This is for any kind of written article like a blog post about a certain topic.

Books for Artists and Sensitive Souls

Some kids are clearly artists in the making—dreamers, sensitive souls, young minds curious about the world's hidden magic. For the budding artist in your life, pick up one of these great holiday titles!

A Child of Books Cover Image
By Oliver Jeffers, Sam Winston, Oliver Jeffers (Illustrator), Sam Winston (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780763690779
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Candlewick - September 6th, 2016

From the illustrator/author of so many amazing titles including THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT comes a gorgeous picture book for all ages from toddler to adult. Yes, really. It’s about books and art and creating and questioning and imagining and exploring. It’s simply wonderful.

Shakespeare Retold Cover Image
By E. Nesbit, Antonio Javier Caparo (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780062404534
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: HarperCollins - October 18th, 2016

Classic Shakespearean plays retold by classic children’s author E. Nesbit? With beautiful illlustrations? Yes, yes, yes. What lovely way to introduce children to the Bard. And in case E. Nesbit isn’t familiar to you, here’s a great read from the New York Review of Books archives-- an article about her from 1964 by none other than Gore Vidal!

The Last True Love Story Cover Image
ISBN: 9781481429887
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Margaret K. McElderry Books - September 13th, 2016

A girl named Corrina who’s a musician and hoping for a chance to be the person she wants to be. A boy named Hendrix who’s a poet and also struggling because his dad is dead and his mom works long hours. A grandpa suffering from Alzheimer’s. A quest to take Gpa across country to the hill where he first kissed his wife, before disease steals the memory. A stolen car. A dog. An amazing new YA novel by one of the best contemporary authors for young people!

Why is Art Full of Naked People: And other vital questions about art Cover Image
ISBN: 9780500650806
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Thames & Hudson - October 18th, 2016

And from our everyday collection: this one answers all your kids’ tricky questions about art from caveman paintings to modern. A grand resource book that’s also a beautiful gift!

Mark's Favorite Books of the Year

Look, I’ll be honest: this year’s top ten list is very straightforward. There is no overarching theme. There are no big surprises. This is simply ten of my favorite books that I’ve read this year, some old, some new. Another ten books were vying for eleventh place. Another three or four would’ve made my top ten except they aren’t published until next year. One of my favorites is currently available only in the UK. In any event, these are ten books that moved me, touched me, and stayed with me.

The Revolutionaries Try Again Cover Image
ISBN: 9781566894463
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Coffee House Press - September 6th, 2016


There’s a lot to be said for difficult and challenging books. This remarkable debut is smart, literary, and brings to mind such luminaries as Garcia Marquez and Antonio Lobo Antunes, which is no small feat. THE REVOLUTIONARIES TRY AGAIN takes place in both Ecuador and San Francisco, played out against the lost decade of Ecuador's austerity and the stymied idealism of three childhood friends—an expat, a bureaucrat, and a playwright—who are as sure about the evils of dictatorship as they are unsure of everything else. You won’t find a better novel this year about friendship, lost idealism and the trials of getting “political.”

Against Nature: The Notebooks Cover Image
By Tomas Espedal, James Anderson (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780857422354
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Seagull Books - May 15th, 2015


If you’ve ever had your heart broken nothing has to be said, it’s understood. A psychic anguish that seemingly has no end. The earth seems to slow, every joke is at your expense; it’s like the flu of your emotions. Well, Norwegian author, Tomas Espedal, wants you to know that he’s had his heart broken too. Toward the end of his novel AGAINST NATURE a much younger girlfriend has left the home they shared and moved to Oslo. The protagonist (ostensibly Espedal himself) walks the house, unshaven and often drunk, reminiscing, brooding, attempting to write, seeing in each empty room the emptiness of his own existence. It is one of the closest examinations of a broken heart I’ve ever read, equal parts painful and beautiful. But AGAINST NATURE is also a about writing and the urge to write and how this urge follows a person through their existence. Like fellow Norwegian contemporary Karl Knausgård, Espedal’s novel blurs the line between memoir and fiction, between narrative and navel gazing. In style, however, there couldn’t be more of a difference; Espedal eschews the pages upon pages of exposition and daily minutiae that Knausgaard has mastered; Espedal has a minimalist approach that often borders on poetry. Thus, AGAINST NATURE is a very lyrical and reflective book, even if the themes are brooding and dark.

