Book Lists

This category is for lists of books (example: Top 10 Books for Summer Reading)

World Masterpieces: Mark's Book List

What makes a masterpiece a masterpiece? Who can say? But surely books that have survived, no, thrived through the ages, created different outlooks and/or discussions and shown new ways of seeing the world must be a prerequisite. Often a literature is created simply out of the book itself; studies and dissertations and so on. But what about the book itself? Here are just a few books that we consider masterpieces of the world, books we've been highlighting this past month at the store. Don’t see Kafka or Garcia Marquez, Baldwin or Tolstoy?

Moby-Dick: or, The Whale Cover Image
By Herman Melville, Andrew Delbanco (Introduction by), Tom Quirk (Commentaries by)
$16.00
ISBN: 9780142437247
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Penguin Classics - December 31st, 2002

Although I spent my younger years resenting this book, if one reads it at the proper age (anytime after 30) it will usually click. It's strange, biblical and postmodern in every way. You want a modern book? Pick up MOBY DICK. The trials of a sea captain, Ishmael and a cast of others are really just vehicles in this philosophical whirlwind that dissects humanity, religion and the color white. And that's just for starters. Years later it is still one of the greatest reading experiences of my life.


Don Quixote Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9780060934347
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Ecco - April 26th, 2005

What many consider to be the very first novel. It is funny, charming and self-aware. A book about books and reading and the madness of imagination. There are lots of translations, but Esther Allen's is lucid, heartfelt and moves at a quick pace. Don't be intimidated by its size; the small, episodic chapters make the book swim by.


The Handmaid's Tale: A Novel Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9780385490818
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor - March 16th, 1998

Prophetic and, sadly, very timely, Atwood's dystopian world is fully formed and haunting. It boldly discusses women in subjugation and the fight for individualism in a world under totalitarianism. Read the book for the incredible writing and haunting moral questions. Read it to become aware.


The Magic Mountain (Vintage International) Cover Image
$19.95
ISBN: 9780679772873
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - October 1st, 1996

Largely considered to be one of the most influential works of 20th century German literature, THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN is a large, breathtaking and surprisingly funny read. Don't get me wrong, it has its heavy themes - war, illness, time - but it's also highly readable. Largely taking place in a sanatorium, the novel mixes realistic elements with symbolism, leaving it for the reader to discern the meaning (and humor) behind the action (or inaction) taking place. This novel is a major achievement.


To the Lighthouse Cover Image
$14.99
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

Not all masterpieces come in 500-page plus tomes. Some are able to sneak in and grab the reader in just 100 pages, changing their lives forever. TO THE LIGHTHOUSE is a slim, modernist novel that takes place over two periods of time, and is divided into three sections. It largely eschews dialogue and action, but is packed with internal, philosophical introspection. The stream-of-consciousness style is difficult for some readers, but Woolf is a genius and her words fairly glow from the page. A book that deals with time, memory and human experience; it accomplishes more in less than 200 pages than most books approaching 1,000.


Pulitzer Prize Winners for 2017

Staff Pick Badge
The Underground Railroad (Pulitzer Prize Winner) (National Book Award Winner) (Oprah's Book Club): A Novel Cover Image
$27.95
ISBN: 9780385542364
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Doubleday - August 2nd, 2016

Fiction Winner

Finalists: Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett & The Sport of Kings by C.E. Morgan


Sweat (Tcg Edition) Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781559365321
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Theatre Communications Group - June 13th, 2017

Drama Winner

Finalists: A 24-Decade History of Popular Music by Taylor Mac & The Wolves by Sarah DeLappe


The Return (Pulitzer Prize Winner): Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780812994827
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Random House - July 5th, 2016

Biography/Autobiography Winner

Finalists: In the Darkroom by Susan Faludi & When Breath Becomes Air by the late Paul Kalanithi


Olio Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9781940696201
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Wave Books - April 5th, 2016

Poetry Winner

Finalists: Collected Poems 1950-2012 by the late Adrienne Rich & XX: Poems for the Twentieth Century by Campbell McGrath


Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780553447453
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Crown - February 28th, 2017

General Nonfiction Winner

Finalists: In A Different Key: The Story of Autism by the John Donovan and Caren Zucker & The Politics of Mourning: Death and Honor in Arlington National Cemetery by Micki McElya

 


 

We extend a hearty congratulations to Joe Holley and Evan Mintz of the Houston Chronicle, finalists for Editorial writing in Journalism, as well as the Houston Chronicle itself, finalist for Public Service in Journalism.


