General blog posts

Prep Schools, Misogyny, and How Men Can Be Better Feminists: Joy Interviews YA Author Brendan Kiely

I first had the privilege of meeting Brendan Kiely in Fall 2016 at the Young Adult Literature Conference hosted by Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville, Illinois, just south of Chicago, where we were both speaking. I had read his ALL AMERICAN BOYS, which he co-wrote with Jason Reynolds and which deftly explores racism and police violence in America. Like everyone else, I was in awe of this book and its authors. Kiely himself was funny and humble and kind and a million other adjectives that basically boil down to awesome human being.

Book List: National Poetry Month

Extra Hidden Life, Among the Days (Wesleyan Poetry) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780819578051
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Wesleyan - January 1st, 2018

Brenda Hillman’s first book after completing her quartet of collections on the elements continues its focus on the natural world, turning to woods and waters as a means of navigating grief. A number of series poems drive the collection, and modes oscillate from elegy to ode as Hillman fiercely holds on to a world that is rapidly disappearing. The book also serves a secondary function as a sort of guidebook for resistance, as many of the poems are active protests against climate destruction inspired by the poet’s ecocentric views. Hillman’s writing remains as lyric and experimental as ever, and several times the poems moved me to tears. Arguably the most important and necessary poetry collection of 2018 so far.

How He Loved Them Cover Image
ISBN: 9781945588099
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Four Way Books - March 1st, 2018

A local Houston poet! Kevin Prufer’s newest book continues his clear-eyed gaze on an America full of paradox and always teetering on the brink of violence. Subjects of fathers and sons, soldiers and war, and modern empire populate the poems, and even a few vampires and characters from the distant future make appearances. Formally Prufer is more playful with his lines and spacing, engaging with the inherent white space on the page. As with much of his writing, the poems are straightforward yet musical in their storytelling, the tensions driving them simmering just under the surface. Don’t miss Kevin Prufer reading for Inprint on April 23!

The Undressing: Poems Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393065435
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - February 20th, 2018

Lee’s first collection in nearly a decade returns to his tender voice and plainspoken emotion, crafting poems focused on love and desire. The scope is bigger here than ever before: poems span pages rather than stanzas, as in his previous books. While he’s often pontificating on the nature of love or the essence of the soul Lee makes room for the contemporary world as well, slipping in the occasional Wu-Tang Clan reference or other allusion. Travel and motion play a big role in many of these poems, but somehow the book maintains a sense of quiet and stillness, a sort of haven or harbor from the hardships beyond the pages of the book. An excellent collection to turn to when you’re feeling like you need a pick-me-up or a good hug.

Wade in the Water: Poems Cover Image
ISBN: 9781555978136
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graywolf Press - April 3rd, 2018

A new collection of poems from our Poet Laureate! WADE IN THE WATER captures Smith’s unique inquisitive voice as the poems blend both the personal and the public, shifting from private lyric to the openly available (the Declaration of Independence, testimonies, reports, etc.). Smith adopts a multitude of voices, from African American Civil War soldiers and their families to the collective contemporary “America.” As its title evokes, WADE IN THE WATER has a quiet ferocity and wonder to it, and evokes a prayerful demeanor throughout. Like any baptism this collection will leave you renewed even in the face of the world’s most difficult horrors to confront.

Not Here Cover Image
ISBN: 9781566895095
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Coffee House Press - April 10th, 2018

This book will break your heart over and over. Intensely lyric, Nguyen’s poems grapple with identity as a queer Vietnamese American, tumultuous family dynamics, and the psychological effects of abuse. NOT HERE aches with beauty in the face of and in spite of the world’s brutality. Emotionally exhausting in the best way possible, very much centered in the body, and musically inventive. Don’t be surprised if your reading experience oscillates from not being able to put the book down to needing emotional breaks where you may need to reach for a tissue. Vulnerable, triumphant, and fierce. 

