Insight and Books


ANALYSIS: Why security measures alone won’t stop school shootings

When deadly school shootings like the one that took place on Valentine’s Day in Broward County, Florida occur, often they are followed by calls for more stringent security measures. For instance, after the Jan. 23 case in which a 15-year-old student allegedly shot and killed two students and wounded 16 others at a small-town high school in Kentucky, some Kentucky lawmakers called for armed teachers...
INSIGHT: Tom Ridge is lucky to be alive. ‘I flatlined three times’

INSIGHT: Tom Ridge is lucky to be alive. ‘I flatlined three times’

Tom Ridge, the former homeland security secretary and Pennsylvania governor, has been dealing firsthand with first responders for decades, but never quite like on the morning of Nov. 16. Ridge was at a hotel in Austin, where he was attending a meeting of the Republican Governors Association. When he woke up, he wasn’t feeling well. But it was more than just not feeling well. “I also felt...
Author of quiet love story ‘Call Me by Your Name’ to visit BookPeople

Author of quiet love story ‘Call Me by Your Name’ to visit BookPeople

“Call Me by Your Name” is a graceful debut novel by memoirist/literary scholar André Aciman (“False Papers,” 2000,), joining young love to his familiar themes of dislocation and wandering. One could be arrested in certain parts of the world for the young love in question, which joins a 17-year-old bookish musician who is improbably well educated — not many college-educated...
Harper Lee, ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ inspire Bethany Hegedus’ new book

Harper Lee, ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ inspire Bethany Hegedus’ new book

Nelle Lee broke out of the “pink penitentiary” as fast as she could. Growing up in Depression-era Alabama, she chose overalls over dresses, and she loved nothing more than rolling tires with her brother and getting into scrapes when necessary to defend playmates being bullied. Nothing, that is, except for words: “She loved the sounds they made, how she could string them together...
INSIGHT: From food stamps to harvest boxes, how we help the hungry

INSIGHT: From food stamps to harvest boxes, how we help the hungry

The Trump administration would like to slash what the government spends on food for low-income Americans. Its latest budget proposal calls for reducing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) outlays by $200 billion over the next decade and replacing about half of the aid delivered through this mainstay of the American safety net with what it’s calling “harvest boxes” of...
INSIGHT: Why nonprofits are so vulnerable to sexual harassment

INSIGHT: Why nonprofits are so vulnerable to sexual harassment

Scandals rocking the Humane Society and the Red Cross are the highest-profile examples so far of how the #MeToo movement is bringing sexual harassment and abuse at U.S. nonprofits to light. More are probably on the way. While you might presume that this problem would be rare at organizations that exist only to do good, unfortunately it is commonplace and often goes unpunished. Even though the federal...
An Austin writer is telling the story of Black Panther’s early years

An Austin writer is telling the story of Black Panther’s early years

On Jan. 6, Evan Narcisse, the Austin-based writer of the six-issue Marvel Comics miniseries “Rise of the Black Panther,” held a signing at Dragon’s Lair Comics on Anderson Lane. The first issue of “Rise” had appeared in stores a few days earlier. Narcisse’s day job is as a writer for website Io9, so he is a reasonably well-known and well-regarded figure in the world...
Mexican-American grapples with lessons learned on Border Patrol

Mexican-American grapples with lessons learned on Border Patrol

A Mexican-American student of international relations becomes a United States Border Patrol agent to learn what he can’t in the classroom in Francisco Cantú’s “The Line Becomes a River.” Cantú is a talented writer who knows where to find great material, even as he risks losing his soul in the process. His Mexican mother had worked as a ranger in West Texas, and...
North Austin Lions Little League team was a hit at 1951 World Series

North Austin Lions Little League team was a hit at 1951 World Series

Last year, our big profile of the Rosedale neighborhood lit up some athletic memories. “I knew and went to school with many from the Rosedale area in the ’40s and ’50s,” writes John Watson of Johnson City. “The relatively newly arrived Little League had the North Austin Lions team make it to the Little World Series in 1951. Many on the roster lived in Rosedale including...
INSIGHT: Is cushioning wrong? A look at how often it happens