Labor History and Feminist Horror: Women's History Book Lists

As we wrap up Women's History Month, I sat down with two local women who shape our city to get a sense of the books that drive their practices. Though these texts aren't always classics, they add to a feminist oevre in ways that contextualize the next generation's changing representations of gender, sexuality, and community involvement. I am thrilled to see locals of Houston responding to city-wide and national concerns in new, creative ways. Here, two women who work directly to change labor rights and creative act booking practices through art and activism.

Staff Pick Badge
Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza, Fourth Edition Cover Image
$25.95
ISBN: 9781879960855
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Aunt Lute Books - June 12th, 2012

The Fire Next Time (Vintage International) Cover Image
$13.95
ISBN: 9780679744726
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - December 1st, 1992

Out: A Thriller (Vintage International) Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781400078370
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Vintage - January 4th, 2005

The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap Cover Image
$22.99
ISBN: 9780465098835
Availability: Backordered
Published: Basic Books - March 29th, 2016

The Flamethrowers: A Novel Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781439142011
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Scribner - January 14th, 2014

Why Vegan is the New Black: More than 100 Delicious Meat and Dairy Free Meal Ideas Your Whole Family Will Love Cover Image
By Deborrah Cooper, Deborrah Cooper (Photographer)
$24.99
ISBN: 9780990971382
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Deborrah Cooper - October 28th, 2014

The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory (Bloomsbury Revelations) Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9781501312830
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Bloomsbury Academic - October 22nd, 2015

Swallow the Fish Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781937865795
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Civil Coping Mechanisms - February 22nd, 2017

Milk and Honey Cover Image
$14.99
ISBN: 9781449474256
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Andrews McMeel Publishing - October 6th, 2015

Buyer Spotlight - Romantic Gifts for February

February is the month of flowers, candy, gifts, and cards. Outside of a few friends’ birthdays, I have always associated February with Valentine’s Day. This month, I am compiling my five favorite gift items—gifts that are not only great throughout the year, but would also make wonderful gifts during this month.

And the Winners Are...

We’ve told you about our 2016 #BrazosBest picks. We’ve all run down our individual top ten lists. But now, one final list to end of the year: the books that affected us the most, whether new releases or classics. We asked each member of our staff one simple question: What book did you read in 2016 that you’ll remember the best, that sums up the year?

2016 has been, um, complicated, for many reasons, but these books helped us get through the ups and downs.

2666: A Novel Cover Image
By Roberto Bolaño, Natasha Wimmer (Translated by)
$27.00
ISBN: 9780312429218
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Picador - September 1st, 2009

An immersive and inscrutable masterpiece that is hands down one of the single best reading experiences of my life.
Keaton


Staff Pick Badge
Bluets Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781933517407
Availability: Backordered
Published: Wave Books - October 1st, 2009

I came to Nelson late, but just in time. In a year that often felt dumb, despairing, and claustrophobic, Nelson reminded me that “humanity” is a word that should encompass and celebrate our differences, and that anti-intellectualism is bullshit: there’s no shame in being the smartest person in the room.
Ben


The Days of Abandonment Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781933372006
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Europa Editions - September 1st, 2005

Why has it taken me so long to read Ferrante?? I've been meaning to start the Neapolitan novels for months now but, intimidated by the volume, I chose to start with THE DAYS OF ABANDONMENT. What a ferocious, explosive novel! An instant classic for "nasty women" everywhere.
Augusta


A Field Guide to Getting Lost Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780143037248
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Penguin Books - June 27th, 2006

A book that assures you it’s okay to not know exactly where you’re headed—just enjoy the mystery of it all and learn to trust your instincts.
—Kevin


The Natural Way of Things Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781609453626
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Europa Editions - June 28th, 2016

There are novels that take you to places you don’t want to forget as well as books that never leave you and this book will continue to stay with you for some time.
Ulrika


News of the World: A Novel Cover Image
$22.99
ISBN: 9780062409201
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: William Morrow - October 4th, 2016

A great Texas novel, with perfectly drawn characters. Exciting, emotional, and authentic. You won't soon forget this NEWS OF THE WORLD.
Jeremy


The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth #2) Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780316229265
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Orbit - August 16th, 2016

This sharp-toothed follow-up to THE FIFTH SEASON gives us the same finely-polished mirror for our own broken society, set against the backdrop of a world in its death-throes, a civilization eating itself from the inside out. Jemisin’s dedication reads "To those who have no choice but to prepare their children for the battlefield"—a perfect beginning to the best book to read in this year's social and political climate.
Lydia


