September Literary Events: Colson Whitehead, Chris Shepherd and Zines

Author Colson Whitehead opens the season for the Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series.
© Photo by Madeline Whitehead
Author Colson Whitehead opens the season for the Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series.
Houstonians play a major role in the literary scene this month, with a visit by former UH teacher Colson Whitehead, a return of Zine Fest Houston, and even a new cookbook by Chris Shepherd. So stop by your favorite indie bookseller and say hello, pick up a book or two or three, and remember how good it feels to escape into the pages of a really good read.

Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series

click to enlarge The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead - BOOK JACKET
The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead
Book jacket
Colson Whitehead, whom some might remember from his stint teaching creative writing at the University of Houston, kicks off the season for the Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series. He earned both the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award for 2016's The Underground Railroad, where a young woman attempting to escape slavery encounters evil people and surreal events as she travels from state to state. For Inprint, Whitehead will be discussing his latest novel, The Nickel Boys, in a moderated conversation with local author Bryan Washington, followed by a book sale and signing.

Inprint Colson Whitehead Reading is scheduled for September 16 at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Cullen Performance Hall, University of Houston, 4300 University. For information, call 713-521-2026 or visit $5.

Asia Society Texas Center

It's the second time at bat for the JLF Houston literature festival with a two-day showcase of internationally acclaimed authors and speakers. An outgrowth of the world-famous festival in Jaipur, India, the event in Houston is a collaboration between Teamwork Arts, Asia Society Texas Center, Inprint, and the Consulate General of India. In addition to more than two dozen internationally acclaimed authors and thinkers scheduled for the panels and debates, we'll also hear from local speakers Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton, Lacy M. Johnson, Rekha Muddaraj, and Rich Levy.

JLF Houston is scheduled for September 13-14 at 7-9:30 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday at Asia Society Texas Center, 1370 Southmore. For information, call 713-496-9901 or visit $5 to $20 (or $50 for a weekend pass).

Blue Willow Bookshop

click to enlarge Texas Poetry Calendar. - BOOK JACKET
Texas Poetry Calendar.
Book jacket
There's much to see and do at our favorite west Houston bookseller, including a September 14 reading with some of the regional poets featured in the Texas Poetry Calendar. Later this month Meg Cabot (The Princess Diaries) will discuss and sign her new book for adults, No Judgments, on September 25.

For parents of bookworms, there's a launch for Katharine McGee's American Royals on September 6, a big off campus signing with Percy Jackson author Rick Riordan on September 26, and several events with picture book authors including an off campus visit on September 12 by Drew Scott and Jonathan Scott (The Property Brothers) for Builder Brothers, Better Together.

click to enlarge Builder Brothers, Better Together, by Drew Scott and Jonathan Scott - BOOK JACKET
Builder Brothers, Better Together, by Drew Scott and Jonathan Scott
Book jacket
Young adults will want to catch the September 9 event with Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite for Dear Haiti, Love Alaine; as well as the launch party for Jennifer Mathieu for The Liars of Mariposa Island on September 21. Mathieu, a former Houston Press writer turned teacher and novelist, was named Best Breakout Author in 2015's Best of Houston®.

Blue Willow Bookshop is located at 14532 Memorial Drive. For information, call 281-497-8675 or visit

Brazos Bookstore

click to enlarge Cook Like a Local: Flavors That Can Change How You Cook and See the World, by Chris Shepherd and Kaitlyn Goalen - BOOK JACKET
Cook Like a Local: Flavors That Can Change How You Cook and See the World, by Chris Shepherd and Kaitlyn Goalen
Book jacket
Coming from any other chef, a new book about how to cook local sounds mildly interesting. But when it comes to the James Beard Award-winning chef Chris Shepherd of Houston's Underbelly Hospitality, we'll stand in line on September 4 for Cook Like a Local: Flavors That Can Change How You Cook and See the World. Shepherd and co-author Kaitlyn Goalen boil it down to six key ingredients — fish sauce, chiles, soy, rice, spices, and corn — and serve up bold signature dishes like fried chicken tamales or pork riblets in fish sauce caramel.

