If, as the saying goes, Texas is a country unto itself, it’s only fitting that we have what amounts to a national literature – an extensive catalog of books that includes every genre and covers virtually every possible topic contained in it. within our borders. There are historical novels, dystopian novels, detective novels, thrillers, revisionist westerns, non-revisionist westerns, domestic dramas, bildungsromans, romans à clef, tales of wandering, tales of colonization and tales of battle, written by newcomers, old-timers, city dwellers, country dwellers and suburbanites. This excess of wealth has become particularly excessive in recent years of state prosperity, so much so that knowing where to start can seem daunting. Fortunately, we have a guide for you to find your perfect summer read.
For lovers of detective novels in Texas
Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke
A Black Texas Ranger travels to a town in East Texas where he must solve two murders that cut across the town’s racial fault lines.
good as gone by Amy Gentry
A woman returns home eight years after being kidnapped as a child. Her family is at first thrilled, but then they begin to doubt that the woman is their long-lost relative.
valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore
A brutal rape in 1970s Odessa pits a group of women against the city’s culture of misogyny and racism.
For the family drama fan
where we come from by Oscar Casares
A Mexican-American family in a Texas border town reluctantly becomes involved in smuggling immigrants to the United States.
Nights where nothing happened by Simon Han
An immigrant family from Tianjin, China, living in Plano in 2003 struggles to adjust to their new homeland, which becomes all the more difficult after the family patriarch is falsely accused of a crime.
Olympia, Texas by Stacey Swann
Greek gods such as Apollo, Zeus, and Hera, who never lacked family strife, are reimagined as Texans in a small town near Houston.
god save the girls by Kelsey McKinney
The daughters of a North Texas evangelical preacher run away to a ranch after their father reveals a horrifying truth to them. There they uncover more secrets and struggle to form a new bond with themselves and their family.
The son by Philippe Meyer
A sprawling two-hundred-year epic that follows the rise, decline and fall of a Texas family.
For the Cross-Texas adventure seeker
Presidency by Randy Kennedy
A car thief and his brother in 1970s Panhandle inadvertently kidnap a girl and race to the border.
world news by Paulette Jiles
A newsreader and Civil War veteran escorts a girl home after spending years in captivity from a Native American tribe.
The Devil’s Backbone by Bill Wittliff
A boy goes on a quest in 1880s Texas to find his missing mother.
The Paths of Wolfe by James Carlos Blake
A man escapes from prison after serving twenty years and evades authorities along the Rio Grande as he searches for his daughter.
For the supernatural monster
Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger
A seventeen-year-old Lipan Apache girl with the ability to summon and train animal ghosts sets out to solve the mystery of her cousin’s death.
Everyone knows you’re coming home by Natalia Sylvester
A woman in a Texas border town communicates with the ghost of her stepfather, who is trying to obtain forgiveness from her husband for abandoning him as a child.
For the romance lover
Pellet by Julie Murphy
A tall, small-town Texas girl unexpectedly becomes self-conscious about her body when she begins a relationship with a cute boy. So she enters the local beauty pageant, and hilarity ensues.
Person to contact in case of emergency by Mary H.K. Choi
A college-age man and woman in Austin are too socially awkward to start an IRL (in real life) relationship, so they start by texting each other and find out what it means to make a real connection.
Memorial by Brian Washington
A black man and his Japanese boyfriend test the limits of love while dealing with their respective childhood pains.
For history buffs
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fontaine
A satirical novel in the line of Catch-22the story follows a group of soldiers serving in the Iraq War who return to Texas for a “Victory Tour”.
What you would know if you grew up here by Nancy Wayson Dinan
A Hill Country teenager struggles for her survival during the catastrophic Memorial Day floods of 2015 as she searches for her boyfriend while her divorced parents reconnect in their search for her.
monday, monday by Elizabeth Crook
A group of friends who survived the August 1966 mass shooting at the University of Texas at Austin grapple with the fallout over the next four decades.
For the dark and dystopian devotee
love me back by Merritt Tierce
A neglectful, drug-addicted single mother in Dallas who works at an upscale restaurant struggles to value herself and her daughter.
The tears of the truffle pig by Fernando A. Flores
A journalist and a repo man navigate the borders of near-future Texas, where drugs are legalized, a paramilitary unit patrols the walls separating the United States from Mexico, and there are thriving black markets for illegally bio-modified exotic animals. -engineering and the shrunken heads of indigenous peoples.
Capture rule by Christopher Brown
A Houston lawyer in a future America that becomes a fascist dictatorship while grappling with environmental disasters fights for a client who witnesses the death of a political dissident.
A version of this article originally appeared in the August 2022 issue of Texas monthly with the title “If you’re looking to read a 21st century Texas novel this summer, we’ve got something for everyone.” Subscribe today.