Brazos Staff Summer Picks


We Are Never Meeting in Real Life.: Essays Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101912195
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Vintage - May 30th, 2017

Out today!

Hilarious essayist! Reads like you are gossiping with your best girlfriend. I read her book MEATY a few years ago at the suggestion of a friend and I laughed until I cried. Blurbed by many well-respected lady authors so looking forward to this great summer read.

Slow Boat (Japanese Novellas #1) Cover Image
By Hideo Furukawa, David Boyd (Translated by)
ISBN: 9781782273288
Availability: Unlikely to Be Available
Published: Pushkin Press - June 6th, 2017

Magical realism! Japanese novella! Pushkin Press! These are a few of my favorite things!

The Followers Cover Image
ISBN: 9781609454012
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Europa Editions - July 25th, 2017

This suspenseful cult novel from Europa had me on the edge of my seat. It starts off with one of the main characters in prison so you know some crazy stuff is going to happen. This is a great summer read -- dark and compelling with a shocking twist.


Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062362599
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Harper - June 13th, 2017

I've been a fan of Roxane Gay's work for years, back when her books were coming out on micro-presses; her success seemed inevitable, even then. Her new book, HUNGER, is her most honest, devastating, and moving work yet: an account of her lifelong battle with weight. But this is no pro forma memoir, full of teary confessions. Instead, HUNGER probes the psyche of a culture obsessed with weight, and how that reflects back of Gay's own life, shattered early on by a traumatic incident. Her tone is varied--from humorous pop cultural exploration to focused anger--and the book, ultimately, never wallows, ending instead with a sense of profound hope.

We're lucky to be hosting Roxane Gay herself in partnership with Houston Public Libraries on July 10. You can buy tickets here. Each ticket comes with a hardcover copy of HUNGER!


Every Body Yoga: Let Go of Fear, Get On the Mat, Love Your Body. Cover Image
ISBN: 9780761193111
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Workman Publishing Company - April 4th, 2017

When Jessamyn Stanley visited the Houston Public Library for her book tour EVERY BODY YOGA, I was enamored by her charm and her intelligence on the topic of yoga and loving oneself. For those who recognize Jessamyn via Instagram, she reiterates her aura in her book with fifty basic yoga poses and ten sequences.

The most spectacular component about this book is the way it addresses body acceptance and beauty with her Jessamyn tone and vibrant images of yoga poses (from the variety of body shapes). This book offers another facet to yoga, how yoga is a practice for your wellbeing regardless of exhibiting the template aesthetic of a yogi. Jessamyn’s yoga book goes beyond the individual’s body positivity and lengthens the individual’s body positivity experience with the backdrop of current social and political climate.

It has been a while since I practiced yoga (in home and studio set) and listening to Jessamyn voice how self care really is a form or resistance, Jessamyn reminds me that I need to project the attitude that is for both personal and political practice. JESSAMYN STANLEY is an internationally recognized yoga teacher and award-winning Instagram star (@mynameisjessamyn). She has been profiled and/or featured in a wide range of media outlets, including Good Morning America, New York, Glamour, Shape, People, and the Huffington Post, among others.

THE PROPELLER GROUP @ BLAFFER Yes! The Propeller Group show will be in Houston - in Blaffer Art Museum to be precise! The Propeller Group—an artist team based in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam—blurs the boundaries between fine art and media production. My first encounter of the The Propeller Group was about half a year ago at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and I was in awe, captivated by the show. In particular the twenty-one minutes-and-fifteen- seconds video work, The Living Need Light, The Dead Need Music (2014) is absolutely incredible especially with the visual installation. The Propeller Group states: “The Living Need Light, The Dead Need Music is a visual and musical journey through the fantastical funeral traditions and rituals of south Vietnam.” A breathtaking experience for me and I cannot wait to see it again.

The Propeller Group in Houston is beyond meaningful. Apart from the strong Vietnamese scene in Houston, the show in Blaffer Art Museum, an art institution located in University of Houston, practically guarantees conversation that dissects binary forces such as life vs death, fine art vs commercial/media, poetry vs documentation, etc. The opening at the Blaffer Museum is June 2, 2017.


Once and for All Cover Image
ISBN: 9780425290330
Availability: Unlikely to Be Available
Published: Viking Books for Young Readers - June 6th, 2017

Two of the YA books I’m looking forward to this summer couldn’t be on more opposite ends of the spectrum! I can’t wait to read the finished version of Sarah Dessen’s ONCE AND FOR ALL, coming in June. Dessen’s novels are always a lovely, romantic treat, one with a substantive character journey--and always set in the summer. I’ve been a huge fan for years and this latest has the main character working in her mother’s wedding planner business, but (of course!) not believing in true love. And yes, that changes. And yes, it’s a grand pool-read page turner. Just what I need for the summer.

