For your 2021 reading, we have curated a diverse list of literature by Texans to suit any bookshelf. From a true crime story in the world of thoroughbreds, to advice from the Texanist, and a novel about a struggling waitress in a Dallas steakhouse, these are 10 novels written by Texans that we heartily recommend. 

The Texanist: Fine Advice on Living in Texas, David Courtney, Jack Unruh

The Texanist, Texas Monthly‘s popular back-page column, counsels all Texans on the ways of the Lone Star State. This collection features the best of late award-winning artist Jack Unruh’s works, and sage wisdom. This book is must for any Texan to read.

Ticker: The Quest to Create An Artificial Heart, Mimi Swartz

The story of how the doctors at Texas Medical Center developed the first manmade heart. It’s a tale tinged with scandal, from Texas Monthly executive editor and two time National Magazine Award winner Mimi Swartz.

Black Light, Kimberley King Parsons

Kimberly King Parsons’s collection of short stories has been called enormously perceptive and brutally unsentimental. In Black Light, she ponders first love and loathing, addiction and healing, all set against a backdrop of Texas.

Courtesy of penguin random house

Lincoln in the Bardo, George Saunders

Saunders explores the mind and heart of a grieving father through the lens of Abraham Lincoln’s life. George Saunders’ debut novel is truly about how a man keeps a hold on his life in the face of tragedy.

Bloodlines: The True Story of a Drug Cartel, the FBI, and the Battle for a Horse-Racing Dynasty, Melissa del Bosque

One of the most shocking true crime stories ever to come out of Texas. Del Bosque, a veteran reporter at the border, paints a stirring picture of the scandal where two brothers laundered millions through horse racing. 

Reinhardt’s Garden, Mark Haber

A doomed journey into South America, a Croatian hypochondriac, the study of melancholy: Haber’s debut novel has it all and does it all in one single stream-of-conscious paragraph, as a study in obsession. 

The Which Way Tree, Elizabeth Crook

Crook’s book is set in the aftermath of the Civil War, and deals with both the knotty history of the state, family legacy. Protagonist Samantha hunts an infamous panther in the Rio Grande, determined to avenge her mother’s death.

Courtesy of penguin random house

Love Me Back, Merritt Tierce

Edgy and unapologetic, Love Me Back tells the story of Marie, a waitress and young single mother, working at an upscale Dallas steakhouse. Tierce, a former Dallas native, captures the struggle to survive against all odds.

Heaven, My Home, Attica Locke

Locke’s follow up to Bluebird, Bluebird follows Texas Ranger Darren Matthews. When a boy vanishes in Caddo Lake, his family, Matthews comes face to face with the boy’s family, known white supremacists.

News of the World, Paulette Jiles

News of the World follows a man, a widower and former captain, Jefferson Kyle Kidd, who is escorting a child through 1870s Texas, searching for her family. Tom Hanks starred in the movie in late 2020. It’s one of the most popular books to read of the year.

Originally published in the March/April issue of Local Profile

Alexandra Cronin

Alexandra Cronin is Local Profile's senior editor. She has been with the company since 2016. She loves great coffee, good food, and average wine.