Blogs

The Best Books of 2019

2019 was a great one for new books. (Yes, we say that every year. So what? It's always true.) From fantastic debuts to satisfying series-cappers, there were hundreds upon hundreds of great books for any kind of reader. Here, we've chosen thirty of our absolute favorites from the year. 

Feel free to browse through all thirty titles, from breezy picture books all the way through to a 944-page history of our great state. Alternatively, use the links below to jump straight to the section of your choice. Be sure to read the author Q&As, where applicable—it's such a treat to hear more from the people who create such splendid stories. Finally, we'd love for you to come and visit us in the shop sometime soon—we’re here to help you shop for the holidays, and we're eager to talk about each of the books on our list.

Happy reading, friends.

Book Bites: Teen Choice

YA lit is where it’s happening, friends. Have you noticed? Here at the shop, we pride ourselves on our teen section, and on bringing some of the best YA writers in the game to our annual TeenBookCon festival each spring. Of course, we couldn’t do any of it without a community of thoughtful, engaged young readers. We’re so grateful to everyone who has joined our Teen and Young Adult Reviewer Program, where we collect reviews from readers ages thirteen to twenty-four to help us understand which books y’all are excited to read, and which authors we should bring to town. Today, we’re featuring a selection of those reviews, in our first-ever “teen choice” reviews roundup! Read on.

(Pssst. Want in on the reviewing action? Participating in our teen reviewer program is easy. All you have to do is submit reviews of books you love through this form. At the end of every month, we'll draw the name of a random reviewer to win a $20 store gift card. Older than 24? Well, you don’t qualify for this program, but we’d still love to hear from you—stop by and chat books with us!)

We’re Thankful for 23 Years

Every now and then at our weekly staff meetings, we marvel over the passage of time. It’s been twenty-three years since we opened our doors, and what they say is true: Time does fly when you’re having fun. (In human terms, our little bookshop is all grown up and starting to wonder how on earth it’s going to use that English degree!) 

We feel so fortunate to have gotten to know you all over the last two-plus decades. Your early acceptance of us into the community and your ongoing support mean the world to us all. You’ve helped us find a small slice of heaven on earth in an unlikely place—the corner of Memorial and Dairy Ashford, where we hope to stay for years to come.

It’s the right time of the year (there’s no wrong time, of course) to give thanks and to think about all that we’re grateful for. So we’ve collected some short reflections on gratitude from members of our staff. Read on, friends.

Book Bites: Sisters, Planets, Stepkids, Book Clubs, Ghosts

Howdy, friends! November is in the air, the holidays are around the corner, and we’re putting a bow on another year of fantastic reading with our final roundup of great new releases for the year. Stay tuned in two weeks for our mega-post featuring our very favorite books of 2019. After that, we’ll have a fun roundup of “teen choice” reviews from our teen and young adult reviewer program. And just like that, it’ll be 2020! You still have time to squeeze a few more great books into your TBR stack before the calendar flips, though, right? Of course you do. Read on!

Book Bites: Heartwarming to Horror

Do we detect some fall in the air? The temperatures are finally heading in the right direction, and all that makes us want to do is curl up in a comfy chair with a stack of cozy reads. You’ll find some recent favorites of ours below—from heartwarming picture books to laugh-out-loud memoirs and weighty novels. And because Halloween is right around the corner, we couldn’t resist throwing in a genuine creep-fest, too. Read on!

Tweens Read Author Rex Ogle on Middle School, Comics, and FREE LUNCH

One more week until Tweens Read 2019! Our annual festival for middle grade readers is coming to Pasadena Memorial High School next Saturday, October 19, and we couldn't be more excited. Twenty-three terrific authors will be in attendance, including folks like Jason Reynolds, Julie Murphy, and Lincoln Peirce. It's one of our favorite days of the year, and we strongly encourage you to join us. Not only will you get to meet some of your favorite authors... but you'll discover a few new favorites, too. Like Rex Ogle! His debut middle-grade book, Free Lunch, is a candid and moving memoir about growing up in poverty. It's raw and honest, but also manages to be sweet and hopeful. In short, it's a wonderful book—a window, a mirror, and an all-around empathy machine.

Don't miss your chance to hang out with Rex and the rest of the Tweens Read authors next weekend. (Seriously, don't miss your chance: Rex used to write and edit comic books, is from Texas, and has a fantastic dog. He's a cool guy.) Fill out your Tweens Read registration, then hurry back and check out our exclusive Q&A with the author.

Book Bites: Big Wonderful Books

We’ve got a full slate of author visits, the Astros are marching through the playoffs, and we keep hearing promises that cooler weather is ahead. It’s officially the middle of October. And you know what that means—it’s reading season. This week, we’re featuring eight wonderful titles spanning every age group and a variety of genres. Even better? Four of the authors highlighted below are visiting Houston in the coming weeks. You’d best get reading! 

Tweens Read Author Kwame Mbalia on Myth, Grief, and TRISTAN STRONG

October is here, friends, and that means it's officially Tweens Read season at the shop. We've been busy prepping for the October 19th event, where you can meet all sorts of your favorite authors, like Jason Reynolds, Jon Sciezska, and Julie Murphy. It's also a great place to discover new favorites. One of the authors we're most excited to introduce you to is Kwame Mbalia, debut author of Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky. Friends, this is a great book. It's got humor, adventure, and heart, bound together with a dose of African mythology. If you don't believe us, just ask Rick Riordan—he's publishing the book through his new imprint, Rick Riordan Presents. So you know it's going to be a fun, sometimes-scary adventure you won't be able to put down.

Tristan Strong comes out on October 15th... why don't you celebrate by joining us at the Tweens Read festival and meeting the author just a few days later? You'll be able to ask questions, get your book signed, and maybe even convince Kwame to share a detail or two about the forthcoming sequel. In the meantime, check out our exclusive Q&A with the author.

Book Bites: Names of Acclaim

Ever since the start of fall publishing season a few weeks ago, there’s been a non-stop wave of great new books hitting our shelves. Last time we did this, we recommended new titles by big-name literary titans like Jacqueline Woodson, Eoin Colfer, and Attica Locke. And now? Now we have even more books by big names to share with you. From Blue Willow Hero Bob Shea all the way to the inimitable Ta-Nehisi Coates, this batch of bestsellers, breakouts, and bigwigs is guaranteed to please. The only question is: Which will you read first?

Tweens Read Author Rajani LaRocca on MIDSUMMER'S MAYHEM and What's Next

If you know us well, you know that we have some particular favorite things: Baked goods. Shakespeare. And books, obviously. Kids' books bear mentioning, in particular—we've devoted half our store to children's titles, and host three festivals for young readers each year. Imagine our delight, then, when we first caught wind of Rajani Larocca's debut middle grade novel, Midsummer's Mayhem. It's a kids' book that combines elements of Shakespeare with competitive baking, and it's as funny, sweet, and imaginative as anything you've read lately. You needn't just take our word for it—since it debuted earlier this year, it's picked up accolades along the way... a starred review here, a Kids' Indie Next List selection there, and glowing blurbs from some of your very favorite authors.

We're so excited that Rajani will be joining us on October 19 as part of our annual Tweens Read festival for middle grade readers. You'll have a chance to meet her in person and get your book signed then. But October still feels like it's a long ways off. So for now, we've got the next best thing—an exclusive Q&A with the author. Read on!

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