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! 


Ages 4-8

The Love Letter by Anika Aldamuy Denise; illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins

Hedgehog, Bunny and Squirrel each find the same love letter and assume it is meant for them. This discovery changes their attitudes—where they may have been frazzled, they were cheerful and where they may have been grumpy, they were helpful. This quiet, lovely picture book reminds us all that love indeed makes the world better.
—Cathy

READ this out loud to share its sweet message.
PASS if love stinks.
Order your copy on our website.

Please Don't Eat Me by Liz Climo

When Bear finds Bunny in the woods, Bunny's request is, "Please don't eat me!" Bunny entertains Bear's numerous requests, going so far as to order him a pizza. Is Bear really hungry or does he want to spend the day with a friend? Charming.
—Cathy

READ for a funny reflection on friendship.
PASS if you’ve recently been eaten.
Order your copy on our website.

Ages 10-14

Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds; illustrated by Alexander Nabaum

This collection of ten interwoven short stories that take place at a middle school's dismissal time will make readers look more closely at the world around them and realize that each person they see has a story to tell. I loved this book!
—Cathy

READ because anything by Jason Reynolds is required reading, frankly.
PASS if you’re stuck at the bottom of a well or in a very deep cave without a flashlight.
Order your copy on our website.
Meet the author at our annual Tweens Read festival on October 19—Jason is delivering the keynote address!

Ages 14 & Up

Jackpot by Nic Stone

Seventeen-year-old Rico is balancing high school with extra shifts at the Gas ’n’ Go when she sells a pair of lottery tickets to a forgetful old woman on Christmas Eve. When she realizes that one of the tickets could be worth more than $100 million, she starts a quest to find the woman. It’s a chance to do a good thing—but she also hopes that it may somehow help her family out of their stressful, paycheck-to-paycheck reality. She begrudgingly accepts help from her charming, wealthy classmate Zan, a paper-company heir whose computer skills might hold the key to finding the winner. As Rico and Zan spend more time together, they stumble onto a romantic collision course that challenges them both. Loosely inspired by the record-setting Powerball run of 2015, Jackpot is a fun coming-of-age-romantic-comedy that weaves in weighty themes of financial insecurity, rising healthcare costs, biracial identity, and privilege.
—Noah

READ for the snappy dialogue and thoughtful themes.
PASS if you’re still looking for that lottery ticket you lost five years ago.
Order your copy on our website.

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

Eighteen-year-old Daniel Matheson and his parents arrive in Madrid from Dallas in 1957 to vacation while his father closes an oil deal. Daniel spends his days photographing the Spanish people to learn more about his mother's home country and in hopes of winning the Magnum photography prize that could convince his father to allow him to study photojournalism rather than following him into the oil business. The Mathesons stay at the Castellana Hilton Madrid, where Daniel meets Ana, who has been assigned to his family. Daniel's desire to seek the truth through photography collides with Ana's need to keep her family history secret. This resolution, set against the backdrop of Franco-era Spain, uncovers secrets, pain, and duplicity on the part of the state. Sepetys has done it again, sharing a little known story in an effective, moving way.
—Cathy

READ because this engrossing story will educate, entertain, and enthrall.
PASS if you’d rather read something boring and dull.
Order your copy on our website.
Meet the author when she visits the shop on October 25!

Adult Nonfiction

Big Wonderful Thing: A History of Texas by Stephen Harrigan

Writing with a journalist's attention to facts and a novelist's deft story telling, Harrigan provides readers with a sweeping history of "this outsized state that sits at the center of the nation but stands consciously apart from it." Starting with the Karankawa tribe who met the first Spanish explorers as they came ashore near present-day Galveston, he brings to life the people and events that make up nearly 500 years of Texas history. Harrigan is not an academic historian, which is doubtless in his favor, but he has done thorough research as his end notes and sources indicate. His treatment is even handed, and he grounds his narrative in facts that are often lost in the bright glare of myth and legend. Not that there aren't some larger than life characters in the history of this state whose life stories are ready fodder for mythologizing. By focusing on the individuals, famous, not-so-famous, and infamous, whose lives make up the history of Texas, Harrigan defines what it has meant to be a Texan and still means: adventurousness, willingness to take risks, protectiveness, fear of  constraints, bravery, pride, and loyalty to a mythology that they helped to create. Highly recommended.
—Alice

READ because this is the nonfiction book we’re most excited about this fall.
PASS if you no longer want to be friends with us.
Order your copy on our website.
Meet the author when he visits Houston on November 13! We're hosting an event at St. Luke's United Methodist Church.

How We Fight for Our Lives by Saeed Jones

Poet Saeed Jones grew up in the suburbs of Dallas, spending summers in Memphis with his religious grandmother. He was torn between his role as the loving son and standout student and his discovery of his sexuality. The writing is spare, gorgeous, and painfully honest. It is not for the tender hearted and I had to put it down several times, but Saeed's language and candor brought me back every time. If he could live it and write about it, I could read it. This memoir resonates with grief, with the struggle to be a child and a parent, with the fear of being who you are. Wow.
—Cathy

READ because it’s not every day that Cathy Berner drops a “wow” at the end of her reviews.
PASS if you’re only looking for frivolous fluff this fall.
Order your copy on our website.

Beautiful on the Outside by Adam Rippon

In this candid and entertaining memoir, Olympic medalist Adam Rippon details everything from his early interest in figure skating to his role as the first openly gay man to compete on a U.S. Winter Olympic team. When you're not laughing out loud at his storytelling, you'll admire the drive and attitude that made him who he is today!
—Cathy

READ because this hits the sweet spot between “hilarious” and “inspiring.”
PASS if you… Look, it’s hard work coming up with reasons to pass on a great book, and we’re just out of ideas. Read it, okay?
Attend our event with the author on October 29!
If you can't make it, you can also order a copy on our website.