The Sandcastle Empire Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062484871
Availability: UNAVAILABLE
Published: HarperTeen - June 6th, 2017

But I’m also looking forward to the more grim climes of Kayla Olson’s gritty, post-apocalyptic debut THE SANDCASTLE EMPIRE, where a group called the Wolfpack has taken over and imprisoned everyone who was against them into work camps. And then a girl named Eden manages to escape... Given our current political climate, it’s no wonder this was already optioned for a film by Leonardo DiCaprio. Full disclosure, I’ve known Kayla for a few years now as part of an ongoing writing retreat group I’m part of. So I’ve heard snippets of this book for awhile and I am more than thrilled that we’ll be hosting an event with her on Saturday June 17th at 3 PM! She and I will be ‘in conversation’ about her book, writing, and all sorts of things, so I hope you can join us!

As for other media, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how I cannot wait for Season 4 of YOUNGER to begin on June 28th. If you haven’t been watching this TVLAND series, catch up immediately! The basic premise is that main character Liza--40 and newly divorced and in need of a job--has to pretend to be 26 in order to get hired in publishing where she used to work. Sutton Foster totally carries this off, trust me. And trust me that this show is nuanced and layered and much more than a guilty pleasure. In fact, it accurately and cleverly skewers everything about the frequently ageist (among other issues) world of publishing! Seriously, I adore this show and its spot on satire.


In a Lonely Place Cover Image
By Dorothy B. Hughes, Megan Abbott (Afterword by)
ISBN: 9781681371474
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: NYRB Classics - August 15th, 2017

I love crime fiction, and this summer you should not miss this overlooked 1940s detective noir classic. Centering around the investigation of an apparent serial murder spree in the years following WWII, IN A LONELY PLACE is a timely and ahead-of-its-time novel that tackles themes of violence towards women, PTSD, and feminism. This vintage crime story--once adapted by Nicholas Ray into a Humphrey Bogart film--is a surprisingly modern take on the genre!

Movie - BABY DRIVER out 6/28 I am very much looking forward to this star-studded action comedy crime caper from Edgar Wright, director of SHAUN OF THE DEAD! This high octane thriller follows a young man conscripted as a heist getaway driver, but of course absolutely nothing goes as planned. Featuring everyone from Jon Ham to Jamie Foxx, and with a tremendously bumping soundtrack to boot, this is the flick I'm most likely to gorge myself to death on popcorn while watching!


Music - DANIEL ROMANO, "MODERN PRESSURE" ("When I Learned Your Name" music video) Canadian alt country singer-songwriter, Daniel Romano, has turned out one of my favorite albums of the year in any genre. Largely leaving behind the nostalgic retro trad country leanings of his earlier work, these new songs hearken back to Bob Dylan's delightfully off-kilter years--think "John Wesley Hardin" or the infamous Rolling Thunder Revue concert tour. Fully versed in rock and country, the expressionistic lyrics and unexpected song structures of these tracks will keep you hitting repeat all summer!




Infinite Jest (20th Anniversary Edition): A Novel Cover Image
By David Foster Wallace, Tom Bissell (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9780316306058
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Back Bay Books - February 23rd, 2016

First off: INFINITE JEST. Trying for the fourth time to finish this monster of a book. Summer is an excellent time for this, as it will probably take me three months to finish.

As a fan of heavy metal, some great shows are coming up this summer, two I'm especially looking forward to are: Nails - June 23rd White Oak Music Hall, brutal tough as nails (pun intended) hardcore. Big Business- July 11 Walter's Downtown, lyrically one of my all time favorite bands. Atmospheric, gargantuan sound from these two heroes of sludge.




Lastly: baseball! Summer time is baseball time. Get out to Minute Maid and take in a ball game.

The Rum Diary: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780684856476
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Simon & Schuster - November 1st, 1999

Bonus: one of my favorite summertime beach reads: THE RUM DIARY by Hunter S. Thompson. Surreal, biting, full of rum and mischief.