Brown: Poems Cover Image
ISBN: 9781524732547
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - April 17th, 2018

Kevin Young follows up his landmark cultural history BUNK with a fresh collection of poems on all things brown. The book is divided into two sections, “Home Recordings” and “Field Recordings,” and studies the interplay between private and public experiences of culture, and the title color makes appearances in some relevant ways, from James Brown to Brown vs. Board of Education. The poems capture all of Young’s masterful voice, with near- and slant-rhymes and lyrical rhythms that roll off your tongue. BROWN also takes a chronological approach, beginning with poems reminiscing on childhood pick-up games of baseball in the neighborhood streets to the current moment, in which the streets are filled with Neo Nazis marching on Charlottesville, Virginia and the black bodies of victims of police brutality.

Staff Chat: Ben and Keaton talk Leslie Jamison's THE RECOVERING

Keaton: We’re here today to talk about Leslie Jamison’s masterful new memoir, THE RECOVERING: INTOXICATION AND ITS AFTERMATH.

Ben: Ooh!

KP: Jamison…She’s a very, very talented writer. She started in fiction but now mainly writes nonfiction. She had an excellent collection of essays, THE EMPATHY EXAMS, a few years back. This is her latest release.

The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316259613
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Little Brown and Company - April 3rd, 2018

A Short Take on Long Books: Ben Talks William T. Vollmann

William T. Vollmann called me on the phone the other day. Before you think I’m self-aggrandizing—look at the important writers who call me!—know the following two things: a) he was calling to check the details of our event with him on 4/14, and b) almost no authors do that—and certainly not authors of his stature. I also confess, I was absolutely terrified to hear his voice—not because he wasn’t totally pleasant (he was) but because, more than nearly any other living writer, he seems almost supernatural to me.

Joy Interviews YA Author Kami Garcia

We recently had the great privilege escorting bestselling YA author Kami Garcia (Beautiful Creatures series) to a day of school visits on her tour for her newest YA, Broken Beautiful Hearts, the timely and engaging story of a star soccer player who must rebuild her life and stand up against abuse after her boyfriend pushes her down a flight of stairs when she confronts him about his use of steroids. Kami sat down to talk to Children Specialist Joy about her own story, about writing YA, and about life, fame and writing.

Here’s what Kami had to say.

Broken Beautiful Hearts Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250079206
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Imprint Make Your Mark - February 6th, 2018

On Zombies, Commercials, and Cruises: An Interview with Author Gillian Best

“The sea,” author Gillian Best tells me, “is just like zombies. It’s everywhere, and it’ll kill you if you don’t pay attention.”

But I’ll get to that in a moment.

The Last Wave Cover Image
ISBN: 9781487002930
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: House of Anansi Press - March 6th, 2018

Music & Literature: A Book List

To celebrate literary magazine MUSIC & LITERATURE making Houston its new home we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite literature on music and music-inspired literature (yes, we’re taking “music and literature” in the broadest, most literal terms here). On this list you’ll find captivating interviews, cultural histories, and fictional reminiscences from invented writers and musicians on the nature of music and its relation to great writing. Check out some of our favorite books that cross-pollinate two of our favorite types of art.

Absolutely on Music: Conversations (Vintage International) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780804173728
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - October 3rd, 2017

A collection of conversations about music from Haruki Murakami, the acclaimed best-selling author, and his friend Seiji Ozawa, the former conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Together they listen to and discuss a wide range of subjects, from Brahms to film scores to the hobby of record collecting. The book culminates with a visit from Murakami to Ozawa’s retreat for young musicians, offering insights into the future of music and those that practice the craft. Offering deep reflections on the nature of writing as well as music, this highly entertaining book will keep you curious about the enigmatic allure of each art form.

They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us Cover Image
ISBN: 9781937512651
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Two Dollar Radio - November 7th, 2017

One of the absolute best essay collections of 2017. Abdurraqib’s essays explore contemporary music and its various fandoms, interrogating just what it means to be a fan of something or someone. Subjects range from Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance to underground hip hop to racism and police brutality. The writing is deft, the ruminations brilliant, the voice humble and engaged with the current cultural and political moment. THEY CAN’T KILL US UNTIL THEY KILL US is a book that can break your heart and at the same time give you strength to face today’s harsh realities. Reignite your belief in the power of music and take ownership of your favorite arts in these essays.