Night Prayers Cover Image
By Santiago Gamboa, Howard Curtis (Translated by)
ISBN: 9781609453114
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Europa Editions - March 1st, 2016


I loved Gamboa’s first book in English, NECROPOLIS, and Gamboa’s second book, NIGHT PRAYERS, is a triumph as well. The story is told from two perspectives: a young Colombian philosophy student accused of drug trafficking in Bangkok, and his lawyer, another Columbian living in New Delhi. The chapters alternate between both perspectives, and the texture of the story is rich and rewarding. From the trials of growing up in Columbia with its turbulent politics, to the sweaty streets of Thailand, NIGHT PRAYERS is awash with scenes that are palpable. NIGHT PRAYERS is deft and literary but also readable. The different plot strands are a pleasure to navigate, and the major locations—Bogota, New Delhi, Tokyo, and Bangkok—give the reader a sense of dislocation, much like the characters. Sibling devotion, the world of high-end escorts, and Colombian politics intertwine seamlessly. Brilliantly translated, NIGHT PRAYERS is an incredible reading experience with a pounding heart and wisdom to boot.

Revulsion: Thomas Bernhard in San Salvador Cover Image
By Horacio Castellanos Moya, Lee Klein (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780811225397
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: New Directions - July 26th, 2016


What do you say about a book by a writer you love who is imitating a writer you love (albeit the imitation itself achieves something wholly new)? This slim book, a stylistic tip-of-the-hat to Austrian writer Thomas Bernhard, earned Horacio Castellanos Moya death threats in his home of El Salvador (as well as a book Moya has been trying to live down ever since). It is a bitter, angry, diatribe that happens to be hilarious; a man fuming to a friend at a bar in El Salvador about, well, everything. He’s returned home after decades to bury his mother and settle the estate with his brother and you can almost feel the protagonist’s skin burning from the discomfort of being back home, a country he calls vomitous. The biting eye of the protagonist lands on every social and political aspect of El Salvadorian culture, from its food to its government, and through this poetic vitriol we find the brilliance (and grace) of a first-rate author giving his regards to another first-rate author. Through imitation, a hybrid gem of fiction is born. A side note: the acrobatics of translator Lee Klein are worth the price of admission.

Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster Cover Image
ISBN: 9780312425845
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Picador USA - April 18th, 2006


There is no way this book won’t leave its fingerprint on the reader. Haunting and visceral, VOICES FROM CHERNOBYL is a major reason why Alexievich won the 2015 Nobel Prize. An oral history, Alexievich, interviewed countless people who’d survived and witnessed the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster. From farmers to ex-military to scientists and professors, what Alexievich weaves is a tapestry of the Russian soul. There is disillusionment in one’s government as well as the attempt to make sense of something nonsensical. One of the most powerful and unforgettable books I’ve ever read. Bring tissues.

Sweet Days of Discipline: Novel Cover Image
By Fleur Jaeggy, Tim Parks (Translated by)
Unavailable from Brazos Bookstore
ISBN: 9780811212359
Availability: Out of Print - Not Available for Order
Published: New Directions - May 17th, 1993


This is why social media can be wonderful. Had I not seen another bookseller praising the strength of Fleur Jaeggy’s small novel, I would’ve never read it (or heard of it). This diamond of a novella is the simple story of a young girl looking back at her time at a Swiss boarding school. Yet Jaeggy’s writing, incisive and insightful, explores the relationships we have in our formative years and the influence they have for rest of our lives. I’m happy that New Directions is publishing both a book of essays and short stories by Jaeggy next year.

Staff Pick Badge
A Whole Life: A Novel Cover Image
By Robert Seethaler, Charlotte Collins (Translated by)
Unavailable from Brazos Bookstore
ISBN: 9780374289867
Availability: Out of Print - Not Available for Order
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - September 13th, 2016


Simple. Unadorned. The title says it all. A WHOLE LIFE by Austrian author Robert Seethaler, tells the entire life of Andreas Egger, an unremarkable man living in a remarkable century. In its brief 150 pages, the reader experiences the simple but eventful life of Eggers, from a young mountain climber to a widower to a prisoner of war in World War II. Fans of STONER and TRAIN DREAMS will find much to love in this elegant and universal story, as a man sees the world around him transform. A book of astounding restraint and quiet beauty, A WHOLE LIFE is illuminating, reminding all of us of the fleeting time we’re given on this planet. Shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize and translated beautifully by Charlotte Collins, A WHOLE LIFE is brilliant.

To the Lighthouse Cover Image
ISBN: 9780156907392
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Mariner Books - December 27th, 1989


No, I had never read Virginia Woolf until this year. I’ll take some of the blame, but I partly blame the professors I had in college. How did I graduate with a degree in English and NEVER read her? Anyway, this brief, utterly transformative novel made me want to take two years off from all other books and read only Virginia Woolf. The book is deeply philosophical, all interior monologue and stream-of-consciousness. It focuses on the Ramsay family at their summer home, returning in the second and third parts to the family ten years later. A masterpiece on family, human relationships and the passage of time.

