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The United States of Books: Texas

You may know Texas as the home of barbecue, cowboys, and the Alamo. But did you know that it’s also home to the Live Music Capital of the World (Austin), massive national parks (Big Bend, Guadalupe Mountains), and the largest urban population of bats in North America? Read all of these books set in Texas and you just might find yourself learning something new about the Lone Star State.
  1. Love Me Back Book Cover Picture

    Love Me Back

    Sex, drugs, motherhood and waitressing. These things fill Marie’s life in Dallas, Texas, but they don’t necessarily define it. Hiding her penchant for self-destruction behind her upscale restaurant uniform, she navigates her world with a defiant fierceness for living in Merritt Tierce’s debut novel.

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  2. Midnight Crossroad Book Cover Picture

    Midnight Crossroad

    From the author of the Sookie Stackhouse series (the basis of HBO’s True Blood) comes the first novel in a new, paranormal mystery series. Set in a part of Texas you’ve probably never heard of, Midnight, Texas is a sleepy town with boarded up windows, people with secrets, and a diner where outsiders won’t linger too long. NBC is developing a TV series based on these novels, so make sure you pick this one up soon!

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  3. The Liars' Club Book Cover Picture

    The Liars’ Club

    Twenty years later, this memoir of growing up in an East Texas oil town is still just as darkly funny and fresh as it was when it was first written. Now with a gorgeous new cover and a forward by Lena Dunham, this is a dysfunctional family tale you will not want to miss.

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  4.  Book Cover Picture

    In the social scene of 1950s Houston, the women are glamorous and eye-catching, but the men have all the real power. Joan Fortier, the center of the socialite world, wants more than the superficial power she has, and her best friend Cece Buchanan must either rein her in or join her in her ever more daring choices. Just like these ladies, this page-turner is intelligent, risqué, and will leave you wanting more.

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  5. All the Pretty Horses Book Cover Picture

    All the Pretty Horses

    The first in McCarthy’s Border Trilogy, this lush tale describes young John Grady Cole, the last in a line of Texas ranchers, journeying with a couple of companions in search of a new life across the Mexican border. Dangerous characters and terrain, beautiful women, and evocative dialogue color this already-vibrant story. Luckily for you, all three books in the trilogy are already out, so you can head straight into the next one when you’ve raced through this.

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  6. The Gates of the Alamo Book Cover Picture

    The Gates of the Alamo

    One of the most widely-known historical events in Texas is brought to life in this urgent novel, from the perspectives of three very different characters. A naturalist, an innkeeper, and her teenage son are swept up in a battle beyond their control, and their choices may mean the difference between life and death.

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  7. Goodbye to a River Book Cover Picture

    Goodbye to a River

    What happens when a river that defines a landscape is dammed, and the natural stream is changed forever? John Graves travels down the Brazos River by canoe one last time to say farewell to the landscape and the way of the life that surrounds it. Filled with stories of the blood feuds, skirmishes, and folklore of the area, it will make you want to grab a canoe and join him on the river.

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  8. Texas Book Cover Picture


    Politics, bloodshed, triumph, and bitter defeat: This epic, multi-generational tale tells the story of Texas across four and a half centuries and a brilliant cast of characters. From Spanish conquistadors to present-day Texans, this sprawling saga will take you on a wild ride.

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  9. Lone Star Nation Book Cover Picture

    Lone Star Nation

    One of the things that defines Texas is its fierce independence. It is the Lone Star State, after all. This book will tell you all that you need to know and then some about how Texas rose to independence and statehood, vividly recounting this story using contemporary sources from the people who were there.

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  10. Black-Eyed Susans Book Cover Picture

    Black-Eyed Susans

    Twenty years ago, a Texas serial killer was put behind bars when his only surviving victim, Tessa, testified against him. Now it appears she may have put away the wrong man, when a patch of black-eyed-susans—the same kind of flowers as those covering the field where he disposed of his victims—shows up outside her window in the dead of winter. To find out who the real killer is, she must go deep into her memories, before it’s too late.

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  11. Friendswood Book Cover Picture


    A small town on the Gulf Coast of Texas is rocked by an industrial leak that kills and sickens its citizens. Steinke brings this town to life, exploring the aftermath and the vivid characters who must deal with this fallout, from tormented high school football players to vision-ridden teenage girls and grief-stricken mothers.

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  12. Crazy Horse Book Cover Picture

    Crazy Horse

    You may know Larry McMurty from his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Lonesome Dove, or one of his many other Western novels and series, but did you know he also wrote a historical account of Crazy Horse? Taking us through the life and death of this pivotal character in Texas history, McMurty transforms him from a name in a history book to a very real and complex person.

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  13. Texas Eats Book Cover Picture

    Texas Eats

    What’s a list of Texas books without one on the food? This cookbook is written by a three-time James Beard award winner, who is also the co-founder and board member of Foodways Texas, an organization celebrating Texas’ diverse food cultures. Featuring sections like Vintage Tex-Mex, New Texas Creole, and Country and Western, it’s a good place to start learning how to cook like a Texan!

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  14. The Path to Power Book Cover Picture

    The Path to Power

    Lyndon Johnson didn’t become one of the most powerful men in America out of nowhere. This fascinating history starts with Johnson’s childhood in Depression-era Texas Hill Country and follows him to his attainment of power in the Senate.

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  15. A Texas Cowboy Book Cover Picture

    A Texas Cowboy

    This is the quintessential, classic cowboy tale: written over one hundred years ago, Siringo’s memoir takes us on a ride through his life as a cowhand, range detective and adventurer in 1800s Texas.