Mad Skills: MIDI and Music Technology in the Twentieth Century Cover Image
ISBN: 9781910924761
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Repeater - March 13th, 2018

This expertly-written book examines emerging MDI technologies (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) and their impact on the pop music of the 20th century. MAD SKILLS is a rigorous musical history that also offers expert commentary on the way that technology has shaped and continued to shape the way music is written and recorded in the current technological age. Diduck is able to explain complex music technologies in terms that a layperson can understand, and the book is loaded with historical accounts, periodicals, and graphics to further enhance your understanding. If you’re a student of the music industry and music’s relation to capitalist culture or an audiophile this book is a must-have.

Late Arcade Cover Image
ISBN: 9780811226608
Availability: Backordered
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - February 28th, 2017

The newest novel in Mackey’s series FROM A BROKEN BOTTLE TRACES OF PERFUME STILL EMANATE. Set in the late ‘80s LA jazz scene, LATE ARCADE follows musician N. and his sextet, Molimo m’Atet, as they play shows around the region and release their first album. Presented as a series of letters written from N. to the Angel of Dust, we hear firsthand about the surreal experiences that take place, including cartoon speech bubbles emerging from the musicians’ instruments during concerts and a series of personality shifts experienced by N. Full of musical prose and examinations of music and critical theory, the book feels loose and smart, like a great avant-garde album.

The Invented Part Cover Image
By Rodrigo Fresan, Will Vanderhyden (Translator)
ISBN: 9781940953564
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Open Letter - May 16th, 2017

An aging writer frustrated with modern literature travels to the great Hadron Collider in an attempt to merge with the God particle and become capable of writing reality itself. A labyrinthine science fiction that effortlessly blends pop culture with the world of “refined” literature, THE INVENTED PART manages all of the Writer’s obsessions, including but not limited to Pink Floyd, the Kinks, and the way Thom Yorke dances onstage during Radiohead concerts. At once a massive sprawl and an easy read, this first of a trilogy experiments formally and stylistically to create a music and literature all its own. Plus, join Brazos on the evening of April 28 as we welcome Fresán to the store! 

Compass Cover Image
By Mathias Enard, Charlotte Mandell (Translator)
ISBN: 9780811226622
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - March 28th, 2017

COMPASS is a warm, learned, and invigorating novel that takes place across the course of one single night. Insomniac musicologist Franz Ritter spends all hours drifting between dream and memory, East and West, encountering all of the musicians, scholars, writers, and artists that populate these liminal spaces. A “powerful ode to Otherness,” COMPASS explores the artifices and artificial boundaries we create for ourselves and each other even as it blurs those lines. A beautiful book that makes great company on those nights where you just can’t sleep.

The Yacht Rock Book: The Oral History of the Soft, Smooth Sounds of the 70s and 80s Cover Image
ISBN: 9781911036296
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Jawbone Press - March 6th, 2018

Already an instant classic. Yacht rock includes some of your favorite pop hits from the ‘70s and ‘80s, songs like “Footloose” and every Fleetwood Mac song sung by Christine McVie. This oral history of one of rock’s greatest genres includes interviews from artists like John Oates, Don Felder, and the captain of yacht rock himself, Kenny Loggins. Greg Prato teases out a thread of history, beginning with yacht rock’s glory days and leading all the way up to its current resurgence in popularity and singular importance. A necessary book.

Thrilling and Suspenseful: Thu Interviews Author Nafkote Tamirat

I had the pleasure of interviewing Nafkote Tamirat for her amazing debut novel The Parking Lot Attendant, a suspenseful thriller that takes place on an island where the unnamed narrator and her father are living with a cult. She traces backward to the mysterious circumstances and interactions with enigmatic Ayale, parking lots, and the Ethiopian-American culture in Boston that led them to their current situation.

The Parking Lot Attendant Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250128508
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Henry Holt & Company - March 13th, 2018

Let Brazos Bookstore Plan Your Houston Staycation!

