General blog posts

A Chronicle of Images: Efrén Ordoñez Interviews Scott Esposito

A few days ago I visited New York City. On my first night there, I was lucky enough to attend the launch event for Scott Esposito’s new book of essays, The Doubles. He was to be in conversation with Mexican writer Álvaro Enrigue at Community Bookstore in Brooklyn.

The Doubles Cover Image
ISBN: 9781937865917
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Civil Coping Mechanisms - September 18th, 2017

Buyer's Corner: Upcoming Fall Favorites!

September is here! And while that doesn't quite promise cooler temperatures for our very soggy city just yet, it does mean we have a literary plethora to look forward to over the next few months. So, for this edition of the Buyer's Corner, I've enlisted the help of my fellow Brazos booksellers to lay out some of the amazing releases we're excited to share with you this Fall. This is only the smallest of samples of what Houston readers have in store for them, but each of these carefully chosen titles are among our favorite reads remaining to come this year.

Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News Cover Image
ISBN: 9781555977917
Availability: Coming Soon - Pre-Order Now
Published: Graywolf Press - November 14th, 2017

The best cultural history of the year. Poet, critic and historian, Young, has compiled a monumental work centering on the great American pastime of the hoax. Starting with the legendary humbug artist, PT Barnum, Young traces a red thread through the history of fakery in entertainment, science and culture directly to the heart of the greatest American hoax of all time--the concept of race. Impeccably researched and astounding in its depth, here is the historical precedent--from sideshows, to eugenics, to Rachel Dolezal--for the "post-facts" and "fake news" of today.

They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us Cover Image
ISBN: 9781937512651
Availability: Coming Soon - Pre-Order Now
Published: Two Dollar Radio - November 14th, 2017

These essays will break your heart and give you strength. Heavily rooted in music journalism, Abdurraqib's writing scratches beneath the surface of American pop culture and finds the hidden connections between subjects as seemingly disparate as a Bruce Springsteen concert and the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Through the music of our lives, we are made to confront racism, misogyny, xenophobia, and more. This is a special book that can do some real good in the world. I can't wait to put it into as many hands as I can.

Themystery.Doc Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802124913
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Grove Press - October 3rd, 2017

This is an ambitious, sprawling, excessive, even obsessive attempt to capture the true nature and spirit of our times. It is a highly experimental postmodern take on life in post-9/11 America and the internet age. There are images--personal photographs, screen captures and film stills--as well as myriad esoteric symbols, computer code, mock chat sessions, and recorded conversations, all strewn throughout no less than four different yet intertwining and/or layered storylines. It's the literary equivalent of a Terrence Malick film. A puzzle in novel form. A book that is not for everyone but that will be talked about for years to come.

Five-Carat Soul Cover Image
ISBN: 9780735216693
Availability: Coming Soon - Pre-Order Now
Published: Riverhead Books - September 26th, 2017

The first collection of stories from two-time National Book Award winner and American treasure, James McBride. Here, he stretches his literary legs with a diverse set of tales that covers everything from the hunt for a Civil War artifact, to the exploits of a teenage soul band, to a group of strangers facing judgment in the afterlife. Every word McBride commits to paper is a joy to read, and his stunning run of quality work continues with this newest offering.

In the Distance Cover Image
ISBN: 9781566894883
Availability: Coming Soon - Pre-Order Now
Published: Coffee House Press - October 10th, 2017

A tremendous debut novel and an epic American story. A young immigrant from Sweden gets separated from his brother and winds up in San Francisco when his destination was New York. Over countless years, this foreigner travels across the continent having adventures with criminals, scientists, settlers, prospectors, and more. Without knowing English and sticking out due to his immense physical size, Hakan or "The Hawk" as he becomes known, is unable to fit in anywhere and lives a hermetic existence among the great varied expanses of the American wild. However, this does not keep him from becoming a frontier legend when news of his exploits reaches others. Just a flat out great book.

Swallowing Mercury Cover Image
ISBN: 9781945492044
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Transit Books - September 12th, 2017

Told in brief, episodic chapters, this subtle yet stunning work of autobiographical fiction perfectly distills the universal wonder of childhood while also capturing the particular experience of growing up under Communist rule during the 80s. Wiola is a precocious young girl trying to find her place in rural Poland and often finds herself in trouble--with her family, her teachers, even the Communist Party. Through it all she remains indomitable, learning about love, loss, sexuality, death, and the myriad forms of ugliness that run rampant in the world. A vital contribution to the literature of childhood.


