TBF Book Picks: Dad Reads Edition

What do you call reading a book for the second time?

A book re-view.

Let’s hear it for fathers! We all know Dad Jokes are a celebrated genre unto themselves, and Dad Sneakers have (somehow) found their way to the cutting edge of fashion recently, but we’d like to put forth our sort of fatherly favorite: Dad Reads. A dad read is exactly what it sounds like: whether fiction, nonfiction, comedy, sci-fi, memoir, comic book, or how-to, any book a dad could and would read counts!

In honor of Father’s Day this weekend, we asked some dads in the TBF community to recommend their own Dad Read—check out their picks below.


Brian Sweany, member of TBF Board of Directors
A Political Education: A Washington Memoir – Harry McPherson
Don’t let the publication date fool you—though written in 1972 by proud Tyler native Harry McPherson, this writerly memoir of his political life as staffer and counselor to Lyndon B. Johnson is fresh and lively. The richness comes from McPherson’s unfailingly honest insights about how political power really works, in ways that can be both inspiring and deflating. I love to underline as I read, and I’ve marked nearly every page to highlight a witty line or a wise comment that proves why so many people rank this as one of the best political memoirs ever written.


Hopeton Hay, TBF community partner and host of KAZI Book Review
Faith and Struggle In the Lives of Four African Americans – Randal Maurice Jelks
In Faith and Struggle In the Lives of Four African Americans, author Randal Maurice Jelks chronicles the religious journeys of four prominent Americans from the 20th century: Ethel Waters, a jazz, blues, and gospel singer and actress whose career spanned 1917-1977; Mary Lou Williams, a jazz pianist, arranger, and composer, who performed from 1920-1980; Eldridge Cleaver, a political activist in the 1960s and 70s, and an early leader of the Black Panther Party; and former world boxing champion Muhammad Ali. The book is a fascinating look at how their religious beliefs evolved, informed, and influenced their personal and professional lives. Jelks is a professor of history at the University of Kansas and a former Presbyterian clergyman.

Alejandro Ruelas, spouse of TBF Board of Directors member
Letters to Children – C.S. Lewis
This book is a compilation of letters that C.S. Lewis wrote in response to fan letters from young readers of The Chronicles of Narnia series. He believed that it was his duty to answer all of them and did so with great care and attention to detail.
The letters are lessons on the power of the written word. With these notes, C.S. Lewis didn’t just offer children nuggets of his wisdom, but also spread love, appreciation, and respect in ways that surely touched all who received them for the rest of their lives. I found the book inspiring and a personal invitation to reconnect with my own pen. As a nice bonus, the book also provides a short sketch of C.S. Lewis’s childhood, giving the reader insight into the experiences that fed his imagination.

Ken Cho, member of TBF Board of Directors
The Snow Hunters – Paul Yoon
What do Bill Belichick, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Herb Kelleher, and I all have in common? We all went to Wesleyan University. Wesleyan alums are like the Canadians of college — as Canadians like point out other famous Canadians like Ellen Page, Michael J. Fox, or Ryan Gosling, we like to point out each other. Well, Paul Yoon, the award-winning author The Mountain, Snow Hunters, and Once the Shore, is another Wes alum. His 2013 novel, Snow Hunters, follows the adventures of Yohan, a North Korean POW, who leaves his war-ravaged home country at the end of the Korean War to find a new life in Brazil. Snow Hunters encapsulates universal themes such as adventure, love and rebirth — what else could you want in a novel?
(Last fun fact: Yoon is not only a fellow Korean-American Wesleyan alum, but he  married a Laura, just as I did.)

Adam Loewy, TBF Sponsor and spouse of Board of Advisors member

Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng
This is such a remarkably layered novel about the intersection of several lives in middle America. I tend to prefer nonfiction, but I simply couldn’t put this down. I was so excited to see Celeste speak at the Texas Book Festival Literary Gala last year!



