Insight and Books


INSIGHT: Hope after hardship — the story of Rohingya refugees in Austin

About 620,000 Rohingya — a Muslim ethnic minority from Myanmar’s western Rakhine state — have fled violence this year in a refugee crisis that U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson identified as “ethnic cleansing” after a trip in November. The persecution of Rohingya is a decadeslong story — and one that could be told here in North Austin by Mohamad Hussain, 40...
ANALYSIS: GOP’s missteps turned Alabama blue. Here’s what to expect

ANALYSIS: GOP’s missteps turned Alabama blue. Here’s what to expect

If there was one Republican in Alabama the Democratic Doug Jones could beat, Roy Moore was that Republican. And in a Tuesday night nail-biter, Jones did just that, edging Moore by a mere 1.5 percentage points in a state that hasn’t elected a Democrat to the U.S. Senate since 1992. So while the Democrats are celebrating a victory in the special election, perhaps it makes sense to ask: How did...
INSIGHT: Why downtown parking garages may be headed for extinction

INSIGHT: Why downtown parking garages may be headed for extinction

For decades, providing downtown parking was a top priority for urban planners. Huge parking garages for commuters’ cars occupied prime real estate that otherwise might have been used for housing, stores or offices. But ride-hailing services and autonomous cars are going to revolutionize parking in cities across the country — in garages, in lots and along curbs. By 2030, 15 percent of new...
INSIGHT: Why audiences are raving about the new ‘Star Wars’ films

INSIGHT: Why audiences are raving about the new ‘Star Wars’ films

In the 40 years since the original “Star Wars” film premiered, the franchise has been a pop culture powerhouse. “The Last Jedi” – the latest edition in the series – looks to continue the trend, with huge box office returns expected. It also looks poised to join “The Force Awakens” (93 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) and “Rogue One” (85 percent)...
INSIGHT: How the ‘Greatest Showman’ paved the way for Donald Trump

INSIGHT: How the ‘Greatest Showman’ paved the way for Donald Trump

Historian James Cook, in his 2001 book “The Arts of Deception,” points to July 1835 as “the birth date of modern American popular culture.” That month, a frustrated grocer named Phineus Taylor Barnum purchased Joice Heth, a purported 161-year-old slave who had been George Washington’s nanny. Barnum furiously promoted her as “Absolutely the Greatest Natural and National...
Louise Erdrich’s new book full of spiritual questions, observations

Louise Erdrich’s new book full of spiritual questions, observations

The idea that evolution could suddenly move backward may seem like an incredible fantasy, but in Louise Erdrich’s dreamlike, suspenseful “Future Home of the Living God,” it’s a fitting analogue for the environmental degradation we already experience. A biological apocalypse has animals suddenly appearing in trippy, shocking manifestations — a dragonfly with a 6-foot wingspan...
A small guide to Austin’s 7 specialty comics shops

A small guide to Austin’s 7 specialty comics shops

New to Austin and wondering where to get your weekly comics fix, fill out your trade paperback collection and flip through back issues? Here is a guide to Austin’s comic book specialty shops. Note: This list contains only comic book shops. Comics and graphic novels can be found at many Austin stores selling new and used books, including BookPeople and any Barnes and Noble or Half Price Books...
Wrap up these books this holiday whether the kids were naughty or nice

Wrap up these books this holiday whether the kids were naughty or nice

Perhaps you want to give something that will last longer than the latest electronic gadget. Maybe you just want to keep your young ones reading over winter break. Whatever your motivation, the solution beckons on these pages — new titles that entertain, inform and engage: Your holiday gift list starts here. Hortense finds her shadow tiresome. It constantly trails after her through the woods...
Wizarding school offers magic all year long for ‘Harry Potter’ fans

Wizarding school offers magic all year long for ‘Harry Potter’ fans

After reading the “Harry Potter” series, many of us wish our own Hogwarts acceptance letters would arrive in the mail. But some lucky Muggles (that is, those with no magical abilities) are able to experience their own kind of magic at a Central Texas wizarding school. Worthwich School offers all sorts of wizarding activities for people still enthralled by the series 20 years after the...
In Khizr Khan’s inspirational story, a mighty river flows

In Khizr Khan’s inspirational story, a mighty river flows

Khizr Khan, father of fallen U.S. Army Capt. Humayun S.M. Khan, speaks as his wife Ghazala listens at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, July 28, 2016. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) Maybe sometimes it takes a stranger to remind us of our greatness and of the things we hold dear as a nation, but which we take for granted. Maybe it takes someone like Khizr...
Mark Updegrove returns to Austin and the LBJ legacy

Mark Updegrove returns to Austin and the LBJ legacy

Mark Updegrove, who transformed the LBJ Presidential Libary during eight years as its director, is retuning to become president and CEO of the LBJ Foundation as of March 1, 2018. Mark Updegrove In a dizzying leadership shuffle, current Foundation Executive Director Amy Barbee will be promoted to its Vice-President. Foundation Chairman ...
In ‘God: A Human History,’ Reza Aslan looks at how we think about God

