August Book Club: ‘Mexican Gothic’ by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

For the August pick for the Austin360 Book Club powered by the Texas Book Festival, we’ll be reading Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, a New York Times-bestselling twist on classic gothic horror stories, set in 1950s Mexico.

Read the full description of the book:

“After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.

Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.

And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.”

Buy your copy of Mexican Gothic from BookPeople!

Stay tuned for book discussion updates coming later in August, and make sure to join the book club on Facebook here.

Past 2020 book club picks:

July Book Club: ‘The City We Became’ by N.K. Jemisin

For the July pick for the Austin360 Book Club powered by the Texas Book Festival, we’ll be reading The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin, a New York Times bestselling and three-time Hugo Award-winning author. This urban fantasy, the first in an intended series, asks: What if a city were a person? Or multiple people? What do those people look like—and what must they do to save New York City from sure destruction? It’s a fantasy novel that wraps in very real themes of race, oppression, xenophobia, and cultural conflict.

We’re planning to discuss the book in late July, so stay tuned for updates! Join the book club on Facebook here.

Past 2020 book club picks:

June Book Club: ‘How We Fight For Our Lives’ by Saeed Jones

We’ve chosen Saeed Jones’ memoir How We Fight For Our Lives as the June pick for the Austin360 Book Club powered by Texas Book Festival. 

In this multiple award-winning memoir, Jones writes about growing up gay and black in the South. Vividly relating episodes from his youth and early manhood, Jones writes powerfully—with the kind of naked honesty that feels necessary—about his deep bond with his mother, the joy and pain in early sexual encounters, and all the ways his race, relationships, and queerness impact his experiences as he fights his way into finding himself. 

We’re thrilled to share that Saeed will be joining us for a free virtual book discussion on Thursday, June 25, at 7 p.m. Jennifer Wilks, Associate Professor of English & African and African Diaspora Studies at The University of Texas and TBF Board of Directors member, will moderate the discussion. We’re looking forward to discussing this important, beautiful book with you all.

Buy How We Fight For Our Lives from BookPeople here.


Register to attend the free virtual discussion

May book club pick: ‘The Glass Hotel’ by Emily St. John Mandel

Join the Austin360 Book Club powered by the Texas Book Festival this month in reading The Glass Hotel, the latest book by author Emily St. John Mandel.

The book, which you can purchase from our partners at BookPeople here, is a novel “set at the glittering intersection of two seemingly disparate events-a massive Ponzi scheme collapse and the mysterious disappearance of a woman from a ship at sea.”

Read the full description:

Vincent is a bartender at the Hotel Caiette, a five-star lodging on the northernmost tip of Vancouver Island. On the night she meets Jonathan Alkaitis, a hooded figure scrawls a message on the lobby’s glass wall: “Why don’t you swallow broken glass.” High above Manhattan, a greater crime is committed: Alkaitis is running an international Ponzi scheme, moving imaginary sums of money through clients’ accounts. When the financial empire collapses, it obliterates countless fortunes and devastates lives. Vincent, who had been posing as Jonathan’s wife, walks away into the night. Years later, a victim of the fraud is hired to investigate a strange occurrence: a woman has seemingly vanished from the deck of a container ship between ports of call.

In this captivating story of crisis and survival, Emily St. John Mandel takes readers through often hidden landscapes: campgrounds for the near-homeless, underground electronica clubs, the business of international shipping, service in luxury hotels, and life in a federal prison. Rife with unexpected beauty, The Glass Hotel is a captivating portrait of greed and guilt, love and delusion, ghosts and unintended consequences, and the infinite ways we search for meaning in our lives.

Join the book club on Facebook to discuss the book and check out our past reads!


April book club: ‘Stories of Your Life and Others’ by Ted Chiang

During these weeks we’re all spending at home, many of us are pulling older books off our shelves, books that may have been gathering dust because we kept telling ourselves we’d get to it; sooner or later. If acclaimed sci-fi author Ted Chiang’s Stories of Your Life and Others, which came out in 2002, is one of those books for you, then you’re in luck: It’s our April Austin360 Book Club pick, so go ahead and dust off your copy and get ready to read!

We wanted to choose a book that, in these chaotic times, may already be on your shelf, or it’s at least easy (and affordable) for you to snag a copy. That’s why we went with Stories of Your Life and Others instead of Chiang’s Exhalation, which came out last year.

The book is a collection of short stories, including the story that inspired the film Arrival. The book includes eight of Chiang’s first stories, including one story that had not been published separately.

You can snag your copy of Stories of Your Life and Others from, and make sure to choose our friends at BookPeople as the beneficiary (if you click here and go to BookPeople’s Bookshop page, you can search for the book there)! You can also check out the ebook from the Austin Public Library (or your local library of choice).