Belladonna Cover Image
By Dasa Drndric, Celia Hawkesworth (Translator)
ISBN: 9780811227216
Availability: Coming Soon - Pre-Order Now
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - October 31st, 2017

This ferocious novel by Croatian author Drndić is an unforgettable blend of fact and fiction, history and the present. The writing is superb and deals with themes of history, illness, academia and all without flinching. A modern masterpiece.

The Book of Disquiet: The Complete Edition Cover Image
ISBN: 9780811226936
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - August 29th, 2017

An existential classic, this edition finally brings together all the work of Pessoa's semi-heteronym Bernardo Soares together. A stunning and profound book to be flipped through or read cover to cover. Pessoa was Portugal's answer to Franz Kafka. Additionally, the book is simply a gorgeous object.


Moxie Cover Image
ISBN: 9781626726352
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Roaring Brook Press - September 19th, 2017

Talk about timing the zeitgeist! Houston author Jennifer Mathieu's newest YA novel, MOXIE is the story of Vivian Carter, who--tired of the rampant sexism in her high school, takes a page from her mother's Riot Grrrl, 90s, zine-making past, and starts a feminist revolution in her small Texas town! This one has already been optioned for film by none other than Amy Poehler and has been generating tons of well-deserved buzz!


The Strange World of Willie Seabrook Cover Image
ISBN: 9781943679058
Availability: Coming Soon - Pre-Order Now
Published: Spurl Editions - October 25th, 2017

First published in in 1966, this memoir is now being republished by Spurl Editions. Strange World follows two writers in their turbulent relationship and marriage. Seabrook, a renowned writer of the occult, and Worthington, a novelist and short story writer, find themselves caught in Seabrook’s sadist world and his alcoholic, destructive downward spiral. This intense memoir is also a self-reflecting piece on Worthington's life while married to Seabrook.


Smile Cover Image
ISBN: 9780735224445
Availability: Coming Soon - Pre-Order Now
Published: Viking - October 17th, 2017

The great Irish novelist Roddy Doyle's new work, SMILE, contains his trademark wit and dialogue. But here, Doyle, as ever, also cuts deep, telling the story of a man reexamining his life after a breakup and a mysterious encounter in a pub that sends him spiraling into past traumas best left forgotten. The ending contains a whopper of a twist too – no mere "gotchya" moment, but something that adds new resonance to the novel, one of the year's best. Don't miss Doyle in Houston on October 26.


The Poems of Dylan Thomas Cover Image
By Dylan Thomas, John Goodby (Editor)
ISBN: 9780811221146
Availability: Coming Soon - Pre-Order Now
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - October 31st, 2017

New Directions is putting out what's sure to be a beautiful addition to any library. I'm very excited to own a hardbound collection of these wonderful verses from one of the 20th century's greatest poets.

American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101902783
Availability: Coming Soon - Pre-Order Now
Published: Crown Publishing Group (NY) - October 17th, 2017

This is spectacular nature writing. Written almost like a novel, Blakeslee's story of wolves in Yellowstone National Park presents a fascinating look into the history of these magnificent creatures.

Christopher Kimball's Milk Street: The New Home Cooking Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316437288
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Little Brown and Company - September 12th, 2017

Fantastic new cookbook by the great Chris Kimball (former Cook's Illustrated editor). This book is jam-packed with sensible and high-quality recipes, as well as expert tips on how to cook like a pro. The kind of book that may just forever change the way you think about home cooking.


Madonna in a Fur Coat Cover Image
By Sabahattin Ali, Ureen Freely (Translator), Alexander Dawe (Translator)
ISBN: 9781590518809
Availability: Coming Soon - Pre-Order Now
Published: Other Press (NY) - November 7th, 2017

Translated into English for the first time, Other Press brings to us this 1930's Turkish author's beautiful little masterpiece of interwar relations. An office worker finds the handwritten memoir of his dying coworker; in it, his coworker's memoir of a love affair in Berlin. Compared to THE GREAT GATSBY, its incredible portrayal of smart, disaffected youth and they ways in which they grow up adds so much to our selection of translated literature from Turkey.

Her Body and Other Parties: Stories Cover Image
ISBN: 9781555977887
Availability: Coming Soon - Pre-Order Now
Published: Graywolf Press - October 3rd, 2017

Look forward to this spectacular collection of short stories from Carmen Maria Machado, out in October through Graywolf. Machado dual-wields the speculative and the erotic with ease. Many of these stories are (post-)apocalyptic; when they are, they have a strong focus on moments of bodily disintegration, disease, and epidemic. Machado is a force to be reckoned with. 

