Share the Joy of Reading: Make an End-of-Year Gift

As we buy books for all our loved ones this holiday season, consider donating to the Texas Book Festival. Your 2018 gift will share the joy of reading with Texans young and old, from Midland to Houston, from Dallas to the Rio Grande Valley, and of course with more than 50,000 attendees at the annual Festival Weekend in Austin. (2019 dates will be revealed soon!)

Please consider making an end of year gift to the Texas Book Festival, and be part of a growing community in 2019!

Donate today to contribute in 2018

 

Here are a few highlights from 2018:

  • Spent the beautiful Festival Weekend of October 27-28 with 50,000 readers from across Texas and beyond
  • Awarded more than $100,000 in collection-enhancement grants to 48 public libraries across Texas
  • Implemented the first ever Real Reads program in Austin with authors Nic Stone and Jacqueline Woodson. Real Reads connects Title I middle- and high-school students with authors and books through an engaging book club curriculum
  • Through Reading Rock Stars, put 10,800 books in the hands of Title I elementary students in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and the Rio Grande Valley
  • Expanded Reading Rock Stars in Austin to 10 schools, and added a new school in Fort Worth
  • Celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Texas Teen Book Festival with 5,000 YA readers

WHAT’S AHEAD FOR 2019:

  • Celebrating the 24th annual Texas Book Festival Weekend
  • Introducing the first Real Reads program in Dallas, with celebrated YA author Erika Sánchez
  • Bringing Lit Crawl to East Austin for the ninth year in a row, offering free creative and innovative literary programming
  • Continuing to offer free, high-quality literary programming to ALL Texans
  • And much, more more!

To make an online donation to the Texas Book Festival, click HERE.

Please mail donations to:

Texas Book Festival
1023 Springdale Road
Building 14, Suite B
Austin, Texas 78721

Contact the Texas Book Festival office with any questions: 512-477-4055, bookfest@texasbookfestival.org.

Thank you for helping us inspire Texans to love reading!

 

Carrie Healy

Carrie Healy brings over twenty years of experience in the non-profit world to her volunteer efforts with Texas Book Festival. She has held development positions with organizations such as Rice University in Houston, and more recently Explore Austin. Carrie is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin, with a bachelor’s degree in Art History. She continues to stay involved in her community literacy, environmental, and arts organizations. She and her husband Jason are raising their four children in Austin.

2018 Festival Friends Pass Sessions

Announcing our 2018 Festival Friends Pass sessions!

If you have a Festival Friends Pass, you’ll enjoy priority access to seating and to signing lines for the below sessions at this year’s Texas Book Festival. If you don’t have a Festival Friends Pass, you can become a Festival Friend right now! 

How to Use Your Festival Friends Pass

Already have your Festival Friends Pass? Thanks so much for supporting the Festival! Here is how to use your Festival Friends Pass at the 2018 Texas Book Festival:

  • Where Your Friends Pass Applies:  Your Friends Pass grants you priority seating and access to signing lines at select sessions. It does not give you this access at all sessions and signings. See below for the sessions where your Festival Friends Pass apply.
  • When you arrive at a Festival Friends Pass session:  Show the volunteer at the door your Pass. They’ll show you to your reserved seating.
  • When you arrive at a Festival Friends Pass signing:  Show the volunteer at the signing your Pass. They’ll put you in a special Friends Pass line to have your books signed first.

The Texas Book Festival brings culture, art, and literature to Texas for free thanks to generous donors, and as the 2018 Texas Book Festival approaches, we are once again asking for your support. Become a 2018 Festival Friend by donating $100 or more, and you’ll make a crucial difference in our communities by helping us keep arts and culture accessible for readers in Austin and across Texas.

We thank all our Festival Friends donors with a Festival Friends Pass, which will allow you and a friend priority access to the following select Festival sessions and signings. The full Festival schedule, including timing and location details for these sessions, will be announced at the end of September.

Become a Festival Friend today!


2018 Festival Friends Pass Session

The Believer Presents: Sandra Cisneros and Puro Amor
12:30 pm – 1:15 pm Sunday, October 28, 2018
House Chamber State Capitol, Austin

Beloved bestselling author Sandra Cisneros and translator Liliana Valenzuela sit down for a very special conversation about Puro Amor, a beautiful short story about love, for humans and animals, accompanied by Cisneros’ illustrations. Don’t miss this opportunity to experience the power of Cisneros’ storytelling. Presented by The Believer. Introduced by Sara Ortiz of The Believer. Booksigning: 1:30PM, Adult Signing Tent on Congress Avenue.


A Love Letter to Libraries with Susan Orlean
2:00 pm – 2:45 pm Saturday, October 27, 2018
Capitol Auditorium, State Capitol

Libraries are one of society’s most valuable resources. Susan Orlean, bestselling author of The Orchid Thief and Rin Tin Tin, sits down with bestselling author and former librarian, Elizabeth McCracken, for a discussion of Orleans’s latest, The Library Book, her life-long love of books and the fascinating history of libraries in this special conversation about the crucial role that libraries play in our lives. Moderated by Elizabeth McCracken. Booksigning: 3:00PM, Adult Signing Tent on Congress Avenue.