Stag's Leap: Poems Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780375712258
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Knopf - September 4th, 2012

When I asked Sharon Olds herself about this book during an interview for our website, she said, "Sadness and anger are just as important as joy and happiness." I don't think she meant important in that sadness and anger are emotions we should seek, the way we (many) pursue the others, but that they are just as valid, should we encounter them.
Annalia


Teacup Cover Image
By Rebecca Young, Matt Ottley (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9780735227774
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Dial Books - October 4th, 2016

The picture book TEACUP by Rebecca Young is not only beautiful but it also sums up 2016 for me both personally and as a citizen of the world because like the boy in the book, I feel we are all adrift, our teacups of home in our hands, weathering brutal storms, hoping to land safely, our internal compasses set for hope.
Joy


So Good Looking

We have a joke here at Brazos: some books are for readin’, and some books are for lookin’. The holiday season is a great time to browse some lookin’ books for people—the gorgeous books that people will keep on their coffee tables for friends and family to flip through at parties. Sometimes these books dovetail perfectly with somebody’s interests; other times, they’re just too beautiful to ignore. Here are some of our favorite lookin’ books of 2016, with some other gift items that’ll also spruce up your living room.

John Derian Picture Book Cover Image
$75.00
ISBN: 9781579656478
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Artisan - October 4th, 2016

John Derian is an artist who works from notions of home and domesticity, cultivating oldness and making it new. In this book, you get hundreds of pages of lovely, full-color images: horses, owls, strange faces, and household objects. This is our numero uno coffee table book of 2016, and your friends will love it!


Motown: The Sound of Young America Cover Image
Unavailable from Brazos Bookstore
ISBN: 9780500518298
Availability: Out of Print - Not Available for Order
Published: Thames & Hudson - September 13th, 2016

There is no overstating the importance of Berry Gordy’s Motown Records on pop music or American culture in general. This book is a celebration of that legacy, replete with numerous publicity materials and candid photos of some of the most important and influential musical artists of all time.


Three Centuries of American Prints Cover Image
$60.00
ISBN: 9780500239520
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Thames & Hudson - August 2nd, 2016

From colonial times to the latest in graphic art/design, this is the most comprehensive collection of reproducible art you will find. Beautiful, historic images in one gorgeous volume, this book is catnip for graphic designers. It’s an expensive book, but for the amount of time somebody will spend poring over it, a little money goes a long way.


The Vincent van Gogh Atlas Cover Image
$22.50
ISBN: 9780300222845
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Yale University Press - November 15th, 2016

All great artists grow and change over the years, and Van Gogh was no different. From rural Netherlands to the hustle and bustle of Paris and London, this affordable coffee table book covers his whole journey with engaging text and beautiful images. For the art geek in your life!


The Voynich Manuscript Cover Image
By Raymond Clemens (Editor), Deborah E. Harkness (Introduction by)
$50.00
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

A mysterious book? Surreal images? Strange text? THE VOYNICH MANUSCRIPT has been around for centuries, and nobody knows what it is. But a mystery is a compelling thing, and this book is a great “nerdy” home accessory, perfect to take out at parties and ask, “What the hell is this thing?”


Marimekko Large Cloth-covered Journal Cover Image
$19.95
ISBN: 9781452138794
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Chronicle Books - September 22nd, 2015

A great, unexpected notebook: whimsical, and a great size!


Brazos Best 2016

Yep, you got us: we love books here.

Get all ten of the 2016 Brazos Best featured titles for 20% off. Tax is included in the $140 price.


The Boy Who Stole Attila's Horse (Pushkin Collection) Cover Image
By Ivan Repila, Sophie Hughes (Translated by)
$16.00
ISBN: 9781782271017
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Pushkin Collection - November 24th, 2015

January: Ben and Mark, Down in the Well…

“It’s part fable, part allegory. There are two boys in the well, Big and Small. We don’t know why they’re there, but they can’t get out. It becomes a myth-like story of love, humanity, and the struggle to survive. With customers, I’ve called it ‘haunting and beautiful.’” —Mark


The Vegetarian: A Novel Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781101906118
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Hogarth - August 23rd, 2016

February: Lose Weight! Lose Your Mind

“Her dreams start off the whole thing of her becoming a vegetarian. And it’s creepy to watch her slip into madness and how her family reacts to that.”
—Ulrika


Staff Pick Badge
Margaret the First Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781936787357
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Catapult - March 15th, 2016