INSIGHT: Is cushioning wrong? A look at how often it happens

Valentine’s Day tends to make people think about their romantic relationships. Single? Maybe there’s someone you’ve been texting regularly whom you realize you want to ask out on a date. In a relationship? You might start thinking that your current flame is your one and only. But no matter what your relationship status is, if you’re like the average young adult, chances are...
INSIGHT: Why the biggest winners in Amazon’s HQ2 contest will be white men

INSIGHT: Why the biggest winners in Amazon’s HQ2 contest will be white men

Amazon may be hosting the biggest – and most economically important – reality show ever as city mayors compete to snag the retailer’s second headquarters. And just like TV, it has a diversity problem. More than 230 cities made the initial bid, and just recently Amazon whittled that list down to 20 that will go on to the next stage of the competition. Contestants have gone to great...
INSIGHT: 5 opportunities and challenges with Trump’s solar panel tariff

INSIGHT: 5 opportunities and challenges with Trump’s solar panel tariff

The Trump administration recently announced plans to impose punitive duties on solar panels imported from abroad. This decision came in response to a complaint filed by two solar companies, but much of the industry opposes the action, which trade groups say will increase the cost of solar projects and depress demand. To illustrate what’s at stake, energy scholar Joshua Rhodes provides...
ANALYSIS: Poverty. Overdoses. Obesity. Life in the South is getting shorter

ANALYSIS: Poverty. Overdoses. Obesity. Life in the South is getting shorter

Year after year, southern states consistently rank among the worst in the U.S. for health and wellness. This is not a new trend. The rankings have changed little over the last quarter century. What’s causing residents of Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana and other southern states to live such short lives, while experiencing higher rates of cancer, diabetes and heart disease? As a researcher...

Glimpse inside Austin parties for history and the arts

Two subjects galvanized this year’s  Angelina Eberly Luncheon, which benefits the  Austin History Center Association, the nonprofit ally of the  Austin History Center. One was the Driskill Hotel, traditional site of the always gratifying midday event. Leading the public chat about the venue’s past was  ...
Former special counsel to Bill Clinton examines 2016 election

Former special counsel to Bill Clinton examines 2016 election

Lanny J. Davis, former special counsel to former President Bill Clinton, takes on the 2016 election and James Comey’s effect on the outcome in “The Unmaking of the President 2016.” According to Davis (“Close-Up: Twelve Months at Yale,” 2017), the negative effect is indisputable, and he has the data, compiled both before and well after the election, to back up his claims...
Austin’s Sam the Space Monkey starred in kids’ books

Austin’s Sam the Space Monkey starred in kids’ books

We didn’t know that Austin’s own Sam the Space Monkey, who took flight Dec. 4, 1959, was also a star of children’s books. Fans have not forgotten this little pioneer, the subject of the 1962 Wonder Books Easy Reader edition, “The Monkey in the Rocket.” A few weeks ago, we profiled the Indian rhesus monkey, a native of Austin’s Balcones Research Center. He was sent...
Austin author drew on a real-life terror for ‘The Which Way Tree’

Austin author drew on a real-life terror for ‘The Which Way Tree’

About seven or so years ago, something happened to Austin author Elizabeth Crook’s family that planted the seed for her fifth novel, “The Which Way Tree.” They were out in the Hill Country celebrating the birthday of her daughter, who was turning 6. At some point in the day, her then-14-year-old son and a friend decided to go to a nearby cabin to go camping. They took off about noon...
Austinite creates alphabet book for city

Austinite creates alphabet book for city

“A is for Austin, our local home base. It’s the beautiful setting where this story takes place.” So begins Lori Otto Samocha’s love letter to her hometown. In “W Is for Weird: An Austin Alphabet,” Otto Samocha writes of the things that make Austin unique. “I always felt, as all Austinites do, that there’s something special and unique about the city,&rdquo...
Roar like a dinosaur and more family fun in Austin, Feb. 2-4