To Earth and Beyond: A Conversation with Scott Kelly
12:30 pm – 1:15 pm Saturday, October 27, 2018
House Chamber, State Capitol

Astronaut Scott Kelly, veteran of four space flights, a year at the International Space Station, and the American record holder for consecutive days in space, shares his bestselling memoir Endurance, and how reading Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff inspired him on Earth and beyond. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear the story of a person who made history, both on Earth and beyond! Please Note: Pre-signed copies of Endurance are available in the Adult Book Sales Tent. Kelly will not sign books after this session.


An Unlikely Journey with Julián Castro
2:00 pm – 2:45 pm Saturday, October 27, 2018
House Chamber, State Capitol

Julián Castro, former mayor of San Antonio and the Obama Administration’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, shares his compelling memoir, An Unlikely Journey. Race issues, poverty, and the American Dream combine to make this story of how Castro became a leader in Texan and American politics and is now seen by many as a future presidential candidate. Moderator: Paul Stekler. Booksigning: 3:00PM, Adult Signing Tent on Congress Avenue.


Jacqueline Woodson in Conversation
12:30 pm – 1:15 pmSaturday, October 27, 2018
First United Methodist Church 1201 Lavaca Street

Join Jacqueline Woodson, National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and National Book Award-winning author of Brown Girl Dreaming, as she shares her brand new books for young readers: the middle grade novel Harbor Me, which celebrates the healing that can occur when a group of students share their stories; and the picture book The Day You Begin, a poignant, heartening book about finding courage to connect, even when you feel scared and alone. Please Note: Woodson will sign books after this session, at 1:30PM, in Murcheson Chapel, directly next to First United Methodist Church. Books are available for sale at the Church courtesy of BookPeople.


 

We Belong Together: Fiction on Family
11:00 am – 11:45 amSaturday, October 27, 2018
House Chamber, State Capitol

In complex, moving new novels, bestselling authors Celeste Ng (Little Fires Everywhere) and Fatima Farheen Mirza (A Place for Us) explore family secrets, colliding cultural beliefs, and what constitutes a sense of belonging. Moderator: Richard Santos. Booksigning: 12:00PM in Adult Signing Tent, Congress Avenue.


Well-Read Black Girl
12:00 pm – 12:45 pm Sunday, October 28, 2018
Capitol Auditorium E1.004 1100 Congress Avenue, Austin Texas

Glory Edim, founder of the popular book club Well-Read Black Girl, has curated a new anthology of original essays by some of our best black female writers and creative voices to shine a light on how important it is that everyone—regardless of gender, race, religion, or abilities—can find themselves in literature. Join her and contributor Dhonielle Clayton as they discuss and share their work and love of reading. Moderator: Maya Payne Smart. Booksigning: 1:00PM, Adult Signing Tent on Congress Avenue.


Into the Animal Kingdom: The Photography of Randal Ford
2:30 pm – 3:15 pmSunday, October 28, 2018
Capitol Auditorium, State Capitol

Join acclaimed Austin-based photographer Randal Ford as he journeys into the animal kingdom with Animal Kingdom, sharing engaging portraits of 150 furry and feathered species and portraying the beauty, power and even humor of these incredible creatures. Moderated by Scott David Gordon. Booksigning: 3:30PM, Adult Signing Tent on Congress Avenue.


A New Case for Walter Mosley
3:30 pm – 4:15 pm Saturday, October 27, 2018
House Chamber, State Capitol

We’re thrilled to welcome award-winning author Walter Mosley back to the Texas Book Festival! Join him as he presents John Woman, a dazzling new novel about an unassuming boy named Cornelius Jones who turns himself into John Woman, an unconventional history professor. Meanwhile, the legacy of a hideous crime lurks in the shadows. Moderator: Hopeton Hay. Booksigning: 4:30PM in Adult Signing Tent, Congress Avenue.


Third Thoughts on Physics, the Universe and Discovery with Steven Weinberg
1:30 pm – 2:15 pm Sunday, October 28, 2018
Capitol Auditorium, House Chamber

Winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics and author of the classic The First Three Minutes, Weinberg shares his views on some of the most fundamental and fascinating aspects of physics and the universe. Join him for a wide-ranging discussion, from the cosmological to the personal, from astronomy, quantum mechanics, and the history of science to the limitations of current knowledge, the art of discovery, and the rewards of getting things wrong. Moderator: Constantine Caramanis. Booksigning: 2:30PM, Adult Signing Tent on Congress Avenue.


Heirs of Our Founders: America’s Second Generation of Political Giants
12:00 pm – 12:45 pm Saturday, October 27, 2018
Capitol Auditorium, State Capitol

Bestselling historian H. W. Brands brings us the riveting story of America’s second generation of political giants—Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and John Calhoun—and their battle to complete the unfinished work of the Founding Fathers. Moderated by Brian Sweany Booksigning: 1:00PM, Adult Signing Tent on Congress Avenue.