In ‘God: A Human History,’ Reza Aslan looks at how we think about God

There are many lovely, canny and insightful things in Reza Aslan’s new book “God: A Human History,” written in Aslan’s clear, accessible style. My favorite phrase, however, is on the back, where the line above the blurb of endorsement reads: “Advance Praise for ‘God.’” Looking at that as a joke works on a few levels. According to most religions, of course...
INSIGHT: How Donald Trump’s retweets reveal an insidious strategy

INSIGHT: How Donald Trump’s retweets reveal an insidious strategy

On Nov. 29, President Trump retweeted a series of videos that purported to depict violence committed by Muslims. They had originated from the account of a far-right British ultranationalist who had been convicted for harassing a Muslim. The backlash was swift, with British Prime Minister Theresa May saying “the President is wrong to have done this.” But Trump’s retweeting of controversial...
Hugh Acheson coming to Whole Foods this weekend to talk slow cookers

Hugh Acheson coming to Whole Foods this weekend to talk slow cookers

Hugh Acheson jumped into the national spotlight when he competed on “Top Chef Masters,” but after he went on to become a “Top Chef” judge and cookbook author, he’s become a food celebrity in his own right. The Georgia-based chef Hugh Acheson became a national food celebrity after his many appearances on “Top Chef Masters” and &ldquo...
Austin Answered: Where was the old Soap Creek Saloon?

Austin Answered: Where was the old Soap Creek Saloon?

Reader Jim Wolverton asks of our Austin Answered project: What was the location of Soap Creek Saloon off Bee Caves Road back in the 1970s? He remembers going there as a 19-year-old. If you never visited the legendary music venue, its then-remote location outside the city limits surely must appear shrouded in the fog of history. Even if you did go — given the heady times — you might not...
Esther Perel on what Americans get wrong about relationships

Esther Perel on what Americans get wrong about relationships

Few psychotherapists are as willing to talk as openly about infidelity and monogamy as Esther Perel. The Belgium-born author of the 2007 best-seller “Mating in Captivity” has a new book out called “The State of Affairs” that digs deep into the roots of relationship culture in the U.S. She also hosts a relationship therapy podcast called “Where Should We Begin?”...
How ‘Blackish’ star Jenifer Lewis became ‘the mother of black Hollywood’

How ‘Blackish’ star Jenifer Lewis became ‘the mother of black Hollywood’

When casting Tina Turner’s mom in the 1993 film “What’s Love Got to Do With It?,” the director turned to a relative unknown by the name of Jenifer Lewis. The actress, who had done just a few small film and TV parts after arriving in Hollywood via Broadway and cabarets, is only about 2 years older than the film’s star, Angela Bassett. So when she got the call, she almost...
A guide to Austin’s comics specialty shops

A guide to Austin’s comics specialty shops

New to Austin and wondering where to get your weekly comics fix, fill out your trade paperback collection and flip through back issues? Here is a guide to Austin’s comic book specialty shops.  Note: This list contains ONLY comic book shops. Comics and graphic novels can be found at many Austin stores selling new and used books, including BookPeople and any Barnes and Noble or Half Price...
Webb Report: Put a few El Arroyo signs under the tree this year

Webb Report: Put a few El Arroyo signs under the tree this year

The most popular comedian on Fifth Street is now a published author, just in time for Christmas. That’s right, the El Arroyo sign has its own book. The Tex-Mex restaurant’s famous marquee sign, which displays black letters that tell a new joke to passing motorists each day, is featured in “El Arroyo’s Big Book of Signs Volume One.” There are 158 photos of the sign...
Austin Answered: The evolving names of Austin’s big central lakes

Austin Answered: The evolving names of Austin’s big central lakes

Reader Daulton Venglar challenges our Austin Answered project: “Settle it once and for all: Lady Bird Lake vs. Town Lake vs. Lake Austin.” Venglar: “I guess I just wanted a definitive answer.” To start, two distinct lakes come into question. Both are pass-through reservoirs on the Colorado River, part of a series of lakes that include, further upstream, Buchanan, Inks, LBJ...
Austin-based Dana Barney’s thriller sequel is tricky, cerebral

Austin-based Dana Barney’s thriller sequel is tricky, cerebral

In Dana Barney’s futuristic thriller “Half Life,” a sequel to “Flatline” (2015), a conspiracy debunker uncovers evidence of an elite plot against the world. In Austin, Peter Richards used to be an investigative journalist but became the victim of a conspiracy so stressful it gave him a heart attack. A mechanical heart restored his life (though he died and was revived...
With ‘Spineless,’ Austin author explores both her past and jellyfish

With ‘Spineless,’ Austin author explores both her past and jellyfish

Consider, if you will, the humble jellyfish. It’s a creature both 95 percent water and often possessed of one of the planet’s deadliest venoms. A creature that has existed in its current form, more or less, for millions of years, yet is one of the planet’s most delicate. In some languages, jellyfish translates as “living water” — how cool is that? And yet, we don&rsquo...
The El Arroyo sign got its own book, and it’s going to make you laugh

The El Arroyo sign got its own book, and it’s going to make you laugh

The most popular comedian on Fifth Street is now a published author, just in time for Christmas. That’s right, the El Arroyo sign now has its own book. The Tex-Mex restaurant’s famous marquee sign, whose black letters tell a new joke to passing motorists each day, is featured in “El Arroyo’s Big Book of Signs Volume One.” There are 158 signs inside the hardback...
Austin Answered: Why was Austin originally named Waterloo?

