Blogs

Book Bites: Pirates, Potatoes, Peculiarities

If you’re like us, you’ve been reading up a storm this summer. On your evening walks. By the pool. In your special corner on the couch. With so much extra reading time, our merry band of booksellers is working hard to find the best books out there for all our readers! Our latest collection of staff picks runs the gamut—we have hilarious picture books, heartbreaking novels, and everything in between. Explore this latest roundup of titles we loved, then settle in for an enjoyable read.

The Pumphrey Brothers on THE OLD TRUCK, Indie Bookstores, and What’s Next

Each fall before the holiday season, we spend a lot of time as a staff talking about our very favorite books of the year—the can’t-miss future classics that we know will make for a perfect gift. Sometimes it can be tough to remember all the books that came out over the calendar year. But sometimes, we’ll read something in January or February and just know it will come up in those year-end conversations. That’s what happened with a debut picture book called The Old Truck, by Texas-born brothers Jarrett and Jerome Pumphrey. It came out on January 7, and we haven’t stopped loving it since. It’s a beautiful story about perseverance and the passage of time, with striking retro design and unique, stamped illustrations. If you haven’t already read it, we highly recommend picking it up.

Check out our exclusive Q&A with the Pumphrey brothers below, then circle August 4 on your calendar. That’s the day when Jarrett and Jerome are helping us close out our Camp Blue Willow summer author series on Facebook Live! They’ll read The Old Truck and share a fun activity with viewers. We hope you’ll tune in!

Summer Picks: Coding for Kids!

Summer is a great time to try new things and hone your skills! In recent years, we’ve seen wave after wave of great books for young readers of all ages on fun topics like art, cooking, sewing, origami, and… coding! Here, full-time librarian, part-time Blue Willow staffer, and all-time tech guru Lisa Stultz shares a few of her favorite coding books. 

Book Bites: Beach Reads and Beyond

We always welcome a healthy dose of joy, especially in the form of bookish distractions (and most especially these days). Our latest roundup of staff picks is brimming with excellent summer reads, from hilarious picture books to enthralling novels. Travel to a beach-front cottage in Nantucket, go on a secret-filled ride with a psychological thriller, or swoon over smart, fun romances. Whether you choose one or all, we wish you, as always, very happy reading.

Introducing Our Early Reader Bundles!

This month, we rolled out a brand new program: Early Reader Book Bundles! Our team sat down and sifted through a mountain of titles for early readers, which we then broke down into three categories: Emerging, Beginning Independent, and Independent. Each bundle comes in its own special bag and includes a letter explaining why each title was chosen, as well as a suggested order of reading. We chose a mix of classic and current books and made sure to include some that are part of a series. Here's a sneak peek at the kind of books you can expect in each category!

Book Bites: Summer Samples

We have now been open for appointments for two weeks, and it has been such a joy to see a few of you behind your masks. We know that many of you are still exercising caution and care around leaving the home, so we’re planning to offer porch pickup for the foreseeable future. The shop isn’t the same without your smiles and laughter, but we’re holding onto the knowledge that sunnier days will come again. As is our wont, we are also holding onto piles and piles of books. Here are a few of our recent favorites. Read on!

Book Bites: Dogs, Dragons, and Other Delights

This week, we’re getting the shop ready for a (soft, quiet, socially distant) reopening. We’ve been busy clearing space on the floor, cleaning and disinfecting, and setting up some protocols for safe and responsible browsing. And of course we’ve also been reading. The pleasure of a good book has been such a comfort over these last few months. Below, we highlight ten recent favorites that are on our shelves right now, waiting to see you in the store or on our porch for pickup sometime soon.

Liara Tamani on Signs, Basketball, and ALL THE THINGS WE NEVER KNEW

Friends, one of our favorite Houston authors has a new book on the way, and we can't wait for you to read it. All the Things We Never Knew is the second YA novel from Liara Tamani, a dear friend of the shop and general author-you-need-to-read. It stars Carli and Rex, a pair of Texas teens who meet on the basketball court, and it's the perfect thing to help you through these lonesome, sports-less times we've been living through. The book is funny, romantic, thoughtful... it belongs on the same shelf as your well-loved copies of With the Fire On HighTo All the Boys I've Loved Before, or The Sun Is Also a Star.

As if that wasn't enough, we partnered with Liara to hook you up with some special swag. If you pre-order a signed, personalized first edition of All the Things We Never Knew from us by June 4, we'll send you a branded notebook, pencil, sticker, pin, and bookmark in addition to your book! Liara will also generously make a donation to the Houston Food Bank for every pre-order placed. We were hoping to host a big event with Liara in the store to celebrate the book's release, but we've had to switch to the next best thing: An exclusive virtual launch party taking place via Zoom on June 12! Attending is easy: Order All the Things We Never Knew from our shop, and we'll send you an invitation to the Zoom event. We can't wait to see you there! In the meantime, check out our Q&A with the author.

Blue Willow's Graduation Gift Guide

What a strange season we've been living through, friends. The world is upside down, but certain familiar milestones keep marching on unhindered. A birthday comes and goes. A holiday. An anniversary. For the bookstore, this time of year always finds us making recommendations and wrapping gifts for graduates. (It's one of the few gift-giving occasions where everyone else seems to agree with us: Books really do make the best gifts!) The class of 2020 is stepping out into the world at a troubling, unprecedented moment in our history. Still and all, books can offer some help. The right book, read at the right time, can inspire, comfort, empower, give solace, unite.... Here are a few of our very favorite titles for graduates. We hope it helps you find the perfect choice for the young people in your life. 

Book Bites: Yorick and Books

We continue to be closed to the public—the storefront has turned into one big shipping warehouse—and as the weeks roll by, we find ourselves missing you more than ever. Even though we know it’s the right thing to do, it has been hard. We miss seeing your faces, and talking about books and life and how the two reflect one another and intertwine. We’re tentatively looking at early June for a quiet, socially distant reopening of some kind. Stay tuned for details. Until then, we know just what will lift your spirits and ours—a classic all-ages, all-interests recommendation fest featuring some of our very favorite new books. Buckle up and read on… no matter what you’re looking for, you can find it on our shelves.

Pages