Ema the Captive Cover Image
By César Aira, Chris Andrews (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780811219105
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Directions - December 6th, 2016


The highly imaginative (and equally prolific) Cesar Aira writes some of the strangest and most illuminating novels around. EMA THE CAPTIVE was only the second of his seventy-plus novels to be published in Spanish and, now in English, it’s easily my favorite. Picture a South American Western. Picture the Pampas of Argentina during the 1700’s. Picture a brave and stoic woman of mixed heritage (the novel’s namesake). There is majesty in this novel. There is history. There are scenes and visions of fantastic imagination. Ema is a woman who learns to survive on not just her beauty but her wits. A gorgeous book that reads like a history lesson from an invented past. Anyone who wants to read for escape but not feel cheated, this gem is a perfect choice.

Thus Bad Begins: A novel Cover Image
By Javier Marias, Margaret Jull Costa (Translated by)
ISBN: 9781101946084
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Knopf - November 1st, 2016


Anyone who knows me knows how much I love Javier Marias. He’s probably my favorite living writer. His works are smart, sexy and philosophical. He’s an expert at creating a sense of danger and letting it hover over what can be a slow-moving story, literally for hundred of pages. Imagine if Proust or Henry James wrote a James Bond, plot-driven novel. This novel takes place in Madrid in the 80s and hits upon some of Marias’ favorite themes: secrets, betrayal and the responsibility of knowing too much. An unhappy marriage is seen through the eyes of a young man during the La Movida, the period just after Franco’s death when Spain was having a renewed period of freedom and hedonism. Secrets are discovered and the young man must decide what to do with the knowledge. There is eavesdropping, men with eyepatches, and dozens of passages you want to read over and over just to savor the language as well as the lucid translation by Margaret Jull Costa. THUS BAD BEGINS is an amazing novel, on par, I think, with some of Marias’ best.

What's Keaton Recommending for Christmas?

The Voynich Manuscript Cover Image
By Raymond Clemens (Editor), Deborah E. Harkness (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780300217230
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Yale University Press - November 1st, 2016

El Paso: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781631492242
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Liveright - October 4th, 2016

The Lyrics: 1961-2012 Cover Image
ISBN: 9781451648768
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Simon & Schuster - November 1st, 2016

Ode to a Poet: An Interview with Sharon Olds

It’s hard to intimidate me. But give the universe a dare, and it will call your bluff. This past week, I drove Andrés Neuman to the airport and spoke on the phone with Sharon Olds. Can anxiety be measured? In my car, the memory of Neuman digging in his fanny pack for his glasses to help with directions; at the bookstore, hiding behind a case pack of alkaline water in the back office while the line connects Texas to New York.

Odes Cover Image
ISBN: 9780451493620
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Knopf - September 20th, 2016

ODES, published in September this year (four years after STAG’S LEAP), is just that, odes on everything from her sister to her whiteness, from tampons to the penis. In other words, the opposite of STAG’S LEAP, but is it a joke?

“The way it works for me, which is not the way it works for every poet, is that I don’t write books,” Olds says, “I write poems.” She writes them all in “a grocery store notebook” with a ballpoint pen, wide lines. She writes them all out, one at a time, by hand because ink is “not percussive like hitting piano keys, like typing is,” and “my thumbs are too big to dance on that little screen, on my phone.”

After five years, give or take, she goes through the “collection” she’s created, to see if it is enough or if any threads emerge. During the writing process, she might type some of them up, but not all of them, and even that step is more of a thinking-through. The transition from page to screen is not just transcription, but an editing process.

“Once I type it up, I change it for the better, I hope,” she says. In the case of STAG’S LEAP, she “tried to rewrite each one to get it right.” When arranged in chronological order of events, the poems told a story, and that story became the book.

“I write poems,” she says. “That’s what I do.”

We talk for a minute about her teaching, but after that, she wants to know if there’s anything else I’d like to ask about, any subject. And it’s hard because I do have one question, but it’s not one I think is smart or even fair to ask. It’s a question I have for her not as a faux journalist or fellow poet but as a human being. Olds waves her hand at me with her voice and says that I am free to ask her anything; it’s her choice whether or not she would like to answer.

Again, I did not think that this moment would ever materialize so when it does, the words come out like a postcard she might receive from an elementary school student: “Are you still sad?” She pauses for a moment, intrigued that I think of STAG’S LEAP as a sad book, then offers this: “It seems to me that each of us in a lifetime has some real mourning to do.”