Sneak Peak of 2019

 

 

Sneak Peek of 2019
12:00 pm – 12:45 pmSaturday, October 27, 2018
Capitol Extension Room E2.026 1100 Congress Avenue, Austin TX

Join us for a sneak peek of new books coming out in 2018! Authors Elizabeth McCracken (Bowlaway), Esmé Weijun Wang (The Collected Schizophrenias), and Fernando Flores (Tears of the Trufflepig) will give us a glimpse of their forthcoming books. Join them and be the first to know about some of the most exciting books being published next year! Moderated by Adeena Reitberger Booksiging: 1:00PM, Adult Signing Tent on Congress Avenue


Become a Festival Friend today!

Preview: African American Book Festival

This Saturday, June 23rd, the 12th annual Austin African American Book Festival will take place from 9:30 – 5:00 pm at the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center.

The mission of this festival, which began in 2007, is to, “…promote empowerment through literature. We are a community event that brings readers and writers together and produces and facilitates collaboration, dialogue, creativity and activism.” The event is free and open to the public.

In addition to author signings, the festival will host several panels, including a new author showcase, children’s story time, and a Black Sci Fi Writers and Readers Meetup. This year’s keynote speaker is Paul Coates, founder of Black Classic Print and father of bestselling author Ta-Nehisi Coates. The 2018 author lineup also includes Victoria Christopher Murray, Evan Narcisse, Brooke Obie, Lori Aurelia Williams and Don Tate.

Victoria Christopher Murray is the author of more than 30 books including If Only for One Night, Temptation: The Aftermath, It Should’ve Been Me and Fortune & Fame. The prolific author is an Essence bestselling author and the winner of the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work in Fiction.

Evan Narcisse is the journalist turned comic book author behind the new Rise of the Black Panther series, co-written with bestselling author Ta-Nehisi Coates. Rise of the Black Panther follows the life of young T’Challa, crown prince of the powerful kingdom of Wakanda, as he copes with the death of his father, and battles T’Chaka for the throne that is his birthright. Narcisse, along with Coates, has released six comics thus far.

Brooke Obie is the author of the award-winning novel Cradled Embers, the first book in the Book of Addis series. Cradled Embers is the story of a young woman, Addis, who has escaped the man that enslaved her and is now on the run. This story about oppression, love, loss, and freedom won the 2017 Phillis Wheatley Book Award for First Fiction and the 2017 Black Caucus of the American Library Association Literary Award for self-published fiction.

Lori Aurelia Williams is the YA author of When Kambia Elaine Flew in from Neptune, Broken China, Maxine Banks is Getting Married and Shayla’s Double Brown Baby Blues. Williams is also a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and recipient of a James A. Michener Fellowship. Born in Houston, Williams currently resides in Austin.

Don Tate an illustrator and author with more than 50 children’s books to his name including Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton, The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch and Ron’s Big Mission. Tate’s books tend to focus on historical events, he is the two-time recipient of an Ezra Jack Keats Book Author Award, the winner of a 2016 Christopher Award and a 2016 Texas Institute of Letters book award.

For more information, visit: http://www.aabookfest.com/

Explore Your Local: El Paso’s Newest Independent Bookstore, Literarity Book Shop

El Paso, TX. West Texas. Mountain Time. Desert. Borders.

The 915 is El Paso’s area code, and also how young natives refer to their city after singer Khalid popularized it in his song, “American Teen.” El Paso is the sixth largest city in Texas, which many don’t know because it’s over 552 miles away from the other large cities in the state. With this geographical isolation and distance, El Paso harnesses a unique culture, encompassing both the cozy small town feel while also promoting it’s progressive urban environment. El Paso is also a proud border town, sharing its border with New Mexico and Mexico, which houses a diverse population of Latinx peoples, among other immigrants from around the world. From this powerful culture, El Paso has given us such important art, specifically literary art.

 

Our intern Paulina, a native El Pasoan, is proud to present a two-part tour of on El Paso’s literary community: second, featuring Literarity Book Shop.

 

 

Situated on the westside of El Paso, and a short drive away from the University of Texas at El Paso, Literary Book Shop opened its doors on July 5th, 2017. Owners Bill Clark and Mary Anna Clark had been collecting books for about 30 years. The couple had lived in Los Angeles for several years, and missed the accessibility to independent bookstores in El Paso. Their solution? To open up their own independent bookstore.

 

 

Inside Literarity, I felt like I was walking through someone’s personal library. It was cozy and colorful, with little scrabble tiles decorating shelves with genre names. It made sense that this book shop felt like someone’s personal library because Bill and Mary Anna focused on incorporating their own collection alongside local author works and classics.

 

 

The phrase “open books open minds” is sprawled out on the shop’s back wall and encompasses the importance of both independent bookstores and literature itself.