Emmet Campos, TBF Community Ambassador and Partner
East Of The Freeway: Reflections De Mi Pueblo – Raúl Salinas

East of the Freeway is a powerful collection of poems written by Raúl Salinas, Chicanx poet, local East Austin community activist, and founder of Resistencia Bookstore and Casa de Red Salmon Arts Press. He was an inspiration and mentor for me and hundreds of fellow graduate students at UT and elsewhere, and demonstrated in practice how to merge scholarship and activism, arts and social justice struggle. When I first read Un Trip thru the Mind Jail, written by Salinas at the height of the 1960’s-70’s Chicana/o social movement, in my first Chicana Lit class at UW Madison, I was blown away by this signature poem. It resonated powerfully with me and other students who had never read poetry or literature written by our own community, inspiring us to tell our story, in our own words.


Darryl Tocker, TBF Treasurer and member of Board of Directors
Endurance – Scott Kelly

An interesting look at Astronaut Scott Kelly’s year-long assignment in the International Space Station and his career path to get there. Every chapter makes me reflect on how comfortable my life is.
Next up, I’m planning to read Bitcoin Billionaires by Ben Mezrich.  The author of The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook: A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal (adapted into the film The Social Network) and Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions (adapted into the film 21).  Mezrich turns his attention to Bitcoin and finds the Winklevoss twins.

Brian Sweany

Brian D. Sweany has been active in Texas media and communications for more than two decades. As a founding partner at Upward Strategy Group, he has served as the communications director for state agencies, developed the communications strategy for a major public policy initiative at the Legislature, and worked closely with Richards Partners on behalf of national clients like the Salvation Army.

A proud alum of Texas Monthly, he started his journalism career there as an intern, in 1996, and ultimately served as Editor-in-Chief until he resigned in 2016. He led the magazine’s political coverage for multiple legislative sessions, and in his final year, he was named to the Folio 100 as an “Up and Coming Trailblazer” for leading “one of the highest quality regional magazines in the US, where editorial excellence is the norm.”

He is an active board member of the Texas Book Festival and the Mayborn School of Journalism at UNT, and in his free time, you can find him on the tennis court trying not to double-fault or at his home office trying to finish his biography of Charles Goodnight.

Six Korean Literature Must-Reads from Lois

Join us in celebrating Asian American/Pacific Islander Heritage Month! We’re highlighting AAPI literature and members of our state’s literary community. Today’s post comes from our own Executive Director, Lois Kim. For our wrap up to Asian American/ Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Lois is recommending some favorite books, across several genres, by authors who share her Korean heritage.

Eugenia Kim, The Kinship of Secrets

I was interested in reading this book because it details the impact of the Korean War on a family who is uprooted from Seoul when the Northern Korean Army invades the city in 1950 and the family is forced to flee to the South. My mother experienced this same journey when she was ten years old with some of her brothers and my grandmother, and I wanted to have a deeper understanding of that lived experience. Kim delivers all—its historical context, physical experience, and psychological terrain—in vivid detail. The novel begins with the heartbreaking separation of families: Miran, who journeys as a baby to the U.S. with her parents before the war, and Inja, the daughter who is left behind in Korea with her relatives and are the ones who are uprooted when the war breaks out. What is intended to be a temporary separation becomes a long one, and Kim follows both sisters’ stories with resonating emotional detail. I’m suggesting it as the all-summer read for three generations of my maternal extended family: the first generation who experienced the war directly; my generation—my sisters, cousins, and myself—born in Korea or the US, but all raised in the States; and the third generation of our kids, all biracial, who range in age from elementary to post-college, many of whom have never been to Korea or don’t know its history. This book is not only for readers of Korean descent, of course, and will be compelling to any readers interested in multigenerational stories and historical fiction.

