General blog posts

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: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
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: On Our Shelves Now
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
By Valeria Luiselli, Jon Lee Anderson (Introduction by)
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 Zuniga, Megan McDowell (Translator)
ISBN: 9781566894609
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
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
By Andres Barba, Lisa Dillman (Translator), Edmund White (Afterword by)
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.

Love Gone Wrong: Joy Interviews Lauren Strasnick

The arrival of a new Lauren Strasnick book is always cause for celebration! For me, there is just something uniquely brilliant about her spare prose, about her willingness to go to darker places and to tell relationship stories that don’t always have happy endings. Not that I’m opposed to happy endings or anything, but I do appreciate when an author writes the ending the story needs, even if it might not be the one readers are rooting for.

16 Ways to Break a Heart Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062418722
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Katherine Tegen Books - July 25th, 2017

Gift Buyer Spotlight: Meal Planning


For anyone who cooks, meal plans or throws dinner parties you begin to realize that there’s not always a lot of options to help you prepare. I started bullet journaling my meal plans because I couldn’t find anything that fit my needs, which resulted in me falling into a bullet journal rabbit hole. I became so excited when both Elūm and Ruth and Ramona launched their Meal Planners and Girl of Work launched their Recipe Editor.

Roxane Gay Draws Blood

To read Roxane Gay is to also feel, in an odd way, like you’re reading yourself at the same time. More than most contemporary “public intellectuals” (I put those words in quotes, not because Gay is neither public nor intellectual, but because the term doesn’t encapsulate the sum total of what she does), her essays are not “hot takes,” but are like the thorns of a cactus that looks beautiful from a distance (she’s a hell of a prose stylist, after all) but draws blood when you get close. When you finish one of Gay’s essays, you see something of yourself that usually stays on the inside.

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062362599
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper - June 13th, 2017

Staff Chat: Our Narco-Fairytale #BrazosBest

Keaton: It’s Keaton here with Mark and Sara to discuss our Brazos Best pick for July 2017: KINGDOM CONS by the inimitable Yuri Herrera, translated by Lisa Dillman (also incomparable).

This is the third in a thematic trilogy by Herrera, also including SIGNS PRECEDING THE END OF THE WORLD and THE TRANSMIGRATION OF BODIES, which was the Best Translated Book Award winner of 2016. Definitely one of the most vital and talked-about writers from the remarkable Mexican literary scene of today.

Kingdom Cons Cover Image
By Yuri Herrera, Lisa Dillman (Translator)
ISBN: 9781908276926
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: And Other Stories - June 13th, 2017

The Transmigration of Bodies Cover Image
By Yuri Herrera, Lisa Dillman (Translator)
ISBN: 9781908276728
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: And Other Stories - July 5th, 2016

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

Jeffrey Eugenides Comes to Houston November 3

Jeffrey Eugenides, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and author of the upcoming story collection FRESH COMPLAINT, will be coming to Houston on November 3rd! Tickets can be purchased through Brazos Bookstore and will be available for pickup in-store starting July 10th. Each ticket will come with a hardcover copy of the book FRESH COMPLAINT.

You are welcome to visit the store or call 713-523-0701 to purchase a ticket. You can also purchase tickets online.

Gift Buyer Spotlight: Ethereal Confections Chocolates

It’s always great to find a new company that will fit with the store, especially one that is a small business. There are those times as a buyer that a company will reach out to you in the hopes that they will be a good fit. This was the case with our new chocolate vendor Ethereal Confections out of Woodstock, IL. It started with an email and a link to their company’s site, as well as the offer of sending samples. Like a small child anticipating a present in the mail, I waited to taste the samples that they were sending.

Intern Laura Talks Reading YA as An Adult

Observation of the Week: Reticent (YA) Readers

Yes, I see you, not even touching the YA section with a ten foot pole. And I’ll admit, I used to be guilty of this too. Sometimes the only way I bought YA novels was if they were hidden subtly between some hefty classics. I had a literary reputation to uphold, after all!

Buyer's Corner: The Denim Edition!

