic pot, create collages of your favorite family photos.


The Last Days of California Cover Image
$24.95
ISBN: 9780871405883
Availability: Backordered
Published: Liveright Publishing Corporation - January 20th, 2014

What We Lost Cover Image
$8.99
ISBN: 9780316232180
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - April 2nd, 2013

You read: THE LAST DAYS OF CALIFORNIA by Mary Miller

Your child reads: WHAT WE LOST by Sara Zarr

Bond while discussing: The ways both teenage girl protagonists explore their relationship to God in the face of crisis, the impact of fear quickly spreading throughout a community, the too-common disconnect between parents and teens.

Quality time idea: A road trip! Enjoy having each other as a captive audience for a while.


The Other Side Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781935639831
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Tin House Books - July 15th, 2014

The Truth about Alice Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781596439092
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Roaring Brook Press - June 3rd, 2014

You read: THE OTHER SIDE by Lacy Johnson

Your child reads: THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE by Jennifer Mathieu

Bond while discussing: Sexual consent and why it’s vitally important, bullying and how it contributes to rape culture.

Quality time idea: Volunteer at the Houston Area Women’s Center together (visit their website for more information)!


Modern China

The cover design of Xiaolu Guo's new novel is quite striking. A woman faces a snowy forest with deer horms strapped to her back. The title, I AM CHINA in boldface across the sky. This image runs counter to my imagining of China. The old ideas of China are fading while on the other side of the world a modern industrial revolution is transforming the lives of 1 billion+ people.

Warhol in China Cover Image
By Andy Warhol (Artist), Ai Weiwei (Foreword by), Michael Frahm (Text by (Art/Photo Books))
$70.00
ISBN: 9783775736626
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Hatje Cantz - February 28th, 2014

WARHOL IN CHINA documents Andy Warhol’s 1982 visit to Hong Kong and Beijing. At the height of his fame in the West, he landed in China, where no one knew his name or face.

The collected photographs show the Chinese landscape on the verge of transformation--final views of cities still largely free of Western businesses and influence.


The People's Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited Cover Image
$24.95
ISBN: 9780199347704
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Oxford University Press, USA - June 4th, 2014

The transformation has not always gone smoothly. Seven years after Warhol visited Beijing, the Tiananmen Square massacre was broadcast worldwide. Journalist Louisa Lim revisits the pivotal moment in Chinese history and explores why the people of China have mostly forgotten it.


China's Second Continent: How a Million Migrants Are Building a New Empire in Africa Cover Image
$27.95
ISBN: 9780307956989
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - May 20th, 2014

Rural Chinese people are leaving the countryside in favor of cities, but they're also leaving China entirely as well! The migration of Chinese workers to Africa is happening right now, and their involvement in the development of that contintent may pre-figure another industrial revolution. 


China Style Cover Image
By Sharon Leece, Michael Freeman (Photographer)
$22.95
ISBN: 9780794607357
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Periplus Editions - February 4th, 2014

But the most visible changes in a society can be observed in the ways people live at home. This book features contemporary interiors of Chinese families in China and abroad. The styles presented always feature influences of the past, but invariably they pitch to the future with beauty and grace.


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