Min Jin Lee, Free Food for Millionaires

If you follow TBF, you know that we’ve been obsessed with Min Jin Lee ever since she came as a featured author and gala speaker at our 2017 Festival. It’s been incredible to see the impact that she and Pachinko have made on so many readers around the world. If you can’t wait for American Hagwon, the novel Lee is working on now, then check out Free Food for Millionaires, Lee’s first novel. It’s a very different book than Pachinko, but similarly expresses Lee’s ability to draw genuine human characters in a fully realized social world—in this case, the epicenter of immigrant aspiration and dreams, New York City in the 1990s. Lee follows the fortunes of Casey Han, a Princeton-educated daughter of Korean immigrants as she navigates love, career, and her longing to belong, the itch that can never quite be scratched to satisfaction for generations of immigrants and immigrant children sorting through where and how they belong in America.

David Yoo, The Choke Artist

This is a seriously funny memoir and like in all truly funny memoirs, David Yoo doesn’t hold back in relating—in excruciating, painful detail—every indignity, moment of shame, and feeling of self-loathing as he comes of age in the exceedingly white environs of his childhood Connecticut suburb, small upstate New York liberal arts college, Colorado grad school, and beyond. His adult self reflects on the myriad desperate ways he tried to fit in at the expense of loving himself and accepting his ethnicity, to great tragicomic effect. I would love for my teenage kids and their cousins to read it, but as it contains many, many depictions of awkward sexual encounters, I will have to find another way for them to find the book than having their middle-aged mother/aunt recommending it to them, as they would die of embarrassment—which would be fitting, as this book is a long exercise in the limitless ways young people are embarrassed and not yet able to fully grasp the tender needs driving their seemingly inexplicable behaviors.

Han Kang, The White Book

Lovely and vivid, The White Book is what it says it is: a book about white things. Swaddling bands, a newborn gown, salt, snow, ice, moon, rice, and other white things capture Han Kang’s imagination. The book is very short (heads up to those of you trying to do the 50 book challenge!), and it feels more like a collection of short poetic essays than a novel, but the meditations do progress. There is a story of personal loss behind Kang’s narrative, but readers will find their own meanings in Kang’s descriptions and orderings of white things. It is a very different book from her Man Booker award-winning The Vegetarian, but just as skillful in conveying a haunting sense of isolation, beauty, and loss.

Rachel Yang, My Rice Bowl

I love to cook. One of the perks of my job is occasionally get my hands on some cookbooks I might not otherwise see. I picked up an advance reading copy of My Rice Bowl a couple of years ago and decided to make several recipes with friends for New Year’s Eve dinner last year. Yang’s cookbook hits all my sweet spots of what I look for in cookbooks: great to read, with lots of personal narrative about how chefs interpret their culture through their cuisine, beautiful photographs (of course), and ambitious but not too ambitious recipes. In cooking for family and friends, I aspire to shoot for one or two steps above what I would normally cook for dinner (e.g., throw some protein and veggies on a sheet pan with good olive oil, Maldon salt, and pepper, then roast at a high temperature), as I don’t have the patience to do anything too fussy with a ton of difficult techniques. I grew up on my mom’s Korean cooking, and I so appreciate how Yang honors the spirit of traditional Korean dishes while riffing on new ingredients and combinations of flavors.

Favorite crowd-pleasing recipe: Crispy Cauliflower with bagna cauda and pickled lemons. Trust me. If you make it, your people will love it.

Angie Kim, Miracle Creek

This book only came out last month, and I just opened it up, but can attest that Miracle Creek grabs you from the first pages. An immigrant couple, their unusual oxygen chamber contraption, and a disorienting accident lead right into a courtroom trial of what happened in this “miracle submarine,” an oxygen vessel that promises to cure autism, infertility, and other conditions. This book promises to be a page-turning legal and human drama that I’m planning to take to the beach. Read it with me and let me know what you think!

