Where's Waldo? In Houston (at least in July)

Waldo, the bespectacled beanie hat-wearing protagonist of countless children's puzzle books, will return to the Bayou City for another summer, thanks to a scavenger hunt hosted by Brazos Bookstore.

Similar to Brazos' Indie Bookstore Crawl in April, the bookstore's "Find Waldo Local" event is meant to encourage Houstonians to shop locally-owned businesses, with the chance to collect stamps for every Waldo sighting they make about town. Ten stamps gets you a special “I Found Waldo” button from th

'Crazy Rich Asians' author Kevin Kwan returns home to Houston

The 2013 novel Crazy Rich Asians brought glitzy, modern Singapore to Western audiences. But author Kevin Kwan insists that he never would have become a writer were it not for Houston, where he lived from the age of 11 to early adulthood.

The book, billed as a modern retelling of Anthony Trollope's Doctor Thorne, is a comedy of errors that spans from an ill-fated wedding in Hawaii to the markets of Marrakech to the gleaming skyscrapers of Los Angeles. The story follows wealthy bachelor Rufus Leu

Houston professor brings home Pulitzer for true crime memoir

A University of Houston professor with a Ph.D. and several novels under her belt can add a new title to her extensive resume: Pulitzer Prize winner.

Cristina Rivera Garza, director of the creative writing program in Hispanic Studies at UH, was announced as a winner on May 6 in the memoir or autobiography category. She won for her 2023 genre-bending true crime memoir Liliana’s Invincible Summer: A Sister’s Search for Justice.

The book recounts Garza's return to Mexico City 30 years after the mu

Texas man's prison stint led to creating graphic novel about dogs

Called Ultimate Guard Dogz: Unleashed, the book is the first installment in a series that features vivid drawings and deeply researched storytelling to create a world where dogs "aren't just pets but superheroes, villains, and everything in between." Author and artist Taurean "Tory" Bush will sign copies of the book during a meet and greet at Gulf Coast Cosmos Comicbook Company on Saturday, May 18.

As a child growing up in southwest Louisiana, Bush had two loves: art and dogs. He drew versions

Appeals court blocks Texas' controversial book rating law

An appeals court has yet again dealt a blow to a controversial book-rating law that would have required Texas booksellers to individually rate books they sell based on whether the works contain depictions or references to sex.

The move came on April 16, when the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted 9-8 not to rehear the case after a three-judge panel ruled that the law, known as the Reader Act, was unconstitutional.

The law, previously known as HB 900, was passed during the 2023 Texas legis

Get lost in the shelves during Houston's bookstore crawl

"We created it because we wanted to spotlight our neighbors, and we were curious: how many bookstores are there in Houston?" the shop wrote recently on the photo-sharing site. Now, Blue Willow is teaming up with 17 of its "neighbors" for a month-long bookstore crawl that will highlight other independent sellers in the Houston area and give Houstonians the opportunity to patronize local businesses, and get a chance to win some goodies in the process.

Since that 2022 post, Houston has added a num

Houston Public Library marks 120th birthday with events, new card

The Houston Public Library will celebrate its 120th birthday next month with a series of city-wide parties, programs and other community services. The celebration kicks off March 2 at the Central Library in Downtown Houston and will continue with 120 days worth of events throughout the public library system.

From March through June, the library will also give out limited edition merchandise, including two new “collector’s item” HPL library cards featuring a bookish astronaut floating through sp

Cistern installation brings ‘Velveteen Rabbit' to life with VR

The Buffalo Bayou Partnership teamed up with pioneering New York-based artist and programmer Rachel Rossin to create the exhibit, called “Haha Real.” Musician and native Houstonian Frewuhn created the score for the installation. The exhibit opens Feb. 2 and will be on view through Nov. 10.

The Velveteen Rabbit, first published in 1921, tells the story of a stuffed rabbit toy who longs to become a real bunny. The rabbit spends his days in the company of his owner, a young boy sick with scarlet f

One of Houston's favorite indie booksellers turns 50

The bookstore was founded in 1974 by Karl Kilian, a Houston native who studied art and literature at St. Thomas University under Dominique de Menil before moving to New York City to get his master's degree in English. While in New York, Kilian worked at an independent bookstore and began to dream of opening a similar store in Houston.

He initially opened Brazos—on the same street but in a different location than the store's current address of 2421 Bissonnet St.—as an art and architecture bookst

Autistic author uninvited from a Texas book festival over mask

According to a lengthy blog post from author Chuck Tingle, he was asked to be a featured speaker at the TLA Conference late last year. A few weeks ago, TLA organizers reached out to Tingle's representatives at publishing house Tor to ask if Tingle could appear without his mask. After Tor representatives explained that the mask was integral to how Tingle presents himself, the TLA decided to rescind their invitation.

"Ultimately, our request for him to be maskless was ill-informed," she said. "We

Twisty new thriller tackles Texas book bans, NXIVM-like cults

Watch It Burn, which hits shelves on March 12, is the third novel from Sugar Land-based author Kristen Bird. The book revolves around the death of an influential woman in a small Hill Country town and the three women who band together to investigate.

The book is being called "NXIVM meets Southern suspense" in early reviews for how it addresses the dystopian consequences of one person wielding outsize influence in an otherwise sleepy community, and for how it mirrors several recent real-life new

8 Houston stores you should visit right now for holiday gifts

Whether in need of a last-minute stocking stuffer, a Secret Santa surprise for work or a holiday hostess gift, Houston is full of locally owned shops featuring an excellent selection of presents for all ages and price brackets. While this list is by no means exhaustive, the following stores are sure to help holiday shoppers find something for everyone on their list (and are great for birthdays or any other time of the year, as well).