Austin Answered: Why was Austin originally named Waterloo?

A reader asks our Austin Answered project why the community that became Austin was first named Waterloo. This took us down multiple productive paths with no definitive answer — yet. First, let’s remind readers about Waterloo, a rough frontier hamlet of no more than four or five families. Hunter Jacob Harrell set up a tent in 1835 at about the site of the Congress Avenue Bridge on the north...
Best-sellers, 11/19/17

Best-sellers, 11/19/17

LOS ANGELES TIMES BEST-SELLERS FICTION 1. “Manhattan Beach,” Jennifer Egan 2. “Uncommon Type,” Tom Hanks 3. “The Rooster Bar,” John Grisham 4. “Turtles All the Way Down,” John Green 5. “Origin,” Dan Brown 6. “A Gentleman in Moscow,” Amor Towles 7. “Little Fires Everywhere,” Celeste Ng 8. “Lincoln in the Bardo...
Anne Fadiman’s ‘The Wine Lover’s Daughter’ a graceful ode to her father

Anne Fadiman’s ‘The Wine Lover’s Daughter’ a graceful ode to her father

Anne Fadiman (“At Large and at Small: Confessions of a Literary Hedonist,” 2008) decants a harmonious blend of biography, wine lore and memoir in “The Wine Lover’s Daughter,” an account of a literary daughter’s relationship with her celebrated literary father. Born into a secular Jewish family in Brooklyn, Clifton Fadiman (1904-1999) spent his adult life submerging...
Clinton supporters cheer, cry at book signing in downtown Austin

Clinton supporters cheer, cry at book signing in downtown Austin

For Lulu Flores, it still hurts. “I really feel for her,” Flores said as her eyes welled. “She did not let anybody down. I felt like we let her down.” On Nov. 8, 2016, Donald Trump was elected president of the United States. His opponent, Hillary Clinton, had been considered the favorite in the race. Clinton won the popular vote, but Trump bested her in the Electoral College...
INSIGHT: Did early Christians believe Mary was a teen? It’s complicated

INSIGHT: Did early Christians believe Mary was a teen? It’s complicated

On Nov. 13, a fifth Alabama woman came forward to accuse Roy Moore, former judge and current GOP Senate candidate, of sexual assault when she was 16. Condemnation of Moore has been widespread, but Moore himself vehemently denies these allegations. He has backing from many in Alabama. One of his most controversial statements of support came from Alabama State Auditor Jim Ziegler, who declared: &ldquo...
A bilingual children’s book about Selena is blowing up on Amazon

A bilingual children’s book about Selena is blowing up on Amazon

More than 20 years after her death, young children will get the opportunity to learn about the life of Texas’ most famous Tejano singer.  “The Life of/La Vida de Selena: A Lil’ Libros Bilingual Biography” aims to teach readers about slain Tejano singer Selena Quintanilla Perez. It’s currently ranked atop the best sellers list for Children’s Spanish books. The...
Cozy weeknight recipe: Spanish-style gigante beans with almonds, sweet roast peppers

Cozy weeknight recipe: Spanish-style gigante beans with almonds, sweet roast peppers

No matter if you call them butter beans or lima beans, those large, creamy beans you’ll find in cans or dried at the grocery store are a hearty legume that should be part of your cooking catalog. Lima beans, also known as butter beans, pair well with almonds, roasted red peppers, smoked paprika and tomatoes in this Spanish-style legume stew that’s perfect for...
Stevie Nicks abused by ex Lindsey Buckingham, new biography says

Stevie Nicks abused by ex Lindsey Buckingham, new biography says

A new biography, called “Gold Dust Woman” by Stephen Davis, details alleged abuse against legendary rock singer Stevie Nicks by ex-boyfriend and fellow Fleetwood Mac bandmate Lindsey Buckingham. It apparently started back in 1973 when the duo was posing for their first album “Buckingham Nicks,” and the photographer told Nicks to remove her blouse in order to look...
Webb Report: 7 obscure Justice League members we want on the big screen

Webb Report: 7 obscure Justice League members we want on the big screen

“Justice League” opens in theaters this week, and for the most part, it stars the heroes you would hope to see in a big-screen adaptation of DC Comics’ marquee super team. You’ve got Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman and the Flash, members of the team’s classic lineup from way back in 1960. In the most recent retelling of the team’s origins, Cyborg has been added as...
How do you write about the unfathomable yogurt shop murders?

How do you write about the unfathomable yogurt shop murders?