Celebrating AAPI Literature: Thu’s AAPI Book Club

Join us in celebrating Asian American/Pacific Islander Heritage Month! We’re highlighting AAPI literature and members of our state’s literary community—like Thu Doan, a great booklover, previous Festival moderator, and member of the Inprint team in Houston. Thu runs her own Asian and Asian American book club in Houston, and here talks about why she chose to start on and how it works.


In January, I started a book club called Books, Hugs & Harmony to highlight and explore books written by Asian and Asian American authors. At the time, I was working as the Events Manager at Brazos Bookstore in Houston, and since then I’ve moved on to promoting reading and writing at Inprint, a literary non-profit just a mile away. My teams at both at Brazos and Inprint read diversely and our taste in literature is a reflection of our city: Houston, the most diverse city in America. I read mostly fiction by Asian and Asian American authors mainly because I was starved of Asian literature growing up. Now, I’m voracious!

Books, Hugs & Harmony is a play off of the rap group Bone Thugs-N-Harmony because that’s what I just happened to be listening to. I didn’t want to get caught up in a mess of political correctness and Asian puns. It’s a slippery slope. I don’t want to go viral, I just want to read the books I like and force other people to do it too. I thought, “well, names aren’t important and they can be changed, so I just need to do it—start my Asian book club!”
My impression is that, maybe, starting a book club is hard, and that’s why not everybody does it? I’ve boiled it down to picking a book, time, and place. Then, you invite people to come. If you want it to be really special, then there should be snacks! Social media makes sharing and reminding people simple too.
A rule of thumb I like to follow is to set my expectations very low. For instance, I would be very happy if one person or 100 people showed up at my book club. Why else would I host my book club at a boba shop? If no one shows up, then I would merrily read my book while sucking up boba milk tea. If no one showed up, I would even order a very messy snack. Luckily, so far the meetings have ranged from 5-10 people.
Our meetings are casual. We share an open discussion about the month’s pick ranging from themes, issues, comparison studies, and everything in between. I try to ask questions without any expectation because, to my surprise, a lot of the people that come to my book club have never been in a book club. I feel really touched that they choose to dedicate their time to reading the books and coming out to meetings.
For our reading options, I try to choose paperback books or older books that are easy to access, and I circulating my picks by country because it’s interesting to experience the variance in cultures and to highlight underrepresented cultures within an already underrepresented subset. While I do take recommendations and suggestions, I find that if people have too many choices, you end up in the same situation as endlessly asking “What do you want for dinner?” back and forth until no one even wants dinner. Do you feel my drift? So, in a way, I am the best, most ideal kind of dictator. Did I mention I’ve received positive feedback? Well I guess that’s what a dictator is expected to hear after all.
Overall, I’m dedicated to Books, Hugs & Harmony. I hope it grows, people learn new things, and come away with a bigger appreciation for Asian and Asian American literature.
Books We’ve Read So Far:
Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto
The Collected Schizophrenias by Esmé Weijun Wang
The Body Myth by Rheea Mukherjee
Bright by Duanwad Pimwana
Up Next: Want to join Books, Hugs & Harmony? They’ll be reading America is Not the Heart by Elaine Castillo, and meeting to chat on Saturday, June 15, 10am at Inprint House, 1520 West Main, Houston, TX.

Celebrating AAPI Literature: The Wonders of a Childhood Library

Join us in celebrating Asian American/Pacific Islander Heritage Month! We’re highlighting AAPI literature and members of our state’s literary community—like Archana Vemulapalli, a great booklover, friend of TBF, and member of our board of advisors. Archana also serves as a board member on South Asian Austin Moms (SAAM), a non-profit organization founded in 2014 that hosts educational and cultural events with proceeds going to charitable causes that empower women and help children in the Austin community. Here, she recommends some of her favorite childhood books, along with some current favorites as well, with thanks to the small library that started it all.


