Books to Add to Your Summer Reading List

We picked four titles to uplift, inspire and entertain you while sitting by the pool or at the beach

By Hannah J. Phillips
Austin Summer Reading List
Scenes from inside Wildsam's "Texas Rivers."

School’s out but summer vacations — or staycations — are wonderful opportunities to kick back and crack open a new book. Whether you’re lounging by the pool, picnicking on the beach or just at home in your airconditioned bedroom, there’s something about this season that makes reading so much fun. We’ve selected a handful of titles to add to your 2021 summer reading list by the icon Willie Nelson, Austin-based author Ursula Pike. There’s even a gripping mystery, The Last Thing He Told Me, that takes place in our city.

Austin Summer Reading List

Willie Nelson’s Letters to America

While the rest of us were making sourdough starters and TikTok coffee recipes, Willie Nelson used his time during quarantine to release original music (First Rose of Spring, July 2020), a new book (Me and Sister Bobbie, September 2020) and a Frank Sinatra cover album (That’s Life, February 2021). As the Red Headed Stranger gears up to get on the road again, he releases yet another book this summer. In Willie Nelson’s Letters to America, Nelson pens a series of heartfelt letters with his longtime collaborator Turk Pipkin. Ranging from letters to loved ones to lyrics, jokes and general musings, Nelson wrote the book to lift our collective spirits.

An Indian Among Los Indígenas: A Travel Memoir,

by Ursula Pike

An enrolled member of the Karuk Tribe, Austin-based author Ursula Pike was born in California and grew up in Daly City, California, and Portland, Oregon. In her debut memoir, Pike takes her readers on a beautiful journey—both physically and metaphorically. Externally, she travels to the mountains of Bolivia, where she spent two years as part of the Peace Corps; internally, she explores issues of identity and colonialism through her unique perspective as an Indigenous American serving among the Indigenous peoples of another country. Her insights and vivid imagery are sure to leave a lasting impression.

Texas Rivers and Texas Barbecue,

by Wildsam

After producing a comprehensive guide to Texas in March 2020, our favorite hyperlocal travel guide publisher is back with two new installments for the Lone Star State. Wildsam released Texas Rivers and Texas Barbecue earlier this summer, bringing to life the best barbecue pits and beloved waterways through the work of acclaimed photographers and writers. With 60 highly curated photos, essays and interviews, the two new almanacs join the Texas state guide as the perfect trio for any Texas road trip.

The Last Thing He Told Me,

by Laura Dave

While not technically by an Austin author, this gripping mystery takes place in the capital city and will have you on the edge of your seat. Before Owen Michaels disappears, he smuggles a note to his beloved wife of one year, Hannah Hall, asking her to protect his 16-year old daughter, Bailey. Now, Hannah and Bailey have to work together to unlock Owen’s true identity. Published in May 2021, the book became an instant New York Times bestseller and a Reese Witherspoon Book Club selection.


Read More From the Outdoors Issue | Summer 2021


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