Recommendations and Reviews

Highlights of what we've been reading and loving.

The Best Books of 2021

Best Books of 2021 LogoHere we are again. It may seem hard to believe, but the year is winding down and it's time to share our favorite books from an exciting year in publishing. To that end, we're very proud to introduce you to our annual "Best Books" list—we loved each and every one of these books, and we think you will, too.

You can scroll through all 30 titles, from Picture Books down to Cookbooks. Alternatively, use the anchor links below to jump straight to the section of your choice. As a fun bonus, we've shared a few author Q&As with some of the creators below—we always love hearing more from the people behind these special books.

Happy reading, friends.

Book Bites: Middle Grade, Mystery, & More

As we turn the calendar to October, new books continue to fall onto our shelves fast and thick. Here, we highlight some of the new releases we’re most excited to share with you — from picture books by staff favorites Kevin Henkes and Bob Shea, to new middle grade novels from Kate diCamillo and RJ Palacio, to Anthony Doerr and the latest exploits of the Thursday Murder Club. Grab your favorite comfy chair and settle in — there’s great reading ahead.

Book Bites: Fall Favorites

The evenings are a little cooler, the mornings a little crisper, and our shelves a little fuller with new books from favorite authors. Could it be the start of fall? A look at our events calendar certainly offers a clue—it’s stuffed to the brim with big names like Marie Lu, R.J. Palacio, Dhonielle Clayton, Amor Towles, Rick Riordan, Rick Bragg, Eoin Colfer… Okay, it’s official. 

This week, we have a variety of books from some of our most cherished, familiar favorites. Any week that brings us a new series from Alex London, picture books from Dan Santat and Carter Higgins, more Skunk and Badger, Wiley Cash, Ruths Ozeki and Hogan, Bernard Schlink… Let’s just say it’s a great time to come visit us. We’ll see you soon!

Book Bites: Starstruck

Wow, y’all. Fall publishing season is officially here, and boy has it ever started off with a bang. We’ve received box after box of exciting releases over the past two weeks, including new books by some of our very favorite authors. In the middle grade section, how about Nic Stone, Katherine Applegate, and Sara Pennypacker? For adult fiction, we’ve got Helen Hoang, Colm Toíbín, and Lisa Jewell. Throw in a great novel by writer and musician Josh Ritter, an adorable early reader book, and a poignant memoir of immigration, and it’s clear: A trip to the bookstore is in your future. We’ll see you soon!

Book Bites: End-of-Summer Favorites

Summer is winding down, school is back in session, and here at the shop we’re preparing for another busy fall publishing season. There are a lot of really exciting books coming our way in the next couple of months (Kate DiCamillo! Amor Towles! Jennifer Mathieu!), but we don’t want you to miss out on a few last summer releases that we think you’ll love. Here, we’ve collected our most recent favorites, ranging from a tender middle grade novel to the autobiography of a tennis legend. The ball’s in your court: Which books can we serve up for you this week?

Our Best (Back) To School Picks

There’s a fresh bag of apples in the fridge, a new backpack lies waiting in the closet, and the smell of freshly-sharpened pencils is in the air. How is it already back-to-school season again? Of course, for some of our younger readers, the whole affair isn’t quite so routine. We had them in mind when we created the list of books below—you’ll find books to assuage fears, soothe doubts, and maybe even get your kiddos excited about the start of a new school year. Read on!

Book Bites: Two by Two by Two by Two

Here’s our two cents’ worth: It’s time for you to get a new book. As a matter of fact, get two. We’ll make it easy for you—this week, we have two recommendations from Alice, two from Cathy, two from our Teen Advisory Board, and two from Valerie. Together, they span a wide range of ages and interests, running the gamut from a middle grade story collection to a gripping historical mystery. Read our list of recommendations below, or come by and see us sometime soon. Shall we say... two o’clock?

Book Bites: Cynthia Rylant, Helen Ellis, and More!

The summer heat is showing no signs of letting up. Fortunately, neither is the barrage of great new books coming into the shop each week. We suggest that you grab a stack and settle in for some air-conditioned (or poolside!) reading. Below, we have a list of recent recommendations for all ages—from a picture book biography of a Tejano icon to gentle middle grade, teen thrillers, literary fiction, and laugh-out-loud essays. Read on!

Book Bites: Shelf Care

Summer reading is in full swing, and we have great new releases rolling onto our shelves every week to prove it. This week, we’re focusing mostly on novels, from cutting literary fiction to an effervescent new rom-com from the one and only Jasmine Guillory. (But for good measure, we’ve thrown in a great new series that straddles the line between early reading and middle grade, too.) So clear off some space on your bookshelf or nightstand and get ready to read—there are a few books below you won’t want to miss!

Book Bites: Novel Ideas

It’s summer in Houston, and the days are long, hot, and humid. In other words, conditions are perfect for diving into a good book. Luckily, we have just what you need in order to practice a little shelf care. Here, dig into staff reviews of six new novels we think you’ll love. If you’re feeling factual, we’ve thrown in a nonfiction title, too—inspired by a classic novel written by the author’s father. Read on!

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