Other Houston authors slated to appear at Brazos in September include Rice University history prof W. Caleb McDaniel for Sweet Taste of Liberty: A True Story of Slavery and Restitution in America on September 6, Rice University English prof Joseph Campana for The Book of LIFE on September 19, and photographer and activist Kathryn “Kitty” Eppston Rabinow for Messages from Mooseville: A Year in Alaska (with illustrations by Houstonian Anne Kinder) on September 24.

Austin writer Asher Price helps us relive those Luv-Ya-Blue Oilers years in his new book, Earl Campbell: Yards After Contact; he'll be joined in conversation with longtime sports reporter Dale Robertson on September 11.

A few former Houstonians round out the month: Conor Bracken (Henry Kissinger, Mon Amour) will sign copies of Scorpionic Sun on September 12; while Attica Locke (Pleasantville and Black Water Rising), will sign copies of Heaven, My Home on September 29; curated happy hours for both of these writers precede the book signing events — for those who have forgiven them for moving away.

Brazos Bookstore is located at 2421 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-523-0701 or visit

Lawndale Art Center

Get inspired and discover new voices at Zine Fest Houston, with original small press, alternative, underground, mini-comics, self-published magazines, and DIY media and art. Organizers are still lining up this year's exhibitors, but expect project and classroom zones, an after party, and a safe space where speech is free and haters won't be tolerated. Come hungry, too; food vendors Moon Rooster and Somos Semillas Vegan Kitchen are already booked for this gig.

2019 Zine Fest Houston is scheduled for September 7 from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday at Lawndale Art Center, 4912 Main. For information, call 713-528-5858 or visit or Free.

The Gulf Coast Reading Series also is ramping up over at Lawndale. Look for Ilya Kaminsky on September 21 from 6:30-8 p.m. Saturday; then check back October 18 for Christopher Kempf and Corey Van Landingham, and November 22 for Debby Urbanski.

For information, call 713-528-5858 or visit Free.

Murder By The Book

click to enlarge Dead Pelican (Spy Shop Mystery #2), by Lisa Haneberg - BOOK JACKET
Dead Pelican (Spy Shop Mystery #2), by Lisa Haneberg
Book jacket
Murder and intrigue go hand in hand when mystery writers put pen to paper. Kentucky-based author Lisa Haneberg loves Galveston almost as much as we do, setting her Spy Shop Mysteries in the island's gritty back streets and acclaimed seafood joints. She'll sign and discuss Dead Pelican (Spy Shop Mystery #2) on September 5.

Other regional authors scheduled to appear at MBTB include Austin author Christopher Brown (Rule of Capture: A Novel) on September 7, and on-air radio personality Freddy Cruz for When America Fell Silent on September 21.

You'll want to read the signing policies and show up early for some of the big name authors set to appear: Andrew Gross for The Fifth Column (September 13), William Kent Krueger for This Tender Land (September 14), and Kyle Mills for Lethal Agent (September 29).

Murder By The Book is located at 2342 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-524-8597 or visit

River Oaks Bookstore

click to enlarge Mud and Money: A Timeline of Houston History, by Mike Vance - BOOK JACKET
Mud and Money: A Timeline of Houston History, by Mike Vance
Book jacket
This family-owned indie bookseller is the perfect place for getting lost in the aisles. And if you've been craving one of those yummy Tom's Famous Lemon Squares, then stop by for Josie's birthday on September 10 or Kathy's birthday on September 18.

What we're most excited about is Houston Arts and Media founder Mike Vance, one of the winners of the 2015 MasterMind Award because of the nonprofit's efforts to teach history creatively. HAM has since joined forces with The Heritage Society and he'll be signing copies of his new book, Mud and Money: A Timeline of Houston History, a fitting title for a metropolis built on a swamp. Vance will discuss why people come to Houston, why they stay, and what makes our culture so remarkable and resilient.

They've also got book signings set up with Diane Manning for Deceitful Lies: The Investigations of Reporter Melinda Henderson Volume I (September 12), Billy M. Copeland for Growing Up Lucky: A Young Magician's Travels in the American Civil War (September 14), Carlin Barnes and Marketa Wills for Understanding Mental Illness: A Comprehensive Guide to Mental Health Disorders for Family and Friends (September 21) and — for young readers — children's author/illustrator Deanne Wagner White for How Can They Ever Get Along? (September 14).