Gift Spotlight: Get School Year-Ready with Sara and Ülrika!

Sara: Today we’re going to be talking about a variety of things, all pertaining to getting yourself organized for back to school, and for the fall. We’ve got several events coming up, we’ve got some new items in the store, and we are ready!

First up, I want to talk about the new things we have in the store that I’m really excited about. We’ve been doing a lot of reorganization, and one of the most beautiful displays is a new pen bar that’s gone up along the wall you see when you first walk into the store. Ülrika, tell us more!

Writing Close to the Heart: Joy Interviews Kim Turrisi

Today I have the honor of sitting down, laptop to laptop, with debut author Kim Turrisi, whose YA novel JUST A NORMAL TUESDAY (KCP Loft, an imprint of Kids Can Press, 2017) is based on the suicide of her sister when Kim was just fifteen. JUST A NORMAL TUESDAY is sensitively written and also uplifting, despite its very serious subject matter.

Cinematic Time-Traveling: Ben Talks Film with Marian Luntz of the MFAH

Ending one of our summer programs at Brazos always leaves me with a bittersweet feeling. For the past few years, we have dedicated the entirety of summer to one author/artist—Marcel Proust in 2014, William Shakespeare in 2015, Stanley Kubrick in 2016—and we have such fun planning these programs that we can hardly believe summer will end. Happily, I was able to end our 2017 program—Summer of Jane Austen—in one of my favorite Houston spots, surrounded by friends.

Gift Spotlight: Day Designers

It is about that time when we begin to look ahead to the next year! We start looking at the calendars and planners that we want to use (and are hoping that we actually will use). Each year I would look at planners and try to decide which planners I wanted for the new year, and how I was going to plan out that particular year. Each year I had such high hopes... And each year I my poor planner would end up in my night table drawer.

That changed last year when a friend introduced me to the Day Designer.

Texas Independent Bookstore Day is Coming Up This Saturday

When I first moved to Texas, I had a lot of assumptions. As a born-and-bred New Englander, it was hard for me to understand that lots of things drive people to Texas. It’s not just the cliché reasons, tied to notions of independence, business, modern-day cowboys. It’s also the state’s thriving arts scene. The New Englander in me sniffed at the notion that Texas could be progressive. As soon as I spent some time here, though, I learned my mistake.

Staff Chat: Cormac McCarthy Book Club

This summer, Brazos Bookstore is hosting a Cormac McCarthy-themed Book Club. We sat down as a staff to discuss the highs and lows (and more lows, and more lows) of Cormac McCarthy's work. 

Mark: Alright, Cormac McCarthy. An American icon. Today we’re talking about our book group this summer: we’ll be reading three different books, a variety of books that trace the career of Cormac McCarthy, one of America’s best living contemporary writers.

Keaton: Consummate prose stylist.


Staff Chat: Bullet Journaling

Sara: Hi! This is Sara, and I’m with Ülrika and Kevin chatting about Bullet Journaling today! We’ve got a workshop coming up on the 20th at 6:30pm, so in preparation for that I want to get everyone in the #BuJo mood. Let’s start simple: what is bullet journaling?

Buyer's Corner: Best of 2017 So Far

Hard to think that half the year has gone by already. But I know it has, because, as Brazos Bookstore buyer, I'm already thinking about Christmas. Let's not get ahead of ourselves just yet, though! There have already been so many amazing books released in 2017. And I'm bound to leave many deserving titles off this list, but these are the ten titles--in chronological order--that have affected me the most this year. There is so much more to look forward to, but, if you've missed any of these, I recommend you remedy that oversight immediately.

Human Acts Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101906729
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Hogarth Press - January 17th, 2017

The recent winner of the Man Booker International turns out a shockingly emotional take on a national tragedy little known outside of Korea--a 1980 student/worker uprising that was violently put down by the military police, resulting in 100s of deaths. Kang's portrayal of this event is at once immediate and visceral, while also focusing on how the aftermath has reverberated through individuals and the nation over the subsequent three decades. A whirlwind reading experience that explores the nature of oppression and resistance, and the psychological toll of immense violence.

Reality Is Not What It Seems: The Journey to Quantum Gravity Cover Image
By Carlo Rovelli, Simon Carnell (Translator), Erica Segre (Translator)
ISBN: 9780735213920
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - January 24th, 2017

An expanded version–actually published first in Italy–of Rovelli's SEVEN BRIEF LESSONS ON PHYSICS. Accessible and astounding, this book provides an excellent introduction to the history of physics, its major contributors, achievements, lessons, and our best current understanding of how the natural world works. Rovelli even manages to find common ground between Dante's and Einstein's conception of the universe. Fascinating science writing.