If you’re not already a member, make sure to join the Austin360 Book Club powered by TBF on Facebook. We’ll be discussing Stories of Your Life and Others in the Facebook group on Friday, May 1!

Catch up on our previous reads:

March book club pick: ‘My Dark Vanessa’ by Kate Elizabeth Russell

This month, the Austin360 Book Club powered by Texas Book Festival will be reading My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell, which came out March 10. Pick it up at BookPeople and check out the review of the book at Kirkus Reviews! We’ll be discussing the book in the book club Facebook group on Friday, April 6. Join the group here!

About the book:

2000. Bright, ambitious, and yearning for adulthood, fifteen-year-old Vanessa Wye becomes entangled in an affair with Jacob Strane, her magnetic and guileful forty-two-year-old English teacher.

2017. Amid the rising wave of allegations against powerful men, a reckoning is coming due. Strane has been accused of sexual abuse by a former student, who reaches out to Vanessa, and now Vanessa suddenly finds herself facing an impossible choice: remain silent, firm in the belief that her teenage self willingly engaged in this relationship, or redefine herself and the events of her past. But how can Vanessa reject her first love, the man who fundamentally transformed her and has been a persistent presence in her life? Is it possible that the man she loved as a teenager—and who professed to worship only her—may be far different from what she has always believed?

Alternating between Vanessa’s present and her past, My Dark Vanessa juxtaposes memory and trauma with the breathless excitement of a teenage girl discovering the power her own body can wield. Thought-provoking and impossible to put down, this is a masterful portrayal of troubled adolescence and its repercussions that raises vital questions about agency, consent, complicity, and victimhood. Written with the haunting intimacy of The Girls and the creeping intensity of Room, My Dark Vanessa is an era-defining novel that brilliantly captures and reflects the shifting cultural mores transforming our relationships and society itself.

Previous Austin360 Book Club picks:

February Book Club: ‘You and I Eat the Same’ by Chris Ying

You and I eat the same.

At least, that’s according to Chris Ying (and he’s right, if you’re *also* eating fruit snacks at your desk right now).

It’s also the title of Ying’s 2018 book, You and I Eat the Same: On the Countless Ways Food and Cooking Connect Us to One Another, which is our February pick for the Austin360 Book Club powered by the Texas Book Festival. The book suggestion came to us from TBF Logistics and Volunteer Coordinator Nicole Wielga, and Ying was featured at the 2018 Festival around the same time the book was released.

Ying is the cofounder and former editor in chief of Lucky Peach and is currently the editor of the MAD Dispatches book series, which aim to unpack a topic from the world of food and encourage readers to think about food in new ways. You and I Eat the Same is the first installment in the Dispatches series and discusses the way food can transcend cultures. For example, the first chapter is titled “Everybody Wraps Meat in Flatbread” (true) and later in the book we read a section titled “Cilantro is Everywhere” (also true).

We’ll be discussing the book in the Austin360 Book Club Facebook group on March 9 (so you get a bit of extra time to read, since February is a short month). Congrats to Ashley Jernigan, who was the 1,000th member to join the Facebook group and won a copy of “You and I Eat the Same” to celebrate!

Our friends at Austin360 will also be stocking the Austin American-Statesman & Texas Book Festival’s Little Free Library near the bat observation area just off of the Ann & Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail around Lady Bird Lake with a few bonus copies of the book, so if you’d like to snag that book (and other great picks curated by Statesman and TBF staff), swing by the Little Free Library! If you’re having trouble finding it, you can search for it here.

If you’re still looking for a copy of the book, you can find it at BookPeople or at the Austin Public Library.

January Book Club: ‘Trust Exercise’ by Susan Choi

Is your New Year’s resolution to read more? Great news: The Texas Book Festival is proud to announce we’ve partnered with the Austin American-Statesman to help facilitate the Austin360 Book Club.

The book club was launched as a Facebook group in 2018 with the aim to encourage discussions around books, authors, and the people who love them. TBF is excited to curate the monthly book picks and lead discussions, as well as help curate the Little Free Library located near the bat viewing area at the Statesman, just off of the Ann & Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail around Lady Bird Lake. 

The January pick for the Austin360 Book Club is Trust Exercise by Susan Choi. Susan Choi was a 2019 Texas Book Festival author, and Trust Exercise won the 2019 National Book Award. The novel follows the story of teenagers who attend a 1980s performing arts high school and the pressures they face, both within the school and outside of it. 

Join the Austin360 Book Club powered by the Texas Book Festival on Facebook, where we’ll be hosting all our monthly book discussions and talking about all things literary. We’ll discuss Trust Exercise in the Facebook group on Thursday, January 30, but stay tuned for questions and thoughts about the book all month long!

Need a copy of the book? It’s available for purchase at BookPeople, or you can find it at the Austin Public Library.