March: Intangible Consciousness: A Q&A with Danielle Dutton

“Dutton’s novel, almost a fictionalized diary, alternately in Margaret’s own voice or that of a detached observer watching this brilliant woman work, gives a gorgeous realism and immediacy to Margaret’s longings, cravings, and intellectual agonizing.”
—Liz


Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780312425845
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Picador USA - April 18th, 2006

April: Painting with Water on the Walls

“Well, there was no one Chernobyl experience. That’s what comes through. [This book seems] to capture the essence more than the historical structure of the event.”
—Keaton


Night Prayers Cover Image
By Santiago Gamboa, Howard Curtis (Translated by)
$18.00
ISBN: 9781609453114
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Europa Editions - March 1st, 2016

May: See the World with Santiago Gamboa's NIGHT PRAYERS

“For all the conversational tone, it’s a dense, complex novel, with a lot of points. And there’s always that sinister backdrop behind things. Things can get a lot worse really quickly.”
—Keaton


The Sadness Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781939419705
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Unnamed Press - June 14th, 2016

June: In Pursuit of the Real Benjamin Rybeck

“In my book, yes, a character named Max is obsessed with cinema to the point where it’s all he sees when he looks out into the world. I used to be that bad, but I’m not that bad anymore (I don’t think, though I do still sometimes imagine a camera tracking in front of me when I walk through the grocery store).”
—Ben


Grief Is the Thing with Feathers: A Novel Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9781555977412
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Graywolf Press - June 7th, 2016

July: Brazos Best is the Thing with Feathers

“It’s a polyvocal novel. It has a lot of different voices speaking in it. It’s also a very human story, and its universality lets you connect with it in the intense way you often connect with lyrical books. GRIEF IS THE THING WITH FEATHERS made me think a lot of poetry, especially whenever the boys speak—they seem to be in a Greek chorus. And the verbal acrobatics of the crow: very poetic.”
—Keaton


A Bestiary Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780996316743
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Cleveland State University Poetry Center - April 15th, 2016

August: Lily Hoang Does Not Sleep

“When I call Hoang, she knows that I have read her book, which means I know what kind of sex she likes (rough), the name of her best best friend (Dorothy), all of her hate (and love) for her Vietnamese parents. I know about her abusive ex-husband and her abusive on-again, off-again boyfriend, the fling she had in Albuquerque; I know that she masturbates every day. In other words, I already know everything I want to know, more than I deserve to know.”
—Annalia


Vampire in Love Cover Image
$14.95
ISBN: 9780811223461
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: New Directions - September 27th, 2016

September: Vila-Matas Stories Translated at Last

“Vila-Matas is one of the most celebrated writers in Europe. His work has been translated into over thirty languages. His novels, artful and experimental and mixed with a strong tradition of storytelling, are ideal for anyone who’s a fan of Paul Auster, J.M. Coetzee, or Roberto Bolaño.”
—Mark


The Gloaming Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781937512477
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Two Dollar Radio - September 20th, 2016

October: A Rock-n-Roll Indie Press

“It’s definitely a psychological thriller, all wrapped up in how people punish themselves, mentally as well as physically. And I love how the book occupies the sweet spot between intellectual heft and also just page-turning thrills.”
—Keaton


Augusta's List of Ten

I had a harder time than usual coming up with a top 10 list this year—Ülrika and I often trade our favorite books back and forth and have similar taste when it comes to gift items, so many of my favorites were the same ones that she has already discussed in her top 10. Fortunately, there were a lot of exciting things that came out this year, both books and gifts, and in no specific order, here are ten items that captivated my attention in 2016.

The Veins of the Ocean Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9780802124890
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Grove Press - May 3rd, 2016

I visited Key West with my family this past spring and this was the perfect book to take along for the trip. After a shocking act of violence and the subsequent aftermath that rocks Reina’s family, she struggles to rebuild her life and learn how to exist without her brother in the Florida Keys. She meets a Cuban immigrant, Nesto, and the two, scarred from painful remnants of their previous lives, develop a friendship, exquisitely rendered in Engel’s beautiful prose. The complexity of the characters and powerful descriptive language left this one lingering in my mind for months after I finished it.


Love and Ruin: Tales of Obsession, Danger, and Heartbreak from The Atavist Magazine Cover Image
By Evan Ratliff (Editor), Susan Orlean (Introduction by)
$16.95
ISBN: 9780393352719
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - July 26th, 2016

The Atavist magazine, to those who are unfamiliar, publishes one longform narrative nonfiction piece each month and has, previously, only been available in digital format. I was one of those who was unfamiliar with The Atavist but as a lover of good narrative storytelling, thought I would give LOVE AND RUIN, a collection of some of the best pieces from the website, a try. I am now a convert. The topics are diverse, the styles are wide ranging and like any good narrative nonfiction, the author starts off investigating a particular theme of interest but end up somewhere entirely different and unexpected. By deeply exploring one very specific fascination, the essayists end up speaking to the much larger universal human condition and I feel greatly enriched by their words. If there is one essay collection not to miss this year, this is the one.