To Name Those Lost Cover Image
ISBN: 9781609453497
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Europa Editions - February 7th, 2017

A violent and heartbreaking revenge story that winds up being about the relationships between parents and children, especially the mistakes and sacrifices committed to give the young a better chance in a cruel world. All of the characters are memorable, caught in intricate ethical webs that pit their consciences against their circumstances. The slow burning plot revolves around the dual, colliding narratives of Thomas Toosey–an itinerant bush outlaw looking to collect his son from a lawless frontier town, and the Flynns–a father and daughter doggedly searching for Toosey in order to right terrible wrongs their family incurred at his hand.

300 Arguments: Essays Cover Image
ISBN: 9781555977641
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Graywolf Press - February 7th, 2017

Manguso is a master of the minimalist form. She can do more with a sentence than many authors can do with an entire book. In this collection of brief ruminations, she covers everything from sex and mortality, to ambition, mental illness, writing, desire, and motherhood. These "arguments" are aphoristic gems, in which a seemingly random thought has hardened into a bold, cutting, crystalline truth. There is no exposition. Manguso lets these minute statements stand on their own, and the reader is left with nowhere to hide from direct engagement with a most remarkable literary mind.

Lincoln in the Bardo Cover Image
ISBN: 9780812995343
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House - February 14th, 2017

Saunders' first novel is a historical phantasmagoria narrated by a chorus of voices–both living and dead–whose input adds up to a commentary on life, morality, love, and loss framed against a most crucial turning point in the American saga. Quite simply an amazing novel told in a unique way from one of our time's greatest storytellers. Utilizing real historical sources and tantalziing flights of imagination, Saunders has created a true gothic masterpiece that scrapes right up against Great American Novel territory. Hilarious, grotesque and touching.

Animals Strike Curious Poses Cover Image
ISBN: 9781941411391
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Sarabande Books - February 28th, 2017

From wooly mammoths to headless chickens, Pasarello's second collection of essays chronciles some of the most famous, revealing and odd animal/human interractions in history. She muses over our broken connection with the natural world, exposes our exploitation and cruelty towards animal life, and marvels at the latent wonders of spiders and horses alike. But it is Pasarello's inimitable voice, always inventive and playful, that is the real attraction. Who else would explore the history of natural science from the perspective of a lovelorn tortoise? Humorous and quirky without being fluff, critical and unflinching without being didactic, there is no one writing nonfiction like Pasarello.

Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in 40 Questions Cover Image
ISBN: 9781566894951
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Coffee House Press - April 4th, 2017

A nuanced, insightful and human perspective on the "immigration crisis" from one of the brightest young stars of Mexican Literature. Luiselli criticizes both US and Mexican public policy, while also providing a voice for those rarely heard: immigrant children. This is a timely take on one of the most pressing humanitarian crises of the 21st century. Without a doubt the most essential read of the year, this slight book can do some real good in the world. Luiselli is a badass.

Camanchaca Cover Image
By Diego Zauaniga, Megan McDowell (Translator)
ISBN: 9781566894609
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Coffee House Press - March 7th, 2017

A sparse, innovative and heartrending study of a broken family. The story jumps back and forth between a young man's divorced parents in small chunks of prose that Zuniga ingeniously juxtaposes on each facing page. The reader follows along as the recent past and the present inevitably collide in a startling climax. A debut novella that is quite stunning in its compact emotional heft.

Such Small Hands Cover Image
ISBN: 9781945492006
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Transit Books - April 11th, 2017

An unsettling waking nightmare of a novella that captures all the strange wonder and nascent cruelty of childhood. It's set in an all-girls' orphanage where they play a strange game of affection and punishment once the lights go out, and boasts an ending that will make your jaw drop. A big house favorite across the board for Brazos booksellers this year, you won't soon forget this book.

Imagine Wanting Only This Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101870839
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Pantheon Books - April 18th, 2017

The managing editor at Sarabande Books turns out a bravura performance with an intensely personal and philosophical graphic memoir. Weaving together the early death of a beloved uncle, a fascination with modern urban decay, and an existential bildungsroman narrative, Radtke delves into the idea of impermanence and our emotional connections to people and places that will all eventually be severed. Her images are mesmerizing in their simplicity and directness. The storyline is perfectly relatable, yet complex and idiosyncratic enough to standout against most other memoirs and/or graphic novels. A terrific work that raises the bar for both genres.