Spring Break is officially upon us. For those of you who are planning on taking advantage of all Houston has to offer, allow us to make a few suggestions for the perfect staycation.

1. Go to a movie!

The Shape of Water Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250165343
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Feiwel & Friends - March 6th, 2018

2.Brunch every day!

Houston has so many great dining options featuring such diverse cuisines and culinary flavors that you could eat until you explode. While you’re nursing that post-brunch food coma, why not pick up a copy of THE POTLIKKER PAPERS, a food history of the Modern South. This book explores the impact that slavery and race relations has shaped American culinary identities for generations, and Houston is featured prominently.

The Potlikker Papers: A Food History of the Modern South Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143111016
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Books - February 6th, 2018

3. Go to a concert!

Houston’s vibrant rap scene features local talent like Slim Thug and Bun B, kings of rap in the South. Slab cars, chopped-and-screwed beats as pioneered by DJ Screw (R.I.P.), and sippin’ syrup: these are the emblematic elements of H-Town’s music. The repertoire of artists is deep, and there are plenty of options for a great show. The day after, when your ears are still ringing, expand your consciousness with RAW: MY JOURNEY INTO THE WU-TANG by U-God to learn about more rap royalty from a different scene. A founding member, he details the birth and rise of the Clan from the streets of NYC in his signature no-holds-barred voice. (Also, thanks to U-God's recent visit, we've got a few signed copies).

Raw: My Journey Into the Wu-Tang Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250191168
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Picador USA - March 6th, 2018

4. Take a day trip down to NASA!

Head just south to the Johnson Space Center to check out NASA’s Mission Control, a massive Saturn V rocket, and touch a moon rock in the adjoining museum. Afterward, be sure to pick up a copy of VIEW FROM ABOVE by Commander Terry Virts. This gorgeous book features photos taken by Virts as he spent 200 days on the International Space Station orbiting the planet, along with diagrams and corresponding stories. We can’t all go to space, but this book makes it possible to imagine that you’ve been.

View from Above: An Astronaut Photographs the World Cover Image
By Terry Virts, Buzz Aldrin (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9781426218644
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: National Geographic Society - October 3rd, 2017

5. Cruise the coast with your favorite tunes!

The sun is out and the weather is perfect for a windows-down, radio-up drive to Galveston. No trip to the beach is complete without sand, volleyball, or, of course, Kenny Loggins. Be sure to crank the yacht rock and sing yourself hoarse, and once you’re lounging in the sand wondering, just what the hell is yacht rock?, just break out your fresh copy of THE YACHT ROCK BOOK to find your answers. An oral history of the genre from Greg Prato, this book features interviews from artists like John Oates, Don Felder, and the captain himself, Kenny Loggins. Beach reading at its finest.

The Yacht Rock Book: The Oral History of the Soft, Smooth Sounds of the 70s and 80s Cover Image
ISBN: 9781911036296
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Jawbone Press - March 6th, 2018

6. End your Spring Break with a weekend getaway!

And if you need help picking a destination, just flip open SPECTACULAR WEEKEND GETAWAYS OF TEXAS by Jolie Berry. Broken up by region, this book features amazing resorts, rentals, inns, and B & B’s that all make for an unforgettable getaway. Gorgeous pictures and brief write-ups will get your imagination firing on all cylinders as you load up the car for a quick trip. Also, plenty of time in the car for more yacht rock!

Spectacular Weekend Getaways of Texas: A Collection of Lakeside, Ocean Front, Hill Country and City Hotels, Resorts and Rentals for the Modern Day Exp Cover Image
ISBN: 9780996424035
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Signature Boutique Books - February 1st, 2018

Weird and Wondrous: Books that Defy Genre

Weird, wondrous, and walking the border between genres: here are a few books that defy categorization and push the status quo on how we think about literature. Whether it’s a beautifully-written book that blends poetry and prose or a title that blurs the line between fact and fiction, each of the below is sure to offer a unique reading experience unlike anything you’ve encountered before. Is it a novel? Is it poetry? By the time you get to the back cover you still won’t know what to call it, but you won’t care because it’s just that good.


