Book Picks From TBF Interns

Meet the 2021 TBF Interns! Learn more about the newest additions to our team through the books on their desk. 

From Olivia Hesse, Event Production Intern: The Road by Cormac McCarthy

This was the first book I have read in years that made me cry, and not just a little either. A father and son walk through a post-apocalyptic world trying to survive hunger, cold, and the others that are left.

One of my favorite quotes from the book: “Then he just knelt in the ashes. He raised his face to the paling day. Are you there? he whispered. Will I see you at last? Have you a neck by which to throttle you? Have you a heart? Damn you eternally have you a soul? Oh God, he whispered, Oh God.”

From Leah Rosenberger, Texas Teen Book Festival Intern: Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion by Jia Tolentino

While wandering from my usual cast of fiction reads — I am currently juggling The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, Dune by Frank Herbert, and High Fidelity by Nick Hornsby — I stumbled upon one of my favorite books of the year so far! This non-fiction gem is Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion by Jia Tolentino, a collection of essays revolving around cultural touchstones, bitter realizations, and through it all, existence and the rhetoric of individuality in the post-Internet age. Houston-native Tolentino unfolds her experiences with femininity, religion, scams, literature, reality TV, and more into neat, journalistic sheets of omnipresent “Aha” moments. My favorite essay so far is titled “Always Be Optimizing,” a deep dive into the dysfunctional narrative of the ideal modern female worker and citizen, and how the fusing of the physical and moral value of a woman has been defined by this “punishingly natural” standard.

From Krysta Herrera, Literary Programming Intern: Circe by Madeline Miller

From the first sentence, Circe’s command of the narrative demanded my attention, and I felt as if I was listening to the wonders and woes of an old friend. Circe illustrates how myths are rooted in truth. The truth about ourselves, the truth about reality. And it is this very sentiment, these very human emotions that will resonate with audiences, and whose message will triumph.


From Roxanna Sanchez, School & Community Outreach Intern: Lily-Livered  by Wren Hanks

Wren Hanks presents a beautiful collection of poems about one’s relationship to their body, especially one that is viewed as “wrong” or “abnormal” by society’s standards. This chapbook is insightful, poignant, and a must-read!



From Ana Krueger, Marketing & Communications Intern: Confessions by Kanae Minato

Thrilling, jaw-dropping, and unlike anything I’ve read before. I read Confessions by Kanae Minato on a whim and within the first 10 pages had audibly gasped. Going into this novel prepared or not, you will be swept away in Minato’s meticulous, yet compelling storytelling. She weaves together revenge, mystery, and heartbreak beautifully in only 167 pages. The novel follows a middle school teacher grieving the tragic loss of her daughter. Before departing from her class, she confesses an act of revenge upon the two students who are believed to have murdered her daughter. She leaves and we read on.

From Justine Lockhart, Development Intern: A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

I felt this book calling to me in a Half Price Books and it quickly became one of my favorites. The writing is beautiful, the story is captivating, and the characters feel very real.



From Erin O’Shea, Literary Programming Intern: We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson.

This book is one of the best reads ever, it quickly jumped to my top five favorite books of all time. The prose is incredibly well- written and the end of the world seems simultaneously terrifying and exciting–it really made me stop and think about my own view on how the world is right now. Shaun David Hutchinson captures joy and sorrow and all of the emotions in between.

Hispanic Heritage Month Events You Can’t Miss!

Let’s celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15-October 15, with these 5 literary events across Texas and highlight the history, contribution, and cultural wealth of the Latinx community. Thank you Austin Public Library, Book People, and Humanities Texas for your commitment to lifting Latinx voices year round!

1. Spanish Language Story-Time at Austin Public Library: This year round resource highlights the community cultural wealth of the Latinx community.


2. Virtual event at Book People: My Two Border Towns

BookKids Presents: “A picture book debut by an award-winning author about a boy’s life on theU.S.-Mexico border,visiting his favorite places on The Other Side with his father, spending time with family and friends, and sharing in the responsibility of community care.”


3. Exhibition: In His Own Words: The Life and Work of César Chávez

Humanities Texas presents this traveling exhibition with thirty-eight photographs paired with excerpts from Chávez’s
dynamic speeches and authoritative writings.



4. Virtual event at Book People: Cuba in My Pocket

BookKids Presents a conversation about Cuba in My Pocket by Adrianna Cuevas: “A middle grade historical novel about a twelve-year-old boy who leaves his family in Cuba to immigrate to the U.S. by himself, based on the author’s family history.”


5. Exhibition: Voces Americanas: Latino Literature in the United States

This exhibition captures a quarter century of Hispanic publishing
through books, movie stills, public presentations, and illustrations.




BONUS UPDATE: We have more exciting events to share for this October. Check them out!

6. Hispanic Reading Room Virtual Programming

Join the Library of Congress in a webinar celebration of children’s and YA Latin American and Latinx literature, featuring Reading Rock Stars authors Raúl The Third and Sili Recio!

7. ¡Se Ha Dicho! Exhibit Reception

Join the reception to meet the curator and artists of ¡Se Ha Dicho! Exhibit at the Austin Central Library.

8. Viva Frida! Storyteller Blanca Reyna as Frida Kahlo

Come learn about the woman, the artist, the myth, and the mystery at Duncanville Pubic Library.

Texas Monthly presents: BEING TEXAN

Texas Monthly is a proud sponsor of the Texas Book Festival. We’re excited to announce its new book, Being Texan, written by the editors of Texas Monthly!

Texas, our Texas. It’s big, it’s boastful, it’s always in the news. But what do you really know about the Lone Star State? Whether you’ve felt the lure of the vast Texas sky, grew up in Texas, or just want to make sense of the place, Being Texan will give readers an illuminating look at Texas in all its beauty, vastness, and diversity.