No images. Beverly Lowry insisted. No photographs whatsoever appear inside Lowry’s 2016 book, “Who Killed These Girls? Cold Case: The Yogurt Shop Murders” (Knopf). The four low-resolution partial pictures that appear on the book jacket — along with jagged red, black and white graphics — are wrenching enough. “The crime-scene photographs were the worst,” says...
Krysten Ritter’s debut a somewhat predictable but fast-paced thriller

Krysten Ritter’s debut a somewhat predictable but fast-paced thriller

A young environmental lawyer returns to her small Indiana hometown to investigate pollution by a regional plastics giant, but settling old scores and healing old wounds weigh heavily on her mind in Krysten Ritter’s “Bonfire.” Abby Williams left the aptly named Barrens, Ind., for Chicago as soon as she turned 18 and never looked back, trading the equivalent of a one-horse town that...
Austin Answered: Where are Austin’s Cold War missile sites?

Austin Answered: Where are Austin’s Cold War missile sites?

Reader Gary Hamilton wrote us regarding our newspaper’s Austin Answered project: “I just finished the latest Harlan Coben book, ‘Don’t Let Go.’ Missile sites from the Cold War era play a central role. I Googled ‘Nike missile sites’ and, if Wikipedia is to be believed, there are several former sites around Austin.” Indeed, there are. One was located near...
Two tales of awkward teen years, one in Houston, one in another world

Two tales of awkward teen years, one in Houston, one in another world

Taja isn’t sure what to think. Her parents expect her to fulfill her promises to God. But Taja has her own thoughts about God, and her own wishes that don’t always mesh with the prescriptions of their church. Her growth from middle-schooler to prospective college student is underpinned by journeys both spiritual and secular in Liara Tamani’s Houston-set debut novel, “Calling...
Austin and DC parties that trilled and thrilled this past week

Austin and DC parties that trilled and thrilled this past week

KMFA Classical 89.5, the Texas Book Festival and the LBJ Foundation showed us all how to do good and have a good time this past week. Dianne Donovan and TresMusicos at Sound Bites for KMFA. Contributed by Katrina Barber Sound Bites: KMFA at 50 When you throw your first gala 50 years into your history, you really want it to sing. The good folks behind  Sound Bites ...
Turk Pipkin interviews Turk Pipkin for Book of Every Other Month Club

Turk Pipkin interviews Turk Pipkin for Book of Every Other Month Club

This week, Turk Pipkin launches his new Book of the Every Other Month Club on the crowd-funding site Indiegogo. Subscriptions help fund new libraries in Kenya as part of the ongoing  Nobelity Project. Since he has enough time to write and publish six new books, I’ve added to his load by asking him to interview himself. So here are five...
INSIGHT: U.S. gun violence kills more black people and urban dwellers

INSIGHT: U.S. gun violence kills more black people and urban dwellers

On Nov. 5, just 35 days after the deadly Las Vegas shooting, a man walked into a church in a small Texas town and murdered 26 people with an assault rifle. The coverage dominated the news. But the day before, even more people – 43 – were shot to death in cities and towns around the country. And nobody really seemed to notice. Shootings kill more than 36,000 Americans each year. Every day...
Commentary: Regulate social media platforms before it’s too late

Commentary: Regulate social media platforms before it’s too late

In the past week, Silicon Valley has faced renewed calls for greater regulation of social media platforms amid the growing scandal of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election. Given rising awareness of the serious problems inherent within U.S. internet giants’ business models, it’s an opportune time to discuss how best to regulate these companies. I’m a researcher who studies...
INSIGHT: What Rick Perry got right — and wrong — about women and energy

INSIGHT: What Rick Perry got right — and wrong — about women and energy

On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry clumsily stated that fossil fuels could help prevent sexual assaults on vulnerable women in Africa. “When the lights are on, when you have light, it shines the righteousness, if you will, on [sexual assault],” Perry asserted. “So, from the standpoint of how you really affect people’s lives, fossil fuels is [sic] going to play...
Five books we’re looking forward to reading now that the Texas Book Festival is done

Five books we’re looking forward to reading now that the Texas Book Festival is done

There aren’t many events in Austin that make you think there simply aren’t enough hours in the day quite like the Texas Book Festival. Go to enough panels, look at what people are holding and all you can think is, “there aren’t enough hours in the day to read all of these books.” Here are five we look forward to examining closer now that the festival is...in the books...
Tom Hanks reads a story, talks typewriters and helps a couple in love during charming Texas Book Festival appearance

Tom Hanks reads a story, talks typewriters and helps a couple in love during charming Texas Book Festival appearance

Tom Hanks points to his book, “Uncommon Type,” while discussing the 17 short stories it contains during a talk Saturday at  the Texas Book Festival. NICK WAGNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN By Charles Ealy, Special to the American-Statesman About 1,000 people packed the sanctuary Saturday at the First Baptist Church in downtown Austin to hear Oscar-winning actor ...
5 things to know about Texas Book Festival on Sunday

5 things to know about Texas Book Festival on Sunday

The second day of Texas Book Festival takes place Sunday at the Capitol and surrounding venues, and most events are free and open to the public. Here are five highlights for Sunday (see all previews and live coverage at austin360.com/bookfest): 1. Jennifer Egan. It has been seven years since Egan’s last novel, the Pulitzer Prize-winning “A Visit from the Goon Squad,” so fans and...

Austin Answered: Why did tree-named streets switch to numbered names?

