General blog posts

Lying to Children: A Meditation on Banned YA Fiction

At the end of the day, censorship of children’s books is almost always about one--or all--of four things: Sex. Religion. Language. Violence. That’s basically what it comes down to. (Note that I put violence last. That’s because people complain about the least, which is its own story for another day). For librarians and teachers, it can be a complex issue to keep books on shelves, to support and encourage free speech and sharing of ideas while at the same time respecting the standards of the community, whatever that means to those who use the phrase.

#BrazosBest: Vila-Matas Stories Translated at Last

Interview translated by Bárbara Volkmer Ruiz

What do The Paris Review, Bomb Magazine, and Brazos Bookstore have in common? We’ve all been lucky enough to interview the reticent Spanish author Enrique Vila-Matas, author of our current #BrazosBest pick, VAMPIRE IN LOVE!

Vampire in Love Cover Image
ISBN: 9780811223461
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - September 27th, 2016

Mark Haber is the store manager of Brazos Bookstore. He was a juror for the 2016 Best Translated Book Award. Besides being an advocate for translated literature his own short story collection, DEATHBED CONVERSIONS, is currently being translated into Spanish.

To Add, Not Reduce: A Q&A with Rafi Mittlefehldt

Rafi Mittlefehldt’s debut novel, IT LOOKS LIKE THIS, is a book I wish I could have read ten years ago—a simple, heart-wrenching story told in a quiet, cautious voice. Protagonist Mike is still adjusting to his new school in his family’s new hometown; his father is still trying to get him to be the tough, sports-driven son he wants; and his family is still attending church, still trying to pretend everything is fine. Then Mike meets Sean, and slowly, then quickly—too quickly—everything changes.

It Looks Like This Cover Image
ISBN: 9780763687199
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Candlewick Press (MA) - September 6th, 2016

Rafi Mittlefehldt presents and signs IT LOOKS LIKE THIS on Thursday, September 22, 2016 at 7pm. Pre-order your signed copy today.

Lydia is the events coordinator at Brazos Bookstore. She received her MFA in fiction from Iowa State University, but happily came back to Texas immediately after. Her writing has been published in Ninth Letter, LIT, and The Rumpus.

National Book Awards Longlists Announced

The literary awards season has begun! The National Book Foundation, presenter of the National Book Awards, has announced ten titles in four categories as the semi-finalists for the prestigious prize. The shortlist will be published on October 13, 2016 and the winners will be announced on November 16, 2016.

Women Are Humans: A Q&A with Laia Jufresa and Sophie Hughes

How to stump me as a bookseller: come into the store and ask me for a funny, happy book where nothing bad happens. Because the truth is, I will fail you, one hundred percent of the time. The flip side? People ask me about my favorite books and often, I can see their eyes glaze over as I mention rape, suicide, addiction—as if those books can’t also have moments that are funny and happy.

Umami Cover Image
By Laia Jufresa, Sophie Hughes (Translator)
ISBN: 9781780748917
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: ONEWorld Publications - September 13th, 2016

Not Conjectures but Delusions: A Q&A with Mauro Javier Cardenas

There are certain novels that announce their significance in simple and subtle ways: the style, the language, the sense of entering a space you haven’t been before. When starting THE REVOLUTIONARIES TRY AGAIN, the debut novel by Mauro Javier Cardenas, I found myself returning to the first few pages over and over again, mostly to grasp what was taking place and to keep my footing. Important books demand this. Important books insist that you adjust your thinking, sometimes even your reading habits, because the space you’re entering is something wholly new. Think THE AUTUMN OF THE PATRIARCH.

The Revolutionaries Try Again Cover Image
ISBN: 9781566894463
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Coffee House Press - September 6th, 2016

THE REVOLUTIONARIES TRY AGAIN goes on sale September 6, 2016.

Gifts Spotlight : Introducing poppin and Elum

I love September. It’s my birthday month, and also the time that everyone goes back to school—which means NEW OFFICE SUPPLIES! As a buyer, there is nothing more exciting to me than when a box from a new vendor arrives at the store and the rest of the staff crowds around to see what's inside.

SKU: 846680028220

SKU: 846680056117

With Elum, I like that their products are quirky but still beautiful. The large square memo pad stands out because of its size and its abstract pansy background. On the top in copper foil, it says, “This is the bucket list, at least for today.” It's functional and fun, which is what I think desk items should be. Like the memo pad, the notebook is large and funky but it lays flat so it's not fussy.

SKU: x3062

SKU: x3063

Basically, there will always be things that need to get done. Why not make it less stressful by having office supplies that reward you for finishing things?

Prior to her position as the gift buyer at Brazos Bookstore, Ülrika Moats spent eight years working as a corporate visual merchandiser and district manager.

Rerouting the River: An Interview with Angela Palm

It’s hard to plan an escape when you’re young. When your only means is patience, a place like rural Indiana might seem like an immense snare. The nearby Kankakee River might begin to resemble a ribboning borderline between ‘stuck’ and ‘free,’ and its potential for portage—for carrying you away—might be constantly implied by the speed of its slopes, the bend of its banks, the flow of its floods. In RIVERINE, Angela Palm is an adult writing lyrically into her past, and with the merciful prescience that the girl whose story she narrates will one day flee.

