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Summer Reading List: Reach for These Local Reads

The expert team at Texas Book Festival shares some suggested titles by Austin-based authors

Tribeza Staff at First Light Books in Hyde Park
First Light Books (Photo by Brittany Dawn Short)

Nothing beats lounging lazily on the beach, by the pool, or in a backyard hammock with a book in hand. We’ve partnered with the expert team at Texas Book Festival to round up some suggested titles by Austin-based authors to add to your summer reading list. Dive into a great book and support our local literary scene. 

Adult Recommendations

from Texas Book Festival Literary Director, Hannah Gabel

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The Heat Will Kill You First by Jeff Goodell
For those sweating the extreme Texas weather, pick up a copy of The Heat Will Kill You First, a New York Times bestseller by environmental journalist Jeff Goodell. An illuminating and timely examination of the ever-evolving impact of climate change, this well-researched book explores what comes next for our state and planet. 

Freedom is a Feast by Alejandro Puyana
A gripping multigenerational saga by Michener Center alum Alejandro Puyana, Freedom is a Feast centers on characters whose fates are dictated by historical and political forces. Set in Latin America, this epic novel explores love, devotion, redemption, and revolution.

Country of Origin by Dalia Azim
Fans of historical fiction will love this debut novel that spans decades and continents. Written by Texas Book Festival’s COO, Country of Origin follows a young Egyptian woman who impulsively leaves her home in Cairo to follow a new love to New York City — a decision that leads to multigenerational consequences.

Mr. Texas by Lawrence Wright
Pulitzer Prize Winner Lawrence Wright’s latest novel is a must-read for anyone fascinated by (the absurdity of) politics. A hilarious, scathing satire, Mr. Texas is set between West Texas and Austin as a tenderhearted rancher turned clueless politician attempts to navigate the Texas Legislature.

Linh Ly is Doing Just Fine by Thao Votang
Set in a sprawling Texas metropolis, Linh Ly is Doing Just Fine shines a light on the contrast between egregious wealth and the failure to achieve the American Dream. Told with humor and relatability, the story follows a Vietnamese American woman who becomes consumed with spying on her newly single mother’s dates as a means to distract from her quarter-life crisis, which is rife with unraveling traumas.

Children’s/Middle Grade Recommendations

from Texas Book Festival Director of Youth Programs, Michelle Hernandez

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Legends of Lotus Island: City of Wishes by Christina Soontornvat
For older kids, check out Christina Soontornvat’s Legends of Lotus Island series. The third installment, City of Wishes, takes readers on a new adventure with Plum and her fellow Novice Guardians filled with mystery and magic that is not to be missed.

The Squish by Breanna Carzoo
Though the beachy setting and sandy main character in The Squish are perfect for summer, the book’s messages of resilience and teamwork are timeless. Readers of all ages will delight in Breanna Carzoo’s clever story and playful illustrations.

Desert Song by Laekan Zea Kemp
Laekan Zea Kemp’s Desert Song is an ode to family, music, and nature, and the magic created when they all come together. This stunning picture book would make a nice addition to any bedtime story stack.


The Texas Book Festival, the largest book event in Texas and one of the premier literary Festivals in the nation, returns for its 29th year on November 16–17 in Downtown Austin! A free and open event, attendees can look forward to an all-star lineup of more than 250 authors, engaging programming for all ages, book signings, food trucks, cooking demonstrations, and a Saturday night Lit Crawl in East Austin! Learn more at www.texasbookfestival.org.


More Summer Reading Recs!

TRIBEZA Staff Picks compiled by Meredith Brown

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A Mind of Her Own, The Story of Agatha Christie by Robin McGrath
You might know McGrath’s popular children’s book, Dolly: Dolly Parton and Her Big Dream, but the latest picture book biography from this Austin author shares the true story of this fascinating detective novelist. 

The City We Built: Black Leaders of Austin by Terry Mitchell
This illustrated children’s book honors the African American men and women who played a critical role in shaping Black Austin’s social, political, and cultural heritage, written in collaboration with The Black Leaders Collective; The George Washington Carver Museum, Cultural and Genealogy Center; and visual artist Sadé Lawson.

The Hero of This Book by Elizabeth McCracken
Elizabeth McCracken teaches Liberal Arts at the University of Texas and is an acclaimed bestselling author and award-winning writer. Her latest publication, The Hero of This Book, explores the complex relationship between a writer and her larger-than-life mother, delving into the nature of writing, memory, and art.

Leg: The Story of a Limb and the Boy Who Grew From It by Greg Marshall
Leg is a poignant memoir that chronicles Greg Marshall’s journey from a youth facing physical challenges and familial adversity to his discovery of his identity as a gay man and someone living with cerebral palsy. This Austin-based author shares a unique perspective on resilience and transformation through humor and insight.

Lovers and Liars: A Novel by Amanda Eyre Ward
This celebrated New York Times bestseller calls Austin home. Her latest work, Lovers and Liars, delves into the lives of three sisters amidst the backdrop of a lavish European wedding, exploring themes of love and deception with captivating depth and intrigue.

The Minor Miracle: The Amazing Adventures of Noah Minor by Meredith Davis
Meredith Davis, based in Austin, is a writer and the founder of the Austin chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Her book features Noah, who discovers he can manipulate gravity and joins a secret government agency.

Drink Like a Local: Austin: A Field Guide to Austin’s Best Bars by Veronica Meewes
Veronica Meewes is a former Tribeza writer who resides in Austin and specializes in writing about food, beverages, travel, and lifestyle. This field guide explores Austin’s cocktail hotspots, where top mixologists craft signature drinks with local flair.

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