A reader asks of our Austin Answered project: “When and why did the tree-named streets downtown change to numbered street names?” As many Austinites eventually figure out, most of the north-south streets downtown were named for Texas rivers. Within the original 1839 grid, they followed the order of the major rivers as they generally appear on Texas maps. Additional streets were later named...
Mike McCrary’s ‘Steady Trouble’ is a Hollywood action film in print form

Mike McCrary’s ‘Steady Trouble’ is a Hollywood action film in print form

A woman’s recent addition to a trust fund could earn her a windfall — provided the other beneficiaries don’t kill her first — in Mike McCrary’s “Steady Trouble.” Texas bartender Theodora, better known as Steady Teddy, has had trouble with her memory since she sustained brain trauma when she was 18. Her injury stems from a home invasion resulting in her parents&rsquo...
5 things to know about the Texas Book Festival on Saturday

5 things to know about the Texas Book Festival on Saturday

The Texas Book Festival is Saturday and Sunday at the Capitol and surrounding venues, and most events are free and open to the public. Although director and actor Tom Hanks is the highest-profile name this year — here with a collection of short fiction, “Uncommon Type” — his ticketed event is sold out. Here are five highlights for Saturday (see all our previews and coverage...
Arimah, Davis, Dimaline win $50k Kirkus Prizes

Arimah, Davis, Dimaline win $50k Kirkus Prizes

“What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky: Stories”  by Lesley Nneka Arimah, “The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea” by Jack E. Davis and “The Marrow Thieves” by Cherie Dimaline have all won the fourth annual Kirkus Prize, it was announced Thursday night. Each winner receives a cash prize of $50,000, making the Kirkus Prize one of the richest annual literary...
‘Santa’s Husband’ is the season’s best Christmas book for very young readers

‘Santa’s Husband’ is the season’s best Christmas book for very young readers

On the very first page of “Santa’s Husband” is a picture of Santa -- he is black, wearing glasses and in a Santa outfit. “This is Santa,” it reads. On the opposite page, a picture of a white guy who looks a lot more like the guy in a Coke ad. “This is Santa’s husband,” it reads. So, already, it’s a not a stereotypical take on the Jolly Old Elf...
Best-sellers, 11/12/17

Best-sellers, 11/12/17

NEW YORK TIMES BEST-SELLERS FICTION 1. ‘The Rooster Bar,’ John Grisham 2. ‘Two Kinds of Truth,’ Michael Connelly 3. ‘Origin,’ Dan Brown 4. ‘Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier,’ Mark Frost 5. ‘Uncommon Type,’ Tom Hanks 6. ‘Deep Freeze,’ John Sandford 7. ‘Sleeping Beauties,’ Stephen King and Owen King 8. ‘A Column of...
Attention Austin hoarders: ‘American Pickers’ is coming to Texas

Attention Austin hoarders: ‘American Pickers’ is coming to Texas

     You know it, I know it, your neighbors know it: Austin is lousy with folks who just will not throw away their stuff. Austin’s garages, its sheds and its crawl spaces are filled with plenty of objects from the good old days, be those the 90s rock/tech boom, the 80s oil boom and bust, the cosmic cowboy 1970s, the ‘60s and earlier. (See also our fair city’s pawn...
Richard Linklater wants to make a movie about 1970s Houston

Richard Linklater wants to make a movie about 1970s Houston

The Houston Chronicle is reporting that longtime Austin resident, local film godfather and eternal Texan Richard Linklater would love to take a make a movie (or something) about growing up in Houston in the 1960s and ‘70s. “Houston deserves a good TV series and a couple of more movies," the 57-year-old was quoted during a chat to promote his most recent movie, "Last Flag Flying"...
Dan Rather on the idea of alternative facts: ‘You don’t have to have a Harvard or Stanford degree to know this is ridiculous’

Dan Rather on the idea of alternative facts: ‘You don’t have to have a Harvard or Stanford degree to know this is ridiculous’

Dan Rather, the 86 years young former anchor and editor of the CBS Evening News, sat down with Evan Smith of the Texas Tribune to launch his essay collection “What Unites Us” on Saturday at First Baptist Church as part of the Texas Book Festival. Here is what we learned: Patriotism should not be confused with nationalism. “Patriots have an abiding love of country,” Rather said...
Texas Book Fest celebrates all the young readers

Texas Book Fest celebrates all the young readers

Yes, you should take your kids to the Texas Book Festival. Whether your young reader is elementary age or young adult, voracious or reluctant — there’s a program aimed to engage. Building on the success of last year’s themed tent for young adults, this year includes the addition of a dedicated “Next Chapter” middle-grade tent that will host the likes of “Frindle&rdquo...
Texas Book Fest amplifies Latino voices at ¡Ahora Sí! tent

Texas Book Fest amplifies Latino voices at ¡Ahora Sí! tent

For the third year in a row, you’ll be able to sample some of the Latino authors at the ¡Ahora Sí! tent at the Texas Book Festival (¡Ahora Sí! is the Spanish publication of the Austin American-Statesman). Most authors will appear both during the regularly scheduled sessions in and around the Capitol building and at the ¡Ahora Sí! tent, which this year will...
Attica Locke’s new series is, in part, a ‘love letter to black Texans’

Attica Locke’s new series is, in part, a ‘love letter to black Texans’