Already, she goes on to say, “Children have things to mourn!” but I am so moved by her first answer, this idea that grief is not a punishment but a task that each of us completes, a thing that no one escapes. Somehow, it makes it smaller and larger, at the same time. “Citizens of this country are in a time of fear and mourning,” she says, “and fear of future mourning.”

If STAG’S LEAP has a thesis, it is this: “Sadness and anger are just as important as joy and happiness.” When she says it, it’s so simple, and not a concept that I think anyone would dispute, but Olds wrote it out regardless, in a book that is not meek, maudlin, or morose. It captures a time, this ugly awful time, and paints it as just that: layered. It says, “You are allowed,” the way that Olds says to me now despite the distance between us, in years and miles.

For ODES, Olds says, “There isn’t a test. There isn’t a correct amount of humor to respond to.” Instead, “it’s meant to be a gift.” Not a free one, of course—“that’s how I can afford to pay my rent,” she says—but “what I care about is that you have whatever experience is right for you about the book. We want each other to get whatever each of us can get out of what we give each other in a work of art.”

I was promised fifteen minutes with Olds but she gave me twenty. Before I had even dialed the number, I knew that her other callers slated for her afternoon may well be The New Yorker or The Atlantic, somewhere—someone—more worthy. However, she uses our last minute to ask if there is one more, anything else that I would regret not saying if she were to hang up now, and that kindness and generosity is so pure that I can only say no and thank her for taking the time that she did. She says she is looking forward to meeting me, we say goodbye, and here come the tears.

Annalia Luna is currently the shipping & receiving manager at Brazos Bookstore, and a contributor at HTML Giant. She earned her B.A. in Literature & Music from Butler University. Her work has been published or is forthcoming at The Rumpus, Ploughshares, Literary Hub, & Heavy Feather Review. She lives & writes in Houston, TX

Cooking with the Brazos Staff

Let’s face it: many of you reading this right now will have to do a LOT of cooking in the next couple months. Yes, the holidays can be wonderful, with all the family gatherings, but the kitchen usually sits menacingly at the center of these pleasantries. What to do? We’ll help you through it!

Come browse our new cooking display, which features books like LITTLE FLOWER BAKING, HOME COOKED, and the always popular Ina Garten’s COOKING FOR JEFFREY. Brazos is here to help you freshen up your recipes and maybe find some new favorites!

Chickpeas: Sweet and Savory Recipes from Hummus to Dessert Cover Image
ISBN: 9781623540746
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Imagine - February 2nd, 2016

I love chickpeas in all forms! Hot, cold, whole, ground into dips, concentrated into tahini. This cute slim cookbook has everything from hummus to Mediterranean tangine. However, the recipes are simple (no treatises here), use fresh ingredients, and don't require a separate closet for your spices. My favorite recipe is the phyllo triangles with chickpeas, feta, and parsley. Using phyllo dough sheets, they are quick, easy to make in bulk, and freeze well! I recommend CHICKPEAS for enthusiasts, home cooks, and beginners alike.
—Annalia (Bookseller and Shipping Clerk)

The Tacos of Texas Cover Image
ISBN: 9781477310434
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: University of Texas Press - September 20th, 2016

Who doesn’t love tacos? A tortilla. A filling or two. A little spice…or not. Roll it up. Enjoy. One of the world’s best portable meals. I’ve eaten tacos all over Texas--from the basic breakfast tacos at food trucks to the fancier ones at Mexican restaurants (including tacos al pastor at the Navigation Ninfas, and the fabulous puffy tacos of San Antonio) to the crazy creative ones from Torchy’s, which I fell in taco love with when it was still just an Austin thing, started as a food truck on South 1st Street. And whatever non-taco tater tot and sunnyside up egg thing that one of my Brazos colleagues just ordered from Velvet Taco and arrived from those Uber Eats elves… And dozens of tacos in between, especially culinary fusion ones that fit so well here in Houston. A long way from the grease bombs that we would get at Jack in Box at 2 am when I was a student at Northwestern--three for a dollar and this weird textural mix of sort of crunchy, sort of soggy, sort of beef, but obviously sort of not. (I loved those things. Don’t judge.)

So of course I was immediately drawn to THE TACOS OF TEXAS in our cookbook section. Written by Mando Rayo and Jarod Neece, it’s both history and recipes and lots and lots of pictures of yummy, yummy tacos in all their incarnations. I love this book. I even love the chapter on page 288 where Carmen Tafolla, the State Poet Laureate of Texas waxes poetic about bean and cheese tacos and handmade corn tortillas.

