By: Courtney Applewhite, Publishing Assistant
From Amarillo skies and small towns to ocean waves and big cities, Texas offers many dynamic backdrops to aspiring writers. Many Texana novels written by Texans have graced the best-seller’s list. But they’re not all western and mystery; a wide range of genres has drawn inspiration from our great state. Check out my recommendations for all different types of readers:
For 20th Century Owls: Leaving Cheyenne by Larry McMurtry
No list of Texas books is complete without a classic western authored by Larry McMurtry. As a proud Rice alumna myself, I know many Owls that put McMurtry on the top of their teetering book stacks. Leaving Cheyenne follows three West Texas natives over the course of sixty years. With emotionally moving characters that include a stoic rancher, a free-spirited cowhand and the sensitive woman they share, readers are swept into their shared joys and tragedies that span the 20th century.
For soulful sorority sisters: Alamo House by Sarah Bird
Sarah Bird delivers a hilarious perspective from inside the Alamo House sorority at the University of Texas. A war rages against the neighboring fraternity and, along the way, you see the ferocious friendship of Mary Jo, Collie and Fayrene. Alamo House will bring you back to your own college adventures but with an Austin flair.
For literary East Texans: The Liars’ Club – A Memoir of Mary Karr
Chronicling a two-year period of Mary Karr’s life in the small East Texas town of Leechfield, The Liars’ Club is a piece of literary masterwork. The poetic story flows through the descriptions of Karr’s more-than-eccentric family and brings to life the trials and tribulations of growing up in the 1960s. Written with startling straightforwardness, Karr captures the madness that pervades her life and how she copes with it all.
For futuristic Texas secessionists: The Charge by Sharon Bayliss
As the most recently published book on this list, The Charge fully embraces the dystopian theme that has claimed shelves upon shelves at local bookstores. Set in a futuristic Texas post-secession, the citizens of this new territory are smarter and stronger than the average person. In an added twist, these people also give off an electrical charge when near others. This story follows the main character Warren as he searches for his kidnapped brother and tries to navigate who he is and where he stands in this new world.
Have you already checked all of these off your list? How about a Texas setting, Texas author, Texas publisher? John DeMers’ Marfa Mysteries series tells the story of Chef Brett who, while trying to hold together his emotions and his restaurant, finds himself in a world of drug smuggling, human trafficking and murder. Perfect for any reader craving twisting mysteries with a West Texas flavor.
Bright Sky Press.
Where Texas meets books.