The Mothers: A Novel Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780399184512
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Riverhead Books - October 11th, 2016

I find myself, over and over, gravitating towards debut novels, especially by women writers. I’m not sure if it’s the excitement of fresh voices wrangling the human experience or my desire to see women succeed and validated as capable of writing Literature, but with all the buzz around THE MOTHERS (and its beautifully designed cover), I knew it was one that I wanted to check out. It didn’t disappoint. Told by a chorus of voices, the narrative follows three African-American teenagers as they mature into adulthood and work through the interrelated complexities that life throws at them. Bennett possesses a perceptive and delicate approach to race, religion, family and love and I couldn’t put THE MOTHERS down. She has set the bar high with her debut and I can’t wait to read whatever comes next.


Appetites: A Cookbook Cover Image
$40.00
ISBN: 9780062409959
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Ecco - October 25th, 2016

I’ve always been a big fan of Bourdain’s attitude—towards food, towards life, towards cooking as a universal human experience. His latest cookbook is a more intimate look into where Bourdain is at this point in his life no longer the raucous, hard partying chef but a father and husband. The recipes are less focused on being of a particular style but more reflective of what he likes to make at home, with his daughter, for his family and friends. Some of the recipes are more complex than others, some don’t seem to fit a particular cuisine or style, but they all are representative of who Bourdain is, flaws and all, and that makes this all the more interesting. The awesome Ralph Steadman cover art doesn’t hurt either.


Vampire in Love Cover Image
$14.95
ISBN: 9780811223461
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: New Directions - September 27th, 2016

I am a recent convert to (and lover of) books in translation but I must admit: I had never read any Enrique Vila-Matas. Recently translated into English for the first time, this collection spans his whole career and was filled with gems. Intellectual and witty, I found myself laughing out loud in waiting rooms over these brilliant stories. If you are looking for a way to get into translated fiction, this collection by arguably one of Spain’s greatest writers is an enjoyable introduction.


Joy Picks Ten You May Have Missed

The thing about publishing is that not every book gets the publicity it needs or deserves. This is simply the way the business works, and it has little if anything to do with the quality of the writing and pretty much everything to do with months, if not years, of advance marketing decisions about what will sell the most copies and why. Even books that get a bigger push may still fly under readers’ radars.

Lion Island: Cuba's Warrior of Words Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781481461122
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Atheneum Books for Young Readers - August 30th, 2016

Set in Cuba in the nineteenth century, a time when the country was fighting for freedom from Spain, LION ISLAND is a middle-grade historical fiction novel-in-verse by award-winning author Margarita Engle. It’s the story of Antonio Chuffat and his journey to become an advocate of civil rights.

But it’s not just Antonio’s story. Told in multiple points of view, LION ISLAND starts in 1871, the year of the anti-Chinese riots in Los Angeles, and it’s also the story of Wing and Fan, a brother and sister who escaped those riots. It’s the tale of indentured servant and slaves and the overthrow of the Spanish sugar cane empire.

The verse format and multiple narrators makes this a page turner and a story set in a Cuba that few of us know makes it a must read for middle-graders who love history and based-on-truth stories. A great way to introduce social justice.


Lily and Dunkin Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780553536744
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Delacorte Books for Young Readers - May 3rd, 2016

From award-winning author Donna Gephart, LILY AND DUNKIN is a compelling dual narrative about two remarkable young people: Lily, a transgender girl, and Dunkin, a boy dealing with bipolar disorder. When they meet, their lives change forever. In lesser hands, this middle grade novel would digress into an “issues” book Instead, it’s powerfully crafted and a must-read for every middle-grader and adults, too.

And if you want to know more about Donna Gephart—and of course you do!—and how she’s also an amazing teacher of the craft of writing, check out this podcast from her time at Austin author Bethany Hegedus’s Writing Barn.