Pre-order your copy today!

Book Picks From TBF Staff

Whether you are looking for a thrilling mystery, inspiring nonfiction, contemporary fiction, or satire, we have all the recommendations. Straight from our staff’s bookshelves, here are some of the books we can’t get enough of. 

Marketing & Communications Coordinator, Ke’ara Hunt, recommends Virtue by Hermione Hoby.

It was the weekend before Thanksgiving, the end of the nothing month of November, and I remember raininess, a vague and unremitting overlay of pathetic fallacy. The sky had a passive‑aggressive quality, bruised clouds withholding their light while telling you they were fine, not to worry about them, they knew you didn’t really care anyway. Ahead lay the grotesquerie of the reality star who’d soon be eating McDonald’s and watching TV in the White House. It was a bad joke in the worst taste. The incoming president was the executive producer of The America Show, barreling faster toward the series finale, and the ratings would be great.”- Hermione Hoby, Virtue.

Ke’ara’s Thoughts: “No spoiler alert here! This excerpt stands out because it builds up to a sense of dread that I actually felt around the same time in 2016. I can’t remember what the weather was like back in Houston during these moments, but I imagine that the clouds darkened and the sky somehow foreshadowed the next 4 years of doom, gloom, and utter terror. If we’re aligning this real life moment in history with a season of television, then this was the season where everyone tuned in but had to watch with their hands cuffed over their mouths. The live-Tweeting was also out of hand.”

Logistics & Volunteer Coordinator,  Nicole Wielga, recommends Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala. 

“Hey isn’t it weird that my ex is dead, your fiancée is in a coma, both of them were possibly involved in the drug trade, and now I’m being accused of murder, assault, and drug trafficking? Wild, right?”- Mia P. Manansala, Arsenic and Adobo.

Nicole’s Thoughts:“Super fun mystery that features Filipino food and culture. Has lots of twists and turns that keep you on the edge of your seat!”

Literary Director, Matt Patin, recommends The Sweetness of Water by Nathan Harris.

“You cannot run from it,” Ezra said. . . . “It is just how things advance. We age. And we must be honest in the face of this truth.“- Nathan Harris, The Sweetness of Water

Matt’s Thoughts: An incredibly moving, beautifully written debut novel from a graduate of Austin’s own Michener Center for Writers


Programs and Financial Coordinator, Gavin Quinn, recommends Real Life by Brandon Taylor

“This could be their life together, each moment, shared, passed back and forth between each other to alleviate the pressure, the awful pressure of having to hold time for oneself. This is perhaps why people get together in the first place. The sharing of time.”- Brandon Taylor, Real Life

Gavin’s Thoughts: “A compelling observation of campus culture and an elegant character study of self-preservation by way of isolation.”


School & Community Programs Coordinator, Lucy Vélez, recommends Becoming- Adapted for Young Readers by Michelle Obama.

“There’s power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice. And there’s grace in being willing to know and hear others. This, for me, is how we become.”- Michelle Obama, Becoming- Adapted for Young Readers

Lucy’s Thoughts: “It’s the message of agency and hope that all of our teens need right now.”

Development Associate, Susannah Auby, recommends My Year Abroad, by Chang Rae Lee.

“My best life. I was certain I was already living it, going around with him. And okay, the trouble might not have been mine, but it had risen right up to my eyes. Yet the way he spoke sounded so natural and sure, so tender and brotherly, and even as I figured it was some sort of con, I understood at last that it was a con I needed. Now and from the beginning. For maybe your favorite teacher or coach or best friend conned you too, into believing in a version of yourself you hadn’t yet imagined, a person many factors more capable, a person who might not otherwise have bloomed.”- Chang Rae Lee, My Year Abroad. 

Susannah’s Thoughts: “Like this quirky, shadowy figure Pong who turns the young narrator’s life upside down, Chang Rae Lee takes you to some dark places you never could have imagined. This is definitely not your year abroad, but it’s an unforgettable one all the same.”

Deputy Director, Claire Burrows, recommends Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner.

“The smell of vegetables fermenting in a fragrant bouquet of fish sauce, garlic, ginger, and gochugaru radiated through my small Greenpoint kitchen, and I would think of how my mother always used to tell me never to fall in love with someone who doesn’t like kimchi. They’ll always smell it on you, seeping through your pores. Her very own way of saying, “You are what you eat.” – Michelle Zauner, Crying in H Mart

Claire’s Thoughts: “Michelle Zauner’s book is so visceral, from the smell of garlic, the crack of lobster, and the deep tears of grief. Her honesty and storytelling is enveloping and moving.”

Executive Director, Lois Kim, recommends This is Your Mind on Plants by Michael Pollan.

” . . . I really couldn’t understand the role of caffeine in my life–its invisible yet pervasive power–without getting off it and then, presumably, getting back on . . . The idea here is that you can’t possibly describe the vehicle you’re driving without first stopping, getting out, and taking a good look at the thing from the outside. This is probably the case with all psychoactive drugs but is especially true of caffeine since the particular quality of consciousness it sponsors in the regular user feels not so much altered or distorted as normal and transparent. Indeed, for most of us, to be caffeinated to one degree or another has simply become baseline human consciousness. Something like 90 percent of humans ingest caffeine regularly, making it the most widely used psychoactive drug in the world . . .”
Michael Pollan, This Is Your Mind On Plants.

Lois’ Thoughts: “I wanted to understand my addiction to caffeine better and Pollan provides it. I’m in good company, it turns out, and Pollan’s latest book explores the history, economics, and cultural impact of not only caffeine but also opium and mescaline, cleverly grouping legal and illegal natural substances to unearth the arbitrary and conflicted ways we treat the mind-altering plants that have attracted humans for centuries.”