Attica Locke, who grew up in Houston and worked for three seasons as a writer for TV’s “Empire,” has a great new book series beginning, focusing on a black Texas Ranger, Darren Mathews, who works along Highway 59 in East Texas. It’s called “Bluebird, Bluebird,” and Locke will talk about it and other matters as a speaker at Friday’s First Edition Literary Gala...
Lythcott-Haims examines her racial identity in ‘Real American’

Lythcott-Haims examines her racial identity in ‘Real American’

In a text that resembles a memoir, a prose poem, and an album of verbal snapshots, a writer from a mixed racial background chronicles her journey — and battle — to understand her racial identity. Julie Lythcott-Haims (“How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success,” 2015), who holds a variety of academic degrees (including Harvard...
Going to the Texas Book Festival? (You should!) What you need to know

Going to the Texas Book Festival? (You should!) What you need to know

Welcome to the 22st annual Texas Book Festival. Since 1996, the literary shindig has highlighted authors from across the state, the country and ultimately the world — inside and in the shadow of the Texas Capitol. Dan Rather, Jennifer Egan and Jeffrey Eugenides are just a few of the more than 280 authors previously announced for the 21st Texas Book Festival, which takes place Nov. 4 -5 at the...
Roger D. Hodge tells a Texas story in a way you haven’t heard before

Roger D. Hodge tells a Texas story in a way you haven’t heard before

West Texas native Roger D. Hodge’s new book, “Texas Blood,” has a peculiar structure — and a peculiar approach. It’s part memoir, part travelogue, part history and part literary criticism. In other words, it’s quite remarkable, mainly because it refuses to follow traditional forms of storytelling, and that makes it all the more interesting. TEXAS BOOK FEST 2017...
Texas Book Festival 2017: Some of the authors you should check out

Texas Book Festival 2017: Some of the authors you should check out

Journalists love words, reading and all kinds of books. Our team at the Austin American-Statesman has been on the ground at the Texas Book Festival from the beginning — we’d attend purely as lovers of books, even if it wasn’t one of the biggest cultural events of the year in Austin. Here, we recommend some of the authors we’re excited to see at the fest. See the full schedule...
In ‘Hue 1968,’ author examines a key chapter in the Vietnam War

In ‘Hue 1968,’ author examines a key chapter in the Vietnam War

Like his epochal best-seller “Black Hawk Down,” Mark Bowden’s “Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam” is the story of a battle. Like “Black Hawk Down,” it is smart, well-reported and hypnotic in spots. Also like “Black Hawk Down,” it might very well become a motion picture (Michael Mann has optioned the rights to it and is contemplating...
Dan Brown, Rupi Kaur top best-sellers lists

Dan Brown, Rupi Kaur top best-sellers lists

NEW YORK TIMES BEST-SELLERS FICTION 1. ‘Origin,’ Dan Brown 2. ‘Sleeping Beauties,’ Stephen King and Owen King 3. ‘Manhattan Beach,’ Jennifer Egan 4. ‘A Column of Fire,’ Ken Follett 5. ‘Don’t Let Go,’ Harlan Coben 6. ‘The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye,’ David Lagercrantz 7. ‘The Cuban Affair,’ Nelson DeMille...
Holocaust survivor Edith Eger writes memoir with integrity, conviction

Holocaust survivor Edith Eger writes memoir with integrity, conviction

Mental health professional Edith Eger braids stories of her patients’ epiphanies with her own personal journey through Nazi Germany in “The Choice.” As a Holocaust survivor and clinical psychologist, 89-year-old Eger is often introduced to her audiences at speaking engagements as “the Anne Frank who didn’t die.” Her poignantly crafted memoir is a meditation on two...
Stephen King’s collaboration with son Owen King tops best-seller list

Stephen King’s collaboration with son Owen King tops best-seller list

NEW YORK TIMES BEST-SELLERS FICTION 1. ‘Sleeping Beauties,’ Stephen King and Owen King 2. ‘Don’t Let Go,’ Harlan Coben 3. ‘A Column of Fire,’ Ken Follett 4. ‘The Cuban Affair,’ Nelson DeMille 5. ‘Haunted,’ James Patterson and James O. Born 6. ‘The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye,’ David Lagercrantz 7. ‘To Be Where...
Alice Hoffman brings Owens sisters back in ‘Practical Magic’ prequel

Alice Hoffman brings Owens sisters back in ‘Practical Magic’ prequel

In “The Rules of Magic,” the Owens sisters are back —not in their previous guise as elderly aunties casting spells in Alice Hoffman’s occult romance “Practical Magic” (1995), but as fledgling witches in the New York City captured in Patti Smith’s memoir “Just Kids.” In that magical, mystical milieu, Franny and Bridget are joined by a new character...
James McBride explores race and culture in collection ‘Five-Carat Soul’

James McBride explores race and culture in collection ‘Five-Carat Soul’

James McBride’s “Five-Carat Soul” is a versatile, illustrious author brings out his first short-fiction buffet for sampling, and the results are provocatively varied in taste and texture; sometimes piquant, other times zesty. It’s not every contemporary fiction collection that includes one story featuring Abraham Lincoln and another (somewhat) unrelated story involving a young...
Nelson DeMille, Ernest Cline top best-sellers lists