Just My Luck Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780062330659
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: HarperCollins - February 23rd, 2016

Oh how I love Cammie McGovern’s writing. She gets the complexities of teens and children, especially those struggling with illness, just right. I’m a huge fan of her young adult novel SAY WHAT YOU WILL. And now comes her middle grade debut—and it’s a gorgeous, moving book. There’s fourth grader Benny, whose life is sucking hugely. He doesn’t have a best friend and he wants one desperately. He can’t do tricks on his bike even though his autistic brother George can. And he’s worried that his dad’s recent accident might be his fault. And then things get worse. But Benny has a big heart and it’s going to help him get through tragedy and figure out that he was more to offer the world than he thinks he does.

McGovern’s writing is strong and sure and gentle. I am such a huge fan and I hope you will be, too! I’d recommend for age eight or nine on up, for readers who enjoy a quieter, thoughtful story.


Read Between the Lines Cover Image
$8.99
ISBN: 9780763691028
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Candlewick - October 11th, 2016

If you aren’t reading Jo Knowles’ amazingly crafted novels for young people, then you need to be. READ BETWEEN THE LINES came out in hardback last year, but is on our shelves now in paperback and so it’s a perfect time to become a fan of the author of such books as SEE YOU AT HARRY’S (one of my absolute favorites!) and more. RBTL is a novel—moving, gritty, unflinching, and humorous—of interlocking stories that follow nine teens and one teacher through a seemingly ordinary day. Everything begins with Nate, who, thanks to a bully in gym class, suffers a broken finger. Of course it’s the middle one and it’s splinted to give ‘the finger’ to the world. But that’s not the only middle finger that will be raised that day in that small town. The cover says it all. For age thirteen and up, particularly teens who like contemporary fiction.


The Great Shelby Holmes: Girl Detective Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781681190518
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Bloomsbury USA Childrens - September 6th, 2016

Just named to the Texas Library Association’s Bluebonnet List, this adorable middle-grade debut from internationally bestselling YA author Elizabeth Eulberg gives Sherlock Holmes a fun, sweet twist with delightful young heroes and black and white illustrations throughout. You’ll love this tale of Shelby Holmes, who is definitely not your average sixth grader, not only because she’s tiny and only nine years old but also because she is the best detective in Harlem! And when eleven-year-old John Watson (you knew that was coming, didn’t you?) moves in downstairs, they end up teaming together for a dognapping case. Friendship and mystery-solving ensue. For age ten and up, mystery lovers or not!


Afterward: A Novel Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781626722385
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Roaring Brook Press - September 20th, 2016

Friend of the store and one of our very favorite Houston authors of contemporary young adult fiction such as THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE, Jennifer Mathieu tells AFTERWARD, a wrenching story of the aftermath of a tragic kidnapping in her trademark steady, solid, and authentic teen voice. Like Donna Gephart’s work, Mathieu is able to elevate an “issue” book to something much deeper and more profound—a story of kidnapped and rescued Ethan and Dylan and Dylan’s older sister Caroline and the scary awful truths of what happened and how they will all get beyond it. As I mentioned when she made us all laugh with her reading of the BFG during Roald Dahl Day, I am such a huge fan of Mathieu’s work and you should be, too! A definite recommend for all teens, particularly those who enjoy stories inspired by real events.


A Fierce and Subtle Poison Cover Image
$17.95
ISBN: 9781616205218
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Algonquin Young Readers - April 12th, 2016

What more can you ask for in a debut novel than to be a stunning retelling of Hawthorne’s “Rapaccinni’s Daughter,” but set in Puerto Rico?  Dallas author Samantha Mabry’s A FIERCE AND SUBTLE POISON is a story where legends collide with reality when a boy is swept into the magical, dangerous world of a girl filled with poison. It’s stunning prose, magic realism, and star-crossed romance.

Everyone knows the legends about the cursed girl—Isabel, the one with green skin and grass for hair, who feeds on the poisonous plants that fill her family's Caribbean island garden. Some say she can grant wishes; some say her touch can kill. Seventeen-year-old Lucas is about to find out whether the stories are just stories, or maybe some strange kind of truth. But will he survive this weird new world? Mabry’s written a story on many levels—from fairy tale, to warning of cultural appropriation, to crazy love. For teens and up, especially readers who like something different and strange and wonderful.