In India where I grew up, our weekly visit to the library—which we walked or rode our bikes to, unchaperoned back in the day—could easily be one of my favorite memories. This library was unimpressive-looking, a small dingy room with dim lights. Amidst the million crammed books packed like sardines, there was a precarious little staircase that sprung out and spiraled up to an attic with more books. We had a plethora of choices, with writers from every corner of the world: Misha, a Soviet children’s magazine; Amar Chitra Katha and Tinkle, two popular Indian comic book series; Panchatantra Tales, animal-based original Sanskrit fables; plus Phantom, Marvel, Enid Blyton, Agatha Christie, Sherlock Holmes, etc. These books gave me unimaginable access to and understanding of the entire world. They left an everlasting impression on me and I want share some of my favorites—some from my childhood and others I read as an adult—by AAPI authors who give us glimpses into Indian culture living in different parts of the world, still bound by the same human emotions and connections.


Life with Grandfather – written and illustrated by Shankar

My grandfather—an erudite, respectable, charitable man who spent endless hours nurturing his precious grandchildren with stories and poetry, and imparting the morals of life through his inimitable humility, wit, and humor—had little in common with the titular character in this book. But what endeared me especially to this lovely picture book was the relationship between the grandfather and grandson. That bond between grandparent and grandchild, however different their personalities and stories, strikes a chord with anyone who’s had the good fortune to be close to their grandparents or some other guardian who cares for them. This book is long and lithe, like the grandfather in the story, and the reader can’t help but care for the two main protagonists: the stern stoic grandfather, a religious proper man and his cherubic little grandson who cannot help but get into mischief while his grandparents raise him with much love and a dose of discipline in a tiny idyllic village in rural India. 

Malgudi Adventures – by R.K. Narayan

I was introduced to Malgudi Adventures and the genius of R.K. Narayan through a TV series based on his book (which instantly evokes the memory of this tune). R.K. Narayan is one of India’s most prominent authors and was credited with bringing Indian writing to the rest of the world. A good friend to Graham Greene and admired by stalwarts such as W. Somerset Maugham, John Updike, and Jhumpa Lahiri, to name a few. With comparisons to Faulkner, Dickens, Chekov, E.M. Forster, and Guy de Maupassant, R.K. Narayan was one of India’s literary geniuses. He had an amazing ability to write a rich portrait of the simple lives of regular people, with their humanity, trials, and tribulations—often with a subtle sense of humor that made his prose unforgettable and poignant. He is most fondly remembered for his short stories on Malgudi‚ a fictional semi-urban town in Southern India with stories about its people and community often through the eyes of children. His writing style is unpretentious and the memory of his stories last a lifetime.


The Village by the Sea by Anita Desai 

I still remember the first few pages of this cinematic novella. Set on the banks of a village by the sea, the book tells you the story of a young boy who lives in the village slum with his family and the hardships he endures, due to a father who is mostly drunk, a mother who is chronically ill, and the meager means by which they get by. The picture Desai paints with her words—of the beautiful village, life and nature in coastal India, even all the way to the sweltering chaotic streets of Mumbai—are breathtakingly beautiful, a visual treat of words. I can still taste the salt of the sea. The class differences and impact of urbanization come through in a manner so subtle, so well-crafted that I can still remember every detail of the experiences and emotions the little boy goes through. I cannot say enough about this book and highly recommend reading it. 


Ara, the Star Engineer – written by Komal Singh, illustrated by Ipek Konak

This book is a real joy to read to my kids. The story follows a little girl working to solve a problem, with some help from a few amazing adult characgters based on real-life trailblazing women in technology. It’s a real treat to see the diversity in the book and to read about the real people behind the characters. I was especially impressed with how a problem so big—”counting the number of stars”—was broken down into simple steps teaching the basics of computing and programming. Towards the end of the book is attached a small chapbook of sorts that serves as a fascinating guide to code your own algorithm to solve a problem. Diversity of cultures, women powerhouses, a little girl interested in coding—what’s not to like? These are the kinds of books we need to see more of! 

