Recommendations and Reviews

Highlights of what we've been reading and loving.

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!)

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!

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! 

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?

Book Bites: Title Wave

Fresh books here, get your frrrrresh books! Fall publishing season is in full swing, friends, and the new releases are coming in fast and thick. We’ve been on a nonstop reading binge at the shop just to keep up with it all. And while we trust that you’ve already come in for your copy of The Testaments, there are plenty of other titles deserving of your attention. New Eoin Colfer, Jacqueline Woodson, and Attica Locke? Yeah, you’ve got another trip to the bookstore in your future. Below we highlight eight of our favorites—from a sweet, welcoming picture book all the way up to historical fiction and a book by a mortician. What’s catching your eye? 

Book Bites: Fall Publishing Season!

Fall publishing season is here, y’all! It’s one of our very favorite times—even if it means that we stayed late last Saturday night unpacking box upon box of new releases. All the publishers are pushing out their biggest, best books of the year—and they’re sending all sorts of exciting authors on tour. Check out the list below for some fantastic all-ages recommendations, then mosey on over to our events calendar and make plans to come see us sometime soon. No offense to late December, but it’s the most wonderful time of the year for a reader—here’s to picturebooks, page-turners, and everything in between!

Book Bites: Three Fresh Favorites, Four You May Have Missed

Gather around, friends! It’s time for us to gush about books again. Seriously, y’all—books are the greatest, and this week we have one of our classic something-for-everyone lists for you to check out. Read on to meet three fresh favorites… and four fantastic titles you may have overlooked earlier this year. We’ve got everything from middle grade novels to a cookbook included within. So, to borrow a phrase… dig in!

Beat the Heat Recap: The Best New Books According to Liz and Brian

We're still basking in the bookish afterglow of our third annual Beat the Heat event last month. Liz Sullivan and Brian Contine, our publishing reps from Random House and Penguin, respectively, stopped by to share a few of their favorite recent and upcoming releases, give away more swag than a minor league baseball team, and generally heckle one another over whose books are best. Here's the thing, though: They're all good. Looking for big names? How do Colson Whitehead, Jojo Moyes, Jacqueline Woodson, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Margaret Atwood strike you? If you fancy a debut, try the great new novels by Roselle Lim, Linda Holmes, Claire Lombardo, or Kiley Reid. Or, take a break from fiction altogether and dive into Furious HoursLife Undercover, or Running With Sherman. The point is, we all had an excellent time talking about some of the very best books of the year, and anyone looking for a GPS for their book club could do a lot worse than the 16 great choices collected here.

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