Me? I’ll be trying out the recipe for shrimp po-boy tacos on page 286.
—Joy (Children’s Specialist)

Appetites: A Cookbook Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062409959
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Ecco - October 25th, 2016

Just on the coolness factor alone, I have to go with Anthony Bourdain’s most recent cookbook, APPETITES: A COOKBOOK. Not only is the book packed with great recipes like eggs Benedict and chicken salad, but it’s also filled with anecdotes from Bourdain’s life, not as a celebrity chef or world traveler, but as a father. From sandwiches and salads to hamburgers and pasta, this is a very accessible book and filled with humorous and world-weary wisdom.
—Mark (Store Manager)

Anna Mae's Mac n Cheese Cover Image
ISBN: 9780224101219
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Random House UK - November 1st, 2016

It may sound a little silly—a cookbook solely for mac n cheese? Sure, it’s a timeless dish beloved by busy moms, picky kids, and shiftless bachelors like myself. But it’s also gaining momentum as a hip re-imagined street food, as the popularity of Anna Mae’s “Legendary London Food Truck” can attest.

MAC N CHEESE would make a great gift or conversation book alone, since it’s full of great photos and hipster-punny humor—some of my favorite recipe names are Cheesus Loves You, F*ck Yoga, Macgic Mushroom, Lil’ Kimchi, and the Glastonbrie. It’s a practical recipe book, too—it begins with a recipe for their easily-made and easily-customized Starter Sauce—and shrugs off giving any heavy-handed directives: “Use elbow macaroni or don’t; spend a bomb on fancy fromage or just use the supermarket stuff… it’s up to you.” The individual recipes themselves are a delight, simply written and easy to follow, full of inspiration and, well, cheese. What’s not to love?
—Lydia (Event Coordinator)

Death & Co: Modern Classic Cocktails, with More than 500 Recipes Cover Image
ISBN: 9781607745259
Availability: Backordered
Published: Ten Speed Press - October 7th, 2014

The invention of the craft cocktail matters not as to who the inventor was, right? What matters is who perfected it and the experience. This NYC bar is spreading the history of the cocktail, explaining the chemistry and adding customer stories about their regulars. Want a page on glassware with diagrams? Want to know what “needs a bump” means when you say it to a bartender? This book’s information and recipes will make a true connoisseur out of any reader, as well as make them appreciate the bartenders out there perfecting their craft.
—Molly (Bookseller)

Persiana: Recipes from the Middle East & Beyond Cover Image
ISBN: 9781566569958
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Interlink Books - January 20th, 2015

To say that I have marked this cookbook to make it look like a rainbow from the beginning to the end would be an understatement. Ghayour makes making Persian food not only a great experience but she has transformed this recipes easy for even the novice cook to understand.

My go-to recipe out of this wonderful cookbook as well as the most requested meal is the Saffron & Lemon Chicken recipe. It is amazing how just a few ingredients can make sure a delicious meal. Hint: marinating the chicken overnight makes a world of difference.
—Ülrika (Gift Buyer)

New Signed Books

Here's a sample of the signed books we have in-store right now. Supplies of signed books are limited and first come, first served!

The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels Cover Image
ISBN: 9780399589812
Availability: Backordered
Published: Random House - May 8th, 2018

Calypso Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316392389
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Little, Brown and Company - May 29th, 2018

Hurricane Season: The Unforgettable Story of the 2017 Houston Astros and the Resilience of a City Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316485241
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Hachette Books - May 1st, 2018

Ticker: The Quest to Create an Artificial Heart Cover Image
ISBN: 9780804138000
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Crown - August 7th, 2018

It's Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration Is Doing to America Cover Image
ISBN: 9781501174162
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Simon & Schuster - January 16th, 2018

How Do We Look: The Body, the Divine, and the Question of Civilization Cover Image
ISBN: 9781631494406
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Liveright - September 4th, 2018

Proud: My Fight for an Unlikely American Dream Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316518963
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Hachette Books - July 24th, 2018

Sanpaku Cover Image
ISBN: 9781684152100
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Archaia - August 21st, 2018

The New Inheritors Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802128171
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Grove Press - July 10th, 2018

Warlight: A novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525521198
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Knopf - May 8th, 2018

Lake Success: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780812997415
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Random House - September 4th, 2018

Clock Dance: A novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525521228
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Knopf - July 10th, 2018

How to Walk Away: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250149060
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: St. Martin's Press - May 15th, 2018

French Exit: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062846921
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Ecco - August 28th, 2018

Lion Cross Point Cover Image
By Masatsugu Ono, Angus Turvill (Translator)
ISBN: 9781931883702
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Two Lines Press - April 10th, 2018

Gifts Spotlight: Journals

There are many uses for what we affectionately call a journal. I, for one, have and continue to use a journal for logging notes, keeping track of my orders for the store, and occasionally trying (without much success) to use a guided journal. Many people have very strong feelings about the uses for their journal: To some, it is the keeper of all things personal. To others, it is the place they list the books they have read and for others a place to list favorite new restaurants.

