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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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 High, To 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.
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.
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.
Friends, you’ve probably heard that shops like ours have the go-ahead to reopen. We’re not quite there yet, though. For one thing, our shelves are dusty, all the tables are covered with partial orders, and half the store is devoted to packing needs. We like to joke that the shop doesn’t have her makeup on. She’s looked cuter. And at the end of the day, our priorities are everyone’s health and safety. For now, we have decided to keep the door shut for at least another week. We promise that when we’re ready, we will welcome you inside with more love than you can imagine. Until then, it's a wave through the window and your books waiting for you on the porch. And in the meantime, we’re highlighting a few new releases from some big names below—whether you’re looking for a picture book, middle grade, YA, or a juicy novel, we think you’ll find something you’ll love.
One of the things we miss most about business-as-usual is bringing great authors to the shop and connecting them with you, our extended family of Houston readers. One of the authors we were looking forward to hosting was Food Network champion-turned-novelist Abby Jimenez, whose latest book, The Happy Ever After Playlist, hits that lovely sweet spot between humor and heartstrings. It's witty and warm, and is a great read for fans of Casey McQuiston, Beth O'Leary, or Jasmine Guillory. (If you don't know those authors yet, don't worry—The Happy Ever After Playlist also picked up a trio of starred reviews!) We've got copies on hand, so give us a call to reserve one. And be sure to enter the $50 Blue Willow gift certificate giveaway sponsored by Forever, Abby's publisher! In the meantime, enjoy a conversation between the author and our very own indefatigable events coordinator, Cathy. And stay tuned for more ways you can connect with us—and with other great authors—during these strange times.