Riverine: A Memoir from Anywhere But Here Cover Image
ISBN: 9781555977467
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Graywolf Press - August 16th, 2016

RIVERINE is on sale now.

Lawrence Lenhart studied writing at the University of Pittsburgh and holds an MFA from The University of Arizona. His essay collection, THE WELL-STOCKED AND GILDED CAGE, was published in 2016 (Outpost19). His prose appears in Alaska Quarterly Review, Fourth Genre, Greensboro Review, Gulf Coast, Passages North, Prairie Schooner, Western Humanities Review, and elsewhere. He is a professor of fiction and nonfiction at Northern Arizona University and a reviews editor and assistant fiction editor of DIAGRAM.

#BrazosBest: Lily Hoang Does Not Sleep

Say you get to do an interview for the first time in four months and it is with the woman that wrote your favorite book this year. What you don't know is that she is in Europe during the weeks you have to reach her. In fact, she's been in Europe for eleven weeks: fourteen countries, one book tour, one week-long writing workshop in Barcelona. The last time you used Skype, you were a junior in college, and it was to talk to your best friend while she was in Scotland, and your crappy ex-boyfriend during his year in Japan.

A Bestiary Cover Image
ISBN: 9780996316743
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Cleveland State University Poetry Center - April 15th, 2016

Annalia Luna is currently the shipping & returns manager at Brazos Bookstore. She earned her B.A. in Music & Literature from Butler University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming at The Rumpus, Ploughshares, and Heavy Feather Review. She lives & writes in Houston, TX.

So You Think You Know YA?

So yes, the Brazos children’s and Young Adult (YA) sections are in the back of the store. Kid lit consumers have a lovely little cave in which to sit around and peruse titles and rock on our orange rocking chair and read picture books. Or ooh and ahh over the awesome covers of the newest YA titles.

Bone Gap Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062317629
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Balzer & Bray/Harperteen - April 26th, 2016

The Walls Around Us Cover Image
ISBN: 9781616205904
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Algonquin Young Readers - March 22nd, 2016

Or THE SCORPIO RACES by Maggie Stiefvater (who wrote the Raven Boys series, which you should also read. Then read the very fabulous ACCIDENT SEASON by Moira Fowley-Doyle. And I haven’t even mentioned the talking pagoda in PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ by A. S. King, whose work you also need to be reading. While you’re at it, check out this blog post.

Grasshopper Jungle Cover Image
ISBN: 9780142425008
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Speak - February 17th, 2015

Have you read absolutely everything by Andrew Smith, who really seems to be a genre unto himself? Start with the weird and wonderful GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE, (beware the preying mantis sex), then move on to THE MARBURY LENS and THE ALEX CROW and all the rest.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks Cover Image
ISBN: 9780786838196
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Disney-Hyperion - August 1st, 2009

E. Lockhart’s big YA book in the past few years was WE WERE LIARS. But I say you should start off with her funny as hell feminist-leaning titles like THE DISREPUTABLE HISTORY OF FRANKIE LANDAU BANKS. And then move on to the Ruby Oliver quartet, which you would probably skip if you weren’t reading this because the first one is called THE BOYFRIEND LIST. Don’t skip it. You are welcome.

Want a YA author who rivals Anne Tyler for her spot on depiction of Baltimore? Find a copy of HOW TO SAY GOODBYE IN ROBOT by Natalie Standiford. And if you are lucky, you can hear her play in the all YA author rock band called Tiger Beat along with Libba Bray, whose work, including the very satirical BEAUTY QUEENS and the very amazing Diviners series set in the 1920s you must read. Yes, Amy Tan is not the only author in a band.

Beauty Queens Cover Image
ISBN: 9780439895989
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Scholastic Paperbacks - June 1st, 2012

Want sparse prose? Try anything by Lauren Strasnick.

Want hard-hitting contemporary? Read Houston’s own Jennifer Mathieu’s THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE (and all her other work).

Want someone who nails boy voice? Try Geoff Herbach.

A retelling of Amityville Horror? AMITY by Micol Ostow, a master of horror.

Amity Cover Image
ISBN: 9781606841563
Availability: Backordered
Published: Egmontusa - August 26th, 2014

And that’s just the beginning.

Try these out and I’ll be recommending more in the future.

Joy Preble is the author of several young adult novels including the DREAMING ANASTASIA series (Sourcebooks), the first book of which was named an ABC Best Book in 2009; the quirky/humorous SWEET DEAD LIFE series (Soho Press); a contemporary road trip/family drama, FINDING PARIS (Balzer and Bray/Harper Collins), which SLJ called, “An intricate guessing game of sisterly devotion, romance, and quiet desperation,” and IT WASN'T ALWAYS LIKE THIS, which Kirkus Reviews called ‘a modern Tuck Everlasting with a thriller twist.’ (Soho Press) Joy lives in Texas with her family, including a sweet but slightly unhinged basset/boxer. In between writing and working at Brazos Bookstore as bookseller/Children's Specialist, she teaches and lectures widely on writing and literacy and is currently on faculty at Writespace Houston.