Cover to Cover
If you’re new to the state, there’s a good chance that you snickeringly regard the phrase “Texas literature” as a contradiction in terms. Well, wise up, wise guy: Texans have been writing memorable books about their state for a long time. So if you have some questions about the city you’ve settled in, you’ve got a lot of options.
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The Gay Place, Billy Lee Brammer
An acute portrait of the capital city’s politics and social mores, circa the fifties.
The Duchess of Palms, Nadine Eckhardt
The “answer record” to The Gay Place—by Brammer’s ex-wife.
Waterloo, Karen Olsson
Politics, journalists, slackers—pretty much The Gay Place for the twenty-first century.
Strange Peaches, Edwin Shrake
An odd, funny, and angry snapshot of the city taken just as Lee Harvey Oswald changes the course of history.
In the New World, Lawrence Wright
America’s post-assassination trajectory, as experienced by a young man growing up in what was (and perhaps still is?) Texas’s most important city.
Minding the Store, Stanley Marcus
The power behind Neiman Marcus tells the story of his—and his city’s—rise.
The Last Known Residence of Mickey Acuna, Dagoberto Gilb
The city’s working-class denizens seen from the vantage point of an unlucky resident of a local YMCA.
Ringside Seat to a Revolution, David Romo
A rambunctious portrait set during the Mexican Revolution.
Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club, Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Seven stories about the intimate bonds—and profound boundaries—between El Paso and its sister city.
Fort Worth, Leonard Sanders
An epic saga of how “where the West begins” began.
Blood Will Tell, Gary Cartwright
Murder, debauchery, and legal hijinks among the city’s elite.
Baja Oklahoma, Dan Jenkins
Perhaps our funniest writer sets one of his funniest books in a Cowtown watering hole.
Terms of Endearment, Larry McMurtry
In case you thought he just wrote first-rate westerns.
Blood and Money, Thomas Thompson
A true-crime best-seller that peers deep into Houston’s seamy soul.
Houston Rap, Peter Beste and Lance Scott Walker
Photos and oral histories of the area’s world-famous hip-hop scene.
Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories, Sandra Cisneros
An exploration of the cross-border state of mind that’s so central to the city (even if that creek is really closer to Seguin).
The Blood of Heroes, James Donovan
Because you need a gripping retelling of the Battle of the Alamo.
Places Left Unfinished at the Time of Creation, John Phillip Santos
An almost undefinable amalgam of history, mythology, and one family’s long-held secrets.
Books suggested by Cecilia Ballí, Bobby Byrd, Steven L. Davis, James Donovan, Michael Ennis, Stephen Harrigan, John Phillip Santos, and the staff of Texas Monthly.
This piece is just one bit of wisdom offered in our April 2015 cover story, “Welcome to Texas!” a friendly user’s guide for our state’s most recent transplants. To read more advice, go here.