Summer in Texas is hot, so we’re cashing in a little vacation time, and settling in with good books. For your summer reading, we offer a diverse list of literature by Texans to suit any bookshelf. From a coming-of-age love story, to the harrowing story of a memoir of an escape from a cult, these are 10 Texas books that we recommend this summer.
Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen, Sarah Bird
Described as “the compelling, hidden story of Cathy Williams, a former slave and the only woman to ever serve with the legendary Buffalo Soldiers.” A historical pager-turner, Bird’s novel is inspired by the true story of Cathy Williams. Williams takes her chance at freedom, disguises herself as a man and joins the Army’s legendary Buffalo Soldiers.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Set in the summer of 1987, Sáenz’s coming-of-age novel follows Aristotle and Dante. These two Mexican American teenagers stand at the cusp of adulthood. During a few utterly life-changing months, the two young men grapple with issues of identity, family, sexuality, love, and, finally, self-expression.
The Zealot and the Emancipator, H. W. Brands
Historian H. W. Brands follows the fight to end slavery in America through the historical accounts of two men shared the goal, but used very different means. The fight is characterized through John Brown, a deeply religious man who was convicted to end slavery by any means necessary, and Abraham Lincoln, who chose politics and a path to the White House.
Ghost Horse, Thomas H. McNeely
Set in 1970s Houston, Ghost Horse follows a group of 11-year-old boys growing up in fractured families full of secrets. As the boys make a Super-8 animated movie, they uncover the truths of their pasts and family history. Ghost Horse is a rich and timeless coming of age story set in the imaginations of children.
Valentine, Elizabeth Wetmore
Elizabeth Wetmore’s stunning debut novel opens in a 1976, Odessa oil patch, in the aftermath of a brutal assault against a teenage girl. When the crime is tried in the court of public opinion, the small town is torn down the middle. Valentine explores violence and race, class and faith, hope and the resilience of women.
That Texas Blood, Chris Condon and Jacob Phillips
A West Texas noir graphic novel, That Texas Blood is a riveting, illustrated book that has everything you need this summer. It has secrets, crime, Texas culture, gritty realism, and one particularly infamous casserole dish. Written by Chris Condon and illustrated by Jacob Philips, it’s impossible to put down.
The Same Sky, Amanda Eyre Ward
A young Honduran girl, Carla, and her brother are left without anyone to look after them after their grandmother dies. As violence increases around them, she decides to take her brother to America for a chance at a better life. On the way, she crosses paths with the owners of a Texas barbecue restaurant who desperately long for a child.
Leaving Isn’t the Hardest Thing, Lauren Hough
Despite a slew of negative reviews on Goodreads (due to a Twitter war), Leaving Isn’t the Hardest Thing is a sharp, enthralling essay collection, drawn from Lauren Hough’s upbringing in an abusive cult and her notions of queerness and identity. In a journey that took her from global pilgrimages to the U.S. Air Force, to the underbelly of America, Lauren Hough loses and finds herself.
The Elephant of Belfast, S. Kirk Walsh
Walsh’s historical fiction novel is inspired by the true story from WWII. When a German blitz hits Belfast on Easter Tuesday 1941, a young zookeeper protects an Indian elephant in a Belfast zoo. As the war threatens and tensions escalate between British Loyalists and those fighting for a free Ireland, Hettie and Violet rely on their unique bond to stay alive.
Things You Save in a Fire, Katherine Center
Katherine Center presents a deeply feeling novel about courage, life, and love. Her protagonist, Cassie, is one of the few female firefighters in her town. When her estranged mother uproots Cassie’s whole life, she finds herself in unfamiliar territory, hazed by a crew that doesn’t want to work with a woman. And then she falls in love.