“Books play an important role both in a local community and in society as a whole,” Bill Clark said. “Bookstores for many years have become a place where people can gather and exchange ideas and be exposed to new ways of thinking.”

 

To El Paso, this is special because of how diverse our community is. El Paso is a haven for immigrants from Latin America, Asia, and other parts of the world. The community has access to such different cultural experiences and mindsets because of our symbiotic border. So representation is a must for our literary community, and Literarity stocks both classics and a curated selection of new books, including works from local publishers Cinco Puntos Press and Veliz Books, as well as works from Dallas’ local publishing press, Deep Vellum. The shop has on its shelves works by Filipina author Sasha Pimentel, who lives in El Paso and teaches in the bilingual MFA program at UTEP. Literarity also has a great collection of Rosa Alcalá’s works. Other notable El Pasoan authors that grace Literarity’s shelves are Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Alfredo Corchado, and Phillip Connors.

 

 

Yet, because El Paso is over seven hours away from the other large Texas cities, it can feel like El Paso  is isolated from the rest of the Texan literary community. However, Bill stated “the support all starts here, locally,” and we couldn’t agree more. El Paso is thriving as a literary community because of the increased support that its local authors have been receiving, and will hopefully keep increasing as the scene gets bigger.

 

Bill was also nice enough to share his latest book picks and personal staples with us:

Since Literarity is still new, they do not have an online store just yet, so we highly encourage physically stopping by the shop to inquire and purchase any books! Otherwise, we have linked the following recommendations with BookPeople, our official Texas Book Festival book seller.

 

Homelands by Alfredo Corchado

BookPeople’s Description: “When Alfredo Corchado moved to Philadelphia in 1987, he felt as if he was the only Mexican in the city. But in a restaurant called Tequilas, he connected with two other Mexican men and one Mexican American, all feeling similarly isolated. Over the next three decades, the four friends continued to meet, coming together over their shared Mexican roots and their love of tequila. One was a radical activist, another a restaurant/tequila entrepreneur, the third a lawyer/politician. Alfredo himself was a young reporter for the Wall Street Journal.

Homelands merges the political and the personal, telling the story of the last great Mexican migration through the eyes of four friends at a time when the Mexican population in the United States swelled from 700,000 people during the 1970s to more than 35 million people today. It is the narrative of the United States in a painful economic and political transition.

As we move into a divisive, nativist new era of immigration politics, Homelands is a must-read to understand the past and future of the immigrant story in the United States, and the role of Mexicans in shaping America’s history. A deeply moving book full of colorful characters searching for home, it is essential reading.”

 

Song for the River by Phillip Connors 

BookPeople’s Description: “From one of the last fire lookouts in America comes this sequel to the award-winning Fire Season–a story of calamity and resilience in the world’s first Wilderness. A dozen years into his dream job keeping watch over the Gila Wilderness of New Mexico, Philip Connors bore witness to the wildfire he had always feared: a conflagration that forced him off his mountain by helicopter, and changed forever the forest and watershed he loved. It was merely one of many transformations that arrived in quick succession, not just fire and flood but illness, divorce, the death of a fellow lookout in a freak accident, and a tragic plane crash that rocked the community he called home. At its core an elegy for a friend he cherished like a brother, A Song for the River opens into celebration of a landscape redolent with meaning–and the river that runs through it. Connors channels the voices of the voiceless in a praise song of great urgency, and makes a plea to save a vital piece of our natural and cultural heritage: the wild Gila River, whose waters are threatened by a potential dam. Brimming with vivid characters and beautiful evocations of the landscape, A Song for the River carries the story of the Gila Wilderness forward to the present precarious moment, and manages to find green shoots everywhere sprouting from the ash. Its argument on behalf of things wild and free could not be more timely, and its goal is nothing less than permanent protection for that rarest of things in the American West, a free-flowing river–the sinuous and gorgeous Gila. It must not perish.”

 

For Want of Water by Sasha Pimentel

BookPeople’s Description: “El Paso is one of the safest cities in the United States, while across the river, Ciudad Juarez suffers a history of femicides and a horrific drug war. Witnessing this, a Filipina’s life unravels as she tries to love an addict, the murders growing just a city–but the breadth of a country–away. This collection weaves the personal with recent history, the domestic with the tragic, asking how much “a body will hold,” reaching from the border to the poet’s own Philippines. These poems thirst in the desert, want for water, searching the brutal and tender territories between bodies, families, and nations.”

 

 

 

Myother Tongue by Rosa Alcalá

BookPeople’s Description: “‘Rosa Alcalá’s new poemario, Myother Tongue, begins in the archives of what has yet to be written. She writes with precision and dynamism from the borders between death (of a mother) and birth (of a daughter). What a body produces, and what produces a body: labor, trauma, memory, sacrifice, pain, danger, and language formed both on the tongue and in the culture and the spaces between what can be said and what is missing, the linguistic and existential problem of not having the right words. The darknesses in Alcala’s work emerge from what happens when we don’t see ourselves in the languages that both form and destroy us as we labor in this ‘dream called money.’ Alcala is a {un}documentarian of the highest order, a {un}documentarian of what history and memory try to erase. Her poems are urgent, demanding and haunting.’  –Daniel Borzutzky”

 

 

 

The 915 – Cinco Puntos Press

El Paso, TX. West Texas. Mountain Time. Desert. Borders.