More Happy Than Not Cover Image
$10.99
ISBN: 9781616956776
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Soho Teen - April 26th, 2016

MORE HAPPY THAN NOT debuted in 2015 and quickly hit the New York Times bestseller list while garnering numerous awards and starred reviews. It’s on our shelves this year in paperback with a gorgeous new cover and if you haven’t read this gritty, twisty, wrenching, set in a dangerous near-future New York, haven’t discovered Bronx native Adam Silvera, then now is a good time to do so! His voice is one of the most authentic of any author for young adults, and I don’t say that lightly. It’s the story of sixteen year old Aaron Soto, struggling to recover from his father’s suicide. He’s got support from his girlfriend and from his loving but overworked mom, but he’s also got sadness and a smile-shaped scar on his wrist. But when Aaron’s feelings for a new boy named Thomas turn into something he isn’t expecting, complications stir. And the existence of a shadowy hospital called the Leteo Institute offers the possibility of surgically altering painful memories. But the question becomes, Does Aaron want to forget, or has he already forgotten? An important read that confronts race and sexuality with unflinching honesty.


The Serpent King Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780553524024
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Crown Books for Young Readers - March 8th, 2016

Oh this story! Oh Jeff Zenter’s writing!! Oh THE SERPENT KING! This debut young adult novel is a story about friendship and family and forgiveness and casts an unflinching eye on growing up and finding your true self in the Bible Belt. It’s the story of the son of a Pentecostal minister, of extreme faith, of friendship and love and forgiveness. Like Zentner himself, it’s witty and funny and moving and different. Your teens will love it. So will you. And then you can all wait with me for March, 2017, when Zentner’s next YA novel, GOODBYE DAYS, arrives!!


The Memory of Things: A Novel Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781250095527
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: St. Martin's Griffin - September 6th, 2016

With the proliferation this year of 9/11 fiction, you might have missed this one. I’m here to tell you that you need to read it! THE MEMORY OF THINGS is a beautiful young adult novel of friendship and first love, and the impossible yet possible ability to carry on with day-to-day living in the midst of horrific, unspeakable tragedy. It’s a hopeful, wonderful, wholly original story about sixteen-year old Kyle Donohue, fleeing the danger of the falling towers by running to safety across the Brooklyn Bridge. But when he meets a girl covered in ash, inexplicably wearing a pair of costume wings, a mystery unravels along with tragedy and survival. For teens who want an unconventional love and survival story. Once they’ve read it, they’ll want to read Gae Polisner’s other titles, like THE SUMMER OF LETTING GO.


The Best Ten Books Lydia Hasn't Talked About Enough This Year

The title pretty much says it all: for someone who talks about books for a living (and for fun), I still have not managed to shout about these ten books enough. In an ideal world, it wouldn’t be considered socially unacceptable for me to wander the streets, asking if you’d heard the Good News about my current favorite book yet, and in an even more ideal world, I’d have an unlimited supply of these books to press feverishly into your hands.

Him, Me, Muhammad Ali Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781941411315
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Sarabande Books - October 11th, 2016

#10

Jarrar switches easily from the brightly whimsical to the painfully real in this collection following Arab and Arab-American women as they struggle through love, lust, and longing. Whether rooted in fable or realism, whether following the journey of an Egyptian woman grieving her father or a woman with mountain goat legs searching for love, these stories hold truth.


Private Citizens: A Novel Cover Image
$14.99
ISBN: 9780062399106
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: William Morrow Paperbacks - February 9th, 2016

#9

Knife-blade-sharp social satire with deft characterization (as well as deft caricaturization, if I may), this debut novel set in the Bay Area is the greatest Feel-Bad Read of the year. Deliciously mean-spirited in tone but refreshingly equal-opportunity in scope, Tulathimutte spares no one, eviscerating the self-righteous, the branding-obsessed, the insecure navel-gazer, and the narcissistic in turn. You might end up hating many of the characters you come across in the book, but you'll also find yourself groaning in empathy and—let's be honest—in painful recognition. Mostly, you’ll find yourself laughing and turning page after page.


Another Brooklyn: A Novel Cover Image
$22.99
ISBN: 9780062359988
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Amistad - August 9th, 2016

#8

The quiet coming-of-age story of four young black women "growing up Girl" in the frenetic, sharp-clawed Brooklyn of the 1970s. With her hazy, dreamlike narrative, her prose clear and resonant as struck crystal, Woodson perfectly evokes four talented girls scrabbling to take hold of their futures, trying to hold onto themselves and each other, filled with fear and despair and hope, so much hope.


Thrill Me: Essays on Fiction Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781555977597
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Graywolf Press - October 18th, 2016

#7

Equal parts personal essay and writing instruction, THRILL ME breaks away from Percy’s mountain-bear gruff-n-tuff persona to reveal the perfectionist nerd he really is—and writers and readers alike benefit from his generosity in doing so. Written with hilarity and clear-eyed, no-frills insight, THRILL ME is a quick read you’ll come back to again and again.