The 52 Lists Project: A Year of Weekly Journaling Inspiration Cover Image
ISBN: 9781632170347
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Sasquatch Books - September 8th, 2015

Working in a bookstore and working with several of our Kids Specialists, I wanted to find something that would fit between the guided journals for adults and the ones we carry for Middle Grade kids. What I discovered was WRITE HERE, WRITE NOW. One of the main things that drew me to this guided journal, outside of the quirky prompts, was that it created a place where you could draw, explore and really have some fun with the journal, all while being creative.

Write Here, Write Now Cover Image
ISBN: 9781452129396
Availability: Backordered
Published: Chronicle Books - August 18th, 2015

I know that there are strong feelings on the topic of guided journals and their place in the world of journalling, but with all of the choices out there, this is just a sample of what is available.

Mexican Literature, Past and Present

Mexican writers, both alive and dead, have a way of honoring the past. In celebration of The Day of the Dead we bring you Day of the Read, highlighting two great Mexican writers of the past and two from the present who reflect a great tradition of storytelling.

Pedro Paramo (Letras Hispanicas #189) Cover Image
ISBN: 9788437604183
Availability: Backordered
Published: Lectorum Publications - October 1st, 1989

Juan Rulfo
Considered by many to be the beginning of modern literature in Mexico, Juan Rulfo’s small body of work (a slim a novel, a slim story collection) are made all the more powerful by their sheer influence and originality. Writer’s as far-ranging as Cormac McCarthy and Yuri Herrera can be found in the style and settings of Rulfo’s writing. His single novel, PEDRO PARAMO, tells the story of a young man who travels to his recently deceased mother’s hometown to locate his father, only to find himself in a ghost town, literally; a city populated by specters from the past. Strange and surreal, and highly modern, this novel will have you reaching for his short story collection, THE PLAIN IN FLAMES, another masterpiece.

The Labyrinth of Solitude Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802150424
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press - January 12th, 1994

Octavio Paz
If Mexico has a national poet it’s Octavio Paz, whose influence resonated throughout the 20th century. So influential, in fact, his work was translated by the likes of Samuel Beckett and Elizabeth Bishop. His poetry crossed many styles but much of it was considered surrealist. His book-length essay, THE LABYRINTH OF SOLITUDE, is a polyphonic work that speaks from the mouths of the Mexican people. Paz observes that solitude is responsible for the Mexican's perspective on death and identity.

Staff Pick Badge
Faces in the Crowd Cover Image
ISBN: 9781566893541
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Coffee House Press - May 13th, 2014

Valeria Luiselli
As quirky and contemporary as she is innovative, Valeria Luiselli is also a Mexican author who examines the past. Her debut novel, FACES IN THE CROWD, is replete with dead Mexican poets and ghosts, while themes of identity and displacement drift throughout. Her most recent novel, THE STORY OF MY TEETH, not only takes place in Mexico City, but was an art project in collaboration with Jumex juice factory, whose employees would read chapters of the book as a group and make comments to send back to Luiselli. Her books are an astonishing look at what’s possible by looking both forward and back.

Signs Preceding the End of the World Cover Image
By Yuri Herrera, Lisa Dillman (Translator)
ISBN: 9781908276421
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: And Other Stories - March 10th, 2015

Yuri Herrera
Herrera’s novels take place on the border of Mexico and the United States, but far from realism, his novels are slim, artful and fantastic tales that carry a weight much heavier than their 100-page sizes suggest. SIGNS PRECEDING THE END OF THE WORLD and THE TRANSMIGRATION OF BODIES are both excellent examples of the possibility of merging highly contemporary issues (immigration, violence, drugs) with eternal themes of identity, family and what it means to be Mexican. His third book, in a disconnected trilogy, will be published next year.

Staff Chat: The Horror.... The Horror...

The Books: Spooky stories, new and old
The Plots: No spoilers, but monsters, killer clowns, zombies and haunted places figure prominently
The Chatters: Keaton Patterson (Buyer), Lydia Melby (Events Coordinator)

K: All right so here we are to discuss the horror genre, because it’s that most wonderful time of the year.

Frankenstein: Or, The Modern Prometheus (Restless Classics) Cover Image
By Francine Prose (Introduction by), Mary Shelley
ISBN: 9781632060785
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Restless Books - June 14th, 2016

L: Oh yeah, that’s a good one.