I'm a Texan. So, of course I love a good Western. In fact, the running gag at Brazos is that I will read anything with a horse on the cover. This is mostly true. The rest is legend. Like Westerns. But the Western genre is more than broncos, denim, six shooters, and great hats. The locale and the conceits of this school of fiction allows to the author and reader to observe the heart of the American saga laid bare.

Train Dreams: A Novella Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250007650
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Picador USA - May 22nd, 2012

This magnificent novella from the recently passed Johnson is an epic in miniature and proof that a literary masterpiece need not break 100 pages. It's the story of an ordinary man who lives through the quickening changes of early 20th century America. Sounds simple, but Johnson turns this premise into a stunning portrait of a nation in flux. Out of the three finalists for the Pulitzer for fiction that was not awarded in 2012, this is the one that should have won.

The Collected Works of Billy the Kid Cover Image
ISBN: 9780679767862
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - March 19th, 1996

The first novel from the great Ondaatje is a tremendous hybrid genre feat of imagination, centering on the timeless tale of Billy the Kid and his nemesis, Pat Garrett. Like any legend, this work is part fact, part fiction. Blending a captivating experimental prose style, actual historical accounts, pseudo diary entries, poetic stream-of-consciousness narration, as well as paintings and photographs, this slight book creates a haunting, mesmerizing death song for an iconic American anti-hero.

Close Range: Wyoming Stories Cover Image
ISBN: 9780684852225
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Scribner Book Company - February 10th, 2000

And Westerns aren't only for men or male writers. This amazing collection of "Wyoming Stories" from Pulitzer and National Book Award winner, Annie Proulx, are some of the most vivid and engrossing portrayals of cowboy life, both past and present. And there is no overstating the heartwrenching beauty of her classic novella, "Brokeback Mountain," contained herein. It is quite simply one of the most moving and tragic love stories I've ever read. The movie--with a screenplay co-written by Texas legend, Larry McMurtry--ain't too shabby either.

Ema the Captive Cover Image
By Cesar Aira, Chris Andrews (Translator)
ISBN: 9780811219105
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - December 6th, 2016

And Westerns aren't only for Americans. Prolific Argentine storyteller, Aira, has put out several novels over his long career that can be classified as Westerns of the Southern hemisphere. Set in the 19th century, as horrific atrocities are commited by and against both soldiers and natives in the surreal landscape of the Pampas, this curious novel follows the travels of Ema, a woman who has lived as a captive of the local tribes for many years, as she is returned to a civilization that proves to be even more brutal than the life from which she's been "rescued."

Country of the Bad Wolfes Cover Image
ISBN: 9781935955030
Availability: Backordered
Published: Cinco Puntos Press - January 31st, 2012

This first installment in Blake's international Western saga that straddles the border between Texas and Mexico charts the rise of an amoral familial clan with a nefarious impact on the histories of both countries. It's a raw, violent take on the manifest destiny of individuals and nations. A rollicking adventure ride and a powerful indictment of the legacy of corruption and greed plaguing the borderlands. Subsequent volumes in the series follow the Wolfes as their power continues to grow through the decades, eventually becoming entangled with the drug cartels of today.

June #BrazosBest: César Aira

To read any one of Argentine writer César Aira’s highly imaginative and compact novels is to subject oneself to the whims of an authentic mind, a writer who appears to make it up as he goes along. Indeed, I’ve often described Aira as a children’s writer for adults. And that’s no criticism.

The Little Buddhist Monk & the Proof Cover Image
By Cesar Aira, Nick Caistor (Translator)
ISBN: 9780811221122
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - May 30th, 2017

Ema the Captive Cover Image
By Cesar Aira, Chris Andrews (Translator)
ISBN: 9780811219105
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - December 6th, 2016

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

Shantytown Cover Image
By Cesar Aira, Chris Andrews (Translator)
ISBN: 9780811219112
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - November 20th, 2013

Ghosts Cover Image
By Cesar Aira, Chris Andrews (Translator)
ISBN: 9780811217422
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - February 1st, 2009

An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter Cover Image
By Cesar Aira, Chris Andrews (Translator), Roberto Bolano (Preface by)
ISBN: 9780811216302
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - May 25th, 2006

Conversations Cover Image
By Cesar Aira, Katherine Silver (Translator)
ISBN: 9780811221108
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - June 26th, 2014