The Little Buddhist Monk & The Proof Cover Image
By César Aira, Nick Caistor (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780811221122
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Directions - May 30th, 2017

César Aira is a magician; he spins strange and wonderful tales out of thin air and makes delightful diversions that often turn into the stories themselves. He has an imitable imagination and is equally prolific. Every time New Directions publishes a new book by Aira (usually twice a year) I'm tickled and thrilled and reminded of the boundaries Aira has now problems pushing. This most recent book is actually two novellas packaged in a single book. The first is the story of a Korean monk who dreams of moving to the west. With the help of a pair of French tourists he thinks he's found his way. The second story takes place in Aira's native Argentina and involves a group of thugs who take hostages in a supermarket. These two novellas couldn't be more different, but then again, this seems symbolic of César Aira.

Staff Pick Badge
My Heart Hemmed in Cover Image
By Marie Ndiaye, Jordan Stump (Translator)
ISBN: 9781931883627
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Two Lines Press - July 11th, 2017

Dark, strange, oppressive, Kafkaesque. These are just a few of the words I would use to describe the new novel by French author Marie N'diaye. A middle-aged couple who teach in a provincial French town are suddenly ostracized by the entire community. Their crime? They don't know and can't seem to find out. Add to this dilemma, the husband receives a grievous wound that won't seem to heal. Larger ideas are are work, but I'll merely say this is a devastating, visceral and harsh book dripping with paranoia. Not for the faint of heart, but beautifully written.

LCD SOUNDSYSTEM - TBA: I love dance music and when LCD Soundsystem came onto the world stage around 2005 I thought there was nothing like them. There was of course: New Order, The Velvet Underground and lot's more influential bands. Yet, somehow, LCD Soundsystem made it wholly their own. Frontman James Murphy is roughly my age so when he sings and laments about getting older I somehow relate to it more then when a young kid is singing. They famously annoucned they were retiring, famously played three final nights at Madison Square Garden and famously announced they were back together a few years later. Their new album, supposedly coming this summer, has been years in the making and something I will be listening to on repeat.


Found Audio Cover Image
ISBN: 9781937512576
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Two Dollar Radio - July 11th, 2017

Another hit from a hometown publisher (for me), Two Dollar Radio out of Columbus, Ohio! FOUND AUDIO falls into the same reality-bending genre as favorites HOUSE OF LEAVES by Mark Danielewszki and PALE FIRE by Nabokov. The size of this book keeps it from being as daunting a literary dask as other similar reads might be, but the style is remarkably clever and Campbell retains the ability to traverse many landscapes in these brief pages.

I’m excited for everyone to see the CAMH summer show: A BETTER YESTERDAY, comprised of the works of JooYoung Choi, Jack Early, and Lily van der Stokker. All three of these artists engage the theme of childhood while managing a diversity of representations. Lily van der Stokker nudges a bit at the boundary of twee with her pastel colors and line drawings, while Jack Early confronts childhood sexuality with references to burgeoning masculinity and the human body. I’m MOST excited about JooYoung Choi’s contribution to the exhibition, a series of technicolor paintings and sculptures that shift between this universe and another she’s built from scratch containing a myriad of characters and science fictional landscapes (some of which might be familiar from her last show at Project Row Houses). While JooYoung Choi’s art absolutely draws strong inspiration from childhood nostalgia, Her work tackles sometimes dark, complex concepts with a radical tenderness I wish I saw more often in visual art. I’m in love. Houston is lucky to call her a resident.


The Nakano Thrift Shop: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781609453992
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Europa Editions - June 6th, 2017

This wonderful book is a portrayal of human relationships by one of Japan’s most beloved authors. Objects for sale at the Nakano thrift shop appear as commonplace as the staff and customers that handle them. But like those same customers and staff, they hold many secrets. If examined carefully, they show the signs of innumerable extravagancies, of immeasurable pleasure and pain, of the deep mysteries of the human heart. Strange and fun and highly original, this is a book I've only just begun but already love.

A Catalog of Birds Cover Image
ISBN: 9781609454036
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Europa Editions - July 11th, 2017

Set in 1970, this novel is the portrait of a family in the midst of recovery, the mysterious disappearance of a young woman, and of a brother and sister whose love of the natural world just might save their lives. With the backdrop of the Vietnam War, this is a stunning novel about family and the lengths to which love will take people.

The Flight of the Maidens Cover Image
ISBN: 9781609454050
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Europa Editions - August 1st, 2017

Another wonderful novel by the incredible Jane Gardam. It's Yorkshire in 1946, a moment in time for three young women on the cusp of adulthood. With keen perception, the novel charts the course of this trio as they boldly face their uncertain futures. This novel follows the three young women as they try and make a path in life in post-World War II England.

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