The 915 is El Paso’s area code, and also how young natives refer to their city after singer Khalid popularized it in his song, “American Teen.” El Paso is the sixth largest city in Texas, which many don’t know because it’s over 552 miles away from the other large cities in the state. With this geographical isolation and distance, El Paso harnesses a unique culture, encompassing both the cozy small town feel while also promoting it’s progressive urban environment. El Paso is also a proud border town, sharing its border with New Mexico and Mexico, which houses a diverse population of Latinx peoples, among other immigrants from around the world. From this powerful culture, El Paso has given us such important art, specifically literary art.

Our intern Paulina, a native El Pasoan, is proud to present a two-part tour of on El Paso’s literary community: first, featuring Cinco Puntos Press.

 

 

Cinco Puntos Press is a small, independent publishing company about three miles from the U.S. – Mexican border, founded in 1985 by Bobby and Lee Byrd. When I visited them, I was immediately immersed into the colors of their office. Everywhere I turned, I saw their published books displayed among other distinctly El Pasoan decorations.

One of Cinco Puntos’ first published books in 1987 was Joe Hayes’ La Llorona / The Weeping Woman. Bobby Byrd still regards this work as one of their best, mainly because he felt that Cinco Puntos Press did something that no other publishing firm had before. Cinco Puntos credits their familiarity with Mexican culture as one of the main reasons that La Llorona did so well across the country because the novel felt authentic to its cultural roots. La Llorona is also bilingual, which definitely reflects our border town lifestyle. 

 

 

But why, I asked, is this publishing press in El Paso? Why is it not in New York City like the majority of the industry? To this Bobby responded, “because this is where we live.” Being in El Paso offers a unique community and the ability to see hands-on how people from all walks of life are able to thrive in such a bi-national community. For a unique city, we need an exceptional publishing press, a press that is willing to offer a space for its authors to work hands-on with them.

Philip Connors, author of the soon to be released memoir, A Song for the River, was present during my visit, and spoke about how he loved that he was able to come into Cinco Puntos and literally sit down with the staff and work alongside them as he revised his manuscript. Although not a native El Pasoan, Connors was drawn to Cinco Puntos because of how well they published Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club

 

 

As I walked around the office, I was happy to notice that many of the authors were Latinx, like me. What’s the importance of a diverse range of books? Why does Cinco Puntos value diversity in their literature? “Well, that’s where we live,” Bobby responded to this with a smile. Unlike many publishing companies, Cinco Puntos does not need to go out of their area and look for a diverse authorship because El Paso already cultivates such a diverse community. Bobby emphasized how Mexican Americans make up such a large percentage of the U.S. population, and how it’s not a niche market, so why wouldn’t Cinco Puntos Press be publishing books by and for Mexican Americans? In these moments during my visit I felt so proud that this publishing press has been doing so much not just for my El Paso community, but also for immigrants like myself that have such powerful stories just by living on the border.

Cinco Puntos also prides itself of commissioning local El Pasoan artists to design book covers, such as David Bowles’ Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky. This artist duo Los Dos (or Lxs Dos) are El Paso/Juarez natives that make murals in both of the sister cities.

 

Bobby Byrd in front of Cinco Puntos’ mural of Oscar Acosta by local artist duo Los Dos.

 

Cinco Puntos Press is distributed by Consortium Books, so it’s easy to come by their works at several bookstores in Texas. Here are some recommendations from both Bobby and myself:

 

A Song for the River:

Publisher’s Description: “The Gila River and Wilderness are the heart and soul of A Song for the River. Every summer since 2002, Connors has been perched in a tower 50 feet above the Gila Wilderness, watching for fire. His first book, Fire Season (which saw 30,000 copies sold), recounted the deep lessons learned about mountains, wilderness, fire, and solitude. A Song for the River, its sequel, updates and deepens the story: the mountain he loves goes up in flames; a lookout on another mountain whom he has come to love as brother dies in a freak accident; and three high school students he admires die tragically in an airplane crash while researching the wilderness and the wild river they wish to save. Connors channels their voices in a praise song of great urgency and makes a plea to save a vital piece of our natural and cultural heritage: the wild Gila River, whose waters are threatened by a potential dam.”

 

 

Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky

Publisher’s Description: “The stories in Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky trace the history of the world from its beginnings in the dreams of the dual god Ometeotl, to the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors in Mexico and the fall of the great city Tenochtitlan. In the course of that history we learn about the Creator Twins, Feathered Serpent, and Dark Heart of Sky, and how they built the world on a leviathan’s back; of the shape-shifting nahualli; and the aluxes—elfish beings known to help out the occasional wanderer. And finally, we read Aztec tales about the arrival of the blonde strangers from across the sea, the strangers who seek to upend the rule of Motecuhzoma and destroy the very stories we are reading.