Nelson DeMille, Ernest Cline top best-sellers lists

NEW YORK TIMES BEST-SELLERS FICTION 1. ‘The Cuban Affair,’ Nelson DeMille 2. ‘To Be Where You Are,’ Jan Karon 3. ‘A Column of Fire,’ Ken Follett 4. ‘Haunted,’ James Patterson and James O. Born 5. ‘The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye,’ David Lagercrantz 6. ‘A Legacy of Spies,’ John le Carré 7. ‘Enemy of the State...
Find new books, meet favorite authors at Texas Teen Book Festival

Find new books, meet favorite authors at Texas Teen Book Festival

This year’s Texas Teen Book Festival keynote authors instill thrills in young readers, from creating an immersive world of online combat to crafting an armed standoff in verse. Best-selling authors Marie Lu and Jason Reynolds anchor a lineup that includes writers from nearly every genre along with signings, writing and educators’ workshops, a costume contest and the brand-new iTent. &ldquo...
Tom Hanks added to Texas Book Festival lineup

Tom Hanks added to Texas Book Festival lineup

Screenwriter, director, producer, actor and “Bosom Buddy” Tom Hanks will be coming to Austin for the 2017 Texas Book Festival to present his new collection of short fiction, “Uncommon Type.” Hanks will discuss his stories with best-selling author Lawrence Wright (“The Looming Tower”) at 4:30 p.m. Nov. 4 at First Baptist Church, 901 Trinity St., book festival organizers...
Celeste Ng’s second novel strikingly illuminates life in America

Celeste Ng’s second novel strikingly illuminates life in America

Celeste Ng’s “Little Fires Everywhere” is an incandescent portrait of suburbia and family, creativity, and consumerism burns bright. It’s not for nothing that Ng (“Everything I Never Told You,” 2014) begins her second novel, about the events leading to the burning of the home of an outwardly perfect-seeming family in Shaker Heights, Ohio, circa 1997, with two epigraphs...
Why Longmire doesn’t — and wouldn’t — carry a cellphone

Why Longmire doesn’t — and wouldn’t — carry a cellphone

People ask me why my protagonist, Walt Longmire, doesn’t carry a cellphone, and my immediate response is: Have you ever been to Wyoming? With more than 97,000 square miles, the state is divided into 23 counties, some of them as large as Maryland but none of them named Absaroka. Taking a cue from Faulkner, I decided to go with a fictional county, a decision that turned out to be one of the smartest...
Ken Follett’s new release dominates best-sellers lists

Ken Follett’s new release dominates best-sellers lists

NEW YORK TIMES BEST-SELLERS FICTION 1. ‘A Column of Fire,’ Ken Follett 2. ‘The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye,’ David Lagercrantz 3. ‘Enemy of the State,’ Kyle Mills 4. ‘The Romanov Ransom,’ Clive Cussler and Robin Burcell 5. ‘A Legacy of Spies,’ John le Carré 6. ‘Secrets in Death,’ J.D. Robb 7. ‘Little Fires Everywhere...
Author understands why people think the Templars still exist

Author understands why people think the Templars still exist

To ask Dan Jones — writer of the completely excellent “The Templars: The Rise and Spectacular Fall of God’s Holy Warriors” — about the biggest misconception about the Templar Knights is to elicit the lowest of chuckles. “There’s a lot of competition,” Jones says. He’s written five books about medieval history, including popular volumes on the War...
Here are your 2017 Kirkus Prize nominees!

Here are your 2017 Kirkus Prize nominees!

Kirkus Reviews announced Tuesday the six finalists for the fourth annual Kirkus Prize in the categories of Fiction, Nonfiction, and Young Readers’ Literature. Winners in the three categories will each receive $50,000, and will be announced at a special ceremony in Austin on , November 2, two days prior to the start of the Texas Book Festival. This year’s finalists were chosen from 610...
Englander’s ‘Dinner’ weaves fine writing with unsteady tone

Englander’s ‘Dinner’ weaves fine writing with unsteady tone

A prisoner is held for more than a decade in the Israeli desert while, elsewhere, a general in a coma hallucinates about his past life and a young man works to fund the Palestinian resistance in Nathan Englander’s “Dinner at the Center of the Earth.” Englander’s (“What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank,” 2012) latest novel is an odd amalgam: part political...
Louise Penny, John le Carré top best-sellers lists

Louise Penny, John le Carré top best-sellers lists

NEW YORK TIMES BEST-SELLERS FICTION 1. ‘A Legacy of Spies,’ John le Carré 2. ‘Secrets in Death,’ J.D. Robb 3. ‘Enemy of the State,’ Kyle Mills 4. ‘Y Is for Yesterday,’ Sue Grafton 5. ‘Glass Houses,’ Louise Penny 6. ‘The Right Time,’ Danielle Steel 7. ‘The Western Star,’ Craig Johnson 8. ‘Camino Island...
From politics to prose, meet the authors coming to Texas Book Festival