K: I could read it over and over again. It’s new every time, and it’s classic gothic horror, but it’s got a psychological aspect that a lot of literature at that time didn't have. It was very modern in that sense, and that’s always been what I really gravitate towards, this horror of the mind more than the good ol’ blood and guts.

L: Yeah and I think FRANKENSTEIN does a lot with the far-reaching consequences that you don’t always see a lot of, even in modern horror. You know you have the monster coming at you, or the moment where something jumps out at you and it’s all very present and immediate, but in FRANKENSTEIN the monster is haunting him and keeps coming back—it’s this one choice he made that he’ll never get away from, it just keeps coming back and you have this building, hopeless dread that’s really perfectly done.

I never got into Stephen King though. I have a lot of friends whose taste I trust who rave about him and always talk about that feeling they miss of sitting in the treehouse or on the basement couch and reading King, but I think you have to get into his stuff at the right part of your life, when you’re a kid or a teenager because I’ve tried to come back to him as an adult since he’s kind of a mainstay of this genre I love, but I just can’t get into him. But I have to say, it’s not very welcoming for readers outside of what you’d generally think of as your regular horror crowd—women, people of color, queer people. So, I’ve always wanted to have that experience of reading King for the first time that I’ve heard people talk about, but I’ve never found it.

K: For me, it’s his short stories and novellas where he really excels, like FOUR PAST MIDNIGHT. His short stories are always on another level as far as his writing goes. But he writes so much—he throws out books all the time that aren’t always good, but he’s got some real classics too. MISERY is maybe the first novel I read that really frightened me. IT, not the book but the original miniseries with Tim Curry, that gave me nightmares for at least a couple of weeks. Killer clowns, you know, they’re always freaky.

But King was really more of a springboard for me—his book were what I read first and he’s always great for introducing you to other writers too. It was from King that I learned about Clive Barker and H.P. Lovecraft, and started reading more of the horror tradition, and then I found FRANKENSTEIN and that was all she wrote.

Of all the genres though, I think horror gets the short end of the stick most of the times. It’s really not considered literary, and other genres get that too, like science fiction. I think of genre literature as sort of like poetry—you can have poetry that’s free-form, or you can have poems that are very defined by their form, like a villanelle or a haiku. And that’s how I see genre, as writing with constraints, writing within a designated form, and then of course you can stretch that form or play with it, break it, subvert it however you want. And that’s when you really get the genius writing I think.

But horror really is a wonderful genre, to investigate the unknown and unnamable, what we don't like to deal with or talk about, whether that’s the things that go bump in the night or the possibility that your next-door neighbor may be a serial killer.

L: I agree, I think a lot of other genres like science fiction or fantasy or mystery, people give them more grace, saying “well this counts as literary instead of genre, we can call this literature and teach it in schools” and I think a lot of that goes back to the purpose. For example, the purpose of writing and reading sci-fi has always been to push the boundaries of what we know, to satirize or to reflect present society in this future world, and people can see value in that. But what’s the intended purpose of horror? Why do we read it? Are we just gratifying our basic nature, do we just want to see whatever gross darkness is inside us thrown against this dark mirror? Is it cathartic? It’s pretty indulgent a lot of the time, but there is a purpose to it after all.

K: There’s definitely a level of catharsis in reading horror. I think people naturally have a desire to face their fears, at least to understand them. And there’s a purpose in that. And also with horror as well as sci-fi, I like what you were saying about how the purpose is satirizing or making a social commentary about our world. I think horror and science fiction especially really allow for that to a greater degree that straightforward, realistic literature.

L: Yeah, those “Serious” books.

K: Take Colson Whitehead’s great zombie apocalypse novel that came out a couple years ago, ZONE ONE.

Zone One Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307455178
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Anchor - July 10th, 2012

It’s a tremendous horror novel, but it’s also an allegory for gentrification. He could have approached that in so many ways, there are a lot books on the subject I’ve read—John Lancaster’s CAPITAL pops into my mind—that are straightforwardly about gentrification as a social issue.

But there’s something a little more affecting when you throw the living dead in there, and now you have to go clean them out to build your new shining city.

L: That’s a good point. Something you said earlier too that I wanted to come back to was that you tend to gravitate more towards the horror of the mind. I do that as well, like if I want to something scary or horrific, I don't always pick up the “monster” books, even though I love a good monster here and there. But there’s something more terrifying and haunting about the monster being in your mind, and being something you don't know if or when you’ll ever get away from it.