David Bowles stitches together the fragmented mythology of pre-Colombian Mexico into an exciting, unified narrative in the tradition of William Buck’s Ramayana, Robert Fagles’ Iliad, and Neil Gaiman’s Norse Myths. Readers of Norse and Greek mythologies will delight in this rich retelling of stories less explored.”

 

All Around Us 

Publisher’s Description: “Grandpa says circles are all around us. He points to the rainbow that rises high in the sky after a thundercloud has come. “Can you see? That’s only half of the circle. That rest of it is down below, in the earth.” He and his granddaughter meditate on gardens and seeds, on circles seen and unseen, inside and outside us, on where our bodies come from and where they return to. They share and create family traditions in this stunning exploration of the cycles of life and nature.

Xelena González has roots in San Antonio, Texas, but has stretched her wings to fly all the way to Guangzhou, China, where she works as a librarian in an international school. She studied journalism at Northwestern University and library science at Texas Woman’s University, but her true training as a storyteller has come from getting to know other living beings—including plants, animals, and people who happen to speak different languages or see the world in unusual ways. All Around Us is her first book.

Adriana M Garcia, an award-winning artist, muralist, and scenic designer was born and raised on the west-side of San Antonio. She received her BFA From Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and studied fine arts in Valencia, Spain. ”

 

Folly Cove

Publisher’s Description: “Against a 1970s backdrop of Vietnam, political corruption, and radical activism, comes the true story of a loose confederacy of thrill-seeking opportunists and disaffected veterans who pulled off the largest, most audacious pot smuggle yet attempted—over twenty-eight tons of primo Colombian headed for the densely populated coast of Massachusetts in a rusty shrimp boat at the height of hurricane season. From the borderland of El Paso to the High Sierra of Mexico to the coast of South America and back, this is how they parlayed their first puff into truckloads, planeloads, and ultimately, the mother lode. Folly Cove is a high-spirited tale of the early days, when the business of pot was a benign crusade to keep America high. “

Independent Bookstore Day

 

Tomorrow is the last Saturday in April, which means book lovers across the country are gearing up for Independent Bookstore Day. Each year on this day, indie bookstores hold special events featuring authors, live music, children’s activities, readings, and more. Just as no two bookstores are the same, no two parties are either.

The holiday encourages people to visit and support their nearby bookstores. Locals know these stores bring more to a city than just books. They are community spaces, places where people can come together to gab about new releases or old classics, or get lost for hours just perusing the shelves. Even with the rise of e-readers and online bookselling, local bookstore don’t seem to be going anywhere any time soon. In fact, more have cropped up in recent years.

Whether you live in Houston, Austin, El Paso, or elsewhere, independent bookstores across Texas are celebrating tomorrow. Here’s what some Texas bibliophiles are up to:

 

BookPeople, Austin

The largest independent bookstore in Texas is hosting readings and a book swap. At 10:30 a.m., Xelena González and Adriana M. Garcia will host a storytime with their award-winning children’s book All Around Us! Then, in the evening at 6 p.m., visitors can bring their favorite book from home and participate in a White Elephant style book swap while snacking and drinking wine and beer.

Also, Austinites can participate in the city’s second annual bookstore crawl. Participants visit three or more of Austin’s 15+ bookstores, complete a task at each one, and post about it on social media using #atxbookstorecrawl to be entered in a drawing to win the grand prize: books, gift cards, and more.

 

Brazos Bookstore, Houston

Houston’s longtime book hub is hosting events all day, including a book poster raffle, storytime, face painting, coffee and poetry, adult coloring, and more. View the schedule of events here.

 

Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston

Another longstanding Houston indie bookstore, Blue Willow is hosting events, including a storytime, book bag giveaway, and literary libations.

 

Interabang, Dallas

Dallas’ newest independent bookstore is participating in its first Indie Bookstore Day with a lineup of events. They’ll have a storytime, book recommendation session, and happy hour. And if you spend $50 or more at the store, you’ll get a free Interabang tote or mug.

 

Other Texas Independent Bookstores to Check Out

 

 

 

Explore Your Local: The Literary City of San Antonio

Last weekend, we headed to the sixth annual San Antonio Book Festival, where thousands flooded the grounds of the Central Library to peruse books and catch panels and presentations with their favorite authors. Among the crowds were some 90 authors, including the likes of Jorge Ramos, Attica Locke, Sandra Cisneros, and Luis Alberto Urrea.