Roar like a dinosaur and more family fun in Austin, Feb. 2-4

This weekend is going to be what we love about winter in Austin. Sunny, highs in the 60s, possibly hitting 70. It’s a great weekend for doing things with the kids. Here are 20 events to get you started. Louis Montanez, 9, plays on a mammoth rib cage cast in bronze at the Austin Nature and Science Center. LAURA SKELDING/AMERICAN-STATESMAN Austin Dinosaur Day.  ...
Commentary: Provide sex ed for people with intellectual disabilities

Commentary: Provide sex ed for people with intellectual disabilities

While sexual assault has been dominating news headlines recently, underlying the problem is a lack of sex education. Texas, we need to talk about sex. Particularly, we need to talk about providing better sex education for people with disabilities. It’s vitally important. In fact, people with intellectual disabilities are seven times more likely to be victimized sexually. We also know that providing...
ANALYSIS: Trump’s citizenship plan leaves out nearly half of Dreamers

ANALYSIS: Trump’s citizenship plan leaves out nearly half of Dreamers

Which “Dreamers” will be given legal recourse to stay in the U.S., and which ones will be left out? This is the central question surrounding current debate in Washington over a group of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. The scramble for a solution has taken on greater urgency since the Trump administration announced that DACA would be phased out and ended...
STATE OF THE UNION: We explain three key claims from Trump’s address

STATE OF THE UNION: We explain three key claims from Trump’s address

President Donald Trump, in his first State of the Union address, took credit for a growing economy, urged Congress to invest more in infrastructure and defense and promoted an immigration plan that ties citizenship for Dreamers to border security and an end to family-based migration. During the 80-minute speech – the third-longest State of the Union – he touched on a wide range of topics...
Two tip-top Austin parties side-by-side

Two tip-top Austin parties side-by-side

Not often that two tip-top Austin parties take place atop two downtown buildings. Even less often when those buildings rise side-by-side across a narrow alley. Luci Johnson, Amiko Kauderer and Capt. Scott Kelly at the Johnson penthouse for Paramount Theatre party. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman First off was a salute to Capt.  Scott Kelly, the retired astronaut who...
This Austin couple has your dream library filled with 10,000 books

This Austin couple has your dream library filled with 10,000 books

It’s a book lover’s paradise. Melba Whatley and her husband, Ted, have more than 10,000 books in their personal library in their Tarrytown home. Yeah, you read that right. Ten. Thousand. According to Texas Monthly, their library is 2,400 square feet with multiple 10-shelf bookcases. And of course, since they’re so tall, there’s a sliding ladder so you can glide around like...
How Michael Pollan pivoted from agriculture to acid in new book

How Michael Pollan pivoted from agriculture to acid in new book

Michael Pollan knows you’re probably a little surprised to hear about his next book. The author known for the seminal book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” has been labeled a food writer, but he prefers thinking about himself as a nature writer. Through that best-selling book and several others, including “Cooked” and “The Botany of Desire,” Pollan uses food...
Long before ABIA, the first coast-to-coast flight landed in Austin

Long before ABIA, the first coast-to-coast flight landed in Austin

Sometimes, the tales just drop from the sky. Mike Lentes, a pilot and aviation historian, shared this story about Austin’s brief role in very early aviation history. “In 1911, Cal Rodgers decided to accept Randolph Hearst’s offer to pay $50,000 to the first person to fly coast-to-coast — an impossible dream back then,” Lentes wrote recently. “In short, Rodgers completed...
Latest in Terry Shames’ mystery series explores horrors of dogfighting

Latest in Terry Shames’ mystery series explores horrors of dogfighting

A small-town chief of police acquires a dog en route to solving a vicious case of murder in Terry Shames’ “A Reckoning in the Back Country.” Samuel Craddock, who’s come out of retirement to run the local police department on a shoestring, finds his resources stretched when Margaret Wilkins reports her husband missing. Dr. Lewis Wilkins, last seen leaving the couple’s...
Texas books that tell us unexpected things about us