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  16. Armadillos and Old Lace Book Cover Picture

    Armadillos and Old Lace

    Hoping to escape New York City violence by taking a break in Texas, Jewish country-western singer and amateur detective Kinky Friedman is asked by a local justice of the peace to solve the murders of four senior citizens.

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  17. Places Left Unfinished at the Time of Creation Book Cover Picture

    Places Left Unfinished at the Time of Creation

    Beautifully written and hauntingly imagined, Santos has crafted a memoir that brings together family history, Chicano mythology, and a strong sense of place as his ancestors make their way from Mexico to San Antonio, Texas. This was a finalist for the National Book Award, and we can see why.

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  18. Jane of Austin Book Cover Picture

    Jane of Austin

    Just a few years after their father’s business scandal shatters their lives, Jane and Celia Woodward find themselves forced out of their San Francisco tea shop. When Celia insists on a move to Austin, Texas, the sisters pack up their kid sister Margot and Jane’s tea plants, determined to start over yet again. In this modern spin on the Austen classic, Sense and Sensibility, the Woodward sisters must contend with new ingredients in unfamiliar kitchens, a dash of heartbreak, and the fragile hope that maybe home isn’t so far away.

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  19. The Bottoms Book Cover Picture

    The Bottoms

    Fear and racial tension rise in this East Texas Depression-Era novel about a series of murders in a small town. While the first victim is a black woman, the second woman’s white skin color leads the local KKK to falsely accuse and lynch a black man. Harry Collins, the young boy who found the first body, along with his little sister, determine to find out who the real killer is in this gripping page-turner.

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  20. Holes Book Cover Picture


    Stanley Yelnats is under a curse and has been unjustly sent to a boys’ detention center, Camp Green Lake, where the boys build character by spending all day, every day digging holes exactly five feet wide and five feet deep. It doesn’t take long for Stanley to realize there’s more than character improvement going on at Camp Green Lake. The boys are digging holes because the warden is looking for something. But what could be buried under a dried-up lake? Stanley tries to dig up the truth in this inventive and darkly humorous tale of crime and punishment—and redemption.

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  21. Woman Hollering Creek Book Cover Picture

    Woman Hollering Creek

    Exploring the lives of those on the Mexico/Texas border, Cisneros’ vivid collection of short stories gives a voice to women young and old, dreaming of a better future and meditating on the present and past. The poetic, visceral words that make up their stories ground you in the time and place of each woman’s world, giving you an intimate sense of what it means to live on the border.

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  22. Ruby Book Cover Picture


    As soon as Ruby Bell is old enough, she flees her small Texas hometown full of dark memories and horrific violence to the bright lights of New York City in the 1950s. Years after her escape, however, a telegram from her cousin draws her back to the small town she had tried to forget. Still living there is Ephraim Jennings, who never forgot the pretty, young Ruby he knew when he was a child. When their worlds collide again, Ephraim must choose between family loyalties and the woman he has loved for so long.

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  23. The Drowning House Book Cover Picture

    The Drowning House

    Galveston, Texas was Clare Porterfield’s hometown years ago, but she returns to it now as an outsider, hoping to escape the grief of her daughter’s death and a failed marriage. As she puts together a photography exhibition on the town’s past and its inhabitants, she starts to dig up secrets long buried, changing her view of the town and herself.

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  24. Bats of the Republic Book Cover Picture

    Bats of the Republic

    Set in both 1840s Texas and a dystopian Texas three hundred years later, Dodson’s illuminated novel follows naturalist Zadock Thomas and his descendant Zeke Thomas as they contend with the tumultuous events unfolding around them. The past and future collide, however, when Zeke inherits a letter written by Zadock hundreds of years ago. While chasing a cloud of bats, Zadock found something impossible, something that might help Zeke in a rebellion against his paranoid society. Stories within stories, hand-drawn maps, physical letters, and illustrations bring this story to vivid, imaginative life.

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  25. The Good Daughter Book Cover Picture

    The Good Daughter

    Dahlia Waller’s childhood memories consist of stuffy cars, seedy motels, and a rootless existence traveling the country with her eccentric mother. In order to understand her past, Dahlia must go back. Back to her mother in the stifling town of Aurora, Texas. Back into the past of a woman on the brink of madness. But after she discovers three grave-like mounds on a neighboring farm, she’ll learn that in her mother’s world of secrets, not all questions are meant to be answered.

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  26. Big Red Tequila Book Cover Picture

    Big Red Tequila

    You may know Rick Riordan from his incredibly popular and New York Times bestselling Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, but did you know he also wrote gritty Texas mysteries before that? Enter Tres Navarre, an unlicensed P.I. who’s just arrived in San Antonio and is practically looking for trouble. When he goes looking into his father’s murder years ago, he finds himself in the midst of a conspiracies and organized crime. The first in a multi-award-winning series, this one will keep you on the edge of your seat.

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  27. Getting Mother's Body Book Cover Picture

    Getting Mother’s Body

    Taking us back to 1960s Texas, this tale’s nod to Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying brings us a mission to dig up a mother’s body, rather than bury it, in hopes of discovering the jewels she was said to have been buried with. Unwed and pregnant 16-year-old Billy Beede, along with her fallen-on-hard-times family, make the trek to her mother’s grave to search for the famed jewels, encountering obstacles and unconventional characters along the way.

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