Stop here on the way to your next holiday party. Grab a chees

Houston Public Library brings book vending machine to Hobby Airport

Bibliophiles have a new way to indulge their favorite pastime while traveling through Houston thanks to a library book vending machine that was installed in Hobby Airport a few weeks ago.

The BOOKLink kiosk allows Houston Public Library cardholders to check out paperbacks and then return them on arrival back to Houston. Non-HPL members can use an email address to reserve e-books and audiobooks.

The kiosk was installed in the airport's main lobby on Nov. 16 and saw about 20 checkouts in its fir

Banned Wagon brings 500 free young adult books to Houston

The Banned Wagon, a joint project from Penguin Random House, The Freedom to Read Foundation, PEN America, and Little Free Library, will stop at Kindred Stories on Oct. 7 to distribute 500 free copies of different titles in honor of Banned Books Week, which starts Oct. 1. In addition to books, the bus will also be handing out free tote bags and other swag to help readers fight censorship and celebrate the freedom to read. The family-friendly event will also include free pizza and live entertainme

New book invites readers to explore Houston nature

Wild Houston: Explore the Amazing Nature in and around the Bayou City is a joint project by Suzanne Simpson, an ecologist with the Galveston Bay Foundation, and John Williams, a herpetologist and photographer. Part field guide, part natural history, and part trip planner, the book aims to challenge the way people view the fourth-largest city in the United States.

That's owing in part to the city's location. Houston is known as an "ecotone," Simpson said, meaning a place where two habitats come

Texas ranks second in the country for successful book bans

The study, which was released Sept. 21 and compiled by free expression nonprofit PEN America, shows that over the 2022–23 school year, 625 titles were banned by public school districts in the state, including titles by Toni Morrison, Margaret Atwood, and John Green. That's second in the country, behind only Florida, which banned a whopping 1,406 titles.

The study also shows that book bans are becoming more common throughout the country, with 33 percent more bans happening in the 22–23 academic

Judge issues order barring Texas’ book rating law

Nearly three weeks after issuing an oral ruling temporarily pausing enforcement of HB 900, also known as the Reader Act, U.S. A District Court Judge Alan D. Albright has issued a formal written order barring implementation of the law, writing that it "violates the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment.”

Meanwhile, the state has indicated its intention to appeal the ruling by Albright. Prior to the release of Albright's written order, the state also asked Albright to allow the law to go into

Houston's book club wraps with panel featuring Nikole Hannah-Jones

Hannah-Jones is the creator of the 1619 Project, which looks at the consequences of slavery on American culture and politics. She'll be leading a discussion with authors Maria Hinojosa, Dr. Yusef Salaam and Ibi Zoboi. Mayor Sylvester Turner and HPL director Rhea Brown Lawson will host the event. The panel, which takes place Sept. 21 at the Hobby Center, will be free to the public, but registration is encouraged. There will also be an online screening of the discussion.

"One Houston One Book — D

Judge pauses enforcement of Texas book rating law

A judge has paused enforcement of a new law that would require any book vendor who sells to Texas public schools to rate every publication in their stock on the basis of sexual content.

The law, Texas House Bill 900, also known as the Readers Act, was passed this spring during the state's biannual legislative session, and was set to go into effect Sept. 1. During a Zoom status call on Aug. 31, U.S. District Court Judge Alan D. Albright indicated that he would also issue a written order in the n

Houston bookseller speaks out against new book rating law

Valerie Koehler is no stranger to giving book recommendations. As the longtime owner of Blue Willow Bookshop in West Houston, readers frequently turn to her for advice on what to read next. Especially parents, she said, who are often looking for guidance on the age-appropriateness of various titles.

But what the Texas government is now compelling Koehler to do—as well as nearly every other bookseller in the state—is something that could bankrupt the already fragile business of independent books

Barack Obama makes cameo in Harris County Library TikTok

Curbside Larry is back, and this time he's called in the big guns to help promote Harris County Public Library's new Library for All initiative. In a TikTok posted Tuesday, Curbside Larry gets a special call from former President Barack Obama, famously known for his love of reading and his annual list of book recommendations.

In the video, the library hype man gets a little too hyped up while talking about the library's new program to make reading more accessible to all Houstonians, including t

New book club will get all of Houston on the same page

One of the best things about joining a book club is that it takes reading, normally a solitary pastime, and turns it into a fun activity that can be shared with friends and loved ones. This summer in Houston, that fun is taking on a truly communal scope with a massive, city-wide read-along meant to be accessible to readers of all levels.

One Houston, One Book - Diverse Stories for a Diverse City, which was announced on May 15 by the Houston Public Library, is a program meant to "promote literac

A SZA parody by the Harris County Library has gone viral on TikTok

Harris County Public Library is going viral on TikTok just a few weeks after joining the popular video-sharing social media app.

The viral post is a play on SZA's Saturday Night Live musical skit "Big Boys," which has become a popular meme on the app for appreciating full-figured men. Instead of men, HCPL's post extols the virtue of the hefty, large-print books made for people with visual impairments.

In the video, a woman (Kathleen O'Connor, a library specialist at the Spring Branch/Memorial

Chip Gaines has bought Larry McMurtry's beloved bookstore

Television handyman Chip Gaines, half of the couple behind HGTV's home renovation blockbuster Fixer Upper, has bought legendary author Larry McMurtry's former bookstore, Booked Up, in Archer City, Texas.

Gaines, the husband of Magnolia Network mega-star Joanna Gaines, quietly bought the buildings that housed the massive used-books store in November, as first reported by Archer County News late last year. CNN reported a follow-up on the sale this week with additional details, including that the
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