From politics to prose, meet the authors coming to Texas Book Festival

Dan Rather, Jennifer Egan and Jeffrey Eugenides are just a few of the more than 280 authors scheduled to appear Nov. 4 and 5 at the 21st annual Texas Book Festival at the Capitol and surrounding grounds. The festival, which draws about 40,000 people over two days, on Tuesday night announced its full lineup, which includes writers in literary fiction, genre fiction, history, politics, Texana, memoir...
From politics to prose, meet the authors coming to the Texas Book Festival

From politics to prose, meet the authors coming to the Texas Book Festival

Dan Rather, Jennifer Egan and Jeffrey Eugenides are just a few of the more than 280 authors scheduled to appear Nov. 4 and 5 at the 21st annual Texas Book Festival at the Capitol and surrounding grounds. The festival, which draws about 40,000 people over two days, on Tuesday night announced its full lineup, which includes writers in literary fiction, genre fiction, history, politics, Texana, memoir...
Clinton, Robbins and Smith: Five crucial new books in stores now

Clinton, Robbins and Smith: Five crucial new books in stores now

 “What Happened” by Hillary Clinton (Simon & Schuster). We, the people, remain curious ourselves. It’s already a best-seller. (Sept. 12)  “The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye: A Lisbeth Salander novel, continuing Stieg Larsson's Millennium Series” by David Lagercrantz (Knopf). Listing this mostly for the title. I am sure the title is really “The Girl...
Louise Penny, Neil deGrasse Tyson top best-sellers lists

Louise Penny, Neil deGrasse Tyson top best-sellers lists

NEW YORK TIMES BEST-SELLERS FICTION 1. ‘Glass Houses,’ Louise Penny 2. ‘Y Is for Yesterday,’ Sue Grafton 3. ‘The Right Time,’ Danielle Steel 4. ‘The Store,’ James Patterson and Richard DiLallo 5. ‘Camino Island,’ John Grisham 6. ‘My Absolute Darling,’ Gabriel Tallent 7. ‘Seeing Red,’ Sandra Brown 8. ‘The Late...
Bring out your young readers this month in Austin

Bring out your young readers this month in Austin

We’re blessed in Austin to have a robust literary scene year-round. But there are some seasons that particularly shine for bibliophiles, and fall is one of them. This September is no exception, so get your calendars ready to sync as we unspool the long list of writers for young people who are speaking in Austin over the next few weeks. Five years ago, HarperCollins launched Epic Reads to give...
Min Jin Lee, Walter Isaacson among Texas Book Festival gala headliners

Min Jin Lee, Walter Isaacson among Texas Book Festival gala headliners

   New York Times bestselling author Walter Isaacson, author Min Jin Lee, Fox drama Empire writer/producer Attica Locke, and New Yorker poetry editor Kevin Young will all chat, present and entertain at the Texas Book Festival’s gala Nov. 3 at the Four Seasons in Austin. Texas Monthly executive editor Skip Hollandsworth will emcee this year’s gala. Lee is the award-winning...
Mark Pryor, Sue Grafton top best-sellers lists

Mark Pryor, Sue Grafton top best-sellers lists

NEW YORK TIMES BEST-SELLERS FICTION 1. ‘Y Is for Yesterday,’ Sue Grafton 2. ‘The Store,’ James Patterson and Richard DiLallo 3. ‘Seeing Red,’ Sandra Brown 4. ‘Camino Island,’ John Grisham 5. ‘The Late Show,’ Michael Connelly 6. ‘Any Dream Will Do,’ Debbie Macomber 7. ‘The Lying Game,’ Ruth Ware 8. ‘A Gentleman...
Trucker Finn Murphy offers wisdom from decades behind the wheel

Trucker Finn Murphy offers wisdom from decades behind the wheel

Moving trucker Finn Murphy shares stories from a life on the open road in “The Long Haul.” Murphy is not your typical trucker. As a moving truck driver, often known as “bedbuggers” hauling “roach coaches,” he describes the strict hierarchy among truckers and how his type are shunned as outsiders. He also touts his middle-class background in suburban Connecticut...
Ruth Ware, Sandra Brown top best-sellers lists

Ruth Ware, Sandra Brown top best-sellers lists

NEW YORK TIMES BEST-SELLERS FICTION 1. ‘Seeing Red,’ Sandra Brown 2. ‘The Store,’ James Patterson and Richard DiLallo 3. ‘Camino Island,’ John Grisham 4. ‘The Late Show,’ Michael Connelly 5. ‘Any Dream Will Do,’ Debbie Macomber 6. ‘Exposed,’ Lisa Scottoline 7. ‘The Lying Game,’ Ruth Ware 8. ‘I Know a Secret,&rsquo...
‘The Good Daughter’ uses horrific violence to evoke pity and terror

‘The Good Daughter’ uses horrific violence to evoke pity and terror

“The Good Daughter,” Karin Slaughter’s latest break from the punishing travails of Dr. Sara Linton and Will Trent (“The Kept Woman,” 2016, etc.), uses a school shooting to reunite two sisters who’ve had compelling reasons for avoiding each other in the years since their own childhood horrors. Twenty-eight years ago, two masked men broke into attorney Rusty Quinn&rsquo...
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