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

First published in 1970, THE COLLECTED WORKS OF BILLY THE KID marks the beginning of Ondaatje’s forays into fiction. This novel-in-verse collects period photos, poems, and short journal-like prose entries to create a version of the legendary gunslinger that goes beyond rote historical account or a romanticized nostalgia. Every page is dreamlike and rooted in memory, blurring the line between fact and fiction and opening the consciousness of the story from one man to that of an entire landscape. (Psst, have you heard we’re hosting Michael Ondaatje on May 23rd to celebrate his new novel, WARLIGHT? Find the details here.)

Unbearable Splendor Cover Image
ISBN: 9781566894517
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Coffee House Press - October 11th, 2016

UNBEARABLE SPLENDOR is a wonderful, weird, uncategorized collection of sparse poems that sprawl across the page, charts and graphs, and story-essays that interrogate our most intimate dichotomies like host/guest, child/orphan, and light/dark. The book is full of black holes, singularities, and cyborgs, but at its heart of the subject matter is Shin’s identity as a Korean American immigrant that fled a military dictatorship. The book moves through concepts and ideas as easily as it moves through genres, coalescing into a reading experience with its own gravitational pull. As stated in one of the opening epigraphs, “a black hole is anything but empty space,” and this is one singularity you’ll enjoy getting sucked into.

The Way of Florida Cover Image
ISBN: 9780995705203
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Little Island Press - September 21st, 2017

Persson’s debut novel blends historical account, personal narrative, and poetic prose into a story that reads almost like an incantation to the past. Based on a real, historical event, the Narváez Expedition, a failed attempt to establish Spanish colonies along the Gulf Coast, the narrator of THE WAY OF FLORIDA describes the minutiae of the journey in language that is intensely lyric and visceral. The novel is broken into chapters that are broken into half-page chunks, and each entry swirls with an almost-mystic sense of place and the creatures that occupy it. Fans of Cormac McCarthy’s earlier novels will find themselves right at home in these pages.

Autobiography of Red: A Novel in Verse (Vintage Contemporaries) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780375701290
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - July 27th, 1999

There is perhaps no one writing today that is more intellectual, intense, and committed to her own conceits as Anne Carson, and AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF RED is one of her greatest achievements. At once a poem and a novel, a myth and a contemporary coming-of-age story, the book follows Geryon, at once a young boy and a monstrous mythical creature, chronicling the events of his life. As he escapes a household of abuse and falls for a drifter named Herakles, Geryon begins to find himself as an artist and photography. Geryon faces devastation when Herakles leaves him, and when the drifter resurfaces years later Geryon is forced to confront his own griefs, pains, and desires. A moving love story that is steeped in literary craft and deconstruction.

SKU: 9781933959337

One of two books published by Roberto Harrison in 2017, BRIDGE OF THE WORLD is a collection of poems and prose poetry interrupted by an essay on poetics in the middle of the text. However, describing Harrison’s work as two genres put together in the same book is an oversimplification. The essay, titled “snake vision,” is as much an exploration of psychology, mental illness, and human interaction as it is a statement of poetic philosophy. The poems are lyric and experiment with form, with a focus on light, color, and sound. Throughout the book language is being interrogated, and the way that we make meaning, or if meaning is possible at all, the bridge of the world both a geographic phenomenon and a linguistic conceit.

Citizen: An American Lyric Cover Image
ISBN: 9781555976903
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graywolf Press - October 7th, 2014

Continuing in the style of DON’T LET ME BE LONELY, Claudia Rankine turns her attention toward race in America. Prose poems and micro-essays share pages with visual art and photographs, and subject matter ranges from daily micro-aggressions to Serena Williams to police brutality to Zinedine Zidane’s infamous headbutt. In turns critical, analytical, heartbreaking, and hopeful, CITIZEN is a collection reflective of a country in a moment of crisis, a book that is as necessary as it is timely, unfortunately. As Rankine writes, “because white men can’t / police their imagination / black people are dying.” Read this book. If you already have, read it again, and then gift it to a friend.