River Oaks bookstore is located at 3270 Westheimer. For information, call 713-520-0061 or visit

In the Zeitgeist

Want to know more about what's happening with politics, the Supreme Court, the education system, our national security, or behind-the-scenes drama within the White House? Check out these trending authors, all of whom will be signing books at the Texas Tribune Festival in Austin, September 26-28.

Tim Alberta, American Carnage: On the Front Lines of the Republican Civil War and the Rise of President Trump
Douglas Brinkley, American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race
H.W. Brands, Heirs of the Founders: the Epic Rivalry of Henry Clay, John Calhoun and Daniel Webster, the Second Generation of American Giants
John Carlin with Garrett M. Graff, Dawn of the Code War: America's Battle Against Russia, China, and the Rising Global Cyber Threat
Timothy P. Carney, Alienated America: Why Some Places Thrive While Others Collapse
Arne Duncan, How Schools Work: An Inside Account of Failure and Success from One of the Nation's Longest-Serving Secretaries of Education
Major Garrett, Mr. Trump’s Wild Ride: The Thrills, Chills, Screams, and Occasional Blackouts of an Extraordinary Presidency
Russell Gold, Superpower: One Man's Quest to Transform American Energy
Jack Goldsmith, In Hoffa’s Shadow: A Stepfather, a Disappearance in Detroit, and My Search for the Truth
Garrett M. Graff, The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11
S.C. Gwynne, Hymns of the Republic: The Story of the Final Year of the American Civil War
Stephen Harrigan, Big Wonderful Thing: A History of Texas
Mollie Z. Hemingway and Carrie Severino, Justice on Trial: The Kavanaugh Confirmation and the Future of the Supreme Court
Peter Hotez, MD, PhD, Vaccines Did Not Cause Rachel’s Autism: My Journey as a Vaccine Scientist, Pediatrician, and Autism Dad
Carl Hulse, Confirmation Bias: Inside Washington's War Over the Supreme Court, from Scalia's Death to Justice Kavanaugh
Admiral William H. McRaven, Sea Stories: My Life in Special Operations
Jeff Merkley, America Is Better Than This: Trump's War Against Migrant Families
Susan Page, The Matriarch: Barbara Bush and the Making of an American Dynasty
Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman, The Hill to Die On: The Battle For Congress and the Future of Trump's America
Samantha Power, The Education of an Idealist: A Memoir
David Priess, How to Get Rid of a President: History's Guide to Removing Unpopular, Unable, or Unfit Chief Executives
Susan Rice, Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For
Sarah Roberts, Behind the Screen: Content Moderation in the Shadows of Social Media
Anthony Scaramucci, Trump, the Blue-Collar President
Paul Tough, The Years That Matter Most: How College Makes or Breaks Us
Asma T. Uddin, When Islam is Not a Religion: Inside America's Fight for Religious Freedom
Steven Waldman, Sacred Liberty: America's Long, Bloody, and Ongoing Struggle for Religious Freedom
Michael Webber, Power Trip: The Story of Energy
Bari Weiss, How to Fight Anti-Semitism
George F. Will, The Conservative Sensibility

More Indie Booksellers

If you can't find a bookstore in your neighborhood, check our comprehensive list below for more indie booksellers in and around Houston.

1/4 Price Books
3820 South Shepherd

Becker's Books
7405 Westview

Books Abound
11600 Jones Road

Brown Book Shop
1517 San Jacinto

Cathedral Bookstore
1117 Texas Avenue

Kaboom Books
3116 Houston Avenue

Katy Budget Books
2450 Fry

Lucia's Garden
2360 West Alabama

Menil Bookstore
1520 Sul Ross

Sagemont Bookstore
11300 South Sam Houston Parkway East

Shrine of the Black Madonna
5309 Martin Luther King Junior

The Book Scene
1820 West 43rd

365 West 19th

Tomfoolery Toys & Books
4844 Beechnut

Winseng Books & Gifts
9112 Bellaire Boulevard