Texas books that tell us unexpected things about us

Here’s a look at some recently released Texas-themed books plus some older titles we think should be celebrated. “J. Frank Dobie: A Liberated Mind.” Steven L. Davis. University of Texas Press. What is left to say about “Mr. Texas”? For decades, I’ve dodged folklorist and author J. Frank Dobie, who remains to many people just a third of the “Philosopher&rsquo...
‘Oliver Loving’ is a vividly rendered exploration of school shootings

‘Oliver Loving’ is a vividly rendered exploration of school shootings

Ten years later, a school shooting in West Texas is revisited from the perspective of a family it changed forever in Stefan Merrill Block’s “Oliver Loving.” What we know, what Eve Loving, her husband, Jed, and their son, Charlie, know, is this: a recent graduate named Hector Espina Jr. returned to the Bliss Township School campus the night of the homecoming dance, shot the drama...
‘Swedish death cleaning’ this weekend? Don’t forget: We want your cookbooks!

‘Swedish death cleaning’ this weekend? Don’t forget: We want your cookbooks!

You don’t even have to read the news articles to know that January is the season for getting your body, mind and house in shape. Ever since Marie Kondo’s book, “ The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” became an international bestseller, we’ve seen all kinds of spin-off books about how to keep your house organized so you whole life...
ANALYSIS: Trump doesn’t understand Haiti, immigration nor U.S. history

ANALYSIS: Trump doesn’t understand Haiti, immigration nor U.S. history

Donald Trump’s denigrating comments about Haiti during a recent congressional meeting shocked people around the globe, but given his track record of disrespecting immigrants, they were not actually that surprising. Despite campaign promises that Trump would be Haiti’s “biggest champion,” his administration had already demonstrated its disregard for people from...

Coming to BookPeople in April: Junot Diaz with new children’s book

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Díaz will be coming to BookPeople April 4. The author of acclaimed books “This is How You Lose Her,”  “Drown” and “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” is releasing a children’s book “Islandborn!”  ($17.99, Dial Books) The book tells the story of Lola, who is growing up in place...
One Austin art puzzle leads to another

One Austin art puzzle leads to another

This is Part 2 in a two-part Austin art puzzle. To recap, World War II veteran Alvino Mendoza, 91, contacted us because he owns two signed and numbered prints by deceased artist Gerald Harvey Jones, who signed his pictures “G. Harvey.” Mendoza wanted to preserve them. We confirmed that there’s an active market for G. Harvey prints online. As we were leaving Mendoza’s house...
Thorpe shares enlightening stories of refugee students in ‘Newcomers’

Thorpe shares enlightening stories of refugee students in ‘Newcomers’

Helen Thorpe’s “The Newcomers” is a collection of personal stories of child refugees as they integrate into American society. Focusing on one classroom in South High School in Denver, Colo., Thorpe (“Soldier Girls: The Battles of Three Women at Home and at War,” 2014) dives deep into the lives of 22 students, all refugees, who were just some of the many who enrolled in...
Matt de la Peña and Loren Long’s ‘Love’ honors what makes us who we are

Matt de la Peña and Loren Long’s ‘Love’ honors what makes us who we are

It’s tempting to eschew picture books once children are past a certain age. From suggested age ranges to the excitement over young readers’ ability to move into more challenging texts, there are plenty of reasons driving the shift into heftier volumes as the years progress. But it would be a mistake to leave picture books behind completely. Nonfiction picture books, with their mix of well-researched...
Classic Texas Monthly stories now available on audio

Classic Texas Monthly stories now available on audio

Now you can listen to classic stories from Texas Monthly while you are stuck on 35. Or walking the Hike and Bike trail. Or raking leaves. Penguin Random House Audio has partnered with Texas Monthly and offered more than 20 features from the magazine’s archive on audio for the first time. Stories range from true crime narratives to dramatic profiles. Each story, narrated by a native Texan...
The strange case of Richard Nixon vs. Timothy Leary