Cannibal (The Raz/Shumaker Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry) Cover Image
$17.95
ISBN: 9780803290631
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: University of Nebraska Press - September 1st, 2016

#6

A gorgeous, weighty debut collection, CANNIBAL explores Sinclair’s homeland of Jamaica, wrestling with the nation’s fertile land and turbulent history. Both the author’s home and her female body are war-torn, foreign, and post-colonial—the poet is an exile from both.  Evoking THE TEMPEST and Old Testament mythology, these brutal, ravishing poems bring forth a landscape at times raw with anger, at times lush with longing and beauty.


The Other Boy Cover Image
By M. G. Hennessey, Sfe R. Monster (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062427663
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: HarperCollins - September 20th, 2016

#5

A sweet, sometimes painful but ultimately triumphant story about first love, true friendship, and the greatest game ever played: baseball. Shane, a white transgender boy in middle school, has settled into his new school, made the team with his best friend, developed a crush on the cutest girl in his class, and has almost forgiven his dad for his parents’ divorce, but of course things can’t stay simple for long. Though Shane struggles with discrimination, the story stays lighthearted and upbeat without sacrificing realism. THE OTHER BOY is as enjoyable a book as it is important.


What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9781594634635
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Riverhead Books - March 8th, 2016

#4

Helen Oyeyemi may have started her career as the prodigy darling of the literary world, but she’s published her seventh book now and shows no sign of plateauing. Oyeyemi effortlessly injects fantasy into the social and political realities of these stories, loosely centered on the theme of keys and the literal and metaphorical doorways they lead to. Playful and mysterious, often queer and always fun, these are stories you can escape into.


Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube: Chasing Fear and Finding Home in the Great White North Cover Image
$25.99
ISBN: 9780062311566
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Ecco - July 5th, 2016

#3

At the time of my writing this, Blair Braverman’s Twitter handle is “Feminist Jack London”—a more perfectly apt description of the contents of her brilliant memoir than I could write myself (but of course I’m going to try). WELCOME TO THE GODDAMN ICE CUBE is ostensibly about the author’s experience learning to race sled dogs in the coldest parts of the world, but like the best of memoirs, it’s about a lot more—it’s about fear, about being the perpetual outsider, about her great longing for the North and her desire to test herself, and we can’t help but hold our breath for her as she throws herself into the dangerous, dark winter to pursue a lifestyle dominated by men. Her story, told with a measured, even voice, is exciting, contemplative, gritty, and so, so real—this a book of a woman’s triumph over the discrimination we all face but in a place most of us will never see.


Du Iz Tak? Cover Image
By Carson Ellis, Carson Ellis (Illustrator)
$16.99
ISBN: 9780763665302
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Candlewick - October 18th, 2016

#2

Yet another gem from my favorite can-do-no-wrong publisher, Candlewick Press. A sweeping drama of life and death played out by fancifully-anthropomorphic insects speaking a non-existent but still understandable language, DU IZ TAK? is an “empires rise, empires fall” tragicomedy for all ages. Seriously: no matter who you’re reading to, you won’t get tired of Carson Ellis’ gorgeous, intricate watercolor illustrations or her simple, perfect story anytime soon. 


The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth #1) Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780316229296
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Orbit - August 4th, 2015

#1

I admit, including these two books is somewhat of a cheat—first, because I’m using one slot for two books that both deserve awards in their own right, and second, because I have already spent a good part of this year telling everyone I know about this brilliant, un-put-downable series by N.K. Jemisin, but I argue it fits the theme because I truly can't praise her work enough (and besides, it's my top ten list).

There have been many, many books, both recently and not, about the end of the world and what comes after. I have read many of these books, and enjoyed many of these books, but N.K. Jemisin’s brilliant new series managed to do something wonderful—surprise me.

Part fantasy, part prophetic warning of our possible future, THE FIFTH SEASON and its equally sharp sequel THE OBELISK GATE are set in a far-future world, so desiccated and wracked by earthquakes that its people carry emergency “runny-sacks” in anticipation of “fifth seasons,” the environmental aftermath of world-breaking quakes. Ecstatically imaginative in scope, with the most meticulous world-building a sci-fi/ fantasy nerd could ever hope for, this series is a finely-polished mirror for our own broken society, with our history of racism and imperialism, our cavalier disregard for an environment we’ve largely wrecked. Jemisin’s characters are superb, achingly human and each as complicated and angry and imperfect as the last, their battles set against the backdrop of a world in its death-throes, a civilization eating itself from the inside out.

If you only read one more book this year, make it two and make it these.


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