Aru Shah and the End of Time – by Roshani Chokshi

Supported and presented by Rick Riordan, Roshani Chokshi’s first novel in the series is for middle grade readers (though my eight year old daughter lapped it up). While Riordan’s Percy Jackson series delves deep into Greek mythology, Chokshi’s book is imbued with the influences she had as a child, growing up listening to mythological Indian stories (her father is Indian). The book brings us characters straight from The Mahabharata (the classic Indian epic poem and legend with incredible demons, gods and immortals) and tells the fascinating story of Aru, an unlikely heroine, with the backdrop of the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture where her mother works. Aru unwittingly frees a demon and is thrust into a situation that forces her to embark on an adventure of a lifetime.


2019 BookPeople Day of Sales for TBF

It’s that time of year again! On Wednesday, May 29, readers in Austin can head to local independent bookstore and official Festival Bookseller, BookPeople, and shop to stuff their bookshelves in support of Texas Book Festival.

That day, from store opening until closing, BookPeople will donate a portion of all book sales to the Texas Book Festival. Fundraisers like these help us keep our annual Festival Weekend and Texas Teen Book Festival free and open to the public, as well as support our year-round literacy programs and grants.

So stop by Wednesday, May 29, grab that new book (or five) you’ve been itching to read, and help us keep our annual Festival Weekend free and open to the public!

In the meantime, check out Julie’s post about TBF Alums on our Lit Blog and read more about exciting current and forthcoming titles from previous Texas Book Festival authors (available on the TBF display at BookPeople).


A Spotlight on Texas Libraries: The Small but Mighty Marathon Public Library

Pictured above: Marathon Public Library patrons pose with some favorite books.

Libraries, beyond being a calm, quiet space where anyone and everyone is welcome to gather and learn, can often be a lifeline in their communities. Libraries provide access to things beyond books, media, and the internet—some, like the Marathon Public Library, provide parenting support meetings, after-school care, even needed school supplies.

Supporting and promoting Texas libraries has been a key part of our mission since the Texas Book Festival’s founding, and we’d like to proudly highlight some of the libraries we’ve worked with across our great state, like the Marathon Public Library, in Marathon, TX, outside Big Bend National Park.

A young librarygoer puzzles through a STEAM learning craft at the Marathon Public Library.

Marathon Public Library, a tiny, 723 square foot space in west Texas serves an equally small population of approximately 430 people, but don’t underestimate its value or its endurance through shaky times.

The library first opened its doors in 1954 as a branch of Alpine Public Library, but in 2013, Alpine Public Library was facing budget cuts and considering closing their branch library in Marathon. To prevent losing the only public library in their area (the next closest being 30+ miles away), the residents of Marathon came together to keep the library open and formed a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, independent of Alpine Public Library. In the years following, the support of its dedicated community has helped Marathon Public Library grow and flourish.

Just last year, for example, the library received support from local city government, businesses, nonprofit groups, and community members. These efforts include financial support and funding help from their county commissioner, fundraiser held by the local Chamber of Commerce and the Gage Hotel, as well as from some other, unexpected places.

“Crafty Ladies, a group of local Marathon women, held their annual quilt show, and all the proceeds were donated to the library,” says Erin Albright, a library patron and dedicated volunteer. “Pat Martin, a longtime Marathon resident, held a birthday celebration, where she encouraged her friends and family to give donations to the library instead of a traditional gift. Her birthday donations raised over $2,000 for the library.”

Similarly, the rural town of Marathon depends on their public library for access to books, music, movies, computers, internet, and basic services such as printing and faxing, as well as the invaluable year-round programs the library hosts for children and adults in their community. As part of their summer reading program, the library supplies all the students at Marathon Independent School District with the required school supplies each year, as well as provides a biweekly book mobile service to Marathon Elementary School. This summer, the library plans to host Missoula Children’s Theatre so that MISD students, who do not have a theatre department at their school, can join in and experience the excitement of acting and stage production.