The strange case of Richard Nixon vs. Timothy Leary

At one point during a free-ranging conversation about Timothy Leary, Richard Nixon, acid and the ability to just hop on a plane in the 1970s, increasingly legendary Texas journalist Bill Minutaglio asks me a question I was not expecting: “Joe, do you think young people even know who Timothy Leary is?” It’s important to note that the man didn’t ask it in a condescending, &ldquo...
Why an American raised her children with a German parenting style

Why an American raised her children with a German parenting style

“Achtung Baby” is an American woman’s account of how she altered her parenting methods to mimic her new German neighbors. When Sara Zaske (“The First,” 2012) moved with her husband and young daughter to Berlin, she discovered that her German neighbors handled parenting quite differently than what she was used to in the U.S. In this well-written mix of personal reflections...
AUSTIN FOUND: Solving a two-part Austin art puzzle

AUSTIN FOUND: Solving a two-part Austin art puzzle

This is Part 1 of a two-part Austin art puzzle. It encompasses one modest collector, two artists and a chunk of shared East Austin history. On Dec. 4, 2017, the American-Statesman published an obituary of Gerald Harvey Jones, who signed his popular expressions of nostalgic Americana “G. Harvey.” He died on Nov. 13, 2017, at age 84. Not long after that article ran, we heard from Alvino...
Austinites looking for ‘Fire and Fury’ will have to wait until Jan. 8

Austinites looking for ‘Fire and Fury’ will have to wait until Jan. 8

While there were long lines and reports of sellouts in Washington, D.C. for “Fire and Fury,” Michael Wolff’s book on Donald Trump, Austinites will have to wait until Monday, Jan. 8, for the book. While, earlier this week, publisher Henry Holt and Company moved up the pub date to Jan 5. in response to Trump’s objections to the book, some distributors were unable to...
Trump lawyer threatens legal action against ‘Fire and Fury’ writer, publisher

Trump lawyer threatens legal action against ‘Fire and Fury’ writer, publisher

A lawyer for President Donald Trump sent a cease and desist order to the writer and publisher of an inflammatory new book on the Trump White House that paints an unflattering picture of Trump, according to news outlets. >> Read more trending news  Trump attorney Charles J. Harder sent a warning letter to writer Michael Wolff and Steve Rubin, the president of Henry Holt and...
INSIGHT: What women should know before joining the gig economy

INSIGHT: What women should know before joining the gig economy

Martin Schneider often got things done faster than a female colleague, Nicole Hallberg, who worked at the same small employment services agency. He figured this was because of his extra experience. One day, however, a client suddenly began acting “impossible,” “rude” and “dismissive,” as Schneider recalled in a series of tweets. He soon realized why. Schneider had...
INSIGHT: 3 things to know about Trump and the ‘nuclear button’

INSIGHT: 3 things to know about Trump and the ‘nuclear button’

President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea, traded threats this week about the size, location and potency of their “nuclear buttons.” The image of a leader with a finger on a button — a trigger capable of launching a world-ending strike — has for decades symbolized the speed with which a nuclear weapon could be launched, and the unchecked power of the...
Austin Answered: The mystery of the murals in the medical tower

Austin Answered: The mystery of the murals in the medical tower

A reader asks of our Austin Answered project: What’s the story behind the murals in the lobby of the Medical Park Tower next to the Seton Medical Center on West 38th Street? The swooshing, busy murals are thick with scientific and humanistic imagery, some of it borrowed from the ancient Greeks. We knew exactly where to turn for the provenance: Carl McQueary, historian and archivist for Ascension...
Austinite Boyd Taylor’s ‘Necessities’ an engrossing crime series sequel

Austinite Boyd Taylor’s ‘Necessities’ an engrossing crime series sequel

In Boyd Taylor’s “Necessities,” a Texas lawyer comes to the aid of a war veteran who’s on trial for murder. Reporter David Lewis, a double amputee since a street battle in Iraq, is pleasantly surprised by his run-in with Cordelia Lehrer. The two, who’d had a one-night stand in college, quickly reignite their intimacy. But there may be more to the reunion: Cordelia invites...
Texas books we love: Concluding 2017

