August seems to me like the longest month of summer here in Houston. The high temps and soaring humidity really start to grind down, and the weary slog toward "autumn" (not sure we really get that here, but that's another conversation) feels longer than it did in July. There is only one reasonable way to survive ...
Author signings held inside beautifully air conditioned book shops, and the subsequent hours spent reading while curled up on my couch, or--on cooler mornings and evenings--poolside, with a cold beverage sweating next to me.
Let's take a look at what the folks at Brazos Bookstore, Murder by the Book, and Blue Willow Book Shop have in store for us in August.
Before diving into the August schedule for Brazos Bookstore, I asked manager Jeremy Ellis how their July events had gone. "Adam Johnson (The Orphan Master's Son) was fantastic--he gave a great presentation, and people turned out, excited to see him. He is a great conversationalist, and there is so much interest in North Korea; he really knows what he is talking about. People asked intelligent questions, and it was an intense conversation."
"HemingDay was also a hit," continued Ellis. "Down House was a great partner--we love working with them. It was a party in the store all day long--it was a silly good time! We will definitely do something like that again."
As for what is coming up in August, Brazos is highlighting some local authors, as well as helping to kick off the 2013-14 season of the InPrint Margaret Root Brown Reading Series. Houston-based author Megan Silianoff will discuss her cancer/adoption memoir 99 Problems But a Baby Ain't One on Thursday, August 8 at 7 p.m. while Marian Szczepanski will present on her novel, Playing St. Barbara on Wednesday, August 28 at 7 p.m. "We are happy to help local, emerging authors promote their work," says Ellis.
Visit the store on Friday, August 16 to celebrate "Lottery Day," in honor of author Shirley Jackson and her popular story by the same name. To celebrate the book and its subject, the store will run a lottery--bring your books to the counter and draw your lot to win your books for free. "Free books are a lot better than getting stoned to death," remarked Ellis. "We've been having a lot of fun Tweeting dark, sinister photos of Jackson." There will also be a public reading of the story at 7 p.m. that evening by Short Story Live.
August will also see the launch of the annual InPrint Margaret Root Brown Reading Series. The popular series of lectures brings internationally-recognized names in literature to Houston where they read from their works, and interact with audiences. Season tickets for the series are only $175, and individual tickets are $5--but be forewarned, lectures sell out quickly! The series begins with Robert Boswell and James McBride at Zilkha Hall at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts; Boswell will be reading from his latest novel, Tumbledown and McBride will read from his most recent work, The Good Lord Bird. Tickets go on sale on August 1, so be sure to purchase them soon.
Blue Willow Book Shop
Cathy Berner, event coordinator at Blue Willow, says readers can look forward to a busier events schedule starting in August. "We start ... with a special story time from Owen Duggan on Thursday, August 8 at 10 a.m." Duggan is a popular children's musician who draws inspiration from folk, jazz, classical, and world musicians.
Blue Willow has a multi-author YA event scheduled for Friday, August 10: A group YA tour with Shannon Messenger, Debra Driza, Amy Tintera and Kasie West will start at 3 p.m. Author Sarah Maas (Throne of Glass) will appear in-store on Thursday, August 29, at 7 p.m.
On Saturday, August 24, The Casserole Queens return to Blue Willow to promote their latest cookbook The Casserole Queens Make-a-Meal Cookbook. Authors Crystal Cook and Sandy Pollock are from Austin. and call themselves "part-kitsch, part-dish, all apron."
The Blue Willow Book Shop pick from the Margaret Root Brown InPrint series is "Cool Brains!" Cool Brains!, which is coming up in September, is the InPrint reading series for young readers; read more here.
Murder by the Book
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Over at Murder by the Book, publicity manager John Kwiatkowski, calls the August 24 event with Mark Gimenez a don't-miss. "Like Jack Kerley, Mark Gimenez isn't published here in the US, but his books are fantastic. We import them from the UK. They're all legal thrillers and get a lot of comparisons to John Grisham. Each book is set here in Texas." http://www.murderbooks.com/event/mark-gimenez You can attend Gimenez's event on Saturday, August 24 at 4:30 p.m.
Also signing at MBTB in August is author Frederick Forsyth, on Thursday, August 22 at 6:30 p.m. Kwiatkowski says, "Forsyth is a legend of the genre, and we are so excited that he's going to be signing here!"
Stop in earlier in the month--on August 15, at 6:30 p.m.--for another edition of "Murder by the Book Recommends." Kwiatkowski says of the series, "We love doing these events. If you've never been to one, we'll serve some wine and the MBTB staff each take turns talking about some of their recent favorite reads. For this one, we'll be talking about some of our favorite books that came out over the summer and some upcoming fall books we're excited about."