 

Throughout the day, audiences listened to panels discussing topics like Timothy Leary, once infamously known as “the most dangerous man in America,” border issues, and the science of jellyfish. Those looking for a laugh visited Paula Poundstone, popular standup comedian and panelist on NPR’s comedy quiz program Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! And poetry lovers lined up for the Typewriter Rodeo, whose members spent the day clacking away on vintage keyboards, writing up poems on the spot for anyone who came by. When visitors weren’t sitting in on panels or waiting in lines that curved throughout the library to meet literary icons like Sandra Cisneros, they scouted out Fiesta medals from the booths lined up outside. (We still have a few Texas Book Festival Fiesta medals for sale until after Fiesta 2018!)

Texas Book Festival Fiesta medals

The day came and went all too quickly — but San Antonio’s literary scene thrives year-round. A number of authors have chosen to call San Antonio home. Naomi Shihab Nye, author of 19 Varieties of Gazelle and Habibi, lives there, as does poet and children’s book author Carmen Tafolla. Before she moved to Mexico in 2015, Cisneros had a house of her own in the city, one that spurred controversy in the ’90s for its periwinkle veneer. It’s no wonder writers find the city appealing. It’s colorful, lively atmosphere and rich history make it a great setting to base novels in. In fact, it’s the backdrop of several books, including a number of Rick Riordan’s mysteries, like Big Tequila Red, and Stephen Harrigan’s The Gates of the Alamo.

A peak inside the Twig

The city’s local literary scene is also thriving. There are a number of independent bookstores that have cropped up over the years. The Twig Book Shop is a cozy shop tucked away in the popular Pearl Brewery area. Book lovers come to browse the shelves, listen to readings from local and national poets and authors, or join book clubs. Not too far away sit Antiquarian Book Mart, a shop started in 1971 that buys, sells, and trades books, and another long-standing landmark Cheever Books, which has sold a collection of unusual and rare books for over 30 years. 

 

So, even if you missed this year’s festival, San Antonio’s literary scene is always ready to be explored.

Elizabeth Crook on her new novel “THE WHICH WAY TREE”

Elizabeth Crook’s latest novel The Which Way Tree is an epic southern tale. It chronicles the dangerous endeavors of Samantha Shreve, a 12-year-old girl growing up in Austin, Texas, just after the Civil War. After witnessing a panther kill her mother, she sets out with a hodge-podge team of characters to slay the evil beast—which, around these parts, is known as El Demonio de Dos Dedos. Told from the point of view of her older brother Ben, the story feels both authentic and intimate.

Crook is the award-winning author of five books, including Monday, Monday, a fictional account of the 1960 mass shooting at The University of Texas at Austin, which won the 2015 Jesse H. Jones Award for fiction from the Texas Institute of Letters. Our intern Marisa asked her a few questions about her new book, which is available at your local bookstore or library now!

 

What was the research process like for this book?

A lot of fun. It involved the usual plunge into history books, articles, old authentic journals and letters from the period—a lot of reading and note taking about everything from the politics of the time to the specifics of daily life. And then of course it involved deciding what was relevant to the story and what wasn’t—and leaving a lot of it out. It was more fun than it sounds! Essentially, as a writer, you have to know the history intimately enough to step into that time every day and get around without being recognized as an imposter.

 

In your mind, how does this book veer from or continue themes you’ve explored in your previous books?

That’s hard to say: my books differ vastly in subject matter. The most common theme is humanity running up against inhumanity during various kinds of chaos.  For the most part my characters, in all five books, tend to be good people trying to make their way through actual historical, and often violent, events. They often make grave mistakes in the ways they try to navigate. The books portray some amount of loss and sadness but aren’t depressing, I hope. There’s a big difference between a book that makes you sad at moments and a book that leaves you depressed. I wouldn’t want to write the latter. The Which Way Tree deals with heavy subject matter, as my other books do also, but what readers often comment on is the humor in Benjamin’s storytelling.

 

Why did you decide to write this book now?

When my son was fourteen he got lost in the canyons in Bandera County one night, and was finally located by search helicopters after a nine hour hunt, during which a mountain lion was spotted trailing through the canyon into which he had disappered. It was the scariest night of my life and left me obsessed with mountain lions and their attacks on humans. I read everything I could find on the subject. I guess I wrote this story partly because I had run out of real life accounts to obsess over.   

 

What challenges did you face writing this book and how did you try to overcome them?

Actually The Which Way Tree presented fewer challenges than my other books and was more fun to write. Every chapter rolled naturally into the next. I suppose the greatest challege was how to frame it. A boy Benjamin’s age wouldn’t simply sit down and write this tale, so I needed to give him a plausible reason for doing so. It took some figuring and brainstorming, but in the end I decided to write the story as testimony to a war crime, under mandate of a judge, in order to justify its existence.  

 

The book tells the story of an epic tale, akin to that of “The Whale” (Moby-Dick) which you mention several times throughout. Yet, the book itself isn’t too lengthy. How did you manage that?