Texas books we love: Concluding 2017

We’ve revised this series on “Texas Titles.” Instead of blithely summarizing the most recent books published about our state, we are making the selections more carefully. Also, we’re adding some older titles that we think should be celebrated. We hope to expand on each of these five selections in 2018 with interviews, profiles and feature stories. From now on, if...
Break in your Instant Pot, bring in good luck with this 15-minute Hoppin’ John

Break in your Instant Pot, bring in good luck with this 15-minute Hoppin’ John

Are you one of the millions of American cooks who either bought or were gifted an Instant Pot this year? This bestselling multi-cooker isn’t the only one on the market, but it’s the brand that has inspired dozens of cookbooks to help you make everyday staples and holiday favorites in this pressure cooker-slow cooker hybrid.   This classic Hoppin’ John...
Austinite offers guide for journey into motherhood in thoughtful way

Austinite offers guide for journey into motherhood in thoughtful way

“I wanted other women to know they weren’t alone,” says Austin mom Catia Hernandez Holm on why she wrote the book “The Courage to Become: Stories of Hope for Navigating Love, Marriage and Motherhood.” In the months leading up to motherhood, everyone tells you what kind of stroller to get, says Holm, 34. They don’t really prepare you how to be a mother and the mental...
Sean Penn coming to Austin April 3

Sean Penn coming to Austin April 3

Actor/director/activist/colorful personality Sean Penn is coming to Austin to chat with historian Douglas Brinkley about Penn’s debut novel “Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff.” They will be talking about the book and probably some other things (Penn’s Oscars, his blend of activism and journalism, not finding Chris Rock’s 2005 Oscars joke about Jude Law funny) 7 p.m. April 3...
Reading the best Black Panther comics is cheaper than a movie ticket

Reading the best Black Panther comics is cheaper than a movie ticket

It’s well established that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is not all that closely related to whatever has gone on or will go on in the comic books published by Marvel. However, there’s also no getting around the fact that the MCU have always taken characters, plot points, situations and relationships straight from the comics. Which is to say, you don’t have to read the comics to understand...
Harry Ransom Center acquires massive Arthur Miller archive

Harry Ransom Center acquires massive Arthur Miller archive

The Harry Ransom Center at UT has acquired the archive of American playwright Arthur Miller (1915–2005). Obtained from the Arthur Miller Trust, the archive spans Miller’s career. During his lifetime the Ransom Center had a close association with Miller, who first donated a group of early play manuscripts and working notebooks to the Center in the early 1960s. This new acquisition...
Texas Book Festival will take place Oct. 27 and 28

Texas Book Festival will take place Oct. 27 and 28

The 23rd Texas Book Festival will take place Oct. 27 and 28 in and around the Texas State Capitol in downtown Austin, it was announced Wednesday. The 2017 Festival Weekend was the most successful on record, with 50,000 attendees and about 300 authors coming together on November 4 and 5, 2017. The annual First Edition Literary Gala, which took place Nov. 3 of last year, raised more than $630,000 for...
Therapist recounts abuse, survival in ‘The Only Girl in the World’

Therapist recounts abuse, survival in ‘The Only Girl in the World’

Maude Julien’s “The Only Girl in the World” is a disturbing, engrossing memoir of a bizarre, highly abusive childhood. Psychotherapist Julien makes her literary debut with a gripping chronicle of growing up imprisoned and tormented by her parents. Isolated on a walled estate not far from Dunkirk, Julien was raised to become a “superior being,” destined to “control...
‘Stormlight Archive’ series continues with gripping third book

‘Stormlight Archive’ series continues with gripping third book

Brandon Sanderson’s “Oathbringer” is an epic fantasy about the return of an ancient, world-destroying evil. God is dead. And Odium, the god who killed the Almighty, is unleashing terrible monsters to destroy humankind. Dalinar Kholin has bonded with the powerful spren known as the Stormfather and led his people to the lost city of Urithiru, but his work is just beginning. Now he...
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...
‘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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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