Something my friend and I were talking about recently as we were watching another great “monster” show, Stranger Things. He was saying that he thought it was decently scary until somewhere around the fourth episode I think when you finally get a good look at the monster, this really well-put together CGI monster who has no face. Spoiler alert, I guess. And from then on, it becomes more of an adventure story, where the characters are venturing into this sort of underworld, and it’s still a really well-written story, but it’s not scary anymore.

Once you’ve seen the monster and you’ve seen it has a physical form, it’s not as frightening anymore. It’s like, ok we’ve seen it, we can try to figure out how to kill it, but even if it’s right behind me or hiding there in the shadows, we know where it is.

Whereas if you look at something more psychological—and here’s where I have to bring up Dan Chaon—if you look at something like Dan Chaon’s collection STAY AWAKE or his new book ILL WILL coming out in March, you see those “monsters” don't exist in the real world. They’re much harder to escape.

Ill Will: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780345476043
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Ballantine Books - March 7th, 2017

K: I think also that not seeing the object of horror, the object of fear, really heightens that experience and makes the terror more potent. Another cinematic example is Spielberg’s JAWS. You barely see the shark in that movie—they didn't plan it that way, it’s because the shark broke and they couldn't get it to work half the time.

L: But it’s a much better movie because of that!

K: Right, it’s much scarier because you can see the shark, you just know it’s lurking there in the water under you where you can’t see it. But really what people fear more than anything is the unknowable, the thing they can’t quite name. Facing that is really the point of horror, I think.

One of the best examples of this horror of the mind is Shirley Jackson. We’re celebrating her 100th birthday this year so it’s fitting to mention her, but I really think THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE is really the height of that sort of horror. The title says it’s a haunted house book, but really it takes place inside the characters’ minds and the reader is just watching people go crazy, little by little, and it’s truly frightening.

L: That’s a great example, I really love Shirley Jackson. I actually just read WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE for the first time last year, and that’s another great example of a horror story that bends the usual tropes.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle: (Penguin Orange Collection) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143129547
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Penguin Classics - October 18th, 2016

If you’re paying attention as you read, you know who the murderer is, who the real monster in this story is, from the first few chapters. You have a classic set up, with this narrator who’s twelve or thirteen with a sweet, naïve voice, whose best friend is a cat and who lives in an isolated, rotting old mansion with her sister and dying uncle, and the town hates them because of their tragic past. And then the stranger comes to town, and then there’s complications, but you start to realize the monster in the story has manufactured this situation, and for the entire book you’re watching her just tighten her grip. You realize there really is no escape, and when you get to the end of the book, the thing you thought would happen happens, but it’s amazing watching it.

K: And it takes so much skill to do that, to let the reader know at the beginning how it’ll turn out, but still keep them riveted, that’s real talent.

L: She’s the queen.

K: There’s a lot of really great new stuff coming out that I’ve stumbled across that has really blown me away. COLLAPSE OF HORSES by Brian Evenson is a stellar collection of horror and scifi and other surreal stories. BLOOD CRIME was really great too—have you heard of that?

Blood Crime Cover Image
By Sebastia Alzamora, Martha Tennent (Translated by), Maruxa Relano (Translated by)
ISBN: 9781616956288
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Soho Crime - September 13th, 2016

L: I have but haven’t gotten to read it yet.

K: It’s this riveting Spanish Civil War era vampire story, with elements of a detective thriller mixed in. This vampire, not your typical sort of just undead guy but an immortal being of pure evil, is taking advantage of the chaos and bloodshed of the civil war to kill people and add to the horror. If you read the first page and you’re not sucked in, it’s probably because you don’t have a soul, because this monster just ate it.

L: Ha! Yeah, you’re one of the dead already.

K: I also love when the author works in a good deal of comedy too, like in that new book, MY BEST FRIEND’S EXORCISM—this totally 80s exorcism that hilarious at points. He wrote that HORRORSTOR book too, that IKEA store book.

My Best Friend's Exorcism: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781594748622
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Quirk Books - May 17th, 2016

L: A haunted store is such a perfect extension of the haunted house story, I’m so glad that book exists.

K: I think it’s also a good point to make, that horror is a genre with constraints and tropes, but it’s also very expansive, you can stretch and subvert those tropes in all sorts of different ways. There’s always something new to be afraid of.

From Shame to Strength: An Interview with Monica Youn

There are exceptions to everything but for the most part, living artists are the be all, end all for me. I like the connection and contradiction between a piece of art and the person behind it. The only type of surprise I savor: the one where somewhere in Houston, I am waiting to hear the speaking voice of a writer I don’t know.

Blackacre: Poems Cover Image
ISBN: 9781555977504
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Graywolf Press - September 6th, 2016

Monica Youn will read in store on Friday, November 4 at 7PM.

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