Benjamin is recounting events that deal with a small cast of characters during a brief amount of time. He doesn’t elaborate, he just tells what happened. So the story covers a lot of ground quickly. For instance, here’s the brief paragraph at the end of a chapter, when Benjamin and three other characters set out to fetch a panther tracking dog:

“We fed the goats, turned the chickens loose in the yard to scratch, tossed cobs out for the pigs should they come up from the creek, mounted up and started off. It was about noon at that time.” Having Benjamin tell the story kept me from wasting any words in describing how things are done. They’re just done.  

 

When writing books that take place in a different time period, do you ever feel a pressure to make them relevant to today? If so, why and how do you achieve that?

No, I never strive for that. If I’m telling a story set in the past, it stays where it’s rooted. If there are themes relevant to today, it’s only because human nature tends to lead us into the same kind of predicaments repeatedly.

Explore Your Local: A Peek Inside Interabang Books, Dallas’ Newest Independent Bookstore

 

When I walked into Interabang Books—Dallas’ newest independent bookstore—for the first time, I felt like I was walking into an art exhibit. My eyes were immediately drawn to the wall in the middle of the store adorned with a retro, comic-book-style mural of a man and a woman talking on telephones. Then, I was struck by the wall to my left. It was lined end to end with colorful spines, and I wondered how long it would take me to peruse every row. The wall on my right featured crisp white shelves, showcasing several selected titles with their covers facing out. Each one looked like a curated work of art.

The store’s aesthetically pleasing nature makes sense, considering one of the masterminds behind it, Jeremy Ellis, was an art history major at Texas State University. Now, he brings his artistic eye to the store. He painted the mural and changes it out every few months.

 

 

Ellis has been a part of Texas’ independent bookstore scene since 1994. He started off at Taylor’s bookstore in Dallas, then moved to BookPeople in Austin where he was the marketing director, and later worked as the general manager of Brazos Bookstore in Houston. After nearly five years in Houston, Ellis was looking to move back to Dallas, which was lacking a full-service independent bookstore at the time. When he met Lori Feathers, now Interabang’s co-owner and book buyer, and Nancy Perot, who had long had an interest in community-centered bookstores, the three teamed up. On July 1, 2017, Interabang opened its doors. Now, the 5,000-square-foot space houses about 16,000 titles.

Since it’s begun, Interabang has brought in a series of well-renowned authors for signings and readings. Author Ann Patchett spoke at the grand opening, which garnered a crowd of about 500 people. It’s only fitting Patchett christened the space—she’s sort of a symbol of success herself in the world of independent bookstores. In 2011, she opened up one of her own, Parnassus Books, in Nashville.

 

 

Some might wonder how indies can thrive in an era of Amazon and e-readers, but the independent bookstore movement has gained ground in recent years. Though they were once closing across the country, since 2009 they’ve grown in number by 40 percent, according to the American Booksellers Association. Staying relevant is all about evolving, Ellis says. Good bookstores reflect their community. At Interabang, the staff is always adapting to what patrons want, listening to them and checking sales reports to find trends. “The real product of an independent bookstore is the staff,” Ellis says. “You can get the same collection of pages from just about anyone, but you might not be able to find that collection without going to the individual who recommended something that you really loved. No algorithm can do that.”

With that in mind, I went around asking Interabang’s booksellers what books they recommend right now and why. 

 

For teens, Melanie Thompson, the children’s events and marketing coordinator, recommends Wicked like Wildfire by Lana Popovic. “You’re going to want to visit Montenegro after reading this book,” she says. “Its gorgeous and ancient cultural setting provides a brilliant tapestry for this mysterious drama of mothers, sisters, and possibly witches to play out. Delicious to read in so many ways.”

 

 

 

Jack Freeman, digital marketing coordinator, loves poetry and non-fiction. For poetry, he recommends Fast by Jorie Graham, which won a Pulitzer Prize in 2017. “This is truly ambitious,” he says. “It gets at truth with a capital-T, without being pedantic. It does what poetry tries to do: makes you feel not alone.”

For non-fiction, he recommends The Line Becomes a River by Francisco Cantú, a memoir out Feb. 6. Cantú, a Mexican-American, spent four years as a U.S. Border Patrol agent. “You can tell what an empathetic writer he is,” Freeman says. “He’s writing as a human being who has been exposed to human suffering.”

 

Tyler Heath, inventory assistant, recommends Heartbreaker: Stories by Maryse Meijer. “These stories are uncomfortable and stay with you the next day like a hangover,” he claims. “Not for the faint of heart.”

 

 

 

 

 

Tom Blute, events coordinator, recommends Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews. “It’s the third in the trilogy, and it’s a modern Russian spy thriller,” he says. He’s quick to note Matthews himself worked for the C.I.A. and included a lot of insider information in the book. It’s a wonder how he got so many details past the agency’s redacting committee.

 

 

 

 

And finally, Carlos Guajardo, store manager, recommends Beautiful Animals by Lawrence Osborne. “On a Greek island, two wealthy young women encounter a handsome Syrian refugee, whom they endeavor to help, with disastrous results,” he says. “Perfect for fans of Patricia Highsmith, Graham Greene, and Saul Bellow.”