“Our programs are well-attended, and parents frequently tell us how disappointed their children are if they have to miss a program for a doctors appointment or other activity,” Albright says.

Two (very) young readers pose during their Books For Babies meeting.

Albright explains the Marathon Pubic Library is the area’s only source for year-round programming and activities for children and young adults. Since 2013, when Director Dara Cavness began working there, the library has worked to expand their offered programs and activities from the single weekly class to their current schedule of nine distinct programs for children and young adults, with something for kids to do at the library every weekday. These weekly programs include the literacy-focused Books for Babies and After School/ Summer Reading clubs, as well as the Missoula Children’s Theatre, TinkerTime, an all-ages STEAM focused program, and DigLearning, which lets the After School and Summer Reading participants spend some time in the garden learning about earth science.

“Our library serves as the gathering place for the children of Marathon,” Albright says. “Every day, children rush in after school. Parents and teachers describe our library as the cultural epicenter and heartbeat of the town.”

Albright, who has been volunteering with the Marathon Public Library in some capacity since 2013, has first-hand experience with the special support the Marathon Public Library provides for children and families.

A group of Marathon-area parents take advantage of the nice weather as they read to their kids.

“In 2018, I had my first child, Emily Michelle, and I realized that living on a ranch meant that my daughter didn’t get to participate in many activities or socialize with other young children,” Albright says. “So, we developed an Infant and Toddler Program at the library to link parents together and give young children an opportunity to interact in an environment that encourages learning and literacy. Other ranch families and community members gather every week to play, learn, and share their “war stories” of parenting. It brings me great joy to see my work come full circle and for my own child to benefit from the library.”

The library has also taken an active role in preserving the city of Marathon’s history. The Marathon Public Library is located adjacent to the Marathon Museum— the first school house in Buchel-Brewster County.  The Marathon Museum Society is no longer active, but the library provides visitors access to the building and hosts Marathon History Nights, a program in which Marathon locals give a talk about their life and experiences in west Texas. Each talk is recorded to archive and share, along with historical pictures and narratives of Marathon, through the library’s social media accounts with the help of a local historian.

Marathon Public Library’s director, Dara Cavness, says she loves the dynamic and interactive nature of the library programs she runs, and admits to having waited years with baited breath and a ready application for a position to open up at the library.

“I have been a lifelong lover of reading and I live across the street from our library,” Cavness says. “Although it might sound “cheesy”, the highlight of my day is walking in the door at the beginning of the day. I walk in and it’s like ‘ahh, I’m home.'”

A group of eager young librarygoers present their current reads.

Maya Smart

Maya Smart is a writer, literacy advocate and community volunteer. She serves on the boards of the Texas Book Festival and St. David’s Foundation, a health funder that invests $80 million annually in Central Texas. Previously, she chaired the University of Texas Libraries Advisory Council and served as the treasurer of the Austin Public Libraries Friends Foundation. Her advocacy and fundraising help enhance library collections, bolster community literacy programs, and inspire the next generation of readers. She interviews authors for Kirkus Reviews and muses about literacy, literature and more at MayaSmart.com.

Dan Goodgame

Dan Goodgame is editor in chief of Texas Monthly magazine. He oversees the three dozen writers, editors, and designers who produce the award-winning magazine, its website, live events and podcasts. A Pulitzer Prize finalist and best-selling author, Goodgame has interviewed and profiled leaders in every field, including six U.S. presidents, Saddam Hussein, Steve Jobs, Rupert Murdoch, Colin Powell, and Tiger Woods.

Goodgame joined Texas Monthly in early 2019, after serving as a vice-president at Rackspace, a cloud computing company based in San Antonio.

Before joining Rackspace, Goodgame served as editor in chief of Fortune Small Business magazine and FSB.com, whose subscribers were more than a million owners and partners of small and mid-sized companies. He earlier worked for TIME magazine as White House correspondent, Washington bureau chief, and assistant managing editor. He is co-author of the book “Marching in Place,” about the first President Bush.

Goodgame previously worked for the Miami Herald, including as a correspondent in the Middle East and Europe, covering the Israel-Lebanon, Iran-Iraq, and Falklands wars.

A native of Pascagoula, Miss., Goodgame earned a B.A. at Ole Miss and an M.Phil. in international relations at Oxford University, where he studied as a Rhodes scholar. He serves on the boards of the Texas Book Festival, Texas Public Radio, and the San Antonio Medical Foundation.

Announcing the 2019 Texas Library Grant Recipients

Pictured above: young readers at Marathon Public Library, holding books purchased with a 2018 Texas Library Grant

We are pleased to announce the recipients of our 2019 Texas Library Grants! This year we were able to offer collections enhancement funding to forty-one public libraries across 36 Texas counties—an amount totaling $100,500.

“The Texas Book Festival believes in the power of libraries to educate, enrich, and delight individuals in their communities,” says Lois Kim, executive director of the Texas Book Festival. “Our goal through our library grants is to improve free, year-round access to high quality books for Texans across the state.”

A patron at the Flower Mound Library browses new books purchased with their 2018 Texas Library Grant

The 2019 grants target a mix of needs in communities across the state. Several libraries will use their 2019 Texas Book Festival grant will expand their collection of Spanish and bilingual books—such as the Brookshire Pattinson Library in Waller County, which requested Spanish-language books for all ages to meet a demand for new books in Spanish as parents are inspired by their kids’ love of reading.

Denison Library’s grant is focused on diversifying their collections by adding more books by multicultural authors.

“Our patrons have little access to books by Native American authors, and with  the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma less than 20 miles away, we realize our book collection was completely inadequate in this area,” says Kimberly Murray, Library Director at Denison Library. “Our collection should reflect and serve the needs and interests of everyone that comes through the doors.”

The Terrell County Library is a first-time Texas Library Grant recipient. With recent budget cuts that have left them with only one full time staff member and the next closest library 64 miles away, grant funds to purchase more than 200 new books for children and teens will help fill out a much outdated and incomplete children’s section

Since our organization’s founding in 1995, a key part of our mission has been to promote Texas libraries and literacy. Since then, it has been our great honor to offer over $3 million in support to more than 800 libraries across Texas.

Interested in applying for a Texas Library Grant for your library? Applications for the 2019-20 public library grant cycle will be available in December 2019—check back then!

2019 Texas Book Festival Library Grant Recipients: 

  • Temple Public Library

  • Cedar Park Public Library

  • Friends of the Round Rock Public Library

  • Polk-Wisdom Library

  • Terrell County General Fund

  • Hector P. Garcia Memorial Library

  • McAllen Public Library

  • Mineola Memorial Library

  • Maribelle M. Davis Library

  • City of Lancaster Veterans Memorial Library

  • Cockrell Hill Library

  • Lewisville Public Library

  • Hutto Public Library

  • Whitehouse Community Library

  • Corsicana Public Library

  • North Branch Library

  • Marlin Public Library

  • Marathon Public Library

  • R. Huffman Public Library

  • Palestine Public Library

  • Dublin Public Library Board

  • Leon Valley Public Library

  • Garden Ridge Library

  • Pflugerville Public Library

  • Carl and Mary Welhausen Library

  • Denison Public Library

  • Charlotte Public Library

  • Henderson County Clint W. Murchison Memorial Library

  • Arlington Public Library

  • Fannie Brown Booth Memorial Library

  • Grand Saline Public Library

  • Sarah Bain Chandler Public Library

  • El Paso Public Library

  • Judy B. McDonald Public Library

  • Brookshire Pattison Library

  • Friends of the Longview Public Library

  • Leadership Academy Library

  • Whitesboro Public Library

  • Buna Public Library

  • Roberta Bourne Memorial Library

  • Cleburne Public Library