Fall Reading List
From celebrity memoirs to debut novels, there’s so much to read this season
There’s never been a better year for reading—and, as it turns out, writing—a good book. From celebrity memoirs to debut novels, 2020 has produced plenty of pages to get lost in this fall.
Peniel E. Joseph
THE SWORD AND THE SHIELD: THE REVOLUTIONARY LIVES OF MALCOLM X AND MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.
In mainstream American history, the titular figures of Peniel Joseph’s book are often pitted against one another: Martin Luther King is known as a non violent proponent of civil rights, Malcolm X as a Black nationalist who argued for violence as self-defense. But in this dual biography, Joseph resists easy categorization, describing how the two men actually influenced and encouraged each other. Pushing readers to ignore clichés and embrace nuance, The Sword and the Shield is an original and relevant examination of the civil rights era. — Lois Kim, Texas Book Festival Executive Director
Natalia Sylvester’s third novel and first foray into young-adult fiction, Running follows 15-year-old Mari as she finds her voice during her father’s presidential campaign. Inspired by a scene from the 2016 election, the book invites readers of all ages to examine their own circles of influence and recognize their potential to make a difference. Keep an eye out for Sylvester in virtual programming for the Texas Book Festival. —Hannah J. Phillips
In October, Matthew McConaughey will bless us with a collection of anecdotes, poetry and life lessons in his new book, Greenlights. Positioned as a guide to achieving a state he calls “catching greenlights,” the Academy Award-winning actor and UT professor describes the work as a “playbook based on adventures in my life.” If ever there was a time for a fourth-quarter pep talk from our resident Minister of Culture, 2020 is definitely the year. —HJP
Willie and Bobbie Nelson
Me and Sister Bobbie: True Tales of the Family Band
If McConaughey is Austin’s Minister of Culture, Willie Nelson is our patron saint. Released on September 15, the legendary singer’s latest memoir focuses on the lifelong bond with his only sibling, Bobbie. Told in alternating chapters, this dual memoir weaves their journeys together with never-before-told recollections from their colorful careers and equally vibrant personal lives. —HJP
The Trouble with Hating You
Included on the Mayor’s Book Club 2020 list, Sajni Patel’s debut romantic comedy is a novel about first impressions, second chances and finding love in unexpected ways. The story follows biochemical engineer Liya Thakkar, whose parents try to set her up with the lawyer tasked with saving her struggling company. Born in India and raised in Texas, Patel draws on personal experiences, cultural expectations and Southern flair to create worlds that center on strong Indian women. —HJP
John S. Chase
The Chase Residence
Set for release in October, David Heymann’s upcoming book on architect John Saunders Chase pays tribute to his legacy and the impact of his vision—not only on his community but on the field itself. The first Black architect fully licensed by the state of Texas, Chase was also the first African American to attend graduate school at the University of Texas at Austin, whose administrative resistance to desegregation continued well into the1960s and was far more deliberate, secretive and persistent than the school had previously dared to admit. When no white-led firms in Texas would hire him, Chase started his own firm and went on to design a myriad of significant and innovative buildings all over the state. Many of these, like the three definitive buildings he designed for Texas Southern University in the 1970s, helped define the era